Seriously, start building energy yourself – saving it isn’t enough. And all you need to do is breathe – as simple as that. As long as you’re breathing, you’re generating electricity. There’s no catch.

What we’re talking about is called AIRE Concept. It is a mask designed by João Paulo Lammoglia, which converts the air you breathe (wind energy) into electricity. This electricity generated this way is enough to charge small or portable electronic devices, including smartphones, mp3 players, tablets, etc. Remember, this is a concept. The possibilities of the things you can do with this concept depends on your imagination. In other words, endless.

Among 3.550 candidates from 54 countries, AIRE has received the ‘’Red Dot Design Award: best of the best 2011.”

Last year Franklin Templeton Investments partnered the TEDxGateway Mumbai in December 2012, in which João Lammoglia (the mind behind AIRE) talked about the potential uses of human energy and his vision about, passive energy to be specific. You can watch him speaking about it yourself:

 

In his talk, João is specifically concerned about the way we generate power – by using non-renewable resources, which has adverse effects on our environment. Therefore, he designed a number of products which uses passive human energy to generate electricity. AIRE is one of them.

AIRE Concept

Human Energy to Electricity: How it Works?

As you know, human body needs energy to function. We also produce energy, some needs special efforts while others are inherent to us. For example, breathing and heartbeats produce energy 24×7 every day. João calls it passive human energy. Active energy, on the other hand, requires some special efforts (generally movement of muscles) to be applied by us. Hand-crank radio works on this form of energy. We’ll be talking mostly about passive energy here.

What if we could store the passive energy and use it in an efficient way to power devices which currently need non-renewable resources? Well, it’s possible. This is how AIRE works. It uses Piezoelectric technology, which converts mechanical pressure or vibration to electricity. In this case, it converts the vibrations created by breathing into electrical energy. So, you don’t really need to apply any extra efforts. All you need to do is wear the mask, and it just works!

Uses of Human Energy:

Before we talk about AIRE, let’s take a look at a few examples of this concept. If you browse through the works of João Lammoglia on his website, you’ll see a glimpse of the potential this concept has. To name a few, I really liked the following products designed by him.

DOORMAT-E

doormat-e

This is an Eco-friendly doormat, which uses the mechanical energy generated by user in the act of cleaning the feet, and converts it into electrical energy. This electricity is then used to ring the doorbell. It also uses the wooden door as a natural sound amplifier which reduces the power requirement.

MOOV

MOOV

Like other projects, MOOV converts the mechanical pressure to electricity using piezoelectric generator.

“In September 2010 I signed up this project in an important national competition of product design. Among 538 projects, MOOV was selected to attend the exhibition which was held from November 23, 2010 to January 16, 2011, at Museu da Casa Brasileira, São Paulo.”

I-FLOW WATER PURIFIER

i-flow water purifier

I-FLOW eliminates harmful microorganisms from water by using UV light, but that’s not the interesting part. When the water flows, a small turbine inside it generates electricity to recharge an internal battery. This battery powers the water purifier, including the cleaning system, lighting and clock.

FLUXX E-SHOWER

fluxx e-shower

Similar to I-FLOW, the integrated turbine generates electricity to charge an internal battery. But why do you need a battery in a bathroom shower? To heat water and illuminate the LED lights built-in the shower.

You can know more about these and a number of other products designed by João on his website. These products are designed by one person, but there are other people working in this field too. Let’s take a look at a few more amazing products and ideas.

Push to Charge

push to charge

Alexander Parker designed Push to Charge by using Piezoelectric technology to make cell phones self-reliant.

“Now imagine if each button on a cell phone had a device embedded into it that created as little as 0.0005kW (0.5 Watts) per button pressed. That would mean that, through texting, 0.115kW would be created each day. On average, a cell phone battery requires a charge of 0.006 kW times the number of hours until full charge, or about 0.012 kW a day. If the same cell phone utilized a technology such as Press to Charge which created energy with each button tap, that cell phone would no longer need to be charged from an outside source, such as wall outlets.” – Alexander Parker

A Few More Ideas:

In Hong Kong, a Gym owner has hooked generators in treadmills. Thus, while the users are losing weight and burning calories, they are also generating enough electricity to power the lights. Similarly in Japan, a subway uses the energy generated by people while walking through the turnstiles to power lights.

If you add a generator inside a bicycle to generate power, the numbers might surprise you. A trained cyclist can generate around 400-500 watts, and an average person around 100-150 watts. That energy output is enough to power 2 laptops, 2 CFL light bulbs and charge a mobile phone.

There are many other amazing products out there which uses human energy as an alternative to electricity generated by burning of coal and other non-renewable resources. If you know something interesting enough, let us know in comments below.

Breathe to Charge Smartphones, But Why?

Coming back to AIRE Concept, you might be wondering that it can only charge small and portable electronic devices, which already consume only a few tiny bits of electricity, then why does it matter? We’ll get to “only a few tiny bits of electricity” in a moment. One other possible reason is – it’s just the beginning. We’ve been using the non-renewable and a few renewable sources from thousands of years. Use of human energy is fairly new. With time, we may be able to use it more efficiently and effectively.

You’re probably underestimating the energy consumption of mobile phones. A few facts and observations are below.

Outlier already did a through study of the cost you incur in an year to charge a few selected smartphones, including iPhone 5, Galaxy S III, and iPad. Without going into details, let’s quickly understand the basic stuff. A Galaxy S III consumes about 4.49 kWh (kilowatt-hour) per year, and an iPhone 5 consumes 3.47 kWh approximately. Although the current average US residential rate is a bit higher, but I’ll take the same as Outlier, i.e. 11.8 cents/kWh. That makes the annual cost of charging a Galaxy S III and an iPhone 5, $0.53/year and $0.41/year respectively. Similarly, the cost of charging an iPad and iPhone 4 is $1.36/year and $0.38/year. These figures does not include the cost and electricity required to power the millions of data centers around the world.

These figures only considers the charging time, and eliminates the amount of time for which you leave the device plugged in even after it’s fully charged. Usually people who put their phones on charging before going to sleep do this. It’s important because even when the phone is charged, the charger does not cut off the power consumption.

Now, the figures may look too tiny to care about, but let’s zoom out a bit. These figures indicate the power consumption of one device. What about the rest? How much smartphones does the world own to-day?

Over 1 billion. That’s the number of ‘smartphones’ only. Consider all mobile phones, and the number goes up to over 6 billion. It’s believed that the number of mobile phones will surpass the world population by 2014. And so far we’ve only counted mobile phones, there are a number of other portable devices as well (tablets, mp3 players, etc.). If you’re following the trends, you may notice that the smartphones’ batteries are getting bigger with time.

So, We Should Stop Using Mobile Phones?

Oh, no. In fact, use them more. Smartphones consume considerably less power than the devices they’re replacing, and they do replace many electronic devices at times. For example, you can watch movies on tablets instead of your 42-inch Plasma TV, play games on mobile instead of xBox 360, listen to music on your mobile, and more.

power consumption by smartphones and other electronics

image source: Opower Blogs

How do we Save Energy Then?

Don’t just save energy, build it. That’s the whole point of this concept. Imagine if 7 billion people can consume billions of units of electricity, can’t they generate the same? By using AIRE and similar products, we can. It’s just the beginning. It means that there are practically unlimited number of possibilities in which we can use this concept. The scope of improvement and innovation is pretty vast.

My Take:

Personally, I think that it’s an amazing concept and what João Lammoglia is doing is commendable. Frankly, all of a sudden I feel that all these years we’ve wasted so much energy. What if we have developed it earlier? That’s hypothetical anyway.

This concept should be taken further and research work should be encouraged in this particular field. I’m not a Scientist, and maybe not even qualified enough to comment on this, but I know that we cannot rely on non-renewable resources anymore. We should work towards minimizing our carbon footprints, for a true sustainable development. And for that, we should work towards utilizing existing renewable sources of energy along with finding new ones.

Easier said than done. We all need to make efforts to make it a success. Perhaps, there are many more João somewhere on this planet. The least we can do is support them.

What are your views about AIRE concept and other such products? Do you know of any field where it can be used in lieu of existing non-renewable and harmful resources? Share your views in comments section below, and if it’s good enough, I’ll add it here (and may be send a copy to João).

I’ve sent an email to João Lammoglia with a few question I have in mind about AIRE. I’ll update the post once I get a response from him. Till then, spread the word!