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Exercise to power electronics

Editorial
article image The skin patch is intended to monitor the lactate levels in sweat during workouts.

UNIVERSITY of California San Diego researchers have developed a skin patch that generates electricity from sweat.

The skin patch is intended to monitor the lactate levels in sweat during workouts, but the idea of generating electricity from sweat could see humans one day powering small electronics devices organically.

“We came up with this idea of harvesting energy directly from the body, in a non-invasive manner,” said Joseph Wang, chairman of the school’s nanoengineering program.

Lactate is a byproduct of glycolysis. The harder the workout, the greater the lactate levels in sweat.The patch contains an enzyme that responds to lactate by stripping electrons from the lactate, which generates an electrical current. The more lactate present, the greater the current.

The amount of electricity generated is minimal, of course. The researchers found that people exercising could generate a maximum of 70 microWatts per cm of skin.

However, it could be possible to engineer larger or more efficient versions of the patch to enable wearable technology powered by sweat in the future.

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