What is a Personal Energy Generator?
In order to determine if the nPower PEG is right for your personal use you should know a little bit about how it works. When a person takes a step and moves forward, the movement actually causes the entire body to move up and down to a limited degree. As you take a step forward, your body will get closer to the ground as your foot connects and raise back up as your other foot moves forward to take the next step. If you were to view the change in height on a graph it would look similar to a wave pattern. This is what’s known as an oscillatory motion. The natural oscillatory motion of people tends to be around the same rate no matter the height, weight, or speed of the person in question. This predictable movement is the key to what makes the nPower PEG function.
The PEG is able to take that continual change in height and convert the movement that it undergoes into electrical energy. It does this through a process called electrical induction. It’s likely that you've seen this process at work through LED flashlights. While the materials might differ slightly, most of these flashlights generate power by passing a magnet back and forth through a tube of copper wire. This energy is then stored in capacitors inside of the flashlight and that is the source of its power. That’s why you can shake these flashlights for a moment to charge them up, and once they've got enough power you can turn on the light for several minutes. The PEG is a more advanced version of that system. The PEG not only has the power induction method inside but it also has two additional components: a spring system and a battery.
The spring system inside of the nPower PEG keeps the magnet at the half-way point inside of the tube when it's not moving so it’s ready to move either up or down. When you do move up or down, the magnet inside will shift and move at the same time you do to bob up and down inside of the PEG. As you walk the magnet moves back and forth continually and generates power with that movement. In addition to simply generating the power, this personal energy generator also contains a small battery inside of it. Not only will it store all the energy that you're generating, you can 'top up' at a computer by plugging the PEG directly into it and charge the battery completely. This allows you to give your gadget both a short term boost of power and a longer term trickle charge.
What is the Best Way to Use It?
The nPower PEG is designed to be used while a person is either running or walking. In order to get the most power output from this device you should pack your PEG into something where it can be upright and allow the mechanism inside a free range of movement. In an emergency you could even rapidly shake the device and provide a more rapid generation of power. While you could put it on a bicycle, your power generation will vary widely. This functions best when its moving up and down at a continual rate, so you'd need to be on rougher terrain than city streets to really get a significant charge.
Due to the nature of this device, the power that it generates is not a great amount when you compare it to the needs of many power-hungry devices. You could power up something small like an iPod Nano at roughly a 1:1 ratio – in other words, if you walked for about a minute you'd get an extra minute to listen to your iPod. However, a much larger device, like an iPhone, that ratio would stretch to 26:1 where you'd be walking for 26 minutes in order to talk for one minute.
This means that you need to have proper expectations on what you’re going to be charging and how useful this will be to you. While the PEG does have an internal battery, it is nowhere near large enough to give your power-hungry gadgets a full charge. If you were to use it to slowly trickle charge a backup emergency battery or mobile rapid charging unit over time that would be a lot more useful if you’re going to use it for larger gadgets.
While it’s not an ideal mechanism for charging all of your gadgets, it is a great way to significantly extend the usage of most of them. The PEG will plug in and power up over 90 percent of the devices on the market today.
The Technology Has Much Wider Implications
Although the current version of nPower's energy creation device is designed for personal use, it can be scaled both up and down for a much wider variety of purposes.
The scaled down version is called a Biomedical Implantable Generator, or BIG for short. Although tiny in size, it would be able to generate enough energy to power small devices like pacemakers or automatic defibrillators inside the body.
The scaled up version of this device is called a Wave Energy Converter, or WEC. With the exception of nPower, all current devices designed to create energy from waves requires the ocean. The waves in the ocean have an oscillation that is usually very large and so many different kinds of technology could pull power from the ocean. This technology however would allow the use of much smaller waves, like those of lakes, to produce energy. With the power generation technology completely encapsulated inside of the device, it can be completely sealed to prevent erosion and other ill effects that ocean or regular water can have on these kinds of devices. Although the power generation of one of these devices isn't as great as something like a wind mill, you can create a small farm that will produce the equivalent amount of power for a fraction of the cost.
With the possibilities of this technology, the future looks very bright for nPower.
All images and references are to the nPower PEG which can be found at their website.