NPR logo

Recharging Portable Electronics One Step At A Time

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/120236697/120251012" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Recharging Portable Electronics One Step At A Time

Recharging Portable Electronics One Step At A Time

Recharging Portable Electronics One Step At A Time

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/120236697/120251012" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The next time your batteries need a recharge, try taking a walk. A tiny Cleveland startup is trying to capture the renewable energy of your footsteps — no outlet required.

Tremonth Electronics' Personal Energy Generator, or PEG Courtesy of Tremont Electronics hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of Tremont Electronics

Tremonth Electronics' Personal Energy Generator, or PEG

Courtesy of Tremont Electronics

At 6 feet tall and about 180 pounds, Aaron LeMieux is a pretty powerful guy.

A few years ago, as he was walking along the Appalachian Trail, he had to stop in little towns to find batteries for his Walkman. For a mechanical engineer like LeMieux, this was a problem waiting to be solved.

Mobile electronic devices like the iPhone only require 2.5 watts of power to fully recharge themselves, he says. "So, in the end, all we have to do is harvest 2.5 percent of your human walking energy, without you knowing it, and put it in your mobile electronic device."

So, after years of tinkering, LeMieux's company Tremont Electric is about to launch its first product that takes a little of your walking energy and sends it to your portable electronics. It's called the Personal Energy Generator, or PEG, and it's about the size of a flashlight.

LeMieux says with a new unit a leisurely walk would be good enough to get wall-outlet-level power.

With each step, magnets bounce back and forth off springs inside the PEG, generating electricity. The springs amplify movement, allowing the PEG to make a lot more power than past attempts at capturing kinetic energy.

Sara Bradford, of Texas-based market research firm Frost & Sullivan, is impressed.

"As a category, it's a breakthrough that we're now starting to see commercial products hit the market and being able to be sold to the mass market," Bradford says.

This kind of technology isn't expected to become mainstream until it's cheaply built into devices we already have. But LeMieux is trying to get his company off the ground, and the $149 PEG into customers' hands by the holidays.

We no longer support commenting on NPR.org stories, but you can find us every day on Facebook, Twitter, email, and many other platforms. Learn more or contact us.