Scientists Harness Kinetic Energy from Keyboards

Researchers at the American Petroleum Research Institute’s Laboratory for Fuels announced today they have developed an economical means via which they can use the kinetic energy generated by users of computer keyboards to make a dent in the nation’s energy bill.

Keyboard Nanogenerator“The fact that many Americans spend eight hours or more per day typing on computer keyboards caused us to explore the feasibility of harnessing the energy being expended by computer users as they type,” said Dr. Isaac M. Postor, CEO at the St. Louis-based institute which receives a majority of its funding from DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

“What we found is that the typical American office worker executes an average of 20,000 keystrokes per day,” Postor continued. “When harnessed using the nanotechnology we’ve developed, that number of keystrokes can power a 60-watt light bulb for one hour.”

Not yet named, that nanotechnology device appears similar in size and dimensions to a typical USB flash drive and, in fact, plugs into a computer’s USB port, Postor explained. The difference, however, is that this flash drive features a thin cord protruding from one end which plugs into any standard 110-volt electrical outlet.

“In essence, small nanogenerators inside this device enable computer users to send electricity back to their utility provider and thereby reduce their power consumption by several dollars per month,” Postor added. “Since more than half of Americans use computer on a regular — if not daily — basis, this device promises to make a significant dent in the ever-increasing energy costs.”

Postor expects to be able to market the device at a suggested retail price under $30, meaning that most users will realize returns on investment within one to two years, depending upon the amount of time spent at the keyboard.

For more information, click here to visit the institute web site.