Blood is just one of the body fluids we need to survive. Reuters

Your body produces its own electricity in the form of nerve signals and your bloodstream travels at a very fast pace inside it. But the human body itself has never been used to generate electricity — a Chinese research team has developed lightweight power generator that can convert the energy of flowing blood in blood vessels into electricity.

The model works similar to how a hydroelectric plant works. Just like flowing or falling water turns turbines and generates electricity, blood flowing inside your veins could do the same. Hydroelectricity has definite advantages over solar or wind electricity as it is less weather-dependent, but generating electricity from blood stream would be even more efficient.

The research team from Fudan University in Shanghai, China, is using a fiber with a thickness of less than a millimeter that acts a turbine and generates electricity when surrounded by a saline solution in a thin tube.

The fiber is made by putting an array of carbon nanotubes together, wrapped around a polymeric core. The reason for choosing carbon nanotubes for this purpose is that they are electroactive i.e. exhibit a change in size and shape when stimulated by an electric field.

For generating electricity, the thread of the “fiber-shaped fluidic nanogenerator” (FFNG), which is what the researchers are calling their minute electricity generator.

"The electricity was derived from the relative movement between the FFNG and the solution," the scientists explained in their research paper which was published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition Journal on Friday.

The paper details how electricity is generated using FFNG — an electric double layer is created around the fiber, and the flowing solution composed either of a saline solution or water, which then distorts the charge distribution in the blood vessel and generates electricity along a long axis.

The power output efficiency of this system of generating electricity is higher than most traditional electricity harvesting mechanisms — the researchers claim a power efficiency higher than 20 percent.

The team has been testing the FFNG on frog nerves and have been successful in harvesting electric energy.

While that is the mechanism, what are the practical applications of this mechanism?

Well, the research could actually result in the development of fibers and clothes made from those fibers which can generate electricity — imagine your shirt generating the electricity you need to charge your phone, using your bloodstream.

Imagine not having to look for a power outlet ever.

Also, it could have large scale potential in the use of medical devices such as pacemakers. These devices could be charged without external intervention, which might extend the life of patients.

This is not the first research of its kind — a team of Swiss researchers tried to create nano-scale motors that float in the blood stream, but the project needed to be abandoned as it had the potential to create dangerous blood clots.