Cleveland is arguably the birthplace of the energy industry.  With a history steeped in great characters like John D. Rockefeller and Thomas Edison, it seems fitting that one of the most exciting new energy technologies is based right here in Cleveland.  Aaron LeMieux founded Tremont Electric in 2007 and by 2009 he had patented nPower Technology – a way of sustainably harvesting kinetic energy.

 

The nPower PEG is the first passive kinetic energy harvesting device.  It takes the energy you create everyday by walking around and stores it in a lithium-ion battery that can then be used to power over 3000 different devices.  What makes it unique is the fact that you don’t have to actively recharge the nPower PEG – you can just stick it in your backpack or purse and it will go about it’s business collecting energy until you need to use it.  Founder Aaron LeMieux explains, “You don’t have to think about it.  It’s essentially a human power generator.”

nPower PEG Box

The nPower PEG in its packaging.

 

While the nPower PEG can’t completely eradicate standard chargers, it can make small devices like iPod Nanos “energy neutral,” meaning 1 minute of walk time equals 1 minute of listening time.  At full capacity, the nPower PEG can give you about an 85% charge to an iPhone 4, and a 100% charge to an iPhone 3G.

 

And if you aren’t interested in walking miles upon miles every day just to charge your cell phone, the nPower PEG can be “quick charged” via a computer or other USB charger, and your walking energy will just top off the battery every day.  This helps dissipate the natural drain on the battery (about 5-10% per month), and keeps your PEG lasting longer.

 

The average person generates about 100 watts of power per day just walking around.  The nPower PEG makes use of that energy by taking the concept of Faraday’s Law of Induction and fine tuning it to the rhythm of human walking – 2 hertz.  Electrical engineer Derek Clark explains the physics behind the nPower PEG:  “According to Faraday’s Law of Induction, a changing magnetic field generates a current.  The nPower PEG takes advantage of this effect by having a magnet pass back and forth through a coil, which then creates a current that gets stored in a capacitor.”

nPowerPEG

Inside the nPower PEG is a cylindrical magnet that passes through a tightly wound coil of wire. As the magnetic field changes, the current that’s generated is stored in a capacitor. The magnet is built in a way that it moves in step with the human stride.

 

Shake flashlights also utilize the same concept.  The main difference between the idea of a shake flashlight and the nPower PEG is that shakelights have to be actively charged, while the nPower PEG charges passively while you go about your daily routine.

 

Aaron LeMieux is a graduate of the University of Toledo, and he has no qualms about keeping his business in Ohio.  He’s made his roots in Tremont because he loves the region and how easy it is to manufacture just about any product here.  90% of the components for the nPower PEG are made in Northeast Ohio.  LeMieux thinks it’s easier to oversee the manufacturing process when he keeps his sources close. “All of our suppliers are close.  If we have any problems, we can jump in the car and drive on over there just as quickly as we can make a telephone call.  It really facilitates close hand communication.”

 

The next step for Tremont Electric is to enlarge their nPower Technology and make it into a wave energy converter.  The converters would look like giant buoys, but they would do much more.  The same concept of harnessing the Faraday Law of Induction would be used to generate electricity from the motion of the waves in an ocean or lake.

Harvey, the mascot

Harvey, the Tremont Electric company mascot.

Aaron and his staff are constantly looking to the future and have built a business plan to ensure their values of sustainability and community are never lost.  “We still very much have a startup culture here.  We know that we’re building a culture for all of the employees that come in after us.  We’re a company that has a very long runway.”

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