nPower Personal Energy Generator
Lugging a stash of fresh batteries isn't something Aaron LeMieux wanted to do while hiking the Appalachian Trail. He had no alternative back in 1996, but he hopes he's got one for hikers, runners, and even walkers. It's called the nPower Personal Energy Generator. The 9-oz., 9-in.-long cylinder harvests kinetic energy from the human stride and turns it into 2.5 watts of electricity, enough for an iPod, cell phone, or other gadgets. LeMieux invented the generator after convincing his wife that he should quit his job as a management consultant in Cleveland. He then "emptied out the savings account," netting $20,000. After three days of tinkering in his basement, the mechanical engineering graduate finished a prototype. In 2007, he formed Tremont Electric, in Tremont, Ohio, with himself as CEO. He's now selling the product for $149 through Tremont's Web site, greennpower.com. LeMieux, 34, didn't get this far on his savings alone: He's raised $135,000 from friends and family and a $55,000 loan from Cuyahoga County. And he's trying to bring in $1.5 million from government agencies and venture capitalists. He and his one full-time and seven part-time employees aren't paid. The generator, which is manufactured in Cleveland, may be pricey. But it means no more batteries to throw out or dead devices while you're away from a recharger too long.
—Rachel Z. Arndt (posted on July 21, 2009)