Someday, perhaps, we'll power our ever-growing number of personal electronic devices with something sustainable like biofuels or sunlight. Until then, the
(personal energy device) will do nicely. Tremont Electric's clever gadget converts the motion of walking or running into energy, which it stores in a battery until you're ready to recharge your cell phone or iPod.
Cool, right? The only problem to date has been getting hold of one.
"The last 18 months have been pretty challenging," says vice president Jill LeMieux. The supplier of the custom battery used in the original design proved unable to keep up. At present there are about 2,000 nPower PEG's in use -- and 5,000 on back order. That's an encouraging but precarious situation for a small company.
But things should improve in late March; that's when Delta Systems
in Streetsboro begins mass-producing nPower PEGs. Would-be owners' reward for waiting will be greater energy efficiency in the new models -- which Tremont Electric founder and CEO Aaron LeMieux attributes to advances in microprocessors -- and a standardized battery that holds twice the charge of the older ones.
Delta Systems has been "very supportive," Jill adds, fronting the tooling costs until sales ramp up. She expects to sell at least 1,000 units per month. In the near future they'll only be available through the website, but some retailers already are expressing interest. The product is a natural for stores serving runners, hikers and campers.
"What we've seen since the rollout of this product is overwhelming demand for it," says Aaron.
The company hears frequently from users who "love" the PEG, including servicemen in Afghanistan, who report that it has worked "flawlessly." And like the deal with Delta, a military order would be another big, energy-generating step forward for the tiny company. The PEG is also a finalist in the Edison Awards
, which will be announced April 26. Tremont Electric also continues to work with universities and others on deploying buoys
that would convert the motion of waves into large-scale energy production.
Notes Aaron, "It's going to get interesting around here, I can say that much."
Sources: Jill and Aaron LeMieux
Writer: Frank W. Lewis