China Spring Middle School seventh-grader Timmy Reid’s innovative idea for keeping a pacemaker operating without batteries won first place in his category at the Texas Science and Engineering Fair.

Timmy, a student of Rachel Stolle, won first in the Energy: Chemical division at the fair last weekend at Texas A&M University in College Station. His winning project, “Using Alternative Energy Source to Power Medical Devices,” earned him a spot as one of 1,600 students across the country to compete in a national competition held in Washington, D.C.

Even high-tech pacemakers require maintenance surgeries for the patient every few years to change the lithium batteries that power the device. Having additional surgeries sometimes leads to complications and infections.

Timmy discovered a way to use naturally occurring chemicals in the body to self-power the pacemaker. In a YouTube video on the project, he created a functional fuel cell using Shewanella electrogenic bacteria that produced as much as 90 watts of power and did so for several months.

Using a resistor, he generated 28 microwatts produced by the bacteria, noting that was more than the 4 microwatts a pacemaker needs to operate.

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