From Low Power to No Power

through Energy Harvesting:

Powering Up

the Battery-Free World

Oct 31, 2010 23:58 ideyoshi Kume

Vibration from people walking or cars crossing bridges, automobile heat, broadcasting waves and more: Energy harvesting makes it possible to utilize the uptapped energy all around us. While the available electric power is small, the world is fascinated by the concept of eliminating the need for primary batteries… More and more applications are becoming possible as the characteristics of peripheral components are improved, and high-efficiency wireless ICs running on minimal power are driving expanded introduction.

Energy harvesting refers to collecting the minute amounts of energy in our immediate surroundings, such as vibration, light, heat and electromagnetic radiation. This concept of efficiently tapping the minute amount of energy that we casually discard today is attracting enormous interest.

“The energy harvesting equipment market will grow from US$650 million in 2010 to US$4.4 billion in 2020,” predicts IDTechEx Ltd. of the UK. 1) Innovative Research and Products, Inc. of the US adds “The 2009 market is US$79.5 million, but that will grow at an annual rate of 73.6% to reach US$1.254 billion in 2014.” 2)

“Battery-Free” the Major Selling Point

Also known as environmental energy harvesting and energy scavenging, energy harvesting offers the advantage of being able to generate power in diverse locations (Fig. 1). The energy gained, however, is extremely small (Table 1), 3) with output power on the ?W order for the majority of generating devices. It is unlikely to be able to provide enough energy to make it unnecessary to charge smartphones, for example.

Fig. 1 Diverse Energy Sources All Around Us
Energy harvesting is a technology to efficiently “harvest” and utilize minute amounts of energy currently being discarded. Energy sources include vibration, light, heat and electromagnetic radiation. (Illustration: Reiko Kusumoto)
Table 1 Common Minute Energy Sources
Received & published by Henry Sapiecha

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