Energy Harvesting:

Powering Up

the Battery-Free World

Oct 31, 2010 23:58 ideyoshi Kume

One of the reasons that overseas manufacturers have pulled so far ahead of Japan in practical application is that domestic manufacturers are overly concerned with generating electricity. Many firms in Japan have been developing power generating devices for years, but the thrust of research and development has been boosting output. European and American firms more interested in combining the most useful characteristics of peripheral circuits, on the other hand, have taken the lead in market development.

Table 2 Energy Harvesting Consortium Members

The situation is beginning to change, however, as companies swing into action to make businesses out of the new technology. One symbol of the change is the establishment of the Energy Harvesting Consortium, which was established in May 2010 by thirteen companies (Table 2). With the addition of eight latecomers, the group is already collecting related industry information and stimulating discussion and exchange between member firms.

Corporate Aim Revealed through Frequency

Japanese companies are finally making the transition from competing to make a better generator to actually refining products. Some firms, for example, are actively working on products to generate electricity from vibration: Omron Corp. of Japan, Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd. of Japan and Murata Manufacturing Co., Ltd. of Japan are developing prototypes with very specific applications in mind (Fig. 9) Note 7).

Note 7) The three companies are developing vibration-based generators utilizing a material called electret. When the areas of two opposing electrodes change as a result of vibration, it causes a change in induced charge, producing a current.

Fig. 9 Corporate Objectives Apparent in Waveband
Scope of application shown for vibration generators. The optimal target frequency varies with application, revealing each firm’s goals. (Diagram by Nikkei Electronics based on material courtesy Omron, plus papers presented by Sanyo Electric and Murata Manufacturing)
Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

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