WIRELESS SENSOR NETWORKS ARE EXPANDING

Energy Harvesting:

Powering Up

the Battery-Free World

Oct 31, 2010 23:58 ideyoshi Kume

Though the thermoelectric conversion device is small, the heat exchanger used to attain the high efficiency for a given temperature differential is relatively large. This component is expected to account for the majority of module cost. The heat exchanger is critical in determining electric conversion efficiency, and can as much as double output. Research in this area is sparse, and it is likely to develop into a major battleground for peripheral components.

Expanding Application in Wireless Sensor Networks

Advancement in high-efficiency peripheral circuits and generators with low power consumption has finally made energy harvesting a practical technology. And now that the foundations are in place, the applications are beginning to take shape. The technology is likely to be used diversely, not only in existing switch applications for lighting and such (Fig. 7).

Fig. 7 New Ideas Pioneer New Applications
There is a wide range of possible applications. Especially promising ones include health monitoring for bridges and vehicles, and implementations in animal husbandry and agriculture. (Illustration: Reiko Kusumoto)

One of the most promising applications is wireless sensor networks. Data acquired by the sensors only has to be transmitted a few times an hour, which means power consumption is low. This level is quite possible for an energy harvesting system (Fig. 8).

Fig. 8 New Wireless Sensor Node
The “Mr. Shoene” wireless sensor node released by Seiko Instruments (SII) in Sept. 2010 uses the firm’s proprietary special low-power wireless technology. Power consumption is low and the device is non-directional, making it possible for signals to route around obstacles.
Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

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