Energy harvesting, the process of tapping into micro-power sources in the environment, now spans a number of ambient sources and “has matured through the use of a variety of environmental sources” according to technology expert R. Colin Johnson, writing in the recent edition of a professional computing journal.
These power sources include:
• Light (via photovoltaic cells).
• Wind (which drives turbines that generate electricity).
• Vibration (resonators drive transducers to generate electricity).
• Thermal (temperature differences converted to electrical energy by dipole oscillators)
• Radio Waves (electricity harvested from oscillating electromagnetic fields with antennas and diodes).
As quoted in the article, Pat Pannuto, assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of California, San Diego eyes batteries as the weakest link.
“Batteries are the limiting factor in the lifetime of today’s electronic devices. To extend service lifetime, devices must be able to obtain energy from their deployment context. That means scavenging energy from the nearby environment. As we push into more diverse environments, this also means scavenging from new and novel sources. In the future, intelligent instrumented systems will run on energy found wherever they are deployed. For instance, sensors embedded in concrete can harvest from the corrosion of the rebar. Sensors buried underground can harvest from electrogenic bacteria in the soil.”
Read about “The Great Energy Harvest” here: