Energy Harvesting Forum

Energy Harvesting Electronic Solutions for Wireless Sensor Networks & Control Systems
Sources and Solutions for Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) and Control Systems
Websites of companies that carry practical products which can be implemented to address energy harvesting needs of key electronic components are listed below:
 
Piezo Electric
AdaptivEnergy >>
Advanced Cerametrics >>
Face International Corp >>
MicroStrain >>
Mide Corporation >>
Morgan Electro Ceramics >>
Noliac >>
Piezo Systems >>
Smart Material >>
 
Thermal Electric
Ferrotec >>
Marlow Industries >>
Melcor >>
Micropelt >>
Perpetua >>
TE Technology >>
Teca Corporation >>
Tellurex Corporation >>
Thermolife Energy Corp. >>
 
Photo Electric
Clare >>
Enocean >>
Plastecs >>
Powerfilm >>
Q-mo solar AG >>
Sunwize >>
Trony Solar Co. >>
 
MEMS
MicroGen Systems >>
 
Inductive / Magnetic
Enocean >>
Ferro Solutions >>
KCF Technologies, Inc. >>
Perpetuum LTD >>
Powercast Corporation >>
 
Energy Harvesting Electronics
Advanced Linear Devices >>
Ambient Micro >>
Linear Technology >>
Power One >>
 
Wireless Sensor Networks
Dust Networks Inc. >>
Enocean >>
MaxStream Inc. >>
MicroStrain >>
Moteiv >>
Nanotron >>
Phase IV Engineering >>
Powercast Corporation >>
Rabbit >>
Radiotronix >>
Texas Instruments >>
Ubiwave >>
 
Energy Harvesting Energy Storage
Cymbet Corporation >>
Infinite Power Solutions >>
TPL, Inc. >>
 
Other Applications / Sources
Cedrat Technologies >>
ZigBee Alliance >>
 

If your company produces an energy harvesting product and you wish to be included on this Forum, please send an email to Energy Harvesting Forum and we will consider your request.

Energy is everywhere in the environment surrounding us — available in the form of thermal energy, light (solar) energy, wind energy, and mechanical energy. However, the energy from these sources is often found in such minute quantities that it cannot supply adequate power for any viable purpose. In fact, until recently, it has not been possible to capture such energy sufficiently to perform any useful work.

This scenario is about to change.

Energy Harvesting is the process of capturing minute amounts of energy from one or more of these naturally-occurring energy sources, accumulating them and storing them for later use. Energy-harvesting devices efficiently and effectively capture, accumulate, store, condition and manage this energy and supply it in a form that can be used to perform a helpful task. Similarly, an Energy Harvesting Module is an electronic device that can perform all these functions to power a variety of sensor and control circuitry for intermittent duty applications.

Why Energy Harvesting?

Advanced technical developments have increased the efficiency of devices in capturing trace amounts of energy from the environment and transforming them into electrical energy. In addition, advancements in microprocessor technology have increased power efficiency, effectively reducing power consumption requirements. In combination, these developments have sparked interest in the engineering community to develop more and more applications that utilize energy harvesting for power.

Energy harvesting from a natural source where a remote application is deployed, and where such natural energy source is essentially inexhaustible, is an increasingly attractive alternative to inconvenient wall plugs and costly batteries. This essentially free energy source, when designed and installed properly, is available maintenance-free and is now available throughout the lifetime of the application. Such systems can be more reliable than wall plugs or batteries.

In addition, energy harvesting can be used as an alternative energy source to supplement a primary power source and to enhance the reliability of the overall system and prevent power interruptions.

Energy Harvesting Applications

Many real life applications using energy harvesting system power are now practical. Wireless sensor network systems such as ZigBee systems often benefit from energy harvesting power sources. For example, when a wireless node is deployed at a remote site where a wall plug or a battery is either unreliable or unavailable, energy harvesting can augment or supply power. In another example, a remote control node running on energy harvesting can be implemented as a self-powered electronic system. And in yet other situations, multiple energy sources can be used to enhance the overall efficiency and reliability of any system.

Common Sources of Energy Harvesting

  • Mechanical Energy – from sources such as vibration, mechanical stress and strain
  • Thermal Energy – waste energy from furnaces, heaters, and friction sources
  • Light Energy – captured from sunlight or room light via photo sensors, photo diodes, or solar panels
  • Electromagnetic Energy – from inductors, coils and transformers
  • Natural Energy – from the environment such as wind, water flow, ocean currents, and solar
  • Human Body – a combination of mechanical and thermal energy naturally generated from bio-organisms or through actions such as walking and sitting
  • Other Energy – from chemical and biological sources

It is important to note, that all these energy sources are virtually unlimited and essentially free, if they can be captured at or near the system location.

Key Components of an Energy Harvesting System

An energy harvesting system generally requires an energy source such as vibration, heat, light or air flow and three other key electronic components, including:

  • An energy conversion device such as a piezoelectric element that can translate the energy into electrical form
  • An energy harvesting module that captures, stores and manages power for the device
  • An end application such as a ZigBee-enable wireless sensor network or control and monitoring devices

Optional Key Components of an Energy Harvesting System

In addition to the three key components listed above, in certain applications there can be additional key components that would be vital to the functioning of an energy harvesting system:

  • An electronic interface device or module, such as a low voltage step up booster module, to condition the energy captured from a low voltage source (less than 500mV) and power the energy harvesting module
  • A supplementary energy storage device, such as thin-film batteries, ultra capacitors, and super capacitors
  • An energy or power management module that will further regulate and condition the power output from the supplementary energy storage devices

Keep in mind that all these optional key components require extra energy to function, and thus reduce the system's overall energy capture efficiency and add to the bulk and cost. The cost vs. benefit trade-off of these additional components must be carefully evaluated in any particular energy harvesting system.

 

Note:  If your company produces an energy harvesting product and has a datasheet and pricing information, please submit such information to be added to this website by contacting ehadmin@energyharvesting.net

 

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