January 16, 2012 -- The analysts at IDTechEx look at the year past (2011) and the year ahead (2012) for energy harvesting devices.
2011 held multiple scientific advances, technology breakthroughs, and new product developments in the energy harvesting field. This will continue in 2012, IDTechEx predicts, along with a stronger push for commercialization. Other trends include optimized power consumption in electronics devices, such as Intel's Claremont processor that runs on solar power.
Piezoelectric energy harvesters have evolved in a few years from harvesting μW of power to miliwatts in 2008, and higher energy designs are being demonstrated today. At Energy Harvesting 2011 in Boston, research work from the US National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) showcased development of high energy efficiency piezoelectric energy harvesters. Focusing on basic scientific principles that demonstrated how the "33" (longitudinal) excitation mode on piezoelectric harvesters is characterized by 3x higher energy conversion efficiency than the "31" (transverse) excitation mode, the NIA researchers described the design and construction of a hybrid piezoelectric energy harvesting transducer that can harvest 4x more energy than a tradition "31" harvester. The NIA will now optimize these devices with numerical piezoelectric harvesters being developed that can harvest up to 1W of power in 2012.
Also read: IMEC improves piezoelectric energy harvesters to drive vehicle health monitoring and MicroGen hones piezoelectric MEMS energy harvester at Cornell
End user pull is increasing, leading to increased interest in the capabilities of energy harvesters and the bespoke performance they can provide in very specific operating environments. Thermoelectrics company Micropelt demonstrated a cooking sensor co-developed with MSX technology, in which Micropelt's thermal energy harvesting technology allows for a fully embedded and sealed cooking sensor for the life time of the gear; and qNODE, developed with Schneider Electric, a wireless condition monitoring sensor for 24/7 production environments. The cooking sensor harvests power from the cooking heat; qNODE wireless temperature sensor generates its power from the resistive heat of the device it is monitoring.
These technologies and others will be the subject of IDTechEx's upcoming Energy Harvesting & Storage and Wireless Sensor Networks & RTLS Europe 2012, for full details, visit www.IDTechEx.com/eh.