Note: Many of the devices below use piezoelectric devices. MSHA has specific rules, in section 8.5, covering the use of "Piezo-Electric Components". See also section 4.11 "Problems associated with the use of piezoelectric devices" in the FAQ.

Thermopiles in headband power wireless EEG sensor and 2.4 GHz transmitter. This is the IMEC press release from their web site, thought you would find it of interest. I find the power source of the most interest myself. There are pictures and video at the link of the IMEC device. Personally I would not use a device with 2.4 GHz strapped to my head...
"16-10-2007 - Leuven, Belgium -- IMEC has developed a 2-channel wireless EEG (electroencephalography or monitoring of brain waves) system powered by a thermo-electric generator. It uses the body heat dissipated naturally from the forehead. The wearable EEG system operates completely autonomous and maintenance-free with no need to change or recharge the batteries. This is a major advantage for body-worn sensors, a key theme in the Human++ program within the Holst Centre.

The entire system is wearable and integrated into a headband. The small size, low power consumption of only 0.8mW and autonomous operation increase the patient's autonomy and quality of life. Potential applications are detection of imbalance between the two halves of the brain, detection of certain kinds of brain trauma and monitoring of brain activity.

The EEG system uses IMEC's proprietary ultra-low power biopotential readout ASIC to extract high-quality EEG signals with micro-power consumption. A low-power digital signal-processing block encodes the extracted EEG data which is sent to a PC via a 2.4GHz wireless radio. The whole system consumes only 0.8mW.

The thermoelectric generator is mounted on the forehead and converts the heat flow between the skin and air into electrical power. The generator is composed of 10 thermoelectric units interconnected in a flexible way. At room temperature, the generated power is about 2-2.5mW or 0.03mW/cm2 which is the theoretical limit of power generation on human skin. Higher power generation would cause an uncomfortable sense of cold. The EEG system is operational in less than one minute after switching on the device.

Future research targets further reduction of the power consumption of the different system components including the radio and processor. Also, a semiconductor process for manufacturing thermopiles is under development. This will allow a significant reduction of the production cost.

The system is a tangible demonstrator of the Human++ program researching healthcare, lifestyle and sport applications of body area networks. Interested parties can get more insight in this research or license the underlying technologies through membership of the program."

Source: IMEC Press Release.

Tornado Power.

This one is a bit speculative, but Coal Mines do have large temperature differentials.

"Inventor Louis Michaud has formed a company called AVEtec Energy, filed and obtained patents, and has partnered up with the University of Western Ontario's wind-tunnel lab to study small prototypes and do computer simulations of his "vortex engine" process. Heat rises when you've got a certain temperature differential, and as it rises it swirls -- kind of the reverse of what you see when water goes down a drain. AVEtec's pitch might raise eyebrows, but many are taking it seriously..."

Source: Clean Break via Keelynet.

From thin air: Harvesting or scavenging power for remote-sensor applications.
"NanoPower Forum prompts examination of design challenges and terminology surrounding wireless, low-power-sensor applications."
"...The NanoPower Forum pulled together a range of topics that, at first glance, do not appear to relate readily to one another. However, the topics jigsaw together to form a tightly coupled study of certain low-power applications. In all examples, the design goal was to implement a remote function with no signal or power leads connecting the function's remote location and the rest of the system.

Key among the presentation topics was energy harvesting by various means, including piezoelectric devices, thermopiles, and magnetoelectric devices. In many presentations, the energy these devices made available powered sensors or autonomous communications nodes, often both acting in concert. The applications for such devices cover a noteworthy range, including human-body implants, industrial-equipment monitoring, and sensor networks for commercial aircraft..."

Source: Joshua Israelsohn, Contributing Technical Editor -- EDN Magazine, 7/19/2007.

Vibrations good for harvesting electricity.

"By converting vibrations into usable power, researchers are enabling the battery-free operation of ultra-low-power wireless devices for everything from medical implants to that black-box under the seat of new automobiles. If a sensor is needed but it is inconvenient to supply power--from the inside of a jet engine to the heart's aorta valve, for example--energy harvesters are being designed to convert environmental gradients into usable electrical power...

The IMEC vibration harvester uses a micron-sized cantilever with a carefully calculated mass on its free-end that oscillates in the presence of vibrations. The cantilever's fixed end is embedded in a piezoelectric capacitor formed from two metal electrodes separated by the piezoelectric dielectric called PZT (Lead Zirconate Titanate). As the cantilever oscillates, the tiny mass on its end causes the piezoelectric layer to be alternatively stretched and compressed by about 180 nanometers. Each cycle causes an alternating current (AC) to be generated in the circuit it powers, producing a maximum of 40 microwatts at the cantilever's resonance frequency of 1.8 kHz..."

Source: E.E.Times, by R. Colin Johnson, via Automotive Design Line.

Good vibes power tiny generator.

A tiny generator powered by natural vibrations could soon be helping keep heart pacemakers working.

The generator's creators say their technology is up to 10 times more efficient than similar devices...

The tiny device, which is less than one cubic centimeter in size, uses vibrations in the world around it to make magnets on a cantilever at the heart of the device wobble to generate power...

Work on the project was funded by the EU as part of the 14.3m euros (9.67m) Vibration Energy Scavenging (Vibes) project that is looking at how to use environmental vibrations to generate power.

Source: B.B.C. News, via Keelynet.

Perpetuum - Energy harvesters power low-cost industrial wireless system.

Energy harvesters are powering the world's first low-cost industrial wireless condition monitoring system. The PMG17-100 energy harvesting microgenerator, developed by Perpetuum, converts machine and plant vibration into useful electricity, enabling wireless sensors to transmit large amounts of critical data. Perpetuum's microgenerators can be used to power condition monitoring systems enabling end-users to continually monitor plant and equipment allowing them to make significant cost savings, says the company [Perpetuum].

PMG17-100 operates on vibration from plant or machinery running on mains frequency at 50Hz. It transforms the kinetic energy of vibration into an electrical current, producing ample power, for a wireless transmitter to send 6 Kbytes of data (i.e. a vibration spectrum), every few minutes, or smaller amounts of data several times a second. Installation is easy, efficient and virtually instantaneous: it is simply placed on the piece of equipment without the need for a timely and costly plant shut-down...

Source: ElectorPages.

Power Components: ICs address alternative energy sources.

Imagine a cell phone that offers endless standby power, or an MP3 player that never needs recharging. That is the promise of powering portable consumer electronics devices off renewable power sources. By harvesting power from external sources such as solar or micro fuel cells, systems can tap into what is for all practical purposes an infinite source of energy...

In March, TI introduced a step-up converter designed to help designers cost-effectively use the nonstandard voltages from alternative power sources to recharge the core lithium-ion battery in a portable electronic device. The TPS61200 integrates a 1.5-amp switch and supports input voltages from 0.3 to 5.5 V. It can manage power down to 0 V if the undervoltage lockout pin is connected directly to the output voltage. It supports an extremely low, 0.5-V startup in any load condition and still maintains efficiency of up to 90 percent...

Source: E.E. Times, by John H. Mayer, via Embedded Systems.

Researchers apply energy harvesting to portable devices.

MANHASSET, N.Y. The move to provide supplemental energy sources for batteries in portable devices is accelerating as more mobile phones, MP3 players, laptops and wireless devices use some form of energy harvesting...

Source: E.E. Times, by Nicolas Mokhoff.

Nano, MEMS are advancing energy harvesting technology.

ROSEMOUNT, Ill. Using nanotechnology and MEMS technology in energy harvesting applications is a work in progress that nevertheless shows huge potential, experts said.

Progress was in evidence at this week's Sensors Expo here, including a session on using nanotechnology and MEMS in energy harvesting applications. Panelists said companies like EaglePicher, Tadiran and Varta are capitalizing on existing lithium technologies to offer micro batteries for energy harvesting applications...

Source: E.E. Times, by Nicolas Mokhoff.

Nano, nano: Energy battles will join water wars in the future.
Nano and MEMS energy harvesters: At the recent Sensors Expo, there was a session on using nanotech and MEMS for energy harvesting applications with companies EaglePicher, Tadiran, and Varta demonstrating micro batteries for energy harvesting applications using existing lithium technologies. "Is that my energy or yours, pardner?"

Source: IBM developerWorks : Blogs : Power Architecture zone editors' notebook.

Vibrations good for harvesting electricity.

EINDHOVEN, Netherlands -- By converting vibrations into usable power, researchers are enabling the battery-free operation of ultra-low-power wireless devices for everything from medical implants to that black-box under the seat of new automobiles. If a sensor is needed but it is inconvenient to supply power--from the inside of a jet engine to the heart's aorta valve, for example--energy harvesters are being designed to convert environmental gradients into usable electrical power.

The latest batch of energy harvesters for vibrations use piezoelectric actuators sized to match the energy required by the application, from centimeter-sized fibers ruggedized to supply milliwatts in harsh environments, all the way down to micron-sized actuators fabricated using micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) to supply microwatts to wireless sensors...

Source: E.E.Times, by R. Colin Johnson.

Energy Harvesting Conference.
"The 2007 Nano-Power Forum which took place last month in San Jose, CA, was the first industry conference to focus on energy harvesting, the ability of a device to acquire and use energy from its surrounding and to eke out power from its environment. Topics included RF-power transmission and harvesting and storing vibrational, thermal, and piezoelectric energy. Designers look to energy harvesting to deliver a reliable source of power in extreme conditions for as long as 20 years, a capability that seems beyond the scope of small, price-competitive batteries."

Source: EDN Magazine.

Potential Wireless Power Health Issues.
"Health issues arise as possible concerns about using RF-power transmitters as sources of wireless power. Regan Zane, PhD, of the University of Colorado -- Boulder presented a paper [at the 2007 Nano-Power Forum] , Efficient low-power RF energy harvesting and power management, which included a comparison of radiation levels for common consumer appliances with the level of radiation you'd see in an RF-power transmitter."

Source: EDN Magazine.

See the Blog for some health related commentary.

Low Energy/Chemically Assisted Nuclear Reactions.

This site features a library of papers on Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR), which are also known as Chemically Assisted Nuclear Reactions (CANR).

See also: IEEE Spectrum September 2004.

This technology is what is destined to replace the older Radioisotope Heater Units (RHU), as long term, low power, power sources.

"Cold Fusion" without the baggage.

Plastic Sheet Delivers Wireless Power .
"Plastic sheet delivers wireless power" on Nature's news feed. Japanese researchers have created a thin plastic sheet capable of supplying up to 40 W of power to products on or near to it. Sure, the products need to have a special receiving coil to accept the power from the sheet, but it's still immensely clever.

"...As a demonstration of the product's safety, the paper shows it powering an LED at the bottom of a bowl containing water and a live fish."

Source: Sensors Magazine.

Selecting the Right Battery System.
"AN1088 - Selecting the Right Battery System for Cost-Sensitive Portable Applications While Maintaining Excellent Quality."

Source: Microchip.

Piezoelectric Ceramic Fibers  are now avaliable from Advanced Cerametrics Incorporated (ACI).
"ACI's composite materials generate ten times the amount of power from waste mechanical energy as other flexible forms of piezo materials. This functional amount of power can be used for self powering electronic loads, damping vibrations or morphing structures. Harvested mechanical energy (vibration, compression or flexure) can all be tapped to deliver extreme life span power in places previously impossible."
Energy Harvesting™ Modules  are now available from Advanced Linear Devices, Inc. (ALD).
"These Modules are designed for low power intermittent duty and long storage time applications. Specific on-board functions include energy capture and accumulation, energy storage, power conditioning and energy management from various energy sources, such as solar cells, PZT piezoelectric ceramic composite elements, inductive elements and micro thermal-electric generators. EH300 Series Modules can easily adapt to a variety and wide range of voltage and power inputs and outputs. Energy can be collected from many types of secondary or waste by-product environmental sources, such as thermal, mechanical, chemical, solar, biological and human body sources."
Trawoeger: Pyramid Electric Generator.

I'll admit this one might be a bit 'out there' but then people said Airplanes could not fly after the Wright Brothers had already did it. Looks simple enough to build one and try to see if it works, and that is a mighty big 'if'.

Source: Rex Research.

Download Paper: IC9496.pdf

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