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Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Green Tech: Harvesting Our Own Energy!
I find myself thinking about alternative energy sources a lot and one idea that constantly pops into my head when thinking about future technology is the idea of using the things we do every day to store up usable power. It’s a fascinating area of Green Tech, the harvesting of energy from our own bodies to power devices. Most of us create quite a bit of energy everyday whether it’s running, biking, swimming, skiing, even walking, etc.
There has been a steady stream of concepts from designers and prototypes from labs lately though few are really viable. Fujitsu’s latest breakthrough in harvesting energy from both light and heat could be the next big thing for micro-energy harvesting via wearable technology. Without the need for electrical wiring or battery replacements, the company hopes it could be part of commercial products by 2015.
Fujitsu’s hybrid device does what normally requires separate devices, one to harvests heat, one for vibrations, one for only light, etc. The company recognizes that alternatives for generating micro-energy are going the increase in demand in the next few years, and so they’re working to get ahead of the curve. It also recognizes that harvesting ambient energy from light, vibration, heat and so forth yields minute results, so hybrid devices are a smart way to go.
Fujitsu Laboratories writes that it has "successfully developed an organic material that is suitable for a generator in both photovoltaic and thermoelectric modes.
The organic material features a high generating efficiency that can produce power from even indoor lighting in photovoltaic mode, and it can also generate power from heat in its thermoelectric mode. Since the organic material and its process cost are inexpensive, production costs can be greatly reduced
The company notes that the device will be perfect in the medical field, gathering energy from patients and their environments to run small life-saving devices, or it can be used for tasks like remote sensors for weather forecasting, or monitoring the integrity of structures like bridges, and other needs.
I’m not expecting it to be the biggest miracle breakthrough device that could power every handheld gadget, but it is a very interesting progression of renewable energy harvesting technology that could be very useful if it pans out.