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Integrated Energy

US researchers improve energy harvesting

Energy harvesting, i.e., scavenging energy from the environment, plays an important role for devices on the Internet of Things. Pennsylvania scientists have now developed a portable energy harvester that increases the piezo effect.

07 Jan. 2019
US researchers improve energy harvesting

Energy harvesting exploits a variety of physical effects, including the piezoelectric effect that uses kinetic energy in the environment. A team led by Professor Susan Trolier-McKinstry of Penn State University in Pennsylvania is looking into this. The researchers coated both sides of a flexible metal foil with the piezoelectric material PZT to construct a wristwatch-sized device. It contains a freely rotating eccentric brass rotor with an embedded magnet and multiple PZT beams with a magnet on each beam. When the rotor magnet approaches one of the beams, the magnets repel each other and deflect the beam. The slow frequency of a moving wrist is thus converted into a higher frequency vibration, considerably increasing the effectiveness of the piezoelectric element .

Energy harvesters are used to power devices on the Internet of Things (IoT). They make it possible to provide a rechargeable battery or a supercapacitor with a continuous supply of electricity, thus reducing the costs of battery replacement and improving sustainability.