Harvesting Ambient Energy

The word, “ambient” means, “from the surrounding environment”. It can mean either something that is found in the surrounding environment or something in the environment that surrounds. We have been harvesting energy from the surrounding environment from before the first glimmerings of civilization. Collecting fire from a lightening strike, damming and redirecting water, water wheels, windmills, sails on boats, even chemical processes and batteries – all of these harvest energy that is found in our environment in different forms.

More recently we have discovered we can burn coal and oil and now even harvest the energy from sunlight with photovoltaic solar panels. Current research is working on scavenging the small amounts of energy that are found in electromagnetic communication transmissions, such as radio, television, cell phones, wifi and more. The amount of energy yielded is small, but as electronic devices become smaller and more energy efficient, this small amount becomes sufficient for use.

Ambient Electromagnetic Energy Harnessed for Small Electronic Devices – [gatech.edu]

Researchers have discovered a way to capture and harness energy transmitted by such sources as radio and television transmitters, cell phone networks and satellite communications systems. By scavenging this ambient energy from the air around us, the technique could provide a new way to power networks of wireless sensors, microprocessors and communications chips.

“There is a large amount of electromagnetic energy all around us, but nobody has been able to tap into it,” said Manos Tentzeris, a professor in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering who is leading the research. “We are using an ultra-wideband antenna that lets us exploit a variety of signals in different frequency ranges, giving us greatly increased power-gathering capability.”

Tentzeris and his team are using inkjet printers to combine sensors, antennas and energy-scavenging capabilities on paper or flexible polymers. The resulting self-powered wireless sensors could be used for chemical, biological, heat and stress sensing for defense and industry; radio-frequency identification (RFID) tagging for manufacturing and shipping, and monitoring tasks in many fields including communications and power usage.

Scavenging ambient electromagnetic energy to power small electronic devices – [gizmag.com]

As you sit there reading this story you’re surrounded by electromagnetic energy transmitted from sources such as radio and television transmitters, mobile phone networks and satellite communications systems. Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have created a device that is able to scavenge this ambient energy so it can be used to power small electronic devices such as networks of wireless sensors, microprocessors and communications chips.

Manos Tentzeris, a professor in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and his team used inkjet printing technology to combine sensors, antennas and energy scavenging capabilities on paper or flexible polymers. Presently, the team’s scavenging technology can take advantage of frequencies from FM radio to radar, a range of 100 Mhz to 15 GHz or higher. The devices capture this energy, convert it from AC to DC, and then store it in capacitors and batteries.

SEE ALSO:
Nanogenerators
Artificial Photosynthesis
Artificial Leaf
Paper Batteries
Solar Sails

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