In the last 15 years, energy harvesting technology has evolved from research phases to solutions aimed at the market. Today we can already see applications of products that do not need other sources of power since they can autonomously capture their own energy to function.
Energy harvesting consists of capturing residual energy from external sources, such as thermal sources, temperature differences, mechanical stress, pressure, movements, and many other sources. A small amount of energy is generated from these sources, which, although may not be enough to charge a cell phone, can have several applications.
One of the most promising sources is through the piezoelectric process. At the end of the 14th century, Jacques and Pierre Curie managed to transform the kinetic energy caused by pressure and vibrations into electrical power. After a long time and investigations, in the 90s, we started to have more advanced studies with this subject. Today there are several lines of research on this topic. For example, we can capture energy from the vibrations of our bodies, from the ambient sound of cities, from people walking on the street and even from vibrations caused by the passage of water and gas in pipes. All of this can be transformed into electrical energy through energy harvesting technology with a piezoelectric process. Some examples of energy harvesting:
Energiot is one of the leading startup companies on piezoelectric energy harvesting in the world. With more than 10 years of study, we managed to create a mechanism that captures energy from vibrations and magnetic fields. An alternate magnetic field is generated by the current carried by the conductors in the case of transmission and distribution lines. Energiot can transform the vibrations of the magnetic field that would be wasted into electrical energy through the piezoelectric process.
With this, it is possible to create self-powered devices that do not need a battery because they capture the environment’s energy to work. One of the solutions designed with this is cost-effective intelligent sensors capable of monitoring the assets of the power grid, thereby helping operators reduce their operation and transmission costs. If you are interested in this type of application, talk to us, as we can carry out pilot projects together to demonstrate our smart grid solutions.
Regardless of the source used to capture the residual energy, today it is seen as one of the technologies that will reframe how the world deals with energy. There are two major factors: first, the elimination of the need for batteries. Using energy harvesting mechanisms can help reduce billions of cells in the world, which will have a significant environmental impact. Second, it allows you to generate stand-alone applications that can work in places without needing to be connected to an electricity source or cables. And, above all, it is a technology that is becoming cheaper, thus a better cost-benefit alternative than other sources.
More and more energy harvesting will be required, as it also serves to power wireless and Internet of Things (IoT) applications. The possibilities go far beyond creating sensors to monitor utilities (energy, water, gas), which is Energiot’s current focus. There are already solutions in the market for industrial applications 4.0, logistics management and maintenance of the rail network, sensors for mining, and aerial vehicles. In the medical field, the replacement of batteries in pacemakers by a piezoelectric mechanism is being studied and also in how to capture vibrations to optimize the application of hearing aids.
This technology will be increasingly applied and necessary. It is expected that by 2025 we will have about 75 billion IoT devices in the world. How to feed them all efficiently and sustainably? Energy harvesting is undoubtedly a promising path for this, and we hope to collaborate with that purpose.