Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mini generators make energy from random ambient vibrations

Date:
March 24, 2010
Source:
University of Michigan
Summary:
Tiny generators could produce enough electricity from random, ambient vibrations to power a wristwatch, pacemaker or wireless sensor.

Miniature generators (such as the one above next to a typical AA battery), developed at U-M's Engineering Research Center for Wireless Integrated Microsystems, run on the random vibrations all around us.
Credit: Photo by Tzeno Galchev

Tiny generators developed at the University of Michigan could produce enough electricity from random, ambient vibrations to power a wristwatch, pacemaker or wireless sensor.

The energy-harvesting devices, created at U-M's Engineering Research Center for Wireless Integrated Microsystems, are highly efficient at providing renewable electrical power from arbitrary, non-periodic vibrations. This type of vibration is a byproduct of traffic driving on bridges, machinery operating in factories and humans moving their limbs, for example.

The Parametric Frequency Increased Generators (PFIGs) were created by Khalil Najafi, chair of electrical and computer engineering, and Tzeno Galchev, a doctoral student in the same department.

Most similar devices have more limited abilities because they rely on regular, predictable energy sources, said Najafi, who is the Schlumberger Professor of Engineering and also a professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

"The vast majority of environmental kinetic energy surrounding us everyday does not occur in periodic, repeatable patterns. Energy from traffic on a busy street or bridge or in a tunnel, and people walking up and down stairs, for example, cause vibrations that are non-periodic and occur at low frequencies," Najafi said. "Our parametric generators are more efficient in these environments."

The researchers have built three prototypes and a fourth is forthcoming. In two of the generators, the energy conversion is performed through electromagnetic induction, in which a coil is subjected to a varying magnetic field. This is a process similar to how large-scale generators in big power plants operate.

The latest and smallest device, which measures one cubic centimeter, uses a piezoelectric material, which is a type of material that produces charge when it is stressed. This version has applications in infrastructure health monitoring. The generators could one day power bridge sensors that would warn inspectors of cracks or corrosion before human eyes could discern problems.

The generators have demonstrated that they can produce up to 0.5 milliwatts (or 500 microwatts) from typical vibration amplitudes found on the human body. That's more than enough energy to run a wristwatch, which needs between one and 10 microwatts, or a pacemaker, which needs between 10 and 50. A milliwatt is 1,000 microwatts.

"The ultimate goal is to enable various applications like remote wireless sensors and surgically implanted medical devices," Galchev said. "These are long lifetime applications where it is very costly to replace depleted batteries or, worse, to have to wire the sensors to a power source."

Batteries are often an inefficient way to power the growing array of wireless sensors being created today, Najafi said. Energy scavenging can provide a better option.

"There is a fundamental question that needs to be answered about how to power wireless electronic devices, which are becoming ubiquitous and at the same time very efficient," Najafi said. "There is plenty of energy surrounding these systems in the form of vibrations, heat, solar, and wind."

These generators could also power wireless sensors deployed in buildings to make them more energy efficient, or throughout large public spaces to monitor for toxins or pollutants.

The research is funded by the National Science Foundation, Sandia National Laboratories, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The university is pursuing patent protection for the intellectual property. Galchev and a team of engineering and business students are working to commercialize the technology through their company, Enertia. Enertia recently won first place in the DTE/U-M Clean Energy Prize business plan competition and second place in the U-M Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies' Michigan Business Challenge. Other members of the team are Erkan Aktakka, and Adam Carver. Aktakka is an electrical engineering doctoral student. Carver is an MBA student at the Ross School of Business.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Michigan. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Michigan. "Mini generators make energy from random ambient vibrations." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100323105952.htm>.
University of Michigan. (2010, March 24). Mini generators make energy from random ambient vibrations. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 3, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100323105952.htm
University of Michigan. "Mini generators make energy from random ambient vibrations." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100323105952.htm (accessed September 3, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Halliburton Reaches $1B Gulf Spill Settlement

Halliburton Reaches $1B Gulf Spill Settlement

AP (Sep. 2, 2014) Halliburton's agreement to pay more than $1 billion to settle numerous claims involving the 2010 BP oil spill could be a way to diminish years of costly litigation. A federal judge still has to approve the settlement. (Sept. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google Teases India Event, Possible Android One Reveal

Google Teases India Event, Possible Android One Reveal

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) Google has announced a Sept. 15 event in India during which they're expected to reveal their Android One phones. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) Qantas and Virgin say passengers can use their smartphones and tablets throughout flights after a regulator relaxed a ban on electronic devices during take-off and landing. As Hayley Platt reports the move comes as the two domestic rivals are expected to post annual net losses later this week. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) Huge waves generated by Hurricane Marie hit the Southern California coast. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins