Energy harvester for Wireless Sensor Networks

The AA or AAA or Lithium Batteries currently been used for sensor nodes are often cost prohibitive and highly problematic in hazardous areas during replacement, and also for industrial or commercial entities using wireless sensors in distributed networks.

According to Robert Andosca, the CEO of MicroGen Systems Inc. of Ithaca, N.Y., and Rochester, N.Y “Sensors observe equipment status and condition, process automation control points, energy usage and many, many other critical parameters,”

MicroGen’s nanotechnology-based energy harvester – researched and developed by the company at the Cornell NanoScale Science and Technology Facility (CNF) is rolling MicroGen’s BOLT micro-power modules for mass usage in the summer. The company has turned their ideas into designs that are practical for mass production.

“There’s not only the cost of the batteries, but there is labor cost in continually replacing them. With these energy-harvesting devices, it will save prohibitive battery replacement and associated labor costs,” says Andosca

According to Cornell University publication “The micropower generator is a low-cost, long-lifetime device that scavenges otherwise wasted vibrational energy. Vibration causes the tiny micro flap in the device to swing back and forth, which generates electrical current that charges an adjacent ultra-capacitor or rechargeable thin-film battery. In an automobile’s tire pressure sensor, for example, this device collects the vibrations from the tires meeting the road and offers unending power for the sensor.”

The device is a bonus for designers of wireless sensor networks nodes applicable to the Oil and Gas industry for environmental and safety usage. For example, it will make the designers never to worry about replacing sensor batteries in awkward places. Moreover, the environmental impact: eliminating 164 million depleted coin-cell batteries each year that would otherwise need to be recycled.

Other uses for these energy devices could include industrial, building and commercial wireless sensor markets, machinery monitoring, lighting control and smart utility metering. They could also be used in transportation systems, civil infrastructure monitoring and asset tracking. The technology could help monitor temperatures at vineyards and help reduce power overall cost.

Source: Cornell University