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German Student Creates Device That Harvests Energy From Air
3/20/2013

Dennis Siegel has created an energy harvester that can be used to harvest ambient energy from electromagnetic fields in the air, such as those present near power lines, plugged-in electric appliances, or mobile phones. Siegel is studying digital design at the University of Bremen.   (Source: Dennis Siegel)
Dennis Siegel has created an energy harvester that can be used to harvest ambient energy from electromagnetic fields in the air, such as those present near power lines, plugged-in electric appliances, or mobile phones. Siegel is studying digital design at the University of Bremen.
(Source: Dennis Siegel)

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dka
User Rank
Silver
Cool, but it's stealing
dka   3/20/2013 12:23:28 PM
Back in electromagnetic theory class we discussed the idea of building a car that could operate near power lines to do the same thing this kid is doing.  There are power lines running alongside most roads anyway.  The antenna would probably be unpractically large, and would have to be unpractically close to the wires to get enough power, but it's probably sorta doable.  Either way, it's stealing because the energy coupled into the device only comes from the power company.

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Cool, but it's stealing
Elizabeth M   3/20/2013 12:30:56 PM
Well, I suppose you could look at it that way, dka, kind of like copying someone's CD MP3 collection. But I think that it's more using energy that already exists rather than stealing. And I'm pretty sure it's using the electricity that the wires themselves are emitting...I suppose they come from the power company originally, but at that point a case could be made that it is coming from the wires and perhaps even have its own existence, as it is now a part of the air. But I do see what you're saying!

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Cool, but it's stealing
Ann R. Thryft   3/20/2013 1:32:38 PM
I agree with Elizabeth: stealing implies that the thief takes away something so there's less of it. That's not at all the case here: this is harvesting secondary energy from a source which is primarily providing the primary energy. It's not like someone's house on the power line has less electricity available, or even that the power station at the source of the line has less energy available. This is using "waste" energy that's been previously unused. There's a lot of "waste" energy in the world created by various sources.

bob from maine
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Cool, but it's stealing
bob from maine   3/20/2013 1:53:48 PM
TANSTAAFL - Thair Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. A single wire transporting electrical energy which emits an electric field represents a certain parasitic load. When you run another single wire or device that couples the electric field of the first wire, you increase the load. Not unlike a transformer, thus as secondary current increases, primary current does as well. Wires that are designed to emit radiation (antenna's) emit the electrical energy as RF radiation and it can be harvested without diminishing the source, however the available current is miniscule. Charging a small battery in a day from radiated sources is pretty inefficient considering the wide range of other available energy sources.

Tcrook
User Rank
Gold
Re: Cool, but it's stealing
Tcrook   3/20/2013 2:20:03 PM
NO RATINGS
Doesn't anyone here remember 'crystal radios'?  The only thing novel here is the use of this stray energy to charge a battery instead of driving the earphones.

warren@fourward.com
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Cool, but it's stealing
warren@fourward.com   3/20/2013 3:49:11 PM
Actually, people have been prosecuted for stealing energy frmo the power company on lines that ran through their own property.  You can't even take water out of the ground on your own property without Dear Leader's permission.  You can't keep airplanes from flying over your own property and sky.  Deer that feed on your garden can't be shot out of season.  So, just because a power line is on your land doesn't mean you have ownership over it.

So, charging the battery in the article is not right.  It isn't even clever or unique.

Perhaps the student needs a class in ethics? 

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Cool, but it's stealing
Elizabeth M   3/20/2013 4:10:23 PM
NO RATINGS
Thanks for your opinion, warren. I think there are some that may feel differently about this, perhaps even believe that electricity should be a free resource. But I will let them weigh in on that! Appreciate your reading the article.

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Cool, but it's stealing
Elizabeth M   3/20/2013 4:40:18 PM
NO RATINGS
Seems like there is more than one person who thinks this isn't such a clever idea, bob. Thanks for your comment.

warren@fourward.com
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Cool, but it's stealing
warren@fourward.com   3/20/2013 6:03:46 PM
NO RATINGS
I didn't say it was a felony.  Just a minor infraction worthy of death, er a slap on the hand.

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Cool, but it's stealing
Charles Murray   3/20/2013 6:55:18 PM
NO RATINGS
I'm surpised to hear it can power a small battery in a day. I wonder how big of a battery (AAA? coin cell?). I also wonder how much current it can harvest.

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