Panasonic, Imec Develop Vibration Energy Harvester
Panasonic and Belgian company Imec have teamed up to develop an electrostatic energy harvester that can power tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) using vibration and noise from the tires themselves. These systems are mandatory in the US for new cars being manufactured and soon will be in Europe. (Source: Imec)
Thanks for that link, Nancy. Every time I've read one of Liz's articles, I've wondered about using energy harvesting to power a pacemaker or implantable defibrillator. But I never considered that the heart itself would provide the current. Great link.
Forgive me if I'm repeating myself, dbell5, but did you see this article I wrote: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=264515
That's the one about the energy-harvesting shock absorbers. Maybe I posted it already in a comment, if shock absorbers already were mentioned, but I am not sure. In any case, you are right that this seems a great place for energy harvesting.
Since shock absorbers were mentioned, I've long thought that there lies an ideal, essentially free, source of recovered energy. Because the very purpose of them is to convert mechanical energy into another form - generally heat - as a means of damping motion, it seems a no-brainer.
With current power management and conversion devices, controlled transformation of suspension motion into electrical energy is looking feasible.
While I agree that tires are a noisy environment I also question the assertions about "shocks" in the tire rotation. There is a flexing motion but that does not fit the normal descriptio for a shock wave. In addition I have a concern about the lifespan of anything attached to the tire's inside surface. While it would be a good location for capturing flexural motion it would also be subject to damage from the tire installation and removal operations. But the concept of powering a tire pressure monitor from vehicle motion is a very good idea. The challenge will be the effort of making sure that the receiver on the vehicle is able to communicate with the tires correctly.
That definitely seems to be the direction this technology is heading, Chuck. It doesn't seem to make sense to try to power MCUs any other way now, especially with the deman for ultra-low-power electronics.
Going by the confidence that Panasonic and Imec are portraying in regard to their new development, it would only be right to assume that the effectiveness of the energy harvested matches the other mainstream sources of energy or even surpasses them. It would be a great disappointment to raise the hopes of car developers before a great backlash.