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)
Your story inspired a new energy-harvesting design, Nancy! I think both ideas--your heartbeat and the impact of your feet--could work, though. And in fact, they are working, as one company called SolePower has made energy-harvesting insoles, and another called Pavagen has made tiles that harvest energy when you step on them. There are also pacemakers that are harvesting energy from the human heartbeat for power. So your instincts are dead on. :)
Given the developments in energy harvesting solutions, I take it that reliability is not an issue. I would also guess from these developments that using the energy that drives the other devices on the car is not an option here.
Thanks, Chuck. I'm sure I will have more energy harvesting stories in the future! But you're right, sensors on vehicles are a great application of this. It's kind of a no brainer, and I expect we'll see more of this type of thing in the future.
That's a good idea, Nadine. There is actually a lot of research right now to have devices power themselves through vibration or other methods. I've done some stories about harvesters on airplanes that use thermal energy to power sensors...and also energy harvesters on shock absorbers on cars that use vibration. I think there are a lot of applications for this. Maybe our readers can think of others.
Yes, I thought it was clever, too, Rob. I think this is the way forward and a lot of researchers are thinking this way--to use vibrations and other movements or even sounds or heat from vehicle parts to power sensors on the vehicle itself. There is also work to do something similar with thermal energy on airplanes.