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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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Elizabeth M
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Re: German Student Creates a Transformer??
Elizabeth M   3/21/2013 9:49:57 AM
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Thanks for your comment, pelengr17. It's good to hear all of this perspective from our readers, it has certainly educated and enlightened me.

pelengr17
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Iron
German Student Creates a Transformer??
pelengr17   3/21/2013 9:45:59 AM
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I have to agree with Warren on this one.  There isn't much of anything novel about this.  It certainly isn't harvesting energy from air!!  It's just using an electromagnetic field to drive current in a secondary coil.  Another name for it would be a transformer.  I also agree that it's technically stealing.  If you created a big enough coil to encompass the powerline, or any wire carrying current, and then use the induced current to power a load you will create a load on the primary line.  It's just a very small transformer creating a negliable load.  This basically no different than plugging in your cell phone at work.  Are you using power for or from someone else?  YES.  Will you get fined or fired for it?  Probably not.  Change the quantity and scale, however, and the free ride will end.

HarryB
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Gold
Parasitic loads
HarryB   3/21/2013 9:43:08 AM
Harvesting energy is in effect creating a parasitic load on an electrical field

(be it RF, low frequency, etc).  A normal radio receiver is a load on the transmiiter, its just too small to be significant. If you designed a really large receiver designed to trap energy, you'd make a measurable dent in the radiation pattern. The radio transmitter would not broadcast as far past your direction. If your load is small enough not to be noticed... it might appear to be ~free~ power.

A windmill generates 'free' power because no one paid to make the wind blow... and no one was otherwise harvesting the wind.  If you built enough windmills you would indeed (eventually) run out of wind. Only when the load is insignificantly small does it make sense to consdier it 'free'.

A better idea is to harvest energy that is otherwise thrown away, or that people are paying to get rid of. Using (for example) waste heat from a cooling tower to heat homes is an example.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Cool, but it's stealing
Elizabeth M   3/21/2013 6:37:41 AM
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That was my impression as well, Cabe, which is why I am a little confused by all the comments about stealing power.

Cabe Atwell
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Re: Cool, but it's stealing
Cabe Atwell   3/20/2013 11:06:50 PM
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As a radio tower blasts mega-watts of power, I always thought that energy should be recollected.  

I wonder what the power output of their system is in real world tests.

C

Charles Murray
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Re: Cool, but it's stealing
Charles Murray   3/20/2013 6:55:18 PM
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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.

warren@fourward.com
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Re: Cool, but it's stealing
warren@fourward.com   3/20/2013 6:03:46 PM
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I didn't say it was a felony.  Just a minor infraction worthy of death, er a slap on the hand.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Cool, but it's stealing
Elizabeth M   3/20/2013 4:40:18 PM
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Seems like there is more than one person who thinks this isn't such a clever idea, bob. Thanks for your comment.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Cool, but it's stealing
Elizabeth M   3/20/2013 4:10:23 PM
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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.

warren@fourward.com
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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? 

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