Tiny Hybrid Device Harvests Both Solar and Thermal Energy


Image via Fujitsu

Constantly fascinating is the area of harvesting energy from our own bodies to power devices. A steady stream of concepts from designers and prototypes from labs keeps us entertained, though few are really viable Fujitsu hopes that its latest breakthrough in harvesting energy from both light and heat could be the next big thing for microenergy harvesting via wearable technology. Without the need for electrical wiring or battery replacements, the company hopes it could be part of commercial products by 2015. Fujitsu writes that the hybrid device can do what previously required two separate devices -- usually the device only harvests heat, or only vibration, or only light, and so forth. The company recognizes that alternatives for generating microenergy are going the increase in demand in the next few years, and so is working to get ahead of the curve. It also recognizes that harvesting ambient energy from light, vibration, heat and so forth yields minute results, so hybrid devices are a smart way to go.

Fujitsu Laboratories writes that it has "successfully developed an organic material that is suitable for a generator in both photovoltaic and thermoelectric modes. The organic material features a high generating efficiency that can produce power from even indoor lighting in photovoltaic mode, and it can also generate power from heat in thermoelectric mode. Since the organic material and its process cost are inexpensive, production costs can be greatly reduced."

The company notes that the device will be perfect in the medical field, gathering energy from patients and their environments to run small life-saving devices, or it can be used for tasks like remote sensors for weather forecasting, monitoring the integrity of structures like bridges, and other needs.

We aren't expecting it to be a miracle breakthrough device that could power every handheld gadget conceivable, but it is a very interesting progression of energy harvesting technology that could be very useful if it pans out.

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Tags: Alternative Energy | Concepts & Prototypes | Electronics | Energy Efficiency | Gadgets