Anyone who likes the idea of something for nothing has to be interested in energy harvesting, getting the energy to avoid reliance on traditional energy sources such as batteries, for free – once the initial hardware investment has been made. Today, in addition to solar, wind and falling or flowing water, vibration, RF, heat and other techniques are powering many products, especially sensor-based applications.
For industrial applications, one of the more intriguing energy harvesting techniques involves vibration. In a factory environment, the movement of rotating equipment provides a constant vibration source. A carefully designed system can use this low level of vibration and a piezoelectric energy harvesting transducer to power a sensor and its associated circuitry. Without the need to charge or replace a battery, the sensor can provide low maintenance feedback regarding the normal or abnormal operation of equipment for fault monitoring and downtime prevention. Several companies are involved in the development of the energy harvesting devices as well as other critical components in the ultra-low power consuming sensor circuits.
Those who are interested in more information may want to check out the Power Management: Energy Harvesting & Storage symposium (http://www.sensorsexpo.com/pre-conference-symposia/symposium-3-power-management-energy-harvesting-storage) at Sensors Expo, June 7 in Chicago, IL