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MIT Researchers Create New Tiny Energy Harvester

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the size-does-matter dept.

Power 101

RogerRoast writes "Researchers at MIT have designed a device the size of a U.S. quarter that harvests energy from low-frequency vibrations, such as those that might be felt along a pipeline or bridge. The tiny energy harvester — known technically as a microelectromechanical system, or MEMS — picks up a wider range of vibrations than current designs, and is able to generate 100 times the power of devices of similar size."

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first (-1, Troll)

slydder (549704) | more than 3 years ago | (#37408204)

;)

Re:first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37408304)

If only it could harness energy from first posts... The supply would be limitless!

Re:first (0)

slydder (549704) | more than 3 years ago | (#37408322)

YEAH!!!!!

my very first troll post. LOL

I want to support this (4, Funny)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 3 years ago | (#37408300)

But I fear that advances in vibrator technology will leave me at even more of a disadvantage.

Re:I want to support this (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#37408480)

This is no vibrator. This is taking energy out of vibrations. Therefore it's an anti-vibrator.

Re:I want to support this (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 3 years ago | (#37408956)

I can see where certain manufacturers would be very unwilling to buy into this technology. :]

Re:I want to support this (1)

Beorytis (1014777) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409188)

An anti-vibrator would be a shock absorber. This is just a vibratee.

Re:I want to support this (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409308)

Actually its more of a shock transformer.

Law of conservation of energy says that any electrical energy to come from such a device must be AT MOST the amount of shock that it absorbs, minus losses (heat, friction, etc).

Now the amount of vibrational energy that it absorbs may be such a tiny fraction as to not rise to the level of being a detectable amount in most real world situations. However, thermodynamics assures you that it does, and should you devise a test that proves otherwise, you may be up for a nobel prize.

Re:I want to support this (1)

jamiesan (715069) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409582)

So if you put one of those next to an actual vibrator, will they annihilate one another?

Westwood invented it first (0)

Mike Mentalist (544984) | more than 3 years ago | (#37408306)

Tiberium harvesters have been around since the first Command and Conquer. I hope someone claims prior art.

Re:Westwood invented it first (2)

Kreigaffe (765218) | more than 3 years ago | (#37408364)

Actually, predating Tiberium, and I think much closer to what this device actually does..

Frederick Pohl's Heechee saga makes mention of piezoelectric energy generation.. if I recall things right.. which basically operated with the same concept as this device.

My memory of anything more specific is a bit shady. I last read those books nearly 20 years ago.

For the record, they're a little over the head of a 5th grader, but not by as much as you'd think.

Re:Westwood invented it first (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37411258)

Yeah, yeah, we get it, you're a friggin genius. You and everyone else who comments here.

Re:Westwood invented it first (1)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 3 years ago | (#37408366)

Auto-wind wrist watches were available even earlier.

Re:Westwood invented it first (1)

tapspace (2368622) | more than 3 years ago | (#37408532)

Auto-wind wristwatches harvest energy from low frequency vibrations!?

Re:Westwood invented it first (1)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409060)

Yes, from your arm/wrist movements (really low frequency, non-periodic vibrations).

Re:Westwood invented it first (2)

cyberchondriac (456626) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409078)

If you equate physical motion with vibration, at it's stripped-down essence, then ostensibly, yes. Especially when swinging your arms while walking, which could be defined as an oscillation of sorts...just at a really, really, low frequency-- 1Hz or less.

Re:Westwood invented it first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37408474)

ever heard of Westwood's Dune II before? Spice harvester and such?

Dear MIT Researchers, (1)

ewenix (702589) | more than 3 years ago | (#37408310)

In this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!

Re:Dear MIT Researchers, (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#37408492)

That's unfair!

Re:Dear MIT Researchers, (1)

jamiesan (715069) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409608)

Don't you argue! Go to your room young entity!

MEMS (3, Informative)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#37408318)

MEMS actually refers to any microscopic-scale electromechanical device, such as microscopic motors or other such devices, and not specifically to the device described in TFA.

Re:MEMS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37408428)

Dude, the acronym is explained in the abstract. How much clearer do you need it to be?

Re:MEMS (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409918)

In defense of the OP, the article seems to imply that this device is somehow the first/only MEMS device out there instead of being only one of many instances of MEMS.

Re:MEMS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37410746)

No, that's just an artifact of poor reading comprehansion skills.

To harvest electricity from environmental vibrations, researchers have typically looked to piezoelectric materials such as quartz and other crystals. Such materials naturally accumulate electric charge in response to mechanical stress (piezo, in Greek, means to squeeze or press). In the past few years, researchers have exploited piezoelectric material, or PZT, at the microscale, engineering MEMS devices that generate small amounts of power.

Various groups have gravitated toward a common energy-harvesting design: a small microchip with layers of PZT glued to the top of a tiny cantilever beam. As the chip is exposed to vibrations, the beam moves up and down like a wobbly diving board, bending and stressing the PZT layers. The stressed material builds up an electric charge, which can be picked up by arrays of tiny electrodes.

What, in there, suggests this is the first, or only one? It sounds like they have been fucking around with these things for years, until someone came up with a new design with the intent of trying to use them to harvest energy.

Re:MEMS (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#37425684)

What, in there, suggests this is the first, or only one?

Nothing. But then again, you were quoting from TFA, and not TFS, which is what I was addressing.

Re:MEMS (1)

quenda (644621) | more than 3 years ago | (#37417336)

A quarter of the US is hardly microscopic.
Or could they mean something else? Might help to be a bit more clear for us ignorant furriners.

Finally! (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#37408336)

Finally, through the use of a hybrid regenerative powertrain, it might be possible to make Harleys as fast as other motorcycles! :-P

Re:Finally! (2)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#37408840)

Harleys don't need to be fast. They just need to look and sound like Harleys.

Re:Finally! (1)

black soap (2201626) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409004)

Yes, but a quiet Harley will never sell.

Re:Finally! (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409090)

Whoa you know what I just thought of?

The bike from Snow Crash.

Just need the wheels now...

Re:Finally! (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 3 years ago | (#37410066)

FAGS. :)

Re:Finally! (4, Insightful)

formfeed (703859) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409120)

Finally, through the use of a hybrid regenerative powertrain, it might be possible to make Harleys as fast as other motorcycles! :-P

Not possible. As part of their campaign against perpetuum mobiles the physics society passed a law that taking energy out of a vibration will also dampen the vibration. In other words: A fixed Harley would neither feel nor sound like a Harley. Which defeats the point of owning a Harley, one might as well buy a decent motorcycle.

Re:Finally! (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409566)

Funny but do you realize that for road use an CBR1000RR, ZX10x, R1, or GSR1000 are actually less logical than a lot of Harley's.
Harley's tend to be more comfortable and get better fuel milage than sports bikes. And in the US at least for street use the Harley is fast enough to get tossed in jail.

I am not a Harley riders btw I am more of a Sport touring, adventure touring, standard kinda rider.

Re:Finally! (0)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409736)

Riding a giant vibrator is comfortable?
At least the sports bikes tend not to leak oil. First time I saw a Harley I thought it was a British invention.

Re:Finally! (2)

CaptSlaq (1491233) | more than 3 years ago | (#37410298)

While the vibration part is still mostly true (rubber mounts have helped, but at the end of the day, it's a Vtwin, and the nature of them is to be a bit rough, particularly when you don't have balance shafts and such), the leaky part is a bit out of date: The latest Evolution motor and the new Revolution motor (The engine in the VRod, which is a radical departure from HD's Revolution) are, by all accounts, fairly good mills.

Re:Finally! (1)

Bucky24 (1943328) | more than 3 years ago | (#37412514)

Riding a giant vibrator is comfortable?

Some women prefer them.

Re:Finally! (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#37412774)

Dude the early 80s called and wants it's prejudice back.
The Evolution, Revolution, and Twin Cam engines are all good motors and really very oil tight from the factory. All of them use rubber motor mounts now and the big twins have used them for a long time.
They even make on that I would like the XR1200 is actually a fun and cool bike and the touring bikes are also a good choice if one doesn't want the two wheel car called the Goldwing. I would have to check but I think that every Harley now comes with fuel injection now.
The AMF Harleys sucked. A lot of Harley riders are just annoying. The bikes are actually pretty solid. I have no use for the people that like to play dress up but that isn't the bikes fault.

As I sat watching MNF in a Cambridge sports bar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37408346)

... I wondered about that plastic device attached to the rear of my barstool.

How long before this becomes a sex toy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37408352)

I can just see it now, right in the middle of getting hot and heavy some dude sticks this up some girls ass and then says, "sorry honey, but letting all this energy go to waste would be a shame"

Loose Change (1)

A10Mechanic (1056868) | more than 3 years ago | (#37408358)

Great, I always have quarters jingling in my pocket. Now I can create energy, 'and' give my wife something else to whine about. Win-Win.

Good vibrations (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#37408372)

Build one of these into every vibrator sold and we won't need any other power source ever again.

Re:Good vibrations (1)

jamiesan (715069) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409632)

You cannae mix vibrators and anti-vibrators. They would explode!

Re:Good vibrations (1)

pinkushun (1467193) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409950)

The gift that keeps on giving... and giving... and giving!

neogods; more 'days of drowning' scheduled (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37408376)

call it whatever you want. the genocidal murder & mayhem campaigns are also being arbitrarily expanded by the holycostal chosen ones.

spies like us? no, some of them really do/are like us. just a job?

Re:neogods; more 'days of drowning' scheduled (1)

Spunkee (183938) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409322)

Cool story, bro!

Dampener too? (1)

T.E.D. (34228) | more than 3 years ago | (#37408416)

If these devices are harnessing energy from the vibrations, wouldn't they also act to dampen the vibrations as well? So if you hooked enough up to siphon off a noticeable amount of energy, you'd also be noticeably extending the life of the pipeline or bridge section in question.

Re:Dampener too? (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 3 years ago | (#37408816)

This will go far in the field of earthquake prevention,which has been stuck using rams' bladders for that purpose since the fifth century.

Re:Dampener too? (1)

I'm not really here (1304615) | more than 3 years ago | (#37411406)

That was my thought exactly. Couldn't this technology be integrated into muffler systems to generate additional electrical power for hybrid vehicles? Instead of just dampening the sound, you harness it to generate electricity. The car gets quieter and more efficient at the same time. I wonder if this could be applied to motor compartments or built into motor mounts. Also, trains passing by make enormous amounts of vibration that creates an irritating low rumble for those living close to the tracks... there has got to be a way to integrate this technology into train stations or tracks or nearby structures to quiet things. Also could be applicable to all of those freeway noise blocking walls... just coat the walls in these devices and generate considerable power from all the noise.

Re:Dampener too? (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 3 years ago | (#37412586)

"The car gets quieter and more efficient at the same time."

But is it worth the added expense to make the car .0001 percent more efficient? Ok, Ok, I made the number up, but the point is, the sound energy of the exhaust from an IC Engine is a pretty small fraction of the overall energy losses. Most of the energy loss is due to normal thermal losses which are unavoidable with a heat engine.

For further info, read up on the Carnot Theorem [wikipedia.org] .

I believe for an internal combustion engine, the "Hot Reservoir" is the gas/air mixture as it is combusting (so T_H is the temperature of combustion), and the "Cold Reservoir" is the temperature of the outside air (so, your car is probably slightly more efficient in the winter than during the summer; in Canada/Alaska/Syberia, a car might be noticeably more efficient in the winter, not sure; any extreme northerners here at Slashdot who've ever tried to measure this?)

finally a good story title (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 3 years ago | (#37408438)

"Designed" is so much more appropriate here than "invented." Cause these "energy harvesters" have been in watches for decades now.

Re:finally a good story title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37409074)

Only if the creation is new. And given the description, it sounds like it may have been an "invention", thusly, "invented", is more accurate.

Re:finally a good story title (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409584)

yes, because there is only one way to do it~

The INVENTED a NEW type of 'energy harvester'

Hellooooo market babble (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#37408450)

Crib notes: what they have is a device that they claim generates 45 microwatts in the lab, from the same artificially efficient frequencies that they belittle other devices for relying on. They don't have a device that generates their target 100 microwatts, not even in the lab, not even at their ideal artificial frequencies.

So, short summary: they don't have a useful device, and they don't have anything beyond "plans" to make it work.

The only valid test is deployment. The only valid result is full functionality.

Re:Hellooooo market babble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37408544)

The only valid test is deployment. The only valid result is full functionality.

So.. since they don't have a fully-functioning, deployable device at this stage of their research, all their tests are invalid? It sounds like their research is a miserable failure according to your criterion. In fact, nearly all research is, because almost no one gets it that much right on the first try. Why does anyone bother?

I know that must not be what you really think, but it's what you said. Maybe you could tone back the chest-thumping a little, hmm?

Re:Hellooooo market babble (1)

poofmeisterp (650750) | more than 3 years ago | (#37408714)

So, short summary: they don't have a useful device, and they don't have anything beyond "plans" to make it work.

The word "patent" just comes to mind and buzzes around like a....

Oh, wait.. I don't wanna violate it.
/humor

Re:Hellooooo market babble (1)

boristdog (133725) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409296)

Spoken like a true engineer.

Re:Hellooooo market babble (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409654)

No, a true engineer understand the complete process.

Spoken like a myopic idiot is more apt.

Re:Hellooooo market babble (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409646)

yes, because there is nothing between in idea, and a finished on the shelf product. Myopic idiot.

" the device was able to generate 45 microwatts of power with just a single layer of PZT — an improvement of two orders of magnitude compared to current designs. ":
So with just 1 layer, they are almost halfway to their goal off 100 microwatts.

So it better then current devices, it has been built in the lab, this is one 1 layer, and it hasn't been optimized yet.

I don't understand why you have a problem with this.

And test in the lab are valid.

U of Michigan (1)

tapspace (2368622) | more than 3 years ago | (#37408520)

Michigan has been working on this very thing for a large government push to embed smarts into bridges. http://ns.umich.edu/htdocs/releases/story.php?id=7585 [umich.edu]

Re:U of Michigan (1)

formfeed (703859) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409198)

Michigan has been working on this very thing for a large government push to embed smarts into bridges.

And stress monitoring for bridges is where this will be most useful: A maintenance free sensor network that warns you about developing cracks and possible failure.

Much easier than having a guy drive out every two years to flip the bridge over so he can unscrew the bottom and replace the coin battery.

Re:U of Michigan (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409682)

IF you can install these is bulk, we could capture the waste vibration from roads. assuming 100 microwats, that 1 want for every ten.
so 1 Watt ever 6 sqr inches.

Re:U of Michigan (1)

cyclomedia (882859) | more than 3 years ago | (#37410108)

Reminds me of an idea I had about 15 years ago, where you could install similar devices under the dancefloor of a club. Lots of people dancing to banging music = free electricity

Re:U of Michigan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37410476)

Not free energy though -- you'd be 'stealing' the energy from my car's fuel tank, which if you do the math your electric grid would be incredible inefficient.

Re:U of Michigan (1)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 3 years ago | (#37414216)

You're off by 3 orders of magnitude. 1000 microwatts = 1 milliwatt.

Re:U of Michigan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37412790)

Warn you about them so you can ignore them? A terrifying number of bridges across all states have a dangerous amount of damage to them. There's no money to fix them until one collapses and there's a scandal and an emergency funding bill.

Watches? (1)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 3 years ago | (#37408528)

So, is this another kinetic watch battery, basically?

Re:Watches? (3, Informative)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409642)

Build a better mousetrap and Slashdotters will tell you that mousetraps have already been invented...

Re:Watches? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37410170)

The problem is instead of talking about it as a better way to do something, they talk about how it can be used to do things that can already be done. To continue the analogy, this would be like an article talking about how the better mouse trap means houses will no longer be defenseless against mice.

Re:Watches? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37411250)

Maybe I don't understand the meme, but building a better mousetrap is a bad analogy. The basic design of the mousetrap is incredibly efficient and has been since the beginning, so building a better one is a very difficult task with little real payout. In other words, a pointless task.

patents (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 3 years ago | (#37413222)

... and somebody with the patent on mousetraps will probably send you a collections letter....

hype (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37408596)

There is a fundamental relationship between the surface area and mass of the harvester and the maximum possible power output (assuming the vibration source has infinite mass for illustrative example). It will be many, many years before everyday *practical* applications will require little enough power to use one of these nanoamp devices effectively. Meantime, with A) applications that are highly optimized for limited harvester capability and B) harvesters highly optimized for the vibration source, systems can be built that "work" but in a limited fashion.

Now....if we could only harvest energy from the BUZZ this hype generates........

Re:hype (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409430)

assuming the vibration source has infinite mass for illustrative example

Have you been to a Wal-Mart recently? I don't think finding objects of infinite mass is going to be all that hard in the United States, plus the energy released from the jiggling alone is enough to power their Rascals.

Here "they" go again. (1)

poofmeisterp (650750) | more than 3 years ago | (#37408660)

Quote from article and /. post: "...and is able to generate 100 times the power of devices of similar size."

My addition that explains the subject of this comment: "...but we won't bother to tell you what those devices are."

WHAT devices that are similar to "that" size "generate" power?

Re:Here "they" go again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37408734)

gerbils

Re:Here "they" go again. (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#37408798)

Well, the summary says the devices are about the size of an American quarter, so I'm guessing the similar devices are watch batteries.

Re:Here "they" go again. (1)

commlinx (1068272) | more than 3 years ago | (#37408990)

WHAT devices that are similar to "that" size "generate" power?

Piezoelectric elements are common and can be made in a pretty arbitrary size, most are actually smaller than that device. I guess a regular moving-coil microphone could be made fairly small and would generate power. I've seen some pretty small SMD photodiodes and I'm sure they'd be many other examples that generate power, albeit in tiny amounts.

Nothing in that article seems too pie in the sky to me, they are talking about a target of 100 microwatts afterall, not charging your iPhone while you go for a jog. Unlike a lot of other articles the target applications listed seem like fairly plausible applications for the technology.

Re:Here "they" go again. (1)

poofmeisterp (650750) | more than 3 years ago | (#37419530)

Excellent description. Thank you! :)

I wish they would have just explained themselves in the "press release" in the first place. Ambiguity and mystery are an annoying underlying element in (especially patent-looking) public info release.

45 microwatts, if anyone is interested... (1)

doobydoobydoo (446165) | more than 3 years ago | (#37408960)

Why this didn't go in the summary I really don't know.

Re:45 microwatts, if anyone is interested... (1)

pinkushun (1467193) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409994)

To make /. RTFA?

Additionally, their target output is “...at least 100 microwatts, and that’s what all the electronics guys are asking us to get to,”.

Neat stuff!

Re:45 microwatts, if anyone is interested... (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 3 years ago | (#37412352)

Their target output could be 1watt for all I care; it does not mean they will make their target.

Re:45 microwatts, if anyone is interested... (1)

Bucky24 (1943328) | more than 3 years ago | (#37412642)

Why would we RTFA? We can just wait until someone does read it, then we can disagree with them and tell them how they're wrong. Cmon, this is slashdot.

Good for industrial instrumentation. (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409206)

The recent trends in the industrial instrumentation world has been to go wireless for many applications. Currently the vast majority of them run on battery. Other options are external supply (so why would you go wireless), or local solar (which doesn't do very well in a dusty plant at all).

It would be pretty neat if the instrumentation on a plant can harvest their own energy. Certainly saves the maintenance nightmere of having hundreds of lithium batteries at $250 ea going flat on you.

Re:Good for industrial instrumentation. (1)

commlinx (1068272) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409498)

Certainly saves the maintenance nightmere of having hundreds of lithium batteries at $250 ea going flat on you.

I suspect you're quoting the cost of replacement is $250 rather than the battery itself, and I think a lot of people underestimate the cost of labor involved in doing those operations in an industrial environment. Something that takes two minutes on a bench often involves several people, down time, climbing and safety gear and for some applications would actually exceed that amount.

Re:Good for industrial instrumentation. (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#37417574)

And surprisingly enough you'd be wrong. Emerson Lithium batteries for their Smart WirelessHART instruments cost typically around the $270. Bently Nevada wireless probe batteries cost $200+ as well.

Though you strike a valid point. At our plant just like many multinational companies the control of work process is horrendous. Want to change a battery? Plan the job, schedule the job, print permits, stand outside the control room for an hour waiting for the permit to be issued, then go into the field and spend 5 minutes doing the job. That's a best case too. One of our brain-dead project engineers installed a battery powered device in a location out of reach for the platform, so you can include the cost of a scaffolding crew taking 2 days to assemble and disassemble scaffold in there too.

Re:Good for industrial instrumentation. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409590)

I was thinking if it scales well it could be good for ships and subs. Convert vibrations into electricity vs heat. If they where good enough coat subs with them and have them harvest any sonar pings.

Yea I know they are probably not that good but it is fun to think about it.

RTFPATB: (Read the Fine Print At THe Bottom (1)

CodeShark (17400) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409212)

This would be NEWS.... or is news, but not technology -- yet. Nearly the last sentence in the article states that it worked: at higher frequencies than are likely to be found and therefore useful at the vibrations available where MEMS devices normally would be used. In other words useful news that matters -- "once the lab techies make it work for real world conditions."

Re:RTFPATB: (Read the Fine Print At THe Bottom (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409718)

They built some, so YES IT"S TECHNOLOGY. it's technology that just isn't in production.

It's like says the iPhone wasn't technology until they started selling it.

Just because fewer and fewer people on /. seem to not know what technology is:

"Technology is the making, usage and knowledge of tools, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or serve some purpose."

hybrid (1)

hey (83763) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409220)

Sure the power is low. But might be useful to add to a cellphone. This device provides some extra power. You'll still need a battery but would have to charge less.

Re:hybrid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37410366)

I was wondering if we could put tons of those on electric cars, they are bound to have lots of vibrations, which can be dampened without problem.

may not help tons, but if it would provide 10 miles more, it may be worth it.

Using it for a cellphone (1)

gwolf (26339) | more than 3 years ago | (#37410692)

Hell, I can perfectly imagine the satisfaction from yelling at the stupid cellphone that does not want to turn on, enough to give it enough power to complete a short call. Of course, it's bothering enough to listen to people shout to their devices as it is, it will be much worse when such devices actually have use for the vibrations.

yeah, it's been around for a while (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#37409794)

Researchers at MIT have designed a device the size of a U.S. quarter that harvests energy from low-frequency vibrations

- it's been around for ages. Called 'clitoris', look it up.

(Holding his nose) Oh man, what is is that smell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37410212)

I'm eating gassy foods to recharge my pacemaker.

(Holding his nose) Oh man, what is is that smell? (1)

PenguinJeff (1248208) | more than 3 years ago | (#37410792)

I'm eating gassy foods to recharge my pacemaker.

Dimensions. Use them! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37411114)

For those of use who have no farkin clue to the size of a US quarter (which I gather is a coin? Top guggle search). 24.26 × 1.75mm.

If I could filter articles by editor, I would soon have nothing left to read. Awesome /. editing.

Seismic energy harvester (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37412228)

I've always thought it would be cool if you could somehow harvest the energy of tectonic plates in areas that experience seismic creep. That's where plates move without producing quakes. Imagine two anchor points and a fantastic reduction gear. Obviously there is no practical reduction gear to harvest the energy (however impressive) from two continents moving past at 1 cm per year.

OTOH, if you can harvest some energy from tremmors in areas that experience them on a regular basis that's cool. I suspect that putting solar on the roof of a building in LA is several orders of magnitude better in cost and energy production though.

If you scavenge energy from passing cars, etc; then you're really just using fossil fuels. I think the untapped energy of people doing workouts is more intriguing. When I pass a gym, I sometimes consider the possibility of hooking that equipment up to generators. It's still not free energy since those people have to eat; but at least it wouldn't be wasted energy anymore.

Suspicous wording (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 3 years ago | (#37412548)

From the article it states "The researchers calculated that the device was able to generate 45 microwatts of power with just a single layer of PZT ". That indicates to me that they have yet to measure the output of the device. Considering the state of the art of simulations they may not even have built the actual device.

In the next paragraph they state "the MIT group will have to aim lower in the frequencies they pick up, since few vibrations in nature occur at the relatively high frequency ranges captured by the device." So as it stands it will not work in the real world. Why didn't they aim for real world frequencies first? Maybe they did and it didn't work. I love this statement; "This design allows the bandwidth to be larger, meaning the problem is, in principle, solved." I prefer problems to be in fact solved and not in principle. The target being 100 milliwatt is meaningless as well. They can have any target they want; it does not mean they will reach it.

Yet another preliminary research project that is mainly theoretical looking for funding.

Re:Suspicous wording (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37415502)

It does not target lower frequencies because the lower the frequency is the larger your collection device needs to be. And making MEMS that big is the complete opposite of what makes MEMS devices attractive. Mechanical energy harvesting was dead in the water on day one because no good engineering man made or in nature wastes a lot of energy to be harvested. Check out when they tried to harvest energy from insects... it made the BBC website front page and everything. But the fact remains is that you cannot harvest more energy from the insect than the insect takes in from its environment (Hint: insects don't eat a lot and are very efficient)

100 times the power... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37413506)

of near nothing is still... near nothing :). 45 *micro* watts.

Tiny Energy Harvester (1)

raymorphic (2461142) | more than 3 years ago | (#37417184)

Hmm...interesting stuff.
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