Green IoT Gaining Momentum with Energy Harvesting
Energy harvesting has been touted as the solution to prevent billions of batteries annually being discarded in landfills. Wireless sensors and actuators used for IoT markets are prime targets due to their low energy requirements and growing ubiquity. The latest innovations promise to expand opportunities for energy harvesting in a broad range of markets and applications.
1 in 5 Energy Users Currently Use Energy Harvesting
ON World recently completed 100+ executive interviews with automation and control OEMs, wireless systems vendors, professional installers/dealers and end users. Our research found that adoption for wireless sensor systems powered by energy harvesting is growing in nearly all major IoT industries. Almost half of the OEMs and professional installers as well as one in five of the end users are currently using energy harvesting.
A few examples of battery-less wireless systems currently in use include wireless switches, window latches, smart door locks, air dampers/air quality sensors, parking sensors, industrial equipment condition monitoring, railcar and track condition monitoring.
In addition, there are numerous other energy harvesting solutions poised to be launched in the next few years in the transportation, automotive, aviation, smart building and elderly care industries.
Energy harvesting’s increasing relevance for IoT is illustrated by the 1,000+ certified Zigbee Green Power devices (part of Zigbee 3.0) by the Connectivity Standards Alliance (previously Zigbee Alliance). Already, approximately 10% of these devices are currently powered by energy harvesting.
Energy Harvesting Innovations
The most needed energy harvesting technology advances for industrial applications are higher power output and improved performance. Surveyed executives targeting residential and commercial markets say device interoperability, longer network range and device costs are most important. Smaller harvester sizes and new form factors will become increasingly important in the future.
A few of the latest energy harvesting innovators include the following:
TDK TPMS Platform
Japan’s TDK recently announced its upcoming tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) platform that features energy harvester modules developed by TDK. Advantages are the ability to support additional sensor applications that are not typically part of a direct or indirect TPMS. In some implementations, TDK believes customers will use several energy harvesting modules per wheel. The planned launch date for this platform is 2023.
To address the global need for improved indoor quality monitoring, Enerbee has invented a batteryless wireless variable air flow damper, used with optional indoor air quality sensors, that generates its own power derived from the air flow of the ventilation system.
After a decade of Research and Development, Xidas has launched the Vibration Power Pod with rechargeable battery that can produce up to 10 mW.
University of Exeter
The UK’s University of Exeter’s Energy Harvesting Group is developing battery-less end-to-end wireless sensing systems using piezoelectric harvesters. They have recently announced the achievement of harvesting 140 mW at 0.5 g acceleration and 2W for higher acceleration rates such as rail tracks.
The Kanazawa University’s V-Generator that uses magnetostrictive materials that can harvest high amounts of power from small vibrations/kinetic energy enabling a wider range of applications and small form factors for vibration harvesters.
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