Energy Harvesting will have a significant impact on the future of sensors and electronics applications
Posted on 16/05/2018
This year’s IDTechEX show and conference in Berlin proved yet again that system level energy harvesting, or scavenging, will have a significant impact on the future of sensors and electronics applications and a few others not so obvious.
The major themes this year in the sector appeared to be;
- The ability to miniaturise harvesters and electronic components is key to realising new markets
- Sensors for location and tracking are increasing in popularity and the need for reliable power sources is being realised
- As speculated in previous years, the Internet of Things and, within it, sensing, appear to be key user markets and provide multiple opportunities
- The production of waste and associated recycling of batteries is increasingly referenced as a reason to utilize Energy Harvesting, with sustainability a motivating factor for Energy Harvesting aspirations in end users
- Can the gamble be made with edge processing and less power be used to analyse the data on the sensing device and only transmit what is important, than sending all of the captured data off to be processed and analysed somewhere in the cloud?
Whilst not as strong as in some years, the UK presence was still clear and the impact of the solutions made a positive impression on the delegates. Of the UK contingent I managed to speak in details with Witt Energy, Pavegen, Intrinsiq Materials, Lightricity and Silent Sensors. That grouping covers the following capabilities respectively;
- 6 degrees of motion flywheel harvester
- Kinetic paving to capture pedestrian power
- Thermo-electric-generator inks and an RF Harvester
- Highly-efficient PV for indoor use and on wearables
- Piezo-electrics to enable the Internet of Tyres
That slice of UK capability sat well with other innovations from across the world who were at the show. A couple of examples of interesting companies I spoke to were, ReMoni with their inline harvester that clamps onto wiring and uses the Electromagnetic field to power a sensor that monitors the health of the wiring system and its assets and ReVibe Energy, who’ve taken a SAAB innovation and commercialised it as a tuneable vibration harvester for industrial IoT.
That UK presence whilst good, was less than 10% of the UK industrial base as identified in a recently launched report by the Energy Harvesting SIG, that lists 65 companies forming the industrial EH eco-system and a further 45 Universities providing the innovation pipeline for future development and emerging technologies.