by Ayliffe Brown

February 11, 2016

2016 News in Energy Harvesting

You would think that the scientific agreement that climate change is among us, as well as the intense need for providing easier to use energy would involve making renewable energy for IoT and wearables. This is WT most recent research on the new developments of energy harvesting. From 2015, we wrote about a few new products that can enhance your tech experience – because having your battery die is never a fun thing.

Solar Cells are growing from stiff silicon semiconductors to flexible plastic. This can enable faster production and cheaper insulation because you can print organic solar cells in a quick amount of time. Not only is this important for making wearable devices more durable, but it also can bring renewable energy to small villages that have insufficient to zero power.  On top of becoming smaller and liter, solar cells are also being tested against water and extreme temperatures.

Heat your body from any form of light with ThermalTec Jacket. Just successfully funded on Indigogo, ThermalTec can manipulate any light form to produce energy to warm or cool your body. The jacket comes in various styles (with or without hood) for both male and female bodies. The idea is that while you are living or visiting a cold place, you can maintain your personal favorite body temperature. How does it work? Your inner layer of fabric is woven with tiny pieces of metal, thus enabling electric power – but lite weight- connections. The jacket needs a few more months before it is able to send to non-backers. But sign up and be one of the first to own this truly unique jacket.

Electrostrictive polymers allows for textiles to harvest energy. A group from INSA de Lyon wrote that they are able to increase their mechanical energy performance with the use of a plasticizer. In short, the lead researcher, Xunqian Yin, has extensive reports on the produced field-induced strain of the electrostritive polymers once applied to an electric field. This effect is categorized under the energy harvesting of piezoelectric energy – a result of mechanical stress. The topic becomes interesting because the polymers are not naturally piezoelectric when strained – however they give a “pseudo-piezoelectric effect” when given large amounts of DC electricity. The possibilities for application begin with force sensors and expand to the imagination.

To end on a prototype of the future – WT introduces to you Tecnopicnic by Atelier Teratoma. It is a compacted backpack and picnic table. The idea is to manifest outdoor eating in urban settings. So instead of stopping by your favorite fast food restaurant for lunch, you can pack your own snacks and sit outside for a quick and party-filled picnic. The table contains a solar panel to charge your phone, or tablet and a set of speakers for enjoying tunes.

WT will be on the lookout for updates throughout the year. So please feel free to suggest new R&D or products that hit the market.