07. 10. 2007
Making energy from natural vibrations
Small as batteries get, there are some devices that are just too small or sensitive to be fitted with them. That's where the tiny vibration-powered generator developed by the University of Southampton might be able to do the trick. The device generates electrical energy from vibrations and movements present in the environment surrounding it. So unlike a battery, it doesn't have to be replaced or recharged periodically.
Less than 1 cubic centimeter in size, the generator was developed to power wireless sensors that monitor manufacturing plants. But the development team already envisions that it could be used to power pacemakers, for instance, simply by relying on the vibrations of a beating heart.
The generator is made up of magnets on a cantilever in the middle of the device. As these magnets wobble in response to natural vibrations, they generate electrical power when their magnetic fields interact with a disc inside the device. It doesn't provide a huge surge of power - just 46 microwatts during a test, for instance - but that's enough for low-power devices.
I'm particularly taken with the idea of making energy from naturally occurring vibrations in the environment (as opposed to quaffing it from non-renewable resources). Now if only they'll make one that's powerful enough to keep my cell phone going ...
Via BBC News.