Energy Harvesting: Scalable Renewable Energy For The Iot

“In the long term, battery technology will not be able to meet the demand being created by the expansion of internet of things applications,” James Myers, director of devices and circuits at UK chipmaker Arm’s research and development division. The firm estimates that if each of the trillion or so wireless sensor nodes that are projected used a small lithium coin cell, it would require over 100,000 tonnes of lithium – almost three times the current worldwide annual production. Batteries have become a big business in recent years due to the demand from the increasing number of mobile devices, electric vehicles, energy storage installations and the IoT. The sensors, connectivity and edge computing that makes up IoT networks require minimal power output, so there have been significant advancements in low-power battery technology. Longer lifetimes and greater dependability are positive steps but one day those batteries will need to be changed, and if you run a smart building or city full of sensors then changing batteries is a serious undertaking. Myers and many others are part of a movement that hopes to rid us of batteries in low-power applications in order to reduce the cost, risk, and hassle of maintaining those batteries. The logical alternative, they say, is energy harvesting – the process of scavenging ambient power from the local environment. This could be through photosensitive materials to generate solar power, by harnessing kinetic energy through piezoelectric methods, thermoelectric energy from heat, or other similar approaches.

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