Posting in Energy
From cell phones to televisions to hospital equipment, there's energy in the air all around us. Now, researchers have discovered how to harness this ambient energy and use it to power other devices.
From cell phones to televisions to hospital equipment, there's energy in the air all around us. Now, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have discovered how to harness this ambient energy and use it to power other devices.
I spoke yesterday with Manos Tentzeris, an engineering professor who is leading the research. Below are excerpts from our interview.
How do you capture and harness energy transmitted from TVs, radios and other devices?
We investigated different ways to scavenge energy by analyzing it over the whole spectrum in the ambient environment. There is a significant amount of energy all the way from FM radio up to WiFi. Previous efforts were scavenging only from narrow bands. That led to tiny amounts of power. In order to have a significant amount of power, we thought we should be able to scavenge energy from the whole frequency range. To do that, we developed extremely wide-band antennas. We managed to do this in a very cost-effective and environmentally-friendly way. We developed in-house ink jet printer technology where we can ink jet print circuits or metals on very low cost substrates like paper or plastic.
The third trick we utilized was finding efficient ways to keep storing this energy. It's like having to collect small droplets of water [from all different directions] in a single cup. We developed some ways using a super-capacitor where we can store this energy. After we reach the amount of power we want, we utilize it in a spurt and that activates a sensor or some very small communication device.
Previous efforts haven't been able to capture this much energy this way before?
Exactly. They were doing it over very narrow bands. We stretched it to much wider frequency bands. We're able to accumulate small amounts of power, but over a wide frequency range that will net a significant amount.
And the antennas are produced using ink jet printers?
Yes. The whole system depends on the wide-band antennas. Those will receive some energy over all the frequency ranges. A diode converts the energy, so it can be stored. That had been quite a challenge. We monitor the interconnect, as well. It will allow the device to power some practical electronic device.
What types of devices could the energy be used to power? Could it be used to power a cell phone, for instance?
Not yet. To give you an idea of where we stand now, with most of the conventional scavenges, we get minuscule amounts of power -- about 10 to 50 microwatts. We can push it almost all the way up to one milliwatt. The devices [we power with this] could be wireless sensors or devices that detect the structural strength of a large building. The third type are bio-monitoring devices, like a wireless electrocardiograph or [a device that does] temperature monitoring of a patient. We're trying to push it to some new devices, like glucose monitoring devices. There is an abundance of magnetic fields in hospitals or medical environments. That's the new generation we're developing right now. We're trying to scavenge magnetic energy from medical environments for medical devices.
Do you have anything else to add?
This is an extremely low cost and an extremely easy way to realize scavenges. If you're talking about the next generation of the sensing revolution, which in my opinion is the next revolution after the Internet, you're going to have billions of sensors. Batteries are not the solution.
This approach can be easily expanded to different frequency ranges. This is quite scalable and quite expandable.
This is very flexible. Typically scavenges are often very solid, rugged, planar constructions. That's one of the reasons they have not been generalized. Our approach could make this applicable for smart grid applications where you could place them very close to the high-voltage transmission lines, very close to transformers and so on.
Photo: Manos Tentzeris displays an inkjet-printed rectifying antenna used to convert microwave energy to DC power / By Gary Meek
Jul 11, 2011
Thanks, great article. Six years ago I had an accident with some acid and got a chemical burn on two fingers of my left hand. I lost a lot of skin tissue off the fingers but they healed better than I feared. As a result, the layers of skin on the affected fingers have thinned and remain very sensitive. This has become a problem since those fingers cannot come into contact with any metal parts of any electrical appliances without feeling an electrical tingling. If my fingers are wet or moist the tingling is more pronounced. I cannot feel the tingling with my other undamaged fingers or those fingers on my 'good' hand even when they are wet. The sensitivity (tingling) happens away from home too no matter where I go or whether the device is UL approved or not. The electrical tingling also happens if I touch a metal computer or a stainless steel espresso machine or even a water cooler. I assume those things were all properly grounded too. Fearing that the tingling sensation was actually a larger problem I hired an electrician to rewire my house and to install new electrical outlets. A new copper ground rod was driven into the ground, and a new electrical service box was installed but the tingling problem still persists to this day. Sometimes I can feel the tingling even if the machine is turned off but I don't feel any tingling when the object is unplugged from the outlet. Nobody else can feel the tingling either. Would a wet tongue feel the tingling too? I wouldn't try that on a dare, btw! I'm not a scientist, but is such energy detectable using a meter of some kind? Therefore, could that tingling energy be useful? Might it be harvested or re-cycled as well as that which comes from all of the other ambient energy sources? Or is the kind of enegy my sensitive fingers detect the same kind of ambient energy that the article refers to?
In the late '80s, I saw something like a one (or ten?) Fahrad capacitor being used to light a fish tank with a rope light. The capacitor was charged with a longwire antenna in the designer's backyard. I don't know what other circuitry he may have used, as I don't remember him using any. We're talking way more than micro-anything. It was simple, cheap and it worked.
I seem to recall a case in which a farmer's electric fence was running for a considerable distance underneath some high voltage long distance transmission lines. The farmer was powering his house from the electric fence antenna. He was convicted of theft.
I think you will find that Nikola Tesler achieved this many years ago, and youtube has a very recent video that shows a guy powering his cell phone with $2 worth of parts. Look under 'Free Energy' Regards Neil (Greyandgrumpy)
I think the amount of ambient energy is so low, that the best thing they can do with this tech is just use it to scavenge leakage & feed it back into the device it came from, because the radiating energy will be most concentrated at the source, and diminishing with distance... so if you can build it into the housing of the device thats one step, and then if (for example) you are talking about equipment on a computer desk, or in a stereo cabinet, or in some other way relating to furniture, you can build it into that furniture which is also quite close to the source... but the further you go away from the source, the less the return will be.
"LISA" is an abbreviation for the German word "lichtsammeln" which means "light collecting". ref: www.freepatentsonline.com/4838661.html As I read the article, I could not help, but recall learning about LISA plastics in 1989...then the brain waves suddenly found increased magnitude for my brain synapses..LOL Here,is one article that I did not feel threatened by some who would undoubtedly end outside my apartment or home with a device that did increase magnetics so much, the death rate for children and adults would go even further into the null and void distance, similar to the increase you would find when the obelisk rises to the infinite larger state. I would suggest that we have a device be built inside our cell phones that could add the needed future increase that the article stated was not obtained...allowing us some added jurisdiction in the "out-there" jurisprudence we find our government in. Example...a fan mounted above a processor could also contain coils that in conjunction with the processor, spins the coils (using the processor to switch the windings) around small, permanent magnets. If the amounts needed to recharge an onboard battery is not sufficent, the the processor could in spin magnetically switching the field around the magnets faster to gain a higher rpm,or milimeters of the whole circumference per second,etc. Interesting article.
Tesla's system put out a single frequency, as that is the way to transmit the most usable energy. This system is based on harvesting a broad range of frequencies. Otherwise, the principles are the same. And for all you Tesla-Worshipers out there, remember that to get something out, you have to put something in. And to get it out "everywhere," you actually have to LIVE in the middle of a strongly vibrating wave field. Living in it would be very problematic, however, as every square meter would have a different electrical potential (that's WHY it works). Even a "nonconducting" body would be absorbing and giving back great surges of electrical energy, just from walking through the field. If you think living near currently existing power lines can be a problem, try living in a vibrating field a thousand times as strong.
I have been studying Teslas work for over one year and came upon it several years ago. We have done it already, It is simply harnessing energy from ambient radio waves in the air. It gets more advanced then that and can produce enough power potentially to power an entire home, but this is the basis of the technology. Interesting how people do not mind stealing someone elses technology and claiming it as their own invention. One thing I would never do is claim this technology as my own invention when I know it is not my invention.
Whatever happened to the company nanosolar? thay had printable solar cells back in 08 that were 80% more effective at retrieving solar energy than traditional cells, and the cells didnt need direct light to be effective, put that along with this technology and that might make all electric vehicles more reasonable, and hybrid vehicles more efficient
It seems to me that 'free' energy in the air really means; we're bombarding our bodies with electro magnetic forces which I reckon is cannot really be that healthy. The total sum 'background' noise of energy is increasing all the time, how can that be healthy?
Maybe this method can be used to shield devices so they don't emit unwanted radiation. This could be just as important as power harvesting. Not sure if it will work at low frequencies, but if you could capture the radiation from power lines and feed it back into the grid you would lower transmission costs and avoid potentially harmful em radiation. Retrofitting might be too expensive but the additional cost of wrapping new transmission cables might be acceptable.
It's been on my mind for a couple of months. We have a lot of lightning, especially here in Florida. Starting with Ben Franklin, people have attracted lightning to grounded structures. I find it amazing that someone like GE has not found a way to capture some of that energy. Filter it and feed it into the grid. Think about it. There is enough energy in lightning to supply many of our needs. Better than nuclear. Actually, it's a form of solar energy, as the sun drives the air currents that create lightning.
do biological systems harvest this power, i mean absorb it. like the way microwaves at close range can pop hydrogen off of dna, not really harvesting, but the effect is a translation of energy from one system to the next, even if it is deleterious. if i stand by a power line long enough will i glow in the dark?
Are you all going to tell me that not one of you,or these alleged "researchers" have ever heard of Nicola Tesla??? All they're talking about is what he discovered 100 years ago, and was killed off by J.P. Morgan of Standard Oil. This is nothing new.
Hmm, this is a very interesting article. We all know that there is energy in the air even though we can't see it, but I for one can feel it and has been spoken about for years and years that energy can be harnessed. One of the concerns that I have as do many of my colleagues is how much energy is bombarding our physical bodies every day. This type of harness might also be helpful in diverting radical energy frequencies from our bodies whilst using our computers for hours at a time. Of even those annoying blue light on our DVD players or BOSE electronics etc. I look forward to hearing and learning more about the developments of this fascinating use of harnessing energy from an entirely different perspective. Very interesting, very interesting indeed.
Farmers have been harvesting significant amounts of energy from radio broadcast, and casting an enormous radio shadow in the lee of their aerials. Broadcasters have more relay towers than they theoretically need because of this. Will we get the same problem (that legitimate signals can't get through because of the numbers of aerials in the way), and will we end up broadcasting microwaves just to keep the devices powered (eg US embassy in Moscow was bathed in microwaves to keep the bugging devices powered)
Is some folks that may have some secret patents on that concept...like for use in "bugs" wherein you use ambient radiation to supplement or trickle-charge batteries if you cannot or dare not tap the local power mains for your use in recording that same ambient radiation and/or audible conversation and then burst-transmit it out to your handy-dandy receiver the next room, hall, building, or block over.
No big deal. Our group has been extracting > 5 watts ambient for several years now. The secret is in the matching.
What are electric utility companies going to think about "scavenging" electricity from their transmission lines? We have all heard the buzz and seen a glow around overhead power lines. When users begin "scavenging" power from the overhead lines without paying for it, who will wind up with the bill?
I have, sitting on my table here, a small meter called "ElectroSensor". It detects electromagnetic fields of any and all electrical appliances including light bulbs. It reads out in milligauss (mG) from 1.5 to 30 mG using a series of small led indicators which correspond to the strength of the EM field. It can be ordered on the internet. It uses one triple A cell. Help any?
We're talking about EM waves that Man has put into the environment. No animal has had time to evolve to use those, in the short time since we started our tech history.
Tesla found a way to harness the energy coming from the Sun to the earth (radiant energy or cosmic rays) but an energy that we don't use. He didn't have microwaves and such back then. Here's an article on it: http://www.nuenergy.org/alt/tesla_energy.htm
The "antenna" they have developed works in an entirely different part of the spectrum from power lines. US power is delivered at 60 Hz, and in other parts of the world, 50 Hz. They mention using "FM broadcast to WiFi." They are talking about the electromagnetic waves from about 70 MHz (million Hertz) to about 6 GHz (trillion Hertz.) However, the radiated energy from power lines is waste (electrical and magnetic fields; not electromagnetic); whether it were to be reclaimed or not, it is still waste. Thus it could not be metered, and makes no difference to the power delivered to the customer.
I read an article a couple of years ago about this very thing, Someone had lined the edge of their property with devices to capture bleed-off from the transmission lines and was using it to power the house. They were able to cut power bill to less than 10% of normal and the power company sued them and won. It is illegal to "harvest" unused power from transmission lines. I don't know if the same would apply to radar/radio/etc... I would do some checking before I spent a lot of money on equipment.
I.e., "We failed to devise a method of preventing the spread of our genetically-modified corn through the dispersion of its pollen by bees and other insects or the wind or seed through wild animal (deer, raccoon, mice, squirrel, etc.) activity, so we'll sue any farmer for patent violation if their corn shows any characteristics of our corn!". Would you demand that your neighbor pay you for overspray from your water sprinkler when you water your yard? Monsanto's argument - and the electric utility argument that electrical emissions they fail to control are billable if they can be and are captured and used - is flat-out bogus. I would hold, on the other hand, that billing the utilities for failing to control their emissions onto my property, Monsanto for failing to keep their GM corn out of my fields, or you for over-watering my yard are all valid. lolll...but since America has been intentionally corrupted in order to redefine "corporation" to mean "A person with rights but no responsibilities.", I suppose I would only get your nickels and dimes.
@oldbaritone - I can't tell if you're serious. 1 milliwatt? You think you can use 1 milliwatt - to power something, go right ahead.
Tesla found a way to broadcast power but lost the equipment in a fire; he was not able to recreate his original experiment. Tesla thought in terms of the science he learned and he did not accept Einstein's theories. It still would be interesting to go through his notes and what we know of his devices as well as methods to try to recreate broadcast power. If the actual power was from the sun or other energy then this experiment would help understand what these energies can do.
ah ! you are right about it. Human rights, constitution rights, we are right even when wrong ? big corporations don ' t care about us. I till remember Al capp 's Dogpatch cartoon.
lol, You are right on the money. No pun intended. Does the Supreme Court really thing when the founding fathers said "We hold these truth to be self evident all men are endowed by their creator" That "creator" meant the State authority where the articles of incorporation are filed. lol
Dairy farmers have had problems with stray voltage affecting their cattle since the beginning of electrification of dairy farms. They have been fighting with power companies ever since.
1 mW may seem exceptionally small, but given the expanse you could spread this on, it could cut power costs all over the place. Not by much, but last I saw many a person was counting pennies. Also, it should be noted that this is fairly new, as a result nothing is refined enough to make it efficient yet.
Yes, Tesla did the same thing . In those days, there were no oodles of fields at various frequencies, so a wideband receiver would have been useless. He had to build his own transmitter for that reason. He then received it many miles away to power a Pierce-Arrow. I don't know about the Standard Oil connection, but (George )Westinghouse screwed him royally. And, he DID lose a lab to fire, but that did not make him forget what he had accomplished, or how. It is true that we didn't use radio energy much then, but we now do, because of him. Microwaves weren't around as such, because they had not been named . But the radiation he used was right next to them on the spectrum.