PhD student Simon Barker is pleased to see his topic of interest, energy harvesting, make it in to mainstream consciousness.
NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, England – For those of us working in or around the industry, energy harvesting is something we deal with daily, be it reading articles, learned papers, trade magazines or actually testing something in the lab (and, let’s be honest, working out why it’s not working!). For the average person however, energy harvesting is something new and certainly not something that’s expected to appear on the front page of the BBC News website.
Last week though, my inbox was inundated with emails from friends sending me a link to this article on energy harvesting. On the front page of BBC News was as an article on energy harvesting that those outside the industry can appreciate, a shake-to-charge AA or AAA battery. Now I know EE Times also covered this development nearly a week before but most of my friends are outside the industry and don’t visit this more specialized site.
The idea is simple, anything that is used infrequently, and only needs small power levels, for example a TV remote control, could be powered from AA batteries that charge up after a few swift shakes. Having briefly tried to make something similar in the lab on a Friday afternoon and not got very far, I was really excited to see that Brother Industries Ltd. of Japan is heading down this path.
That was until I read the penultimate paragraph of the BBC article. “There are no plans to commercialize the batteries as yet, according to Brother.”
That is a shame. I think that most people know that single-use batteries are bad for the environment and that rechargeable ones aren’t a lot better, so something like this could be quite widely accepted – at the right price. I guess that is probably the issue here, cost rather than acceptance. The fact that this article made it to the front page of a major news outlet is an indication that there is a potential market for this.
If it costs $20 per battery then there isn’t much point in releasing it. Hopefully Brother Industries, or someone else, will release this, at a reasonable price, in the not too distant future. In the meantime, articles like this showing up in high exposure places is only going to help those of us working in the industry and hoping to expand the potential applications of the technology. If anyone else has seen articles like this elsewhere please chime in with comments below.