Needs from industry – Key success factors
Actually, this market survey has raised the main reasons why EH is still not in agreement with industrialists’ needs. They are summarized in table 2
. We also present EH main limits and propose some improvements, focusing on vibration energy harvesting (VEH) and thermoelectricity.
Table 2: Industrialists’ needs and EH limits
Conclusion: Still an emerging technology but with great opportunities
Even though many developments have taken place over the past 10 years, energy harvesting –except for PV cells– is still an emerging technology that has not yet been adopted by industry.
Nevertheless, improvements of present technologies – that are currently under investigation – should enable to meet the needs expressed by industrialists. For vibration energy harvesters, the most important focal area of research is probably the increase of the working frequency bandwidth that is still a technological bottleneck preventing this technology from being a viable and versatile supply source. For thermoelectricity, improvements mainly concern materials to increase EH output power even on small thermal gradients. As for robustness and impacts of aging, only time will bring more information.
To conclude, energy harvesting can be – and will be – a viable solution to develop autonomous wireless sensor networks. Its adequacy with sustainable development is a great opportunity. Obviously, photovoltaic cells are probably the most advanced and robust technology today, but it cannot work in all situations and especially for industry applications; thermoelectricity and vibration energy harvesting can be suitable for these environments. Nevertheless, both of them should be improved and prove their worth before it is fully adopted by industry.
About the authors
Sebastien Boisseau and Ghislain Despesse are researchers at CEA-Leti, a French institute focused on micro- and nanotechnologies and their applications. CEA-Leti is part of CEA, French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission.
The authors would like to thank F. Pinaud and S. Joly for the market survey, and their VEH coworkers, B. Ahmed Seddik, J.J. Chaillout, A.B. Duret, P. Gasnier, P.D. Berger, S. Riché and S. Dauvé for their contribution to this article.
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