MEMS energy harvesting devices are the subject of Yole Dveloppement's latest report, entitled 'MEMS Energy Harvesting Devices: Technologies & Markets Report'. Opportunities for energy harvesting devices abound in various markets, spurred by the promise - in principle - of a cleaner and almost perpetual solution to powering small systems than batteries. This report examines the market drivers and highlights applications in the automotive, medical, industrial machine monitoring and process control, home automation and defence arenas.
Yole notes that MEMS energy harvesting devices have been a hot topic in MEMS R&D for some years, with spectacular developments driven by DARPA programs, such as its Hybrid Insect Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (HI-MEMS) program.
Explains Ridha Hamza, project manager at Yole Dveloppement and one of the report's authors: "The reality is that beyond the technological buzz, commercial applications are slowly starting to get to market for industrial applications and home automation appliances. This is driving the first volumes for energy harvesting applications, but not necessarily at the micro scale." In 2007 and 2008, it was applications such as tyre pressure monitoring that drove MEMS business developments, although Hamza says that 'market dynamics have not made it possible to accept a premium price for alternative solutions.'
Among the parameters that the authors consider as crucial in determining market acceptance of these devices are size, cost, amount of power generated versus amount of power needed by the system, and projected lifetime for the energy harvesting device compared to the system parts lifetime. The report cites, as an example, the latest developments in piezoelectric MEMS energy harvesters which can power sensor nodes requiring 60 uW, although a companion energy storage device is generally necessary for most applications.
More information can be found at www.yole.fr.
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