U Michigan Develops Generators Powered by Random Vibrations
New research is revealing that random motions could become society’s newest energy source. Researchers at the University of Michigan’s Engineering Research Center for Wireless Integrated Microsystems have announced the development of energy-gathering generators that harness environmental vibrations to power devices such as wireless sensors or wristwatches.
The new generators, called PFIGs, Parametric Frequency Increased Generators, were created by Doctor Khalil Najafi and Tzeno Galchev, a doctoral student. The devices can use random energy from traffic, human movements, and moving machines to provide renewable electrical generation.
Prior developed generators have relied on predictable and regular energy sources, so the harnessing of kinetic energy is a breakthrough. The device is only one cubic centimeter in size and uses piezoelectric material - non-conductive material such as crystal or ceramic which can release charges when activated. Future applications could use random human movement to power implanted medical devices such as pacemakers or other surgically implanted sensors. The PFIGs could also reveal cracks or corrosion in structures such as bridges before human inspection would notice the problems.
Other technologies using piezoelectric kinetic energy:
European researchers create micro-sized device to harvest energy from vibrations