by Richard Moss @ gizmag.com:
Electrical energy is normally generated through heat, motion, nuclear transformation, or chemical reactions, but now scientists at VTT Technical Research Center of Finland have devised a new method that involves mechanical vibrations. They figured out how to “harvest” the vibrational energy that occurs naturally when two surfaces with different work functions are connected via electrodes, and this energy could potentially be used to power wearables and other low-power electronics.
New technique for generating electricity from mechanical vibrations – [Link]
The MAX71020 is a single-chip, analog front-end to be used in high-performance revenue meters. It contains the compute engine found in Maxim’s fourth-generation meter SOC and an improved ADC, and interfaces to the host microcontroller of choice over a SPI interface.
MAX71020 Single-Chip Electricity Meter – [Link]
Replacing electricity with light: First physical ‘metatronic’ circuit created – [via]
The technological world of the 21st century owes a tremendous amount to advances in electrical engineering, specifically, the ability to finely control the flow of electrical charges using increasingly small and complicated circuits. And while those electrical advances continue to race ahead, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are pushing circuitry forward in a different way, by replacing electricity with light.
Replacing electricity with light: First physical ‘metatronic’ circuit created – [Link]
The same piezoelectric effect that ignites your gas grill with the push of a button could one day power sensors in your body via the respiration in your nose.
Writing in the September issue of the journal Energy and Environmental Science, Materials Science and Engineering Assistant Professor Xudong Wang, postdoctoral Researcher Chengliang Sun and graduate student Jian Shi report creating a plastic microbelt that vibrates when passed by low-speed airflow such as human respiration.
In certain materials, such as the polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) used by Wang’s team, an electric charge accumulates in response to applied mechanical stress. This is known as the piezoelectric effect. The researchers engineered PVDF to generate sufficient electrical energy from respiration to operate small electronic devices. [via]
Electricity from the nose – [Link]
Yes, this video is really short, but it’s stunning once you know what’s actually going on: [via]
In the lab, University of Minnesota researchers show how a new multiferroic material they created begins as a non-magnetic material then suddenly becomes strongly magnetic as the piece of copper below is heated a small amount. When this happens, it jumps over to a permanent magnet. This demonstration represents the direct conversion of heat to kinetic energy.
more from ScienceDaily:
Researchers say the material could potentially be used to capture waste heat from a car’s exhaust that would heat the material and produce electricity for charging the battery in a hybrid car. Other possible future uses include capturing rejected heat from industrial and power plants or temperature differences in the ocean to create electricity. The research team is looking into possible commercialization of the technology.
To create the material, the research team combined elements at the atomic level to create a new multiferroic alloy, Ni45Co5Mn40Sn10. Multiferroic materials combine unusual elastic, magnetic and electric properties. The alloy Ni45Co5Mn40Sn10 achieves multiferroism by undergoing a highly reversible phase transformation where one solid turns into another solid. During this phase transformation the alloy undergoes changes in its magnetic properties that are exploited in the energy conversion device.
During a small-scale demonstration in a University of Minnesota lab, the new material created by the researchers begins as a non-magnetic material, then suddenly becomes strongly magnetic when the temperature is raised a small amount. When this happens, the material absorbs heat and spontaneously produces electricity in a surrounding coil. Some of this heat energy is lost in a process called hysteresis. A critical discovery of the team is a systematic way to minimize hysteresis in phase transformations. The team’s research was recently published in the first issue of the new scientific journal Advanced Energy Materials.
New Alloy Converts Heat Directly into Electricity – [Link]
The largest solar photovoltaic (PV) facility in the world was completed last month. This facility is now online and is producing up to 80 megawatts of electricity.
World’s Largest Solar PV Facility Now In Canada – [Link]
Eric Giler wants to untangle our wired lives with cable-free electric power. Here, he covers what this sci-fi tech offers, and demos MIT’s breakthrough version, WiTricity — a near-to-market invention that may soon recharge your cell phone, car, pacemaker.
WiTricity: wireless electricity transfer – [Link]
In everything from computer processor chips to car engines to electric powerplants, the need to get rid of excess heat creates a major source of inefficiency. But new research points the way to a technology that might make it possible to harvest much of that wasted heat and turn it into usable electricity.
Turning heat to electricity – [Link]