Multi-Source Optimal Reconfigurable Energy Harvester


Background: The International Energy Agency and the European Union estimates that more than 10% of the electricity used in homes and offices are wasted by devices that are simply plugged into outlets. If the trend continues with this so called “Vampire-energy” use the wasted energy will rise to 49 terawatt hours by 2014. Solar energy is an excellent alternative to DC (direct current) power supplies in that through the use of proper circuitry the batteries in the mobile devices (laptops smartphones and tablet computers) which are predominantly lithium-ion can be constantly charged thus completely eliminating the need for external charging. While large-scale battery banks for solar-farms may not yet be a reality the use of batteries in mobile devices is already in place and has wide-spread use. Thus solar integrated mobile devices are gaining significant traction in consumer electronics. However current battery technologies are not capable of sustaining a sufficient charge to keep heavily utilized mobile devices powered throughout the day. It is therefore becoming increasingly necessary to look to harvesting of surrounding intrinsic sources of energy such as solar photovoltaic RF thermal photovoltaic and vibrational energy as a means of powering these devices throughout their daily usage. There is a growing market in various energy harvesting technologies as can be evidenced by the increase in patents filed over the past five years. Next generation harvesters as the unique UNM approach described here will harvest energy from multiple sources. This approach achieves higher efficiencies and lower costs in renewable energy systems that can be implemented in urban environments. Technology Description: Multifunction and reconfigurable energy harvesters that achieve high efficiencies and lower costs in renewable energy systems have been developed by University of New Mexico researchers. The proposed harvesting technology consists of a reconfigurable device which can harness store and utilize multiple sources of wire-free energy to power various modern mobile technologies. This reconfigurable energy harvesting system evolves and adapts to the changing availability of energy and decides to use one or more sources of energy to achieve optimal efficiencies. Applications: Energy conservation


1) Accesses and utilizes multiple forms of harvestable and wire-free energy 2) Adaptable to changing availability of energy sources according to physical location and time of day to optimally harvest energy 3) Yields power output – optimizes power produced to power used 4) Lightweight and cost-efficient technology 5) Can use ambient RF energy (from TV signals to Wi-Fi signals) along with solar energy and convert it into DC power that can be used as a battery or for any other uses 6) Thermophotovoltaic (TPV) solar-cell (semiconductor and organic) integration 7) Will allow for the realization of integrated PV – TPV technologies on GaAs substrates

Date of release