Raiders of the lost amp

Jul 05, 2011

Energy harvesting is a process that captures energy that would otherwise be lost as heat, light, sound, vibration or motion. It can use this captured energy to improve the efficiency of existing systems or even to power new technologies.

A high-profile example of is Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS). These recover the of a moving vehicle when it is braking and store it to use later when accelerating. KERS are currently being used by nine teams in the 2011 Formula One season and are under development for road vehicles.

NPL is part of the Metrology for Energy Harvesting project - a research collaboration that brings together Europe's expertise in measurement, energy harvesting and systems engineering. The consortium's research aims to make various energy-harvesting technologies more efficient and practical. It ultimately wants to help industry to develop energy harvesting technologies to lower costs and increase .

At the Summer Science Exhibition scientists from NPL will demonstrate the hidden sources of 'wasted' energy that they are looking to harvest. Their stand's interactive 'Energy Race' will pit different energy-capturing technologies against each other to produce electrical power.

Visitors can learn about the importance of thermodynamics in energy harvesting and about how vibrations can be used to produce .

They can also see how energy harvesting is already being achieved through a variety of processes, including

  • Vibration, movement and sound can be captured and transformed into electrical power using piezoelectric materials. literally translates as 'electricity resulting from pressure'. In these materials, electric charge is produced in response to applied . Human motion, low-frequency vibrations, and acoustic noise are just some of the potential sources that could be harvested by .
  • Heat can be captured and transformed into electrical power using thermoelectric materials. When there is a temperature difference across one of these materials (i.e. one side hot, the other cold), a voltage is created across the material. If the temperature difference is kept constant, this voltage can be used to provide electrical power.
Laurie Winkless, a higher research scientist from NPL working on energy harvesting, said:
"The energy debate is more than fossil fuels versus renewable or nuclear - it's about getting as much as we can from what we already use. Energy harvesting is a way for industry and government to capture wasted energy and use it to make existing processes more efficient or for new applications such as wireless sensor networks. It can also help individuals to be more energy efficient, saving them money as well as contributing to the fight against climate change."

Explore further: Lifting the brakes on fuel efficiency

Provided by National Physical Laboratory

2 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Good vibrations

Mar 23, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Energy harvesting - using vibrations from the environment to produce electricity - has been around for over a decade, but Dr Stephen Burrow and his team in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University ...

Nanogenerators for energy harvesting technology

Jul 09, 2010

The journal, Nano Letters, recently published an article highlighting the fascinating nanogenerators developed by Dr. Yong Shi, a professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Stevens Institute of Technology. The pa ...

Recommended for you

Lifting the brakes on fuel efficiency

Apr 18, 2014

The work of a research leader at Michigan Technological University is attracting attention from Michigan's Governor as well as automotive companies around the world. Xiaodi "Scott" Huang of Michigan Tech's ...

Large streams of data warn cars, banks and oil drillers

Apr 16, 2014

Better warning systems that alert motorists to a collision, make banks aware of the risk of losses on bad customers, and tell oil companies about potential problems with new drilling. This is the aim of AMIDST, the EU project ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

A homemade solar lamp for developing countries

(Phys.org) —The solar lamp developed by the start-up LEDsafari is a more effective, safer, and less expensive form of illumination than the traditional oil lamp currently used by more than one billion people ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...