Fujitsu's Hybrid Generator: Body Heat Generates Electricity
Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. has developed the latest method of harvesting electricity using both light and thermal changes. The "Hybrid Generator," out of Kawasaki, Japan, is said by the company to "derive energy from two separate sources, which previously could only be handled by combining individual devices." According to Fujitsu the small device, announced December 9, 2010, converts energy from the surrounding environment and is also economically practical, thus lending itself to a broad scope of potential uses.
Energy harvesting is defined as the process used to collect energy from the surrounding environment and then convert it to electricity. Conventionally, power plants or batteries supply electricity; however, the Hybrid Generator does not require any electrical wiring or batteries because it uses ambient energy, a source growing in popularity among eco-conscious inventors and developers. Ambient energy can come from vibrations, radio waves, light, heat, and even a Wi-Fi internet source, such as with the Airenergy electronic charger.
There are, however, some shortcomings of energy harvesting. Power generated from energy harvesting is minute in comparison to that which can be supplied by power plants and batteries. And energy from ambient sources can be limited (take sunlight, for instance). Nonetheless, a device such as the Hybrid Generator, which is the first to utilize energy from more than one ambient source, could combat this drawback by enabling the device to be used nearly all the time.
What's more, the generator is composed of organic materials. The cost-effective organic material developed by Fujitsu is ideal for a generator using both photovoltaic as well as thermoelectric modes. The material's high generating efficiency produces power even from indoor lighting when in photovoltaic mode and from heat, such as from the body, in thermoelectric mode.
What makes the Hybrid Generator so innovative is that it uses two energy harvesting methods in one device; this was formerly not available. The combination of methods "doubles the energy-capture potential." Fujitsu offers an exciting conception for use of the device. They say the device could be used effectively in the medical field to measure body temperature, blood pressure, and heart beats. When heat or light is not sufficient to power the device, both can be used in conjunction with each other. They also claim the device has potential for uses in environmental sensing for weather forecasting in remote areas where power plants are not available and replacing batteries would not be feasible.
Fujitsu intends to continue development of the device and would like to commercialize the concept by 2015.