Diminutive generator powered by vibrations

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tiny-generator.jpgScientists from the University of Southhampton have successfully developed a small generator that plays an important role, powering devices where battery replacement is a difficult and convoluted process. Some people are already saying that with further refinement, these generators will be able to keep heart pacemakers working, although we’ll delve further into that after the jump. This device is initially tipped to provide power to wireless sensors on equipment in manufacturing plants, and possesses efficiency levels that are up to 10 times that of similar devices.

This diminutive sized generator measures less than one cubic centimeter, and is powered by harnessing vibrations in its surroundings to wobble the magnets located on a cantilever at the heart of the device, generating power in the process. Despite producing mere microwatts, this is more than ample energy to power sensors found in machines in manufacturing plants. According to Dr. Steve Beeby who led the development of the device, replacing wires and batteries in those power sensors with this invention will be able to shrink the said power sensors to even smaller form factors.

In addition, using such a small generator also makes utilizing a larger amount of sensors a very viable option since there no longer is any need to replace or recharge batteries. This generator was specially developed to be placed within air compressors, but could be modified to accommodate other uses such as inside self-powered medical implants. Being housed within a pacemaker makes perfect sense, since the beating of the human heart is strong enough to keep the magnets inside wobbling like an Egyptian belly dancer, powering itself in the process. I only wonder what happens when the heart does not wobble enough to keep the pacemaker going – sounds like a potentially fatal Catch 22 situation there. Other usage involves using these to power sensors attached to rail and road bridges in order to monitor the structures’ health.

Source: BBC

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