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The trick to harvesting energy
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"scientists have started to rethink the possibilities for salvaging wasted energy ? what they term "energy harvesting". They are finding ways to capture the heat lost from buildings, the idle power drain of computers or the motions of the human body, and to convert it into useful, clean electricity. But that is not all: energy harvesting permits devices that are free from a battery or an external power source. With these restrictions removed, the devices can be placed or moved anywhere, scaled to dimensions smaller than ever and designed to exist without maintenance."

"..Most people rarely acknowledge the energy that is lost to the environment. Rather than chase it, we have opted to generate more. The past 35 years have seen a tripling of world electricity demand, which has predominantly been met through the burning of additional fossil fuels. With less than a 3% contribution to global energy production, those technologies that exploit what is already around us ? solar, wind and tidal power, for example ? barely feature.



"Recently, however, and partly in response to the drive for lower carbon footprints, scientists have started to rethink the possibilities for salvaging wasted energy ? what they term "energy harvesting". They are finding ways to capture the heat lost from buildings, the idle power drain of computers or the motions of the human body, and to convert it into useful, clean electricity. But that is not all: energy harvesting permits devices that are free from a battery or an external power source. With these restrictions removed, the devices can be placed or moved anywhere, scaled to dimensions...." - more
Posted on: 2009/6/10 10:22
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RCA Airnergy claims to charge gadgets using ambient WiFi signals
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By Alan Brandon

20:08 January 12, 2010 PST


The RCA Airnergy harvests ambient WiFi energy to charge your gadgets

Move over solar chargers. Step aside kinetic chargers. If RCA are to be believed, there?s a new way to scavenge power from your environment using an energy source that?s all around us: WiFi. If you are reading this article, the chances are very good that you are in range of at least one wireless network. RCA says its Airnergy Charger scavenges stray WiFi signals and converts them to DC battery power that you can use to charge your cell phone, music player, or other electronic devices.

RCA calls the Airnergy a ?WiFi hotspot energy harvester?. The device is about the size of a cell phone, with a Micro USB connector hanging off it. Inside is an antenna to receive 2.4GHz (802.11) WiFi signals, and a converter that turns the WiFi energy into DC power which is then stored in the on-board battery. You can keep the Airnergy in your briefcase or your pocket and whenever it is within range of WiFi, it charges itself. Simply connect it to your device to charge its battery. And, unlike solar chargers, the Airnergy works at night.

At the CES 2010 show, RCA claims to have demonstrated the Airnergy charging a BlackBerry from about one-third to fully-charged in about 90 minutes. Naturally, the strength of the WiFi signal will affect how quickly the Airnergy can charge a device.

So is the Airnergy ready for prime time? We?ll definitely be keeping an eye on this technology, but RCA says they are already working on a new version that will be small enough to fit inside an OEM cell phone battery. With the Airnergy harvesting battery pack, you could recharge your phone or other device simply by leaving it range of a WiFi hotspot.

RCA is aiming to bring the Airnergy Charger to market in the third quarter of 2010, with an expected price of US$40.

Via: OhGizmo.

Ed note: while I'm no physicist, I find it hard to believe that enough energy can be gleaned from a Wi-Fi signal to provide a practical charging solution for mobile phones. It's certainly easy to be skeptical about the "one-third to fully-charged in about 90 minutes" claim. For now, we'll be putting this one in the "believe it when we see it basket".
Posted on: 2010/1/13 12:54
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