What is power harvesting ?

Power harvesting, also known as energy harvesting or energy scavenging, is the process of capturing and converting ambient energy from the surrounding environment into electrical power. The goal is to harness energy from various sources to power electronic devices or to store the energy for later use. This approach is particularly useful in scenarios where it may be challenging or impractical to use traditional power sources.

Different types of power harvesting devices and techniques

Following are the different types of harvester devices which use different techniques in order to harvest energy or power.

Solar Energy Harvesting:
Device: Photovoltaic Cells (Solar Panels)
Technique: Solar energy harvesting involves capturing energy from sunlight using photovoltaic cells. These cells convert sunlight directly into electrical power through the photoelectric effect. Solar panels are widely used to generate electricity for a variety of applications, from small electronic devices to powering homes and businesses.

Thermoelectric Energy Harvesting:
Device: Thermoelectric Generators
Technique: Thermoelectric energy harvesting utilizes the Seebeck effect, where a temperature gradient across a thermoelectric material induces an electric voltage. These generators can convert heat from sources such as industrial processes, vehicle exhaust, or the human body into electricity.

Piezoelectric energy harvesting

Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting:
Device: Piezoelectric Materials and Devices
Technique: Piezoelectric energy harvesting involves converting mechanical vibrations or deformations into electrical energy. Piezoelectric materials generate electric charge when stressed or deformed. Devices incorporating these materials can be used to capture energy from ambient vibrations, such as those from machinery, human motion, or structural vibrations.

RF energy harvesting system

Electromagnetic (RF) Energy Harvesting:
Device: RF (Radio Frequency) Harvesting Antennas
Technique: Electromagnetic energy harvesting captures ambient radio frequency signals and converts them into electrical power. This technique is often used for low-power applications, such as wireless sensor nodes. RF harvesting can tap into existing RF signals, like Wi-Fi, RFID, or cellular signals, to generate power.

Wind Energy Harvesting:
Device: Micro Wind Turbines
Technique: Wind energy harvesting involves using small-scale wind turbines to convert the kinetic energy of wind into electrical power. These micro wind turbines are suitable for applications where traditional, large-scale wind turbines are not practical, such as remote sensing devices.

Hybrid Energy Harvesting:
Device: Combined Systems
Technique: Hybrid energy harvesting involves combining multiple harvesting techniques to improve overall efficiency and reliability. For example, combining solar and piezoelectric harvesting can provide a continuous power supply in environments with both light and mechanical vibrations.

Vibration Energy Harvesting:
Device: Electromagnetic Generators, Piezoelectric Devices
Technique: Vibration energy harvesting captures energy from mechanical vibrations in various forms, such as machinery vibrations, vehicle motion, or even ambient vibrations in urban environments. Electromagnetic generators and piezoelectric devices are commonly used for this purpose.

Hydrokinetic Energy Harvesting:
Device: Underwater Turbines, Oscillating Water Columns
Technique: Hydrokinetic energy harvesting captures energy from the movement of water, such as ocean currents, tides, or river flows. Devices like underwater turbines and oscillating water columns convert the kinetic energy of moving water into electrical power.

Power harvesting technologies play a crucial role in enabling the development of self-sufficient and energy-efficient systems, especially in applications where battery replacement or traditional power sources are impractical or expensive.

Other energy harvesting techniques

Refer Energy Harvesting Methods which describes types and basics of energy harvesting techniques and energy harvesting materials. Refer RF Energy Harvesting system which describes RF energy harvesting.

RF and Wireless Terminologies