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Published on November 21st, 2008 | by Ariel Schwartz

14

Prototype Generator Harnesses Vibration Power

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November 21st, 2008 by
 
omron

Omron Corp. recently debuted a small prototype generator that harnesses power from vibrations to create electricity. The model will be cheap—approximately $10.36— due to its simple structure and packaging.

Omron’s generator works with an “electret power generation system” that changes capacitance depending on the relative position of opposing electrodes. A change in capacitance generates electric current.

The prototype produces only 10μW of power with vibrational inputs at 20Hz frequency and 1G acceleration, which is not enough to continuously operate a cell phone.

But despite its minimal power-generating ability, there are important uses for the prototype. Omron plans on placing the generator in devices installed on highways to detect road problems. Eventually, the generator could be installed inside car tires for tire pressure monitoring since tires vibrate strongly during movement.

Stay tuned for a release date—Omron hasn’t yet said when the generator will be commercially available.

Photo Credit: Omron

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About the Author

was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a senior editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine, and more. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.



  • J.A.H.

    Ockham’s Razor, The “Genious” is not in the creation of the device, the principle of simular devices (size & strength)uses faraday’s law of induction, everyday, everywhere we use it, all they really did was to shrink it, a single one is great for powering various things that getting to in order to do maintenance on the power supply would be overly costly and / or inconvenient (pacemaker), but a couple hooked parallel could be used not to power cell phone but to charge & maintain charge of the battery!!!, just need a few people with some immagination !

  • J.A.H.

    Ockham’s Razor, The “Genious” is not in the creation of the device, the principle of simular devices (size & strength)uses faraday’s law of induction, everyday, everywhere we use it, all they really did was to shrink it, a single one is great for powering various things that getting to in order to do maintenance on the power supply would be overly costly and / or inconvenient (pacemaker), but a couple hooked parallel could be used not to power cell phone but to charge & maintain charge of the battery!!!, just need a few people with some immagination !

  • J.A.H.

    Ockham’s Razor, The “Genious” is not in the creation of the device, the principle of simular devices (size & strength)uses faraday’s law of induction, everyday, everywhere we use it, all they really did was to shrink it, a single one is great for powering various things that getting to in order to do maintenance on the power supply would be overly costly and / or inconvenient (pacemaker), but a couple hooked parallel could be used not to power cell phone but to charge & maintain charge of the battery!!!, just need a few people with some immagination !

  • Soil

    This is great, but let’s not forget the old, energy out > energy in adage. This is not helpful ’til it takes less energy to build than it harnesses over time. I’d imagine we’re a long way from that at this point. Still, I’m very excited about this. And the folks working on it are clearly “brilliant.”

  • Soil

    This is great, but let’s not forget the old, energy out > energy in adage. This is not helpful ’til it takes less energy to build than it harnesses over time. I’d imagine we’re a long way from that at this point. Still, I’m very excited about this. And the folks working on it are clearly “brilliant.”

  • http://www.physiology-physics.blogspot.com/ Amiya

    A electret device producing energy on its own, is new to me. In condenser mic, they are fed with a current first. Anyway, more developments in this field is anticipated and welcome.

  • http://www.physiology-physics.blogspot.com/ Amiya

    A electret device producing energy on its own, is new to me. In condenser mic, they are fed with a current first. Anyway, more developments in this field is anticipated and welcome.

  • valkraider

    We have lots of places which we work to actively supress vibration. Washing machines. HVAC blowers. Copy machines and printers. Hard drive arrays. Anywhere we try to dampen vibration in stationary objects (where weight is not an issue) we could generate some electricity to “give back” rather than just trying to absorb the energy with rubber mats and shock absorbers.

    As a side note, one of the XPrize alternative power car contestants is looking to generate some power from shock absorbers. And anyone who has ever walked over a bridge knows that they vibrate in traffic. Lots of places we could harness some energy that gets wastes otherwise.

  • valkraider

    We have lots of places which we work to actively supress vibration. Washing machines. HVAC blowers. Copy machines and printers. Hard drive arrays. Anywhere we try to dampen vibration in stationary objects (where weight is not an issue) we could generate some electricity to “give back” rather than just trying to absorb the energy with rubber mats and shock absorbers.

    As a side note, one of the XPrize alternative power car contestants is looking to generate some power from shock absorbers. And anyone who has ever walked over a bridge knows that they vibrate in traffic. Lots of places we could harness some energy that gets wastes otherwise.

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  • http://writertotheworld.com Writer to the World

    I’d think there would be more uses for something that tiny. What if we lined the case of a speaker with them, or embedded them in walkways? Just a thought.

  • http://writertotheworld.com Writer to the World

    I’d think there would be more uses for something that tiny. What if we lined the case of a speaker with them, or embedded them in walkways? Just a thought.

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