This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project proposes to create high performance energy harvesting products using EcoHarvester?s Multi-Pole Energy Generator (MEG) technology. The novel platform technology will answer the need for power in the mili-watt to several watt ranges and will be possible to serve multiple markets. Phase II will focus on miniaturization of the MEG technology, system level integration of wireless light switches, and modification of the MEG technology for application to a user-actuated portable electronic device charger. The self-generated light switches will eliminated the cost and time spent on wiring or changing batteries. The user-actuated chargers will eliminate the need to buy disposable batteries for smart phone power back-up.
The broader impacts of this research are further investment in energy harvesting and accelerate the adoption of energy harvesting technologies to replace/supplement batteries. In addition to the great economic and performance advantages of our technology for end users, there are compelling motivations to promote this technology for reasons of sustainability and waste reduction. Locally generated power is highly desirable due to the inherent inefficiencies of transmission and storage. As our world becomes increasingly wired, the demand for environmentally burdensome batteries and copper wires has skyrocketed, creating problems related to material extraction, processing, and disposal. The limitations of batteries also constrict the useful life of many devices and limit some applications due to the need to be able to service and replace components.
EcoHarvesterâ€™s innovative designs and technology will enable widespread commercial adoption of energy harvesting technologies. Energy harvesting represents a promising set of technologies that could have a dramatic impact on the extension of wireless sensors into our environment and provide an enormous benefit in terms of reduced global energy consumption and enhanced living spaces. As yet, this promise remains unrealized. EcoHarvesterâ€™s technology contains three basic innovations: a) dramatically improved cost structure, b) higher energy density leading to a smaller size, and c) planar, unobtrusive form factor. Recent years have witnessed a remarkable proliferation of low power wireless devices including wireless sensing devices and portable electronics. Wireless sensors help enable low power and efficient operation of large systems such as smart homes, commercial buildings, datacenters, industrial facilities, trains, and automobiles, all of which significantly affect our societyâ€™s impact on the earth. Suitable power sources for wireless sensors, however, have lagged. Virtually all wireless sensing applications currently rely on batteries, which require periodic replacement or recharging. This is not an environmentally friendly solution, nor is it a cost effective one in the long run. Several companies have attempted the commercialization of energy harvesting power sources for wireless sensors. To date these efforts have not been very successful primarily because of their high cost and large size. EcoHarvesterâ€™s goal is to provide more effective energy harvesting solutions for the wireless sensor and portable electronics markets. To this end we have developed a Multi-pole Energy Generator (MEG) based on electromagnetic energy conversion. Specifically, the MEG technology provides a higher energy density than current solutions, inherently lower manufacturing costs, and a flat form factor that fits unobtrusively in wireless applications. EcoHarvesterâ€™s Phase II objectives are to miniaturize the core MEG technology, integrate the technology to create a system level solution including innovative power electronics and ultra-low power RF solutions for Gen2 products of light switches. The specific milestones for Phase II of this SBIR project are: Develop a motion based MEG component capable of producing several mW with a form factor of 4cm X 4cm X 0.5 cm. Develop a power electronics module using off-the-shelf components and integrate power electronics and MEG into a "small scale power system". Develop system level solutions to demonstrate the commercial potential of MEG energy harvesting technology as light switches. EcoHarvester successfully developed a rocker-type switch mechanism that can be integrated with MEG power-generation technology. In addition to the rotational type switch prototype we developed in Phase I, this can capture a broader range of customers who seek the familiar switch interface. We also proved that MEG has the capability to produce a mW range of power that is required to work with common RF wireless standards in the lighting industry. In our effort to develop a power electronics module tailored for wireless lighting application, EcoHarvester demonstrated our capability to deliver an integrated electronics that can meet the timing and power requirements of our customers. EcoHarvester developed a full system lighting demo called "BonsaiLight" and showcased our technology at CES 2014 in Las Vegas. The BonsaiLight demo can be seen at www.bonsailight.com