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  (Source: baghdadinvest.com)

Prototype of the hybrid generating device  (Source: Fujitsu Laboratories )
Novel concept combines two devices into one for inexpensive, easy and guaranteed energy harvesting

Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. has created a hybrid energy harvesting tool that is capable of drawing heat or light to generate electricity. 

This new device is a novel concept because it combines two methods of creating electricity that, up until this point, could only work independently. Photovoltaic cells generate electricity from light and thermoelectric devices generate electricity from temperature differentials. Now, instead of having both as separate tools, they've been combined as one. 

Energy harvesting has become a popular idea for generating electricity without the use of batteries or power cords. The process draws energy from surrounding light, heat, radio waves, vibration, etc. 

Up until now, the problem with energy harvesting devices was that they couldn't draw enough energy from surrounding elements to power larger equipment, such as ICT equipment. Power plants and batteries provide much more power capable of running such equipment. Another problem is that the sun doesn't always shine, the wind doesn't always blow, etc. So having a device that relies on only one surrounding element can be a problem if that particular element is unavailable for an extended period of time. 

But now, Fujitsu Laboratories has merged two devices into one, creating a tool that can use light or heat to create electricity. Light and heat were chosen because they are the most common types of ambient energy available, and can be manufactured from organic materials that are inexpensive. 

To make this device, Fujitsu Laboratories changed the circuits that connect the two types of semiconducting material, which are the P-type and N-type semiconductors. By doing this, the photovoltaic cell and thermoelectric generator can function. 

The device is made from organic material that has a high generating efficiency. It is able to produce power from heat in thermoelectric mode as well as generate power from indoor and outdoor lighting in photovoltaic mode. 

With the device being small and mobile, it is easy for every day use. The organic material also makes the device inexpensive, which means it has potential for widespread use. Fujitsu Laboratories also notes that this technology "can also be used for environmental sensing in remote areas for weather forecasting," since replacing batteries would be difficult in these specific places. 

Fujitsu Laboratories plan to commercialize this type of technology by approximately 2015. 


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RE: Wow that's cool...
By menace on 12/9/2010 2:17:51 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Up until now, the problem with energy harvesting devices was that they couldn't draw enough energy from surrounding elements

The clause leading this sentence implies this tech is a definitive solution to the problem of down time with solar power. I beg to differ. How many situations is it that there is an adequate source of heat available after the sun goes away? If there is heat available at night the same heat source is typically available 24/7 even while the sun shines so why would you need the solar conversion in that case. I don't see this as a solution to that problem, but perhaps it could make for a moderately efficient and affordable cell to fill the gap between the cheap and expensive solar cells.


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