Posts Tagged ‘wasted energy’

RCA Wifi power harvester

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

You can now harvest WiFi signals and turn it into power to charger up your mobile phone or netbooks.


This little box has, inside it, some kind of circuitry that harvests WiFi energy out of the air and converts it into electricity. This has been done before, but the Airnergy is able to harvest electricity with a high enough efficiency to make it practically useful: on the CES floor, they were able to charge a BlackBerry from 30% to full in about 90 minutes, using nothing but ambient WiFi signals as a power source.

Source: Oh!Gizmo

High-Tech Shocks Turn Bumps Into Power

Sunday, March 1st, 2009


Students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a shock absorber that harnesses energy as it smooths your ride, and they say it can improve fuel efficiency by as much as 10 percent.

The regenerative shock absorber uses the oscillations of a vehicle’s suspension to generate electricity. Its inventors claim a heavy-duty truck using six of their GenShock shock absorbers can produce enough power to displace the alternator, thereby increasing engine efficiency and fuel economy. The students have attracted the attention of AM General, the company behind the military Humvee, and believe future iterations of GenShock could improve the fuel economy of passenger cars and extend the range of electric vehicles.

“I want this to be a standard feature on heavy vehicles and eventually hybrid consumer vehicles and electric vehicles,” Shakeel Avadhany, who led the GenShock team, told

The power-producing shock is the latest example of the push to recapture energy from automobiles that is otherwise wasted. Turbochargers are the most obvious — and oldest — example, but more recent developments include the regenerative braking systems used in hybrids and electric cars. The quest to increase efficiency also has automakers increasingly replacing mechanical components like air conditioning and power-steering pumps with electric ones to ease the load on the engine and save fuel. These technologies will grow more common as automakers strive to increase fuel efficiency and extend battery range.

“You main losses are friction, braking and heat,” says Spencer Quong, senior vehicles analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Anything you can do to regain energy there will improve efficiency.”

Avadhany, a senior studying materials engineering, started toying with the idea of a wasted energy in August 2007. He and classmate Paul Abel set out to identify where energy leaks from vehicles and figure out how to reclaim it.

It wasn’t long before they focused on shock absorbers, which expand and compress countless times over their lifetimes. The kinetic energy is lost as heat. They figured there had to be some way of capturing that energy, which their tests show can be “a significant amount” — especially in heavy-duty vehicles.

“The amount of energy available in the suspension is on par with the energy coming out of the alternator,” Avadhany said. “It’s 6 to 10 kilowatts for a heavy truck and 3 to 4 kilowatts for a passenger car.”

The students developed a shock absorber that forces hydraulic fluid through a turbine attached to a generator. It is controlled by an active electronic system that optimizes damping to provide a smoother ride while generating electricity to recharge the battery or operate electrical equipment. Should the electronics fail for any reason, GenShock works just like a regular shock absorber.

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Scientists turn car exhaust into electricity, twice as efficiently

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

Scientists from Ohio State University have created a new material called thallium-doped lead telluride, which has been designed to convert car engine exhaust heat into electricity.

exaust.jpgThe research team led by Joseph Heremans said the material could also be used to help power generators and heat pumps. The new material is reportedly able to convert the wasted heat into energy without causing pollution, and do so more efficiently than was previously possible.

“The material does all the work. It produces electrical power just like conventional heat engines — steam engines, gas or diesel engines — that are coupled to electrical generators, but it uses electrons as the working fluids instead of water or gases, and makes electricity directly,” Heremans said in a statement on the OSU web site.

Its expected operating environment, between 450° and 950° Fahrenheit, is the normal range of car engines. Just 25 percent of the energy from a gasoline car engine is used to actually move the car, so the discrepancy between necessary energy and wasted energy is substantial.

Published studies previously indicated as much as 60 percent of energy loss in a gasoline engine is because of waste heat that is not disposed of properly.

Although thermoelectric materials used to generate power aren’t revolutionary, the OSU research team has made several small adjustments to make its material more efficient. They were able to double the efficiency rating from 0.71 up to 1.5.

An alloy called sodium-doped lead telluride previously was the most efficient material, which had the 0.71 rating.

The discovery by Heremans at OSU is the latest in a string of events that started after years of research by other universities. Michigan State University researchers who published a quantum mechanics report on thallium and tellurium in 2006 helped OSU better understand what they were dealing with beforehand.

Furthermore, OSU was helped in testing the material from Osaka University and the California Institute of Technology.

Moving forward with their research, Heremans and his team hope to further increase the efficiency rating of the new material.

Source: Beta News