The new IDTechEx Research report, Battery Elimination in Electronics and Electrical Engineering 2018-2028 notes that billions of wireless electronic and electrical products consuming microwatts to milliwatts or more operate without batteries or even capacitors to store energy. Among the most successful are the piezoelectric gas lighter, the bicycle light with dynamo and the EnOcean wireless building controls such as sensors, lights and light switches in over 400,000 buildings and some boats. In the Torre Crystal building in Madrid alone they have installed 30,000 of them. It is managed with energy harvesting, sometimes two types at a time to reduce intermittency and increase security of supply. In the case of EnOcean that is electrodynamic, photovoltaic and thermoelectric. To further enhance its virtuosity as a “no battery” company, EnOcean is also developing vibration harvesting and thermoelectrics that operate using tiny inputs.
Microwatt mobile phone
Now a 3.5 microwatt mobile phone with no battery is being developed and a city pollution sensor is on sale from Drayson Technologies, both harvesting ambient radio to make their electricity, something only possible now circuits use much less power. The battery free phone developed by the University of Washington phone will also use solar power in addition and it involves a total rethink of the phone system. There is potential for at least millions yearly and probably much more if emerging countries adopt lowest-cost “everlasting” phones with no battery.
The IDTechEx Research report, Triboelectric Energy Harvesting (TENG) 2017-2027 explains how current designs of triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) are often relatively complex, heavy, rigid and bulky. Sang-Jae Kim and colleagues at Jeju National University in Korea wanted to make a lightweight, flexible and simple TENG that could be used in a smart interactive puzzle. The team designed a smart puzzle TENG from recycled plastics, which made it lightweight, flexible and portable. As the puzzle pieces were placed and pushed down into the proper spots, electricity was generated and an LED display indicated the letter “C” for “correct”. The TENG puzzle was stable over long periods of operation time with little damage to the electrical signal. The researchers say that their smart puzzle shows that TENGs could be used in self-powered smart toys.
Dr Peter Harrop of IDTechEx, lead author of the IDTechEx Research report, Battery Elimination in Electronics and Electrical Engineering 2018-2028 observes, “Here we are talking not only of eliminating batteries from more and more mobile electronics but heading for achieving this with non-toxic everyday materials and even biocompatible or biodegradable structural electronics. It is an exciting alternative to the old components-in-a-box approach with troublesome materials, as we describe in our report Structural Electronics 2017-2027: Applications, Technologies, Forecasts.”