Future electrical technology. In the year 2020, we already feel like we’re living in the future here in Boulder and Denver Colorado. High rise buildings and beautiful homes are rising up, interconnected, powered, wireless, smart, amazing. The human spirit is that of innovation and progress and so even more is ahead. Here are some projects that will shape the future of commercial and residential electrical in the Rocky Mountain region, the United States and the world.
A) The utilization of polymers in thermoelectric generators are creating flexible generators. These generators are able to convert heat to electricity due to their low thermal conductivity. This breakthrough eliminates the need for cooling, decreasing the cost of production. We are even able to generate electricity from waste heat. The belief is that these breakthroughs could eliminate the use for batteries in many cases.
B) Electromagnetic energy harvesters are now able to recycle radio waves. The byproducts of which are able to be incorporated into smart city centers and the internet of things. Right now we are able to harvest energy at a range of seven miles. This energy can be taken directly out of the air from wi-fi, tv channels and cellular devices. Energy harvesting in the form of kinetic and solar, electromagnetic and vibration can be disseminated and combined to be utilized commercially for proper applications within the next couple of years.
C) Piezoelectricity has seen rapid rise in capacity and usage over the last decade. Linear resonance behavior is needed to maximize electrical power so optimization has proved to be rather difficult. Simply put, piezoelectricity allows for sensors to be placed in the floor below heavily trafficked areas to harness energy for this consistent movement. Though small, this energy gain can power wireless sensors, wearable electronics and home medical devices. Convenience and cleaner energy are the main benefits.
D) Triboelectricity similarly creates energy from friction. Advancements in the field have led to the harvesting of random mechanical energy to convert alternating current to direct current, as well as adaptable power management. Currently a two stage design exists where a small capacitor is charged, then energy is moved to a battery or larger capacitor. Simple tapping of the foot can now create and store energy.
E) Optical Rectenna- shaping up to be more efficient and less expensive than solar cells. Rectennas are a hybrid of antennas and rectifiers and they convert electromagnetic energy into direct electrical current. One micron antennas match the wavelength of light and a ultra fast diode created by the specific type of metal used. Right now we ae working unfortunately at only 1% capacity but the blueprint is there to get to 40% or more in the coming years.