Randy Frank has written a good summary of the state of energy harvesting technology for Electronic Design in an article titled “Making Energy Harvesting’s Promise of Free Energy a Reality”.
With its allure of free energy and maintenance-free operation for lifetimes of 10 and even 15 years, energy harvesting (EH) is grabbing the attention of potential users in many markets. Recent EH developments have made great progress, and the pieces appear to be falling into place.
System components such as microcontrollers (MCUs), RFICs, and power-supply ICs have had to drastically reduce their power consumption and increase performance to complete a useful energy-harvesting system. In addition, software that controls the power management, data collection, and transmission processes while avoiding any unnecessary power consumption is essential.
The article includes several graphics, including the following general diagram of a wireless sensor node.
Companies mentioned in the article include HP, EnOcean Alliance, Perpetuum, Micropelt, Powercast, Enertia Energy Systems, Tellurex, CYMBET, Infinite Power Solutions (IPS), Perpetua, CAP-XX, Microstrain, Microchip, Texas Instruments, Analog Devices, and Linear Technology.