Passive energy harvesting from human activities

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Energy harvesting from environmental sources such as motion, light, and temperature changes, has been demonstrated with commercially viable products (such as human-powered flashlights, solar-powered calculators, and thermal-powered wristwatches). Vibration or motion is an attractive environmental energy source due to its abundance and availability. A new electromagnetic energy harvester presented here is found to be capable for scavenging energy from human motion. The electrical power output of an inertial energy scavenger is proportional to the acceleration-squared-to-frequency (ASTF) and the quality (Q) factor. Human motion is associated with large ASTF values and low Q factors while machine vibrations are usually related with the opposite. Thus, passive energy harvesting from human activities could generate as much power as the one available from machine harvesters. The limit for such inertial generator is estimated to be on the order of 1mW/cm3. This paper reviews the energy harvesting limits, the energy generation from human activities, and the development of a new oscillating electromagnetic generator. This energy harvester is built with a permanent magnet (PM) ring with multiple poles and a gear-shaped planar coil. The PM ring has attached an eccentric proof mass for converting external movement into oscillations or rotations, these oscillations induce an electrical potential on the planar coil. As much as 3.45μW of power have been generated with a prototype at a frequency of 2.7Hz on a laboratory shaker and 2.35μW had been obtained when positioned laterally on the hip while walking. Copyright © 2009 by ASME.

Publication Title

Proceedings of the ASME 3rd International Conference on Energy Sustainability 2009, ES2009