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Energy Harvesting Technology in the Marketplace: Practical and Fundamental Considerations

Prof. Shad Roundy
University of Utah, USA


Energy harvesting has been the subject of intensive research for 10-15 years.  While many open research questions still exist, technological solutions have been available in the marketplace for some time.  Yet, the adoption of energy harvesting technologies has been very slow.  This presentation is an attempt to explore the reason for the slow uptake of energy harvesting in the marketplace.  To that end I will discuss two commercialization case studies for energy harvesting products:  tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) and self-powered light switches. 

In practice, right now, I believe that energy harvesting solutions lose out to batteries for most applications.  Will this continue?  Perhaps this is just matter of the technology catching up with the idea.  In 1983 Motorola released the first cell phone, the DynaTAC 8000x, which provided 30 minutes of talk time on one battery charge at a price of $3995.  Hardly the mass market product that would come later.  But the idea was clearly a winner, and technology has caught up with it.  Is the same true for energy harvesting?  If so what are the fundamental technological problems we must solve?


Biographical Information


Shad Roundy received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 2003.  From there he moved to the Australian National University where he was a senior lecturer for 2 years.  He spent the next several years working with startup companies LV Sensors and EcoHarvester developing MEMS pressure sensors, accelerometers, and energy harvesting devices.  He worked at Fairchild Semiconductor from 2010 to 2012 as part of the MEMS team developing inertial sensors.  He recently re-entered academia joining the mechanical engineering faculty at the University of Utah in 2012.  He is the recipient of the DoE Integrated Manufacturing Fellowship, the Intel Noyce Fellowship, and was named by MIT’s Technology Review as one of the world’s top 100 young innovators for 2004.
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