Based in Ithaca at the Cornell Business and Technology Park, the technology company MicroGen Systems (Microgen) is developing a global, scalable, green, renewable energy power source. Whereas traditional batteries possess numerous limitations that hamper the capabilities of wireless sensor systems or networks (WSS/WSN), including the high maintenance cost of replacement, MicroGen's patent-pending innovation makes it possible for the device to harness energy from ambient vibrations as a way to self-charge and store that energy. The battery will look like a microchip, but with a vibrating core, and it will harness energy from almost anything that shakes. With this innovation, the energy can be consumed for an estimated 20 years or more. By significantly reducing the cost of deploying and maintaining WSS/WSNs, these products provide a viable solution for the WSS/WSN market.
Traditional batteries possess numerous limitations that hamper the capabilities of wireless sensor systems or networks (WSS/WSN), including the high maintenance cost of replacement. MicroGen's innovation is based on microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) microfabrication and packaging techniques (similar to fabricating high-volume computer chips). MicroGen's piezoelectric vibrational energy harvesters (PZEH) are micro-power generators capable of extending the lifetime of rechargeable batteries or eliminating them completely. MicroGen's patent-pending innovation makes it possible for the device to harness energy from ambient vibrations as a way to self-charge and store that energy. With this innovation, the energy can be consumed for an estimated 20 years or more.
More specifically, MicroGen's BOLT™ Power-Chip family of products will eliminate or extend the lifetime of rechargeable batteries in low-power autonomous non-wireless electronics/sensors, and WSS/WSN nodes or "motes". WSS/WSN applications include smart energy (e.g., building lighting control, preventive maintenance of electrical motors, monitoring energy efficiency of computer data centers), smart infrastructure (e.g., monitoring structural integrity of bridges, dams), smart transportation (e.g., aircraft and train vibration sensors; automobile airbag sensors and tire-pressure-monitoring-systems), defense/homeland security (e.g., asset tracking) applications, and many others.
MicroGen Systems is a spinout of The University of Vermont (UVM), and its product is being developed at the Cornell NanoScale Science and Technology Center.
Robert Andosca, founder and president of MicroGen said: "Overcoming the battery bottleneck is key. Providing a green, virtually infinite power source to replace traditional energy sources will significantly expand applications for wireless sensor networks and other technologies. Our micro-generator technology will enable the wireless sensor network industry to grow significantly."
MicroGen plans to launch its first product, the BOLT Power-Chip, this fall.
Top image shows: Robert Andosca holds up his company's quadchip. Source: John Berry
And attend Energy Harvesting & Storage and Wireless Networks & RTLS USA, November 15-16 2011, Boston USA