Energy Harvesting - Parasitic Energy

Collection of energy from ambient sources
Possibilities for the Arts
Stephen Wilson  -
San  Francisco State University Art Department
energy harvest

Energy harvesting from ambient sources has both practical and artistic appeal.   I am drawn to this technology because of its mixture of ecological consciousness and technological experimentation.  This page is a collection of experiments underway and information sources. It is intended to inspire artisitic inquiry.   Readers are encouraged to suggest additional links. 

 Remember that solar, wind, and hydro are the veterans of energy harvesting.  This web site concentrates on other experimental appraoches.  Resources below include:
Lia Gaty notes that the language used to describe this field is somewhat problematic.  'Energy harvesting' and 'parasitic power' could suggest a nefarious connotation in which energy is extracted from victims (as in science fiction movies where aliens suck the life force from unwilling subjects).  Practicioners in the field see harvesting as referring to the benign process of naturally collecting the bounty of natural processes.  As the field moves forward, it will be important to think about the cultural issues.

Human Physical Activity

energy shoes
Heely's Hack : Energy Harvesting Dérive :: by Christian Croft
Energy powering shoes

dance floor
Studio Roosegaarde 4.0 - explorations in art & technology
Interactive dance floor

captain electric
Joanna Berzowska    XS Labs
Kinetic engery powered clothing
pavegen - walking energy
Pavagen Systems
Footfall generated energy

rotating door
Jennifer Broutin, Carmen Trudell at design studio Fluxxlab
Revolution Door  (people's movement through rotating door is captured

Lawrence C. Rome- University of Pennsylvania
fiber nanogeneratorr
Liwei Lin - UC Berkely - Fiber nanogenerators may lead to energy harvesting clothing
knee brace
Bionic Power Inc

Other Projects Tapping Human Physical Energy

Energy Harvesting Journal: Energy harvesting knee brace

Sustainable Dance Club

Backpack straps harvest energy to power

Energy Harvesting Journal
Dance Power for Mobile Phones 
Energy Generating Pavement

Michael C McAlpine (Princeton)
Piezoelectric Ribbons Printed onto Rubber

nPower PEG (Personal Energy Generator)
harvests the kinetic energy of walking

harvesting energy from an oscillating human finger and the body movement
Zhong Lin Wang - Georgia Tech

Fiber that harvests body movement to generate electricity

 Brian Mann, Samuel Stanton, Clark McGehee (Duke) harvesting from natural motion

Parasitic Power in Shoes
Paradiso, J.A. and Nathan S. Shenck
pdf on shoes project

Biological Processes of the Human Body

heart power -
Researchers harvest energy from heart beat

animated heart
body heat harvesting
MIT Developing Body Heat-Powered Electronics

Paul Wright (UC Berkeley) Energy Harvesting in the Human Body

Other Projects Tapping Human Biological Processes

Perpetua - harvest energy from thermoelectrics - heat differences
Innovation Magazine February/March 2010

Werable body heat harvester -
 National Science Foundation Awards Wearable Thermoelectrics Contract To Perpetua

EE Times Zarlink -
 Perpetuum in project to harvest human energy

PesWiki  Bioenergetics

People Power: Capturing The Body's Energy For Work On and Off Earth

Medical Design Technology - Power of a heartbeat

Nanogenerator Could Draw Energy from Human Blood

ID tech summary of body sensing technologies

Biological Processes of Plants

tree power
Harnessing energy from biological processes of tree sap movement
Brian Otis, Carlton Himes, Eric Carlson and Ryan Ricchiuti (U of Washington)

ficus electrical
Christopher J. Love, Shuguang Zhang, Andreas Mershin - "Source of Sustained Voltage Difference between the Xylem of a Potted Ficus benjamina Tree and Its Soil"

Biological Processes of Bacteria and other Organisms

dirt powered energy
Bacteria in the dirt can generate electrical energy
under the right conditions.       Alternative-energy-news article

The Lebone organization is working on ways to use this phenomenon
to help provide electricity to rural African villages.

Aarhaus University (Denmark) researchers -
 natural biobattery from bacteria thriving in salt water

Trophos Energy- gather energy from terrestial and undersea biological sources

Energy from Physical Phenomena such as Raindrops


Scientists from CEA/Leti-Minatec in France have created a way to harness the vibrations caused by raindrops

Red Orbit -tain drop energy

Other Physical Phenomena

New Scientist - Abraham Stroock (Cornell University)
generate power through transpiration

Khalil Najafi, Tzeno Galchev (U of M) - harvest arbitrary, non-periodic vibrations (eg bridge vibrations) Parametric Frequency Increased Generators (PFIGs)

Ambient Electromagnetic and Sound Fields

Intel - Wisp chip  (Wireless Identification and Sensing Platform - computer/memory powered by ambient UHF RFID reader energy)  
Adaptation of Wisp technology to be powered by ambient broadcast TV signals Alanson Sample and Joshua R. Smith )

enery harvesting radio

Engineers Developing Energy-harvesting Radio

Other Projects - Ambient Electromagnetic and Sound Fields

RCA  Airnergy Charger  - Power from ambient wi-fi signals

Jihoon Kim, Boyeon Kim, Myung-Suk Kim, and Da-Woon Chung
SONEA Sound Energy Conversion Technology - electricity form ambient sound

Computational rfid resource list

General Information Sources


General Information Sources

Energy harvesting - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Energy Harvesting Forum

Common Sources of Energy Harvesting

  • Mechanical Energy – from sources such as vibration, mechanical stress and strain
  • Thermal Energy – waste energy from furnaces, heaters, and friction sources
  • Light Energy – captured from sunlight or room light via photo sensors, photo diodes, or solar panels
  • Electromagnetic Energy – from inductors, coils and transformers
  • Natural Energy – from the environment such as wind, water flow, ocean currents, and solar
  • Human Body – a combination of mechanical and thermal energy naturally generated from bio-organisms or through actions such as walking and sitting
  • Other Energy – from chemical and biological sources

It is important to note, that all these energy sources are virtually unlimited and essentially free, if they can be captured at or near the system location.

Components of an Energy Harvesting System

An energy harvesting system generally requires an energy source such as vibration, heat, light or air flow and three other key electronic components, including:

  • An Energy conversion device such as a piezoelectric element that can translate the energy into electrical form
  • An energy harvesting module that captures, stores and manages power for the device
  • An End application such as a ZigBee-enable wireless sensor network or control and monitoring devices

Energy Harvesting Journal
List of articles, modules, etc -- Pure Energy Systems Wiki

Alt Fuels, Anti-Gravity, Batteries, BetaVoltaics, BioDiesel, BioElectricity,
 Biomass,  Body Electric, Brown's Gas, Cold Fusion, Conservation,
Electrolysis, Electromagnetic,  Electrostatic, Flight, Fuel Cells,
Fuel Efficiency, Electric Vehicles, Engines, H Boosting, Fusion,
Geothermal, Gravity Motors, Home Generation, Hydro, Hydrogen,
Human Powered, Joe Cells, Lighting, Magnet Motors, Nanotechnology,
Nuclear, Nucl. Remediation, Oil, Peak Oil, Piezoelectric, Plasma,
Power Conditioning, Plastic, River, Solar, Solid State Gen.,
Storage, Suppression, Tesla Turbines, Thermal Electric, Tidal,
 Vortex, Waste to Energy, Water, Wave (Ocean), Wind,
Wireless Electricty, Zero Point Energy

Luis Viterbo - Energy Harvesting Links


Papers, Analysis, Articles

Human energy harvesting--a very silly idea | Speeds and feeds ...

Intel cuts electric cords with wireless power system

Sentella - Energy Harvesting White Paper

Energy Harvesting: Analysis and Comment from IDTechEx
list of articles - Energy harvesting matures

energy harvesting intro - ECN magazine

Energy Harvesting - Nuts and Volts Magazine

Printed Electronics World: Highlights from
the Energy Harvesting  Conference

Electronic Design Magazine
The Field Of Energy Harvesting Begins To Ripen

Design News - Energy_Harvesting_Gets_Real

Experimentation Modules for Sale

ti module
TI - Developer Kit for Solar Energy Harvesting

joule theif

Experimentor Modules for sale

TI - Developer Kit for Solar Energy Harvesting

Jennic - extremely low power microcontroller & sensor board
demonstration platform that successfully harvests thermal, solar, radio frequency energy

AdaptivEnergy RLP® Energy Harvesting (from wi-fi etc)

Mide Piezoelectric Vibration Energy Harvesting

Advanced Linear Devices EH301 EPAD® Energy Harvesting Modules™
Press releases   -
Product information  -

Linear Devices LTC3108 energy-scavenging boost converter
converts low power sources into storage and then higher power  alt link

Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting Kit

Infinite Power Solutions' Micro-Energy Cell
flat effective battery for storing harvested energy

Cymbet - enerchip storage technology

Paper Batteries

Epaper Displays (super low energy)
e-paper developers
device guru archive of epaper products
ASU flexible display center

Microstrain- energy harvesting

Echoflex Solutions -  EEK200C Evaluation Kit

Low Power Display Technologies

low power display
ADT - low power
bi-stable printing

Compiled by Stephen Wilson, Professor, CIA Program , Art Dept, San Francisco State University

###Note these links are part of the research for Wilson's  books Informati on Arts (MIT Press, late summer, 2001) and Art + Science Now (Thames & Hudson, 2010)  Please see the books formore details about the research, artists, organizations, and texts listed in these links and for extended analysis of the relationship of art and research.  The links are constantly being revised and suggestions are welcomed. Feel free to use these resources but please attribute source. Copyright, 1999-2009 Stephen Wilson.