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Energy Harvesting: Eliminating Battery Replacements for IoT Nodes
Energy harvesting is the primary goal of human civilization. Ever since, every possible innovation and revolutionary technology has revolved around how efficiently humans can harvest energy. Whether it is natural or artificial, energy fulfils all our needs, gives us electricity and runs the internet. Natural energy can be harvested from many different sources like solar, wind, motion or vibrational energy and kinetic energy. Let us see how energy harvesting eliminates battery replacements in IoT nodes.
What Are IoT Nodes?
These small IoT nodes are the gateway connections to the internet. Running in the physical world, the IoT nodes connect their surrounding environment to the cloud network grid. All the data from the IoT sensors and processed data by IoT devices are then sent to the cloud server database through the IoT nodes. Hence IoT nodes require power to operate. Current research is carried out to find low energy-consuming IoT nodes so that they can work for a longer time consuming less power.
Battery Replacements in IoT Nodes
Generally, an IoT device uses battery power to power its sensors fully and IoT nodes using wifi and Bluetooth protocols. But there are many challenges in this because the size of the battery is large and increases overall device size and production cost. Also, they have a limited lifespan; once the battery life is completed, it needs to be replaced. The cost of replacing only the battery is nearly the same as the cost of replacing the whole device, and hence traditional battery replacements are not fishable. Moreover, this has environmental impacts because of the transportation and disposal of used batteries.
A solution to Battery Replacements in IoT Nodes
Eliminating battery replacements in IoT nodes is an important factor, and this can be achieved by energy harvesting. Energy is available to us from all directions in the present environment. Hence IoT devices can get a continuous power supply to themselves by consuming ambient energy from the environment.
The main benefit of harvesting energy is that IoT devices can become self-sufficient and do not require replacement for a very long period. Overall cost and impact on the ecosystem are reduced, making a sustainable method eliminating battery replacements in IoT nodes.
How Energy Harvesting Works With IoT Devices?
The energy can be harvested in many different ways, and the power generated is then transferred to the IoT devices. The main factor is how small the energy production area is because it has to be relatively smaller to fit in IoT devices. Some of the very common energy harvesting types are −
Kinetic Energy − Kinetic energy can be the prime source for many IoT devices and wearables because constant motion can produce a small amount of electricity, enough to run the IoT device. This can be harvested by capturing vibrations or circular/linear movements so that the circular key can be rotated and gears produce electricity. Industrial IoT devices can be powered using the vibrationational energy caused by machinery. But this method cannot be used in every IoT device because many gadgets do not prefer motion.
Solar Energy − Another great source of electricity is always solar energy. It converts solar power directly to electricity, which helps run many devices, such as street lamps and smart IoT weather devices in agriculture.
Thermal Energy − Consuming waste heat energy released by any work is still a challenge to mankind. As with any power, they produce enormous amounts of heat to produce electricity, but doing it on a small scale is very challenging. Future projects include wearable devices using body heat to charge up.
Wind Energy − For IoT devices that do not require motion can be powered by wind energy. It works on non-stationary IoT devices and uses wind energy to produce electricity.
Different Applications Energy Harvesting in IoT Devices
Different applications belong to different categories of IoT devices that harvest energy to operate. Following are the applications of IoT devices harvesting energy.
Smart Home Devices
Smart IoT devices at home that automate the system and give a futuristic look to the home harvest energy from solar power. The smart lighting system, smart locks, smart camera monitoring, vacuum cleaners, IoT-powered weather monitoring and home environment control, etc., use electricity generated from solar panels at home.
Agricultural IoT Panels
IoT has tons of applications in the agricultural sector and can be used without replacing batteries. IoT devices powered with solar and wind energy can be mounted at many places which monitor soil concentration, moisture and humidity, suggesting fertilizers and requirements for good plant growth. Weather monitoring devices etc. can be used to harvest energy.
Industrial IoT Nodes
The industrial IoT sensors and control system can benefit from harvesting energy from ambient energy sources such as waste heat and vibration. This increases the self-sustaining life of IoT devices at the industry level.
Wearable IoT Devices
The demand for such wearable devices which do not require battery replacement or recharge after a certain period again and again is increasing. IoT devices harvest energy from vibration and kinetic energy from daily workouts and produce self-sustainable electricity.
Future of Energy Harvesting Technology
Integration of energy harvesting into IoT brings us many benefits. IoT devices can never run out of power and work at full efficiency. Current research is being carried out to make the IoT sensors much smaller than ever so that they consume even less power and easily be mounted on IoT devices. Moreover, they support low-energy Bluetooth to increase range without increasing power.
Energy harvesting is an important concept in running IoT devices. Along with different technological advancements in IoT such as faster internet using 5G, increased security with development in Blockchain technology, development of AI and machine learning networks to automate the process, the smaller size of transmitters, microchips, and development in low energy Bluetooth 5.3 or greater, etc. energy harvesting must not be ignored. These smaller sections come together to make a self-sustainable powerful IoT automation, ultimately leading to Web4 applications.
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