26
Aug
12

Batteries Powered By Movement

batteries powered by motionKinetic watches are nothing new. They are timepieces that translate the everyday motions of a person into magnetic energy that can be stored for up to six months. They were exciting back in 1986, but anymore, the conversion of motion into energy is a trick that we’ve seen again and again.

While kinetic watches and similar devices might be old news, full-blown Li-Ion batteries that be recharged just by bending and flexing are certainly new on the scene. Their process is entirely different – and more efficient – from anything ever released before. They also have far-reaching connotations that could mean that human curiosity will have a new ally in long-range exploration, be it in outer space or under the sea.

Previous Motion Technology

The way that kinetic watches work is that oscillating weights are set inside of the device and they would move in a predetermined, rotational track. This movement would generate a basic magnetic field. This field would pass a wire coil and stimulate an electric charge. This electric charge would then go into the watch’s capacitor where it would be stored. The system was surprisingly efficient, allowing the watches to sit for 6 months without requiring any movement to recharge it. The capacitor would even keep the correct time.

 

This is great if all you are powering is a timepiece. For broader applications the technology fails. This is due to three primary reasons:

  1. The kinetic watch does not have a true “battery,” but merely a capacitor, meaning it has a low energy density and can’t hold a significant charge.
  2. The watch also needs the weights inside to swing in a particular fashion in order to operate. This is fine if it is on a wrist, which moves in a very predictable way, but any differentiation from this and the capacitor will fail to charge.
  3. 3. Most importantly, the intent of a watch is essentially to move three very small parts. Yes, the process is slightly more complicated than that, but the energy discharge required is miniscule.

The Li-Ion Difference

The new batteries that utilize motion are different in several useful ways:

  1. They are true “batteries” meaning they can hold a much larger charge for a much longer period of time. They also have a higher discharge rate.
  2. The movement required to generate the charge does not have to be constant and repetitive, giving them greater versatility.
  3. 3. The higher energy density means more power stored, which means more power can be discharged, which means bigger and better machines can be powered through the battery.

The Tech Behind it All

Rather than using weights to create a magnetic field which puts an electrical charge into a wire that powers the capacitor, the Li-Ion motion batteries use true electrical and chemical interactions. They accomplish this through the use of a material called PVDF (Polyvinylidene fluoride), which some may know is a piezoelectric material. The translation is that it is able to create voltage from being physically stressed.

 

The way it works is that ordinary batteries hold their electrolyte solution in a plastic barrier. The electrolyte solution is what chemically stores electricity. By putting that solution into a PVDF sleeve, the solution is able to derive a charge simply by having its PVDF sleeve stimulated – usually by being bent or compressed.

 

What This Means

Current rechargeable batteries require – as would be expected – recharging. The interesting thing about these new batteries is they can be charged by simply being bent. The battery can essentially have an unlimited lifespan, so long as it is being moved.

 

The way this can help humanity – especially in the field of exploration – is that with enough of these batteries combined onto a machine, the machine ends up creating its own power by virtue of motion. One battery powers the machine’s movement. That movement charges a secondary battery which then takes over when the first battery becomes drained. The first battery is then charged the same way.

 

The whole concept is still theoretical, but the idea is that many kinds of devices can end up with vastly enhanced battery life so long as they are stimulated sufficiently to generate a charge. It could be anything from a phone battery that charges just by being sat on, to a deep-sea probe that creates its own power by turning the rotor that moves it.

Thanks for reading our article! Be sure to use promo code EWBLOG when checking out at electronicswarehouse.com for 10% off your order, just for reading this article!


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