Vibration energy harvesting

The art of transforming vibration energy to electrical energy is named Vibration Energy Harvesting. It’s in this domain that ReVibe Energy are amongst the world’s most advanced companies and can provide you with a mobile and long-lasting power source. We simply extract the energy from vibrations! But first, lets go over the basics. Allow us to present…

A starters guide to Vibration Energy Harvesting!

The concept

Vibration Energy Harvesting is the concept of converting vibration energy to electrical energy. It basically is as simple as it sounds. This is possible through different technologies, e.g. electromagnetic induction (used by ReVibe Energy) or Piezoelectric fibres.

Where can you use it?

Well, the possibilities are basically endless. Energy from vibrations can be extracted from most vibrations (why not all? Have a look further down), but the most important issue is; what should be powered? Typical applications that could benefit from vibration energy harvesting is where sensor or measurement instruments are used to gather data about certain aspects and traditional power sources (batteries and cables) are either too expensive or simply impossible to use.

A typical example can be found in an industrial environment: A factory uses a monitoring system to make sure that the pumps, who are supplying the machinery with water (used to cool the machines down), doesn’t break down. If they would break down, the operator will need to shut the entire plant down in order to perform repairs. By using a vibration energy harvester as the power source (a pump vibrates a lot) the monitor system can function without any hassle and will immediately provide the operator with enough information to perform scheduled maintenance, rather than expensive unscheduled maintenance.

The online journal Connected World is one of many blogs that has covered this topic and you can find more in this article. You can also find a great piece from IoT Tech Trends here that discusses the same topics.

Can all vibrations be converted into electricity?

Yes, and no. Theoretically, all vibration energy can be converted into electrical energy. However, there are certain types of vibrations the are preferred when the intent is to power a sensor or monitoring system. They have the following characteristics:

  • A steady vibration (i.e. not random shocks)
  • A dominating frequency

Given that these two conditions are met, there is a strong possibility for us to harvest electricity and power the application at hand!

Are there any areas where this technology can't be used?

Yes, unfortunately. We wish that we would have invented a magical device that works no matter what, but we haven’t. There are a few environments where we wouldn’t feel comfortable with placing our units… And those environments are the ones where no vibrations exists. As long as vibrations exists, we have the potential to create electricity!

But, is this really science? Give me some sources!

First of all, you are all more than welcome to visit our office in Gothenburg, Sweden, and have a closer look at a vibration energy harvester yourself and we’ll explain everything in detail. But, if you’re not around or simply want to confirm all of this a bit quicker, please have a look at the following links who explain different concepts that are important for this area.

Thesaurus within energy harvesting

Below, we’ve put together a smart thesaurus of reoccurring words and phrases within the vibration energy harvesting world.
  • Ambient Vibration = Surrounding vibrations. Simply vibrations existing in the vicinity.
  • Amplitude = A measurement of the change over one time unit for a given variable. In simpler terms, a measurement of the highest recorded amplitude and the lowest recorded amplitude over one time unit (peak-to-peak variable), e.g. how big the vibration is.
  • Electromagnetic Induction = Remember those physics lessons in school where you got to play with magnets and coils to ignite a spark or supply a lightbulb with electricity? There you go. That’s the principle. Here’s a Youtube-clip that explains everything in a simple way!
  • G-level acceleration = We’re using this expression to measure the force of the vibration. The “G” refers to the Gravitational constant, also called Newton’s constant.
  • Harvesting = To harvest something is a phrase that can be used in a vide array of applications. In our case, it refers to the ability to make use of vibrations through converting them into electricity.
  • Frequency = It basically has the same meaning here as everywhere else. The frequency of the vibration is how many occurrences of a specific event, e.g. magnet moving through a coil, per given time unit.
  • Kinetic Energy = When an object moves, energy is built up due to the movement of the object itself. In simpler terms, when something is moving energy is created by the movement. Simply, kinetic energy.
  • Shock vibration = A shock vibration is created as a result of a strong and rapid movement, e.g. a rock drill hitting the ground with tremendous force during a short period of time.
  • A video from on how to use vibration energy harvesting