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Harvesting of Kinetic Energy: Is it Really the Future Energy Source?

Harvesting of Kinetic energy is the most natural form of energy available, and one that is harvested to its full potential could save the world from its energy woes. Evident in many different guises from radiant, sound, thermal, electrical (light), mechanical (motion), vibrations, and rotational, harvesting of kinetic energy has been hailed as the future energy source.

harvesting of kinetic energy
Using kinetic energy harvesting to power electronics and collect data for research in urban planning and transportation

According to Innovation Spotlight, wearable devices will one day not only be used to extract vibration energy to charge their batteries, but they could make a bold impact on society by using that energy to power other electronics.

A group of international researchers from the University of New South Wales and the University of Queensland has experimented with the harvesting of kinetic energy and see it as “a valuable tool for things like urban planning and development by detecting people’s modes of transportation.”

According to Sara Khalifa, a researcher from Data61|CSIRO, Australia, transportation mode detection is vital to our communities: “It allows researchers to consistently and reliably collect information on individuals’ traveling behavior to inform urban design, real-time journey planning, human activity monitoring, CO2 emissions, targeted advertising and more”.

The system has been developed as a sophisticated monitoring tool for communities. It can detect potential hazards, provide emergency services with information for the fastest route to a severe accident, and more.

Harvesting of kinetic energy converts environmental kinetic or vibration energy (wind, waves, vehicle movement, machinery vibration, human motion) into electrical energy that can be used to power low-energy electronics.

According to Innovation Spotlight, the researchers proposed “using harvesting of kinetic energy output voltage as the source for detecting transportation mode. This concept is based on the idea that the vibration energy experienced by a passenger is different depending on the transportation used (walking, running, bus, driving, etc.)”.

“This means different vibration patterns generate different AC voltage patterns, which can yield clues as to transportation mode”

Using piezoelectric material which converts the harvesting of kinetic energy to electric power, when “the mechanism is subject to stress from environmental vibrations, it generates an AC voltage proportional to the applied stress. This means different vibration patterns generate different AC voltage patterns, which can yield clues as to transportation mode”.

The study went on to detail how the voltage generated by the wearable records distinctive differences between the user’s transportation mode. According to the report, “researchers were able to achieve 98.84 percent accuracy in determining whether the user was walking/running or in a motorized vehicle. The overall accuracy of classification between motorized vehicles (bus, car, train) was over 85 percent. At the same time, harvesting of kinetic energy allowed these wearable detecting devices to stay fully powered.”

While this research looked at the transportation device the user is inside to generate electricity, there are also other extensive studies being conducted that look at human activity recognition, step counting, calorie expenditure estimation, user authentication, and train route identification.

Will Part-time Work Help An Aging Population?

Most of us fear aging, but the dramatic rise in life expectancy over the past 100 years has meant that we can do a lot more into our eighties, even nineties. This increase in age has thrown up a dilemma of whether the retirement age of 65 is too soon to quit work.

Experts say transitioning to part-time work rather than cold turkey retirement could help both the aged and the economy at the same time.

“there will be relatively more people claiming pension benefits and less people working and paying income taxes”

According to Economics Help, if the retirement age remains fixed, and the life expectancy increases, “there will be relatively more people claiming pension benefits and less people working and paying income taxes. The fear is that it will require high tax rates on the current, shrinking workforce.”

What’s more, there will be an increased government spend on healthcare and pensions, and those in retirement pay lower income taxes because they’re not working. Western governments are becoming increasingly concerned by the combination of higher spending commitments and lower tax revenue – especially those with large debt and unfunded pension schemes.

The knock-on effect will mean that those in work may have to pay higher taxes, which of course will send shockwaves through the global working community. Experts claim this could create a fall in productivity and growth due to workers having no incentives to work. The answer to this problem is to encourage senior citizens to take on part-time work, which not only stimulates the economy but also encourages motivation and increased health benefits.

In Japan, there is a tried, tested and provable model that shows when the older generation go back to work it not only helps the economy but also their lifestyle.

Aging couple exercising
Senior citizens continuing to eat well, exercising, and working.

According to Monocle, how to care for an increasingly large aging population is a question that faces every city around the world. But those that answer it by inviting senior citizens to live and interact in their communities are discovering far-reaching benefits, like in the city of Toyama in Japan.

Toyama’s community demonstrates this success by showcasing examples like the case of Eiichi Takeoka, a 90-year-old who lives alone, rises early each day and heads to work. He is a prime example of how taking on part-time work can be beneficial for all concerned. “He is the president of Takeoka Auto Craft, a mini-car company he started in 1989 and now runs with his son, Manabu. He eats well, exercises every morning and gets around in a senior-friendly vehicle of his own design (top speed: 33km/h). He has a monthly check-up at the local hospital but is otherwise in tip-top condition,” Monocle writes.

It’s this drive, this motivation and dedication to his craft that has kept Takeoka going. His tax payments and contributions to society have had a positive effect on the economy and the model is being applied to thousands of other senior citizens right across the country. Experts claim that this is a tack that should be applied more to Western countries like the United States. In fact, it is a measure that will have to be adopted to aid the increasing population and their expanding life expectancy.

“encouraging more people to enter the workforce, through offering flexible working practices”

According to Economics Help, an aging population could lead to a shortage of workers and hence push up wages causing wage inflation. Alternatively, “firms may have to respond by encouraging more people to enter the workforce, through offering flexible working practices” and it’s a question that needs to be answered now, not 10 years down the line.

It just goes to show that there will have to be fundamental changes made to society and how we live our lives to accommodate us all. As the global population increases, and life expectancy expands, it’s a no-brainer that the global workforce will have to adapt to accommodate this shift.

Griff Aviation To Open Drone Plant In Florida

Drone Plant opens in FloridaGriff Aviation is taking a bold step forward in the drone industry. The Norwegian maker of drone components is opening a drone manufacturing facility in Lakeland, FL, to produce “super-heavy-lift” drones. These drones will be critical to construction, transportation, shipping, and more.

However, the prior generation of heavy lift drones could only support weights of 5 to 80 pounds. Remarkably, the Griff drones produced in Lakeland will surpass that weight by an order of magnitude or more. Currently, these drones carry payloads of hundreds of pounds. The company has a prototype in development that will lift nearly a quarter ton. On battery power these drones can carry their loads for twenty to forty minutes, but tethers can allow the drones to stay aloft indefinitely.

Drone Plant to Supply Heavy Industry

Current plans are to produce six heavy lift drones per week. They plan to rapidly scale up as needed. Griff created five basic models, with up to twenty different customization packets. The packages allow the drones to be adapted to a variety of purposes and uses, including; military, industrial, agricultural, and transport. Although, the drones retail starting at $250,000, this is a relative bargain compared to the only alternative resource for most of these purposes, a full-fledged helicopter starting at more than $1 million.

The drone industry grows at a remarkable clip, with new entries joining the field every day. Apparently, there are seemingly endless list of purposes for the flying vehicles. Also, the consumer drone industry is expected to rise to $4 billion over the next decade, while the military drone market is already $8 billion. It appears, this new technology is spurring a remarkable amount of creativity and excitement. In addition, it’s creating an investment wave that could well be a game-changer.

NZP-ETI Showcases Energy-efficient Building Design

The Net Zero Plus Energy Training Institute (NZP-ETI) is a model of and training facility for the best practices in using the latest energy-efficient building design technologies in building design and construction. The training center is “Net Zero Plus” because it produces more energy than it consumes. The excess energy feeds into the grid to add clean energy and reduce the need to expand traditional carbon-producing power plants.

“NZP-ETI demonstrates the future of energy-efficiency design, microgrid system integration, renewable energy production, energy storage solutions and grid resiliency”

“NZP-ETI demonstrate the future of energy-efficiency design, microgrid system integration, renewable energy production, energy storage solutions, and grid resiliency”, states bold leader Joe Berney, the President and co-owner of ReNewAll.

ReNewAll provides project financing for contractors and property owners desiring to implement energy-efficient building design.

To meet energy-efficient building design for both California and US climate goals of reduced carbon emissions, significant changes in building construction will have to occur. Buildings currently consume about two-thirds of US electricity. California’s residential standard requires every new home to function at net-zero (producing as much energy as it consumes) by 2020.

A state-of-the-art facility, NZP-ETI is constructed of the latest energy-efficient building design materials. A solar array provides the power, and the building incorporates the most recent energy-efficient building design. An automated system monitors and regulates the lighting and HVAC components to optimize energy consumption. The $17 million projects, financed by ReNewAll, was commissioned by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11 and the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Electrical Contractor Association to provide apprenticeships and on-going training to meet the growing demands of the building industry as it transitions to a Net Zero Plus performance model.

By modeling the future of energy-efficient building design as it trains a new wave of energy specialists, NZPTI demonstrates that not only can energy-efficient building design can be accomplished economically and reliably, but it doesn’t have to wait for the future. Through bold action, Net Zero Plus can happen today.