The Techno Frontier trade show in Tokyo added an Energy Harvesting Zone for the first time this year. In addition to the numerous demonstrations of energy harvesting devices, the event featured the "coming out party" for the new Energy Harvesting Association of Japan (EHAJ).
Founded in May 2010, the EHJA already boasts 20 members. It was founded and is being led by a Senior Specialist with the NTT Data Institute of Management Consulting. Brother Industries, Ltd., one of the founding members of the EHJA, presented an especially interesting demonstration during Techno Frontier.
Brother showed its Vibration Energy Cell (VEC) designed to replace AA or AAA batteries in some low power devices that can then be powered by shaking. The VEC uses electromagnetic induction to generate electricity. The demonstration system consisted of two parts, the generator and a rechargeable battery, both in the AA battery format.
The generator part includes a coil, a magnet and a capacitor inside the battery casing. Shaking the device sends the magnet sliding back and forth through the coil, inducing an alternating current each time the magnet slides through. The average output of the AA-size generator is currently limited to about 10 to 180mW (frequency: 4-8Hz).
"This type of cell is designed to be used for things such as TV remote controls and LED devices, which consume low power and do not consume electrical power continuously," stated a Brother spokesperson at Techno Frontier. The demonstration unit at the show was s TV remote control that was shaken for several seconds and then used to change the channels or volume on the TV.
Other demonstrations included a team from the University of Tokyo, Omron and Asahi Glass Co. which was showing a MEMS-based vibration energy harvester based on a unique silicon and polymer structure. The JR East Consultants Company was showing the latest results of its efforts to develop piezoelectric-based energy harvesters for use in the floors of train and subway stations.
Other companies participating in the Energy Harvesting Zone at Techno Frontier included Japan Science and Technology Agency, Murata Manufacturing, Nihon Dengyo Kosaku, Rohm, Sanyo Electric, Tokyo Cosmos Electric, Toshiba and Yamatake.