Researchers develop new system to 'eliminate' batteries
- 11 February 2012
- From the section Beds, Herts & Bucks
Researchers at the University of Bedfordshire have developed a new technique for powering electronic devices.
The system, developed by Prof Ben Allen at the Centre for Wireless Research, uses radio waves as power.
Believed to be a world first, the team claims it could eventually eliminate the need for conventional batteries.
The university has now filed a patent application to secure exclusive rights to the technique.
Prof Allen and his team, including David Jazani and Tahima Ajmal, have created a system to use medium wave frequencies to replace batteries in small everyday gadgets like clocks or remote controls.
The new technique uses the "waste" energy of radio waves and has been developed as part of the university's research into "power harvesting".
Prof Allen said that as radio waves have energy - like light waves, sound waves or wind waves - then in theory these waves could be used to create power.
"The emerging area of power harvesting technology promises to reduce our reliance on conventional batteries," he said.
"It's a really exciting way of taking power from other sources than what we would normally think of."
The team are now waiting for the results of the patent application to secure recognition of the technique.
Prof Allen said that the team's achievements had all been done in their "spare time".
"Our next stage is to try and raise some real funds so that we can take this work forward and make a working prototype and maybe partner up with the right people and take this to a full product in due course," he said.
"Power harvesting has a really important part in our future because, just in this country, we dispose of somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 tonnes of batteries in landfill sites every single year - that is toxic chemicals going into the ground.
He added that development of the product could also be "commercially beneficial".
"The market for this is several billion pounds, we've seen market predictions for 2020 which have these kinds of figures so there's a lot of commercial potential in this area," he said.
Pro-Vice Chancellor at the University of Bedfordshire, Prof Carsten Maple, said: "This type of work is a reflection of the university's growing reputation and experience in conducting innovative research."