A student at the University of the Arts in Bremen, Germany has built the holy grail in charging technology. Dennis Siegel has created an “electromagnetic harvester” that is capable of plucking energy directly from the invisible energy fields that surround us. His proof of concept worked well enough to capture ambient energy and charge a AA battery.
The inventor has released few details on the inner workings of his device, describing only coils and high frequency diodes in his breakdown. Basically, there are electromagnetic fields flowing around and through each of us every minute. This “wasted” energy comes from wifi signals, overhead power lines, and Bluetooth to name a few. Siegel installed a red LED indicator to display the strength of the electromagnetic fields in your given location. Once you’ve found a “hot” area, you can sit back and wait while your device is charged.
Obviously, this tech could revolutionize mobile electronics far beyond telephones and tablets. Unfortunately this announcement comes with a Mt. Everest grain of salt. Because Siegel has not disclosed tech specifications yet, there is a chance this could just be vaporware. Even if it is real (which it probably is), it took the new invention a full day to charge a single AA battery. Even if that limitation could be engineered away, there is a larger issue at play here: there’s no such thing as free energy. See, the “waste” energy that Siegel’s device collects can be viewed as leeching off of and stealing resources from the fields it feeds off of. If you are charging a battery by harvesting a bluetooth or wifi signal, then that signal will be weaker when it arrives on the other side of your device. If you are feeding off an overhead power line, much the same story applies; the electromagnetic field you leech will be restocked by more energy which increases the loss (to an extremely small degree) that the electricity incurs across the line.
What we’re left with is some interesting tech that could or could not be the future of providing power to mobile electrical systems. Overcoming the technical limitations and the sticky problem of ownership of fields are obviously no small tasks. No matter what happens, this student has a bright future ahead of him.
Photo Credits: Dennis Siegel