A battery-free device that could radically reduce e-waste unveiled

A battery-free electronic device that could radically reduce e-waste has been unveiled.

Researchers from Northwestern University and the Delft University of Technology unveiled the system that enables electronic devices to operate for “an infinite life” without batteries.

The system named “BFree” is an energy harvesting technology that enables self-powered devices to operate continuously with only intermittent energy input.

The innovative BFree system will help reduce the huge amounts of empty batteries that end up in landfills as e-waste around the world.

It will also allow hobbyists and those within the maker movement to make their own self-powered electronic devices.

“Right now it is virtually impossible for hobbyists to develop devices with self-powered hardware, so we wanted to democratize our self-powered platform,” said Josiah Hester, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Northwestern University who led the research.

“Manufacturers across the Internet are asking how they can extend the battery life of their devices. You are asking the wrong question. We want them to forget about the battery and instead think about more sustainable ways of generating energy. “

In order to work permanently with only intermittent energy – for example, when the sun disappears behind a cloud and the solar panel of the device is no longer supplied with power; the BFree system pauses the ongoing calculations without losing memory or a long list of processes must go through before restarting when power is restored.

Technology is part of a new trend called ubiquitous computing, which aims to make computers available anytime, anywhere through smart devices and the Internet of Things (IoT).

It represents a significant advance in the field by obviating the need for a battery and the associated charging and replacement.

“A lot of people are predicting that we will have a trillion devices in this IoT,” said Dr. Hester.

“That means one trillion dead batteries, or 100 million people, replace one dead battery every few minutes. That is a terrible ecological price to pay for the environment.

“What we’re doing instead is really empowering people. We want everyone to be able to program their devices effortlessly and more sustainably. “

Last year, the same team presented the world’s first battery-free Game Boy, which is supplied with energy that is obtained when the user presses the buttons.

The research results will be presented at the UbiComp 2021 conference on September 22nd.

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