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Electromagnetic Harvester Concept Uses Ambient Energy to Charge Batteries

by Lambert Varias

Aside from generating heat, most electronic devices also emit electromagnetic fields. A rapid prototyping enthusiast named Dennis Siegel though of a way to tap into those fields and store them as usable energy by way of AA batteries. He conceptualized small gadgets that absorb ambient electromagnetic energy.


Siegel wrote about his project on his website but he didn’t go into detail about what components the harvesters should be made of or how efficient they would be at converting electromagnetic fields into electric energy. Using the harvesters couldn’t be simpler. In theory they will automatically gather and store energy as long as there’s an electromagnetic field nearby. The harvesters also have an LED that glows in proportion to the strength of nearby electromagnetic fields. If you still can’t follow that, watch this creepy dude:

Siegel didn’t mention if he’s interested in making a commercial version of his project. It’s nice to imagine that someday our gadgets will be powering each other and even themselves.

*Edit: I have revised this article from claiming that Dennis Siegel actually built functional prototypes of the harvesters into saying that he merely came up with the concept, albeit an award-winning one at that. I reached out to Siegel a couple of weeks ago and asked him if he could elaborate on his build process and the efficiency of the harvesters. Unfortunately he has yet to reply to my questions. So until I see more conclusive proof, I’ll have to state that this is just a concept.*

[via Dennis SiegelFast Co. Design via Visual News]

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Comments (4):

  1. Mike says:

    You might want to research this a bit more. It is dubious at best. “Coils and high frequency diodes” is just the technical term for BS. Consider the cell phone example. Typical cell phones can transmit with about 3watts of power at the antenna. Let’s assume that power is distributed on the surface of a sphere growing larger and radiating from the girl. He is holding the harvester about 2m from the girl. At that distance the energy density is about 0.06W/m^2. Assuming his 5cmx5cm harvester can transfer all of the energy it is exposed to, he can gather at most 0.00015W of energy at 2m. Considering a typical LED requires 30ma at 3v he needs about 600 times more energy to even light the LED.

    • Hey Mike, I reached out to Dennis and will update the post once/if he responds. I keep thinking that maybe I just misunderstood what he wrote and that all he has are concepts and not actual “working” devices. But he explicitly states that he “built special harvesting devices that are able to tap into several electromagnetic fields to exploit them.” But I realize now that that’s a vague claim, which is why I reached out to Dennis.

      I’m really sorry I don’t know enough about the science behind the device. Hopefully Dennis can clear things up soon.

      • Mike says:

        Thanks for contacting the designer.

        I’m quite certain this is not feasible even if he were to collect all of the electromagnetic energy passing through the device. Unless you are incredibly close to the source, or the source outputs an unimaginable amount of energy, this sort of technology is not possible. The energy drops per the inverse square of the distance (i.e. incredibly fast). It would likely take years to charge a single AA.

        • Hey Mike, I still have not heard from Dennis so I revised the article to cite that this is a conceptual project. Siegel updated his website and pointed to an award that he won from the University of the Arts Bremen, but the brief citation in that page – it’s about halfway down, below the image of the potted plant – isn’t informative.

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