The power harvester could be placed outside and runs off of temperature changes in the natural world. The clock, powered by changes in temperature and atmospheric pressure, was invented in the early 17th century. Three centuries later, Swiss engineer Jean Leon Reutter built on that idea and created the Atmos mechanical clock that can run for years without needing to be wound manually.
Now, University of Washington researchers have taken inspiration from the clock’s design and created a power harvester that uses natural fluctuations in temperature and pressure as its power source. The device harvests energy in any location where these temperature changes naturally occur, powering sensors that can check for water leaks or structural deficiencies in hard-to-reach places and alerting users by sending out a wireless signal.
“Pressure changes and temperature fluctuations happen around us all the time in the environment, which could provide another source of energy for certain applications,” said Shwetak Patel, a UW associate professor of computer science and engineering and of electrical engineering.