Computer engineers developed a battery-free system that permits electronic devices to run intermittently on harvested energy, like solar energy , giving them “an infinite lifetime,” a press statement reveals.
By seamlessly pausing calculations when power is interrupted & resuming when power returns, the system — called BFree — allows devices to smoothly operate any time power is out there , enabling a new-movement of sustainable DIY electronics. The system was designed to assist tackle the matter of e-waste, 53 million plenty of which is produced globally annually .
“The goal, which can be a ways off,” Josiah Hester, who co-led the research, told, “is for battery-free technologies like BFree to re-place the battery-powered versions, for reasons like sustainability, but also for convenience & reducing maintenance costs.”
DIY electronics makers are ‘asking wrong questions’
The team of researchers, from Northwestern University & Delft University of Technology, developed the BFree, a system that uses a power-failure-resistant version of the widely-used programing language Python. BFree also includes energy-harvesting hardware called the BFree Shield, which is an evolution of same-team previous work.
Last year, they unveiled a battery-free Game Boy called ‘ENGAGE’ last year, which is powered solely by the K.E. (kinetic energy) of button presses. The machine was touted as a sustainable sort of electronics that would also pave the way for long-lasting electronics for future space missions, because it needs no battery or solar energy to work, Hester explained that “future versions of BFree or runtime systems inspired by battery free programming capabilities of BFree could also be useful for space & particularly small satellites which are powered completely from solar.” The team’s new BFree system is an evolution of ‘ENGAGE’ technology & it allows anyone to create their own sustainable electronics.
They hope the new system will help to scale back the unsustainable number of dead batteries that end-up as e-waste on a yearly basis. “Makers everywhere the web are asking the way to extend their device’s battery life. they’re asking the incorrect question,” Hester, who co-led the work with TU Delft’s Przemyslaw Pawelczak, explained within the Northwestern statement. “We want them to ditch the battery and instead believe more sustainable ways to generate energy.”
Democratizing battery-free hardware
The system was built in-order to “democratize” the team’s sustainable battery-free hardware for Maker Movement in mind, a technology-oriented extension of DIY culture. The Maker Movement is growing per annum , and it’s liable for countless DIY electronic Internet of Things (IoT) devices, leading to an increasing e-waste problem. “Many people predict that we’re getting to have a trillion devices in-this IoT,” Hester explained in Northwestern release. “That means a trillion dead batteries or 100 million people replacing a dead-battery every few-minutes . That presents a terrible ecological cost to environment. What we’re doing, instead, is actually giving power to the people. we would like everyone to be ready to effortlessly program devices in-more sustainable way.”
With new technology, the team says that even novice programmers can turn “their DIY battery-powered motion-sensor, for instance , into a solar-powered sensor with an infinite lifetime.” The BFree system allows devices to run perpetually using intermittent energy. When power is interrupted, the system pauses calculations. Then, when power returns, it resumes automatically without having lost any memory & without having to run through ex-tensive list of operations. “Our goal with BFree is that any novice Python programmer can immediately use BFree,” Hester told. This, he said, “encourages exploration & experimentation with energy harvesting & battery-free tech. The novice programmer will study about energy, energy harvesting, & therefore energy costs of a program they write. they might then change it or modify it to work-better supported what they see. This is often a key concept in engineering & making, iterative refinement.”
The new system could constitute a wide-ranging breakthrough for electronics, allowing a radical reduction in e-waste from DIY electronics projects, which are increasingly gaining in popularity.