Process Industries

MEMS Energy-Harvesting Devices, Technologies, and Markets

October 6, 2009

Research and Markets' report describes and compares the main developments in these devices with those in fuel cells and micro batteries. The analysis describes the challenges facing players and the market trends and business models in this technology arena.

This report focuses on MEMS energy-harvesting devices, from both technology and market points of view. Special attention has been given to the market drivers for adopting MEMS energy-harvesting devices in different market segments, factoring the progress of competing technologies and cost constraints.

It appears that the numerous opportunities for energy-harvesting devices must be analyzed carefully, taking into account all aspects of the final application, from power consumption profiles to lifetime and size constraints. Applications screened cover automotive, medical, industrial machine monitoring and process control, home automation, and defense.

The main developments in MEMS energy-harvesting devices are described and compared with those in fuel cells and micro batteries. The report also describes the challenges facing the current players and the current market trends and business models.

Main Challenges
Within an environmentally conscious world, MEMS energy-harvesting devices promise in principle a cleaner and almost perpetual solution to powering small systems, avoiding the use and waste of polluting batteries.

Ever-optimistic market projections are predicting billions of dollars in revenue for ubiquitous sensor networks in the next five to ten years and derive from these numbers large energy harvesting sales and volumes.

And indeed, MEMS energy harvesting devices have been a hot topic in MEMS research and development for some years, with spectacular developments driven by DARPA programs within the Hi-MEMS cyborg insects.

The reality is that beyond the technological buzz, commercial applications are slowly starting to get to market for industrial and home automation appliances. This is driving the first volumes for energy-harvesting applications, but not necessarily at the micro scale. Hot market segments in 2007 and 2008, such as tire pressure monitoring systems, where batteries are currently the dominant solution, have driven enormous efforts, but the market dynamics have not made it possible to accept a premium price for alternative solutions.

We have focused our efforts in this report into a fine analysis of the market drivers for using MEMS energy-harvesting devices, in comparison with micro batteries, micro fuel cells, or even solar cells. Different application fields, from medical to home automation, industrial process control, machine monitoring, or transportations have been analyzed in this report.

The challenges facing this technology were examined in a broad view, from a technology viewpoint but also from a whole product point of view. There are needs for better power density but also for less power-consuming electronics and wireless communications.

Market Metrics
Market acceptance of MEMS energy-harvesting devices is a function of several parameters that are studied in the report.

These parameters include, but are not limited to, size, cost, amount of power generated versus amount of power needed by the system, and projected lifetime for the energy-harvesting device compared with the system parts lifetime.

A major factor to be taken into account is whether there is enough power harvested for a particular application from a particular environment, and whether the scavenged power needs to be stored. As piezoelectric MEMS energy-harvesting devices can currently power sensor nodes requiring 60 µW, according to the latest developments, a companion energy storage device would be necessary for most applications.

Commercial success will come from a full understanding of all aspects of the system to be powered and of the data receiver nodes.

Challenges include ultra-low-power electronics and wireless data transmission rates and standards.

Report Highlights

  • 21 applications evaluated
  • Global overview, across seven fields: automotive, industrial, building & home automation, environment monitoring, military & aerospace, medical, consumer electronics
  • 14 company profiles
  • 180+ slides
  • Analysis of piezoelectric, capacitive, electromagnetic vibration energy harvesting, and thin-film thermal energy harvesting
  • Review of the lastest developments in energy storage devices (micro batteries), wireless communication technologies, and wireless sensor networks

Who Should Buy
Energy-harvesting device manufacturers, research and development centers, and universities active in the energy-harvesting field:

  • Understand the system-level technology trends and requirements for each application
  • Evaluate the accessible market for your devices, depending on performance and technology
  • Support a strategic decision to enter, exit, or find a partner
  • Have an exhaustive analysis of the competition on a broad range of energy-harvesting fields

Low-power sensor manufacturers, players in power management circuits, wireless communication, or energy storage systems:

  • Understand the system-level technology trends and requirements for each application
  • Evaluate the market potential of your product portfolio
  • Prepare new business development strategies
  • Support a strategic decision to enter, exit, or find a partner

Integrators of low-power modules:

  • Define diversification strategies on new applications
  • Get detailed profiles of key players (micropower generation), with description of the product technology and process

Financial and strategic investors

  • Understand the energy-harvesting industry and the potential of each player: technology used and markets served
  • Evaluate the partnership opportunities in the energy-harvesting industry

For more information visit the company's Web site.

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