ZTE Communications ›› 2021, Vol. 19 ›› Issue (1): 48-60.DOI: 10.12142/ZTECOM.202101007

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Kinetic Energy Harvesting Toward Battery-Free IoT: Fundamentals, Co-Design Necessity and Prospects

LIANG Junrui(), LI Xin, YANG Hailiang   

  1. School of Information Science and Technology, ShanghaiTech University, Shanghai 201210, China
  • Received:2021-01-22 Online:2021-03-25 Published:2021-04-09
  • About author:LIANG Junrui (liangjr@shanghaitech.edu.cn) received the B.E. and M.E. degrees in instrumentation engineering from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China in 2004 and 2007, respectively, and the Ph.D. degree in mechanical and automation engineering from the Chinese University Hong Kong, China in 2010. He is currently an assistant professor with the School of Information Science and Technology, ShanghaiTech University, China. His research interests include energy conversion and power conditioning circuits, kinetic energy harvesting and vibration suppression, IoT devices, and mechatronics. Dr. LIANG has published 84 technical papers in the leading international academic journals and conferences. He has received two Best Paper Awards in the IEEE International Conference on Information and Automation in 2009 and 2010, respectively. He is an associate editor of IET Circuits, Devices and Systems and the general chair of the Second International Conference on Vibration and Energy Harvesting Applications in 2019.|LI Xin received the B.E. and B.Ec. degrees from the North University of China, 2016. He is currently pursuing the Ph.D. degree with the School of Information Science and Technology, ShanghaiTech University, China. His research interests include vibration energy harvesting, ubiquitous computing, and Internet of Things. He was a recipient of the First Place of the International Conference on Embedded Wireless Systems and Networks Dependability Competition in 2019, the First Runner Up of the IEEE Industrial Electronics Society Inter-Chapter Paper Competition in 2019, and Best Student Hardware Award Finalist in ASME Smart Materials, Adaptive Structures, and Intelligent Structures Conference (SMASIS) 2020.|YANG Hailiang received the B.E. degree in electronic information science and technology from Wuhan University of Technology, China in 2020. He is now working towards his master’s degree at ShanghaiTech University, China. His research interests include the Internet of Things and energy harvesting.


Energy harvesting (EH) technology is developed with the purpose of harnessing ambient energy in different physical forms. Although the available ambient energy is usually tiny, not comparable to the centralized power generation, it brings out the convenience of on-site power generation by drawing energy from local sources, which meets the emerging power demand of long-lasting, extensively-deployed, and maintenance-free Internet of Things (IoT). Kinetic energy harvesting (KEH) is one of the most promising EH solutions toward the realization of battery-free IoT. The KEH-based battery-free IoT can be extensively deployed in the smart home, smart building, and smart city scenarios, enabling perceptivity, intelligence, and connectivity in many infrastructures. This paper gives a brief introduction to the configurations and basic principles of practical KEH-IoT systems, including their mechanical, electrical, and computing parts. Although there are already a few commercial products in some specific application markets, the understanding and practice in the co-design and optimization of a single KEH-IoT device are far from mature, let alone the conceived multiagent energy-autonomous intelligent systems. Future research and development of the KEH-IoT system beckons for more exchange and collaboration among mechanical, electrical, and computer engineers toward general design guidelines to cope with these interdisciplinary engineering problems.

Key words: kinetic energy harvesting, battery-free solution, Internet of Things, co-design