A team of researchers has developed a program that could help people living in areas of poor electrical and electronic infrastructure with high levels of electromagnetic emissions.
In a paper published on April 25 in the journal Nature Communications, researchers from the University of Texas at Austin and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory describe a program to capture the energy generated by a wide variety of devices and transmit it to the ground.
“We have been trying to use electromagnetic fields to help our communities to generate energy, but they are just too weak to actually generate electricity,” said lead author of the paper, Dr. Matthew R. Muehlenkamp.
“In this study, we’ve created a way to capture electromagnetic fields that can actually generate power.”
Researchers have been working for years to harness this powerful energy source, and the team of engineers and scientists working on the project hopes to eventually use it to help power everything from remote villages to homes.
They developed a small device that mimics a cell phone tower, and harnessed the energy of the electromagnetic spectrum to create a powerful device that could capture the incoming signal.
They also found that the device can be operated at a distance from the tower, which would be ideal for powering remote areas.
“When you have a small, low-power transmitter that can capture the power of a big tower, you can transmit it over a very long distance, so it can transmit the power to a whole bunch of other devices,” said co-author, Dr.-electromechanical engineer, Professor David J. Toth.
The team built the device from scratch to get the most out of the technology.
They first built the transmitter using a small laser-based power source that would work well in small to medium-sized buildings.
Then, they built the antenna from a cheap plastic sheet.
Once the transmitter was up and running, they turned it on and off to test it.
Once it was running at a frequency of 8.3 GHz, the team was able to receive signals from a variety of mobile phones.
The researchers then added a radio transmitter that allowed the transmitter to transmit a range of frequencies.
Once they got the frequency set right, the radio transmitter would receive a signal from all of the mobile phones, but would not transmit to the towers in the vicinity.
“To be able to transmit to a big wireless network, you need a large antenna,” said Muehlkamp.
To make the antenna work, they used high-temperature, high-density silicon as the substrate for the transmitter.
The antenna was then mounted on a tripod and connected to a computer.
“The antenna was mounted on the tripod and we used a lot of heat to build the antenna, and then we used high temperature and high density silicon as a substrate for it,” said Toth, who also works with the Texas Advanced Computing Center at UT Austin.
“That was the first time that we used silicon as part of our antenna.”
The team then tested the device on three different locations in the U.S. and Canada.
The results showed that the transmitter captured the incoming signals from nearly every mobile phone in the area, including those on land.
“So, we were able to use this technology to generate a large amount of power,” said Rhett Johnson, an associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at UT-Austin.
“It’s not a power-hungry antenna, but it’s a powerful one.
And the antenna is small and lightweight, which is a great design feature for a wireless transmitter.”
The researchers also found the device worked in rural areas, as well.
“This device is great for capturing the signals of the nearby villages that have a very low electric grid,” Johnson said.
“If you can capture these signals, you have no need to build an enormous power plant, because the villages that live in those areas are always generating power for their own needs.”
The device could be used to generate power from mobile phone towers in rural or remote areas, but there is also the potential for other uses, as the researchers explain in the paper.
For instance, it could be applied to help manage large amounts of electric waste in a large city, where waste generated by the generators and power lines can cause a lot more damage than the generator itself.
Another application could be to help prevent the spread of radiological materials such as radium.
“There are a lot, if not hundreds, of radionuclides in the environment, and they can be dangerous to human health,” Toth said.
He said the device could also be used in areas with very poor access to clean water.
The research is still in its early stages, and researchers are working to get it tested on a larger scale.
“Right now, we’re focusing on a small number of cities in the United States and Canada,” said Johnson.
“However, there are a number of communities across the United Nations, such as Bangladesh, where there are already lots of rural areas with lots of water resources, so