SITIS Archives - Topic Details
Program:  SBIR
Topic Num:  DTRA102-004 (DTRA)
Title:  Energy Harvesting Technologies
Research & Technical Areas:  Ground/Sea Vehicles, Materials/Processes, Sensors, Electronics

Acquisition Program:  
  Objective:  To provide innovative technologies and system components which increase the lifetime and utility of various systems within DTRA’s Tag, Track, and Locate (TTL) portfolio. The specific innovations sought under this topic are improved energy scavenging or capture from the ambient environment technologies and high energy density storage technologies.
  Description:  Energy harvesting technologies will develop power sub-systems that will enhance the persistence of Tag, Track, and Locate (TTL) systems. TTL systems are built from an extensible architecture and are designed to enhance the observable signatures of personnel and objects associated with the development, production, storage, or use of Weapons of Mass Destruction. TTL subsystems may include sensors to detect chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons materials or their precursors, and methods to deliver information such as sensor detections and tag location. Energy harvesting technologies of interest include: • Small, high-energy density batteries • Small, high-energy density capacitors • High-efficiency energy capture technologies such as photovoltaic, piezoelectric, and thermoelectric • Multifunction materials, such as: 1) materials that function as both structural elements and provide energy storage, or 2) materials that provide both environmental protection and collect ambient energy • Devices incorporating bio-inspired materials, Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS), NEMS (Nano-Electro-Mechanical Systems) , or Nano-Opto-Electro-Mechanical Systems (NOEMS) • Rectenna devices • Micro fuel cells

  PHASE I: Identify one or more novel technologies that are capable of supporting TTL applications. Candidate technologies should address the following characteristics (not in order of priority): • Energy storage or collection efficiency • Energy density (storage devices) • Power available (capture devices) • Device size • Environmental constraints • Ease of integration with TTL payloads • Technology readiness • Manufacturing cost
  PHASE II: Demonstrate the production of a prototype energy harvesting device and demonstrate the integration of that device with a representative tagging, tracking and locating system.

  PHASE III: Produce low-rate production quantities for military and commercial markets.

  References:   1. Chalasani, Sravanthi and Conrad, James M.; A Survey of Energy Harvesting Sources for Embedded Systems; IEEE Southeastcon 2008; 3-6 April 2008; pp. 442-447. 2. Garbuio, L., et al; Mechanical Energy Harvester with Ultralow Threshold Rectification Based on SSHI Nonlinear Technique; IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics; Volume 56, Issue 4, April 2009; pp. 1048-1056. 3. Khodayari, A., et al; Nonlinear Pyroelectric Energy Harvesting from Relaxor Single Crystals; IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelctrics and Frequency Control; Volume 56, Issue 4; April 2009; pp. 693-699.

Keywords:  energy harvesting, energy storage, multifunctional materials

Questions and Answers:
Q: 1. While it seems like the energy harvesting is required to power an RFID tag sensor for continued operation, the source of energy for harvesting is not clear. For example, if the idea is to harvest mechanical vibrations, is the tag mounted on something that is subject to constant mechanical vibrations?
2. How does the energy harvester integrate to the RFID tag? Does it integrate through a power storage device like a battery or capacitor?
3. Is there a manufacturer of RFID tags approved for this that we can work closely with to understand all the specifications required for tag integration?
A: 1. While it seems like the energy harvesting is required to power an RFID tag sensor for continued operation, the source of energy for harvesting is not clear. For example, if the idea is to harvest mechanical vibrations, is the tag mounted on something that is subject to constant mechanical vibrations?

Answer: The tags will be attached to an item of interest. This could be an individual, a vehicle, a shipping container, or WMD related materiel. A human subject carrying a tag could be sitting, walking, running or riding in a vehicle exposing the tag to low vibration frequencies and amplitudes. Shipping containers or WMD material carried in ships will expose the tag to very low vibration frequency and acceleration levels.
Shipping containers or WMD material carried in wheeled vehicles, either on or off road, would expose the tag to moderate vibration frequencies and amplitudes. The tag systems might spend a significant amount of time in storage where vibration energy is almost non-existent.

2. How does the energy harvester integrate to the RFID tag? Does it integrate through a power storage device like a battery or capacitor?

Answer: Prototype tags DTRA has worked with have used batteries.

3. Is there a manufacturer of RFID tags approved for this that we can work closely with to understand all the specifications required for tag integration?

Answer: DTRA does not have an approved manufacturer for RFID tags.
Q: 1. Expecting that there may be multiple applications, is it possible that the harvester can be installed in direct contact to a significant thermal mass? Possible examples being the earth, concrete walls or other structures, or pipes or other steel infrastructure?

2. Is the desire for the size to be comparable to a c-cell battery a statement of volume, independent of geometry (so that a thin flat sheet with substantial area could be used), or is a cylindrical form factor preferred?
A: 1A: A technical approach that relies on the harvester maintaining direct contact to a significant thermal mass is a possible solution, but the feasible operational concepts and collection inefficiencies may limit the viability of this approach. An approach based on this type of technology will be evaluated in light of the advantages / disadvantages compared to other proposed approaches.

2A: The intent of the c-cell battery statement was to allow for a general volume comparison, not a form factor criteria. However, DTRA will evaluate proposed technical solutions in light of the advantages and disadvantages and the effect on potential operational concepts.
Q: Can the "improvements in the state-of-art" in only one of the listed area (e.g. high-efficient photovoltaic cell)? Or a combination (e.g. high-efficient photovoltaic cell with high-energy density capacitors)?
A: Improvements in the "state-of-art" can be either single or in combination.
Q: What types of environments will these systems be used in typically, or, what types of ambient energy will be available?
A: DTRA is looking for innovative EH technologies and system components that will advance state of the art efforts for energy scavenging / capture from ambient environment and high energy density storage. EH technologies that support DTRA's Tag, Track, and Locate efforts to combat weapons of mass destruction are most sought after. Current efforts include all elements and therefore, innovative technologies should address or consider multiple environmental applications. Environmental considerations include those environments which currently support military operations. Jungle, desert, mountainous, and urban terrain is highly valued. Exposure to salt air or an environment indicative of illicit WMD production would be welcome. Environmental limitations for your proposal should also be included. Outdoors vs Indoor environments are equally of importance; obviously both considered together are most sought, but might not be appropriate and thus
would be considered seperately. Energy capture or other should be innovative and utilize appropriate types of available sources commensurate with application. Mechanical vibrations, natural harmonics, solar, are only examples; looking for next generation, innovative technology.
Q: What are approximate numbers of the power requirements of the systems to be powered? The topic gives some example numbers for chemical sensor / radio, but does not list frequency of operation.
A: The numbers initially provided in the solicitation were in error and the units should have been stated as Joules rather than milli-Joules. Power is currently supplied as direct current through a battery supply, and there are no alternating current power sources.
Q: Is the goal to increase the current operational life of these devices by supplementing a battery, or to power them indefinitely from harvested energy alone?
A: Both applications should be considered and are encouraged. The increase of current operational life as well as leveraging or rather applying the technology to existing architectures would also be important. A separate EH device that harvests energy, stores, and is considered a back-up or regeneration source to the primary is also of importance; as well a small, miniaturized effort that provides captured energy to power a precise "add-on" application for plug-n-play type applications is also considered
important. Each proposal should address limitations as well as specific or multiple applications if so designed.
Q: What solution is currently being used, and what are the strengths and weaknesses of the system?

A: DTRA is seeking innovative technologies and system components that advance the state of the art for energy scavenging or capture from ambient environment and high energy desity storage. No specific solution is identified. No specific strenghts and weaknesses of systems have been identified.
Q: The description states that:
"A single transmission of tag location information currently requires approximately 4 milli-Joules of energy, and operation of a typical chemical sensor for four minutes can consume an additional 3 milli-Joules. These rates of energy usage consume the energy stored within two commercial lithium batteries (CR123) in approximately two days while it is desirable for TTL systems to endure for weeks or months."

Standard capacity of CR123 lithium battery is about 1500 mA*h. In order to deplete a pack of two batteries (3000 mA*h) in about 2 days it is necessary to consume in average about 60 mA of current. As the voltage provided by the battery is 3 V the power consumption can be as high as 180 mW. This number seems to contradict the energy consumption mentioned in the description (4 milli-Joules and 3 milli-Joules in four minutes).

Could you, please, confirm both energy consumption and service life of the batteries?
A: The approximate lifetime of the batteries is ~2 days. The units should have been stated in Joules and not milli-Joules.
Q: In phase 1, is the deliverable intended to be a physical prototype or simply a design of a prototype?
A: The intent for phase I was for the design of a prototype, and the physical prototype would be built in phase II.

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