Use it or lose it: The influence of second order effects of practical components on storing energy harvested by pyroelectric effects

A. E. Beasley, C. R. Bowen, D. A. Zabek, C. T. Clarke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


Harvesting energy using the pyroelectric effect has seen growth as a potential energy source for low power applications, such as self-powered and autonomous wireless sensor networks. The scavenged energy is generally at low power levels, from mW to less than μW. While the voltages generated by pyroelectrics can be appreciable, the electric currents can be low in the order of nano-amps. In the case of pyroelectric harvesting the frequency of operation can also be low, typically much lower than 1 Hz, due to the slow temperature oscillations and transients in systems of large thermal mass. The combination of low power levels and low frequency of operation means that methods of storing electrical energy generated by pyroelectrics and the influence of inherent second order losses is of importance to create efficient harvesting devices. This paper examines the second order characteristic effects of practical capacitors and diodes for storage. The stored energy decay characteristics for commercially available components are examined and the data is used to characterise the second order effects. Selected components are then used in a pyroelectric harvesting system to determine potential improvements by appropriate selection of components with low loss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-540
Number of pages8
JournalTechnisches Messen
Issue number9
Early online date7 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sep 2018



  • Energy-harvesting
  • energy-storage
  • pyroelectric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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