Electromagnetic Harvester claims to charge batteries with ambient energy


February 8, 2013

The handheld Electromagnetic Harvester allegedly charges a AA battery using just the electromagnetic fields given off by gadgets, power lines, vehicles, and even living things

The handheld Electromagnetic Harvester allegedly charges a AA battery using just the electromagnetic fields given off by gadgets, power lines, vehicles, and even living things

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We're surrounded by electromagnetic fields almost everywhere these days. Just because they're almost imperceptible doesn't mean they can't be used as a source of energy though. One student in Germany recently built the Electromagnetic Harvester, a small box that allegedly charges an AA battery using just the electromagnetic fields given off by the likes of power lines, vehicles and electronic gadgets.

Dennis Siegel, a digital media student at the University of the Arts in Bremen, designed the handheld charger as a way to recover some of the energy from these electromagnetic fields. It may sound a little sketchy, but it's an idea that many researchers, including a team at Georgia Tech, have been exploring for years. The main issue with this form of energy collection is the amount of power it generates tends to be incredibly small, which might explain why it takes a full day for the Electromagnetic Harvester to charge a single AA battery.

According to Siegel, using the harvester involves simply holding it up to anything with an electromagnetic field – a cell phone, a coffee maker, a commuter train, etc. Once it enters a strong enough field, a red LED will light up to indicate it is charging. It also has a magnet on the back to leave it attached near an EMF source and can charge from the combined fields of living things, like when a person pets a dog. Seigel designed two different versions of the harvester: one for frequencies below 100Hz (like those found in electricity mains) and one for frequencies above 100Hz (like those found in Bluetooth, WLAN, and radio broadcasts).

But don't start thinking this signals the end of charging devices through ordinary wall sockets just yet. While the potential for this type of technology being used to charge very low-powered devices like wireless sensors or RFID tags is there, we remain very skeptical about any practical consumer electronics applications. Aside from not being able to generate enough power for a typical smartphone user, Siegel has yet to reveal any specifics on how his take on the ambient energy charging device works – only that it involves "coils and high frequency diodes." So while it's great in theory, we'll take these claims with a grain of salt.

Check out the video below to see some of the examples of how Siegel sees the Electromagnetic Harvester being used throughout a typical day.

Source: Dennis Siegel

About the Author
Jonathan Fincher Jonathan grew up in Norway, China, and Trinidad before graduating film school and becoming an online writer covering green technology, history and design, as well as contributing to video game news sites like Filefront and 1Up. He currently resides in Texas, where his passions include video games, comics, and boring people who don't want to talk about either of those things. All articles by Jonathan Fincher

I live near to a BPA 500 KV powerline if I put in an inductive coil it would be called theft

Bill Bennett

Someone should invent one that charges with ambient sound.


These guys are a little late with their claims. An identical power harvesting patent was issued to me in 2006 and assigned to Firefly Technologies/Powercast LLC. See: US Patent number: 7027311 Great technology for smoke alarms, sensors and other low-current devices.


Nokia has been experimenting with this technology for quite some years now.

Nikolai Mikkelsen

I know of a guy in the US that wrapped a coil around a high power transmission line near his house. Now he's doing 5 years in prison.

Facebook User

You guys are about 100 years behind. Nikola Tesla and Thomas Henry Moray were powering cars and killowatt devices during their prime years using ambient energy. Only problem was they were too ahead of their time; politics has gotten the best of mankind's energy quest. It seems this student has really done his homework on Tesla and Moray. Except his "high frequency diodes" are gonna have to be way more advanced before he gets any useful power from ambient energy sources. Hope he gets to work asap before someone else does.


Amuses me that the same people that rant on about free energy the Tesla Way are the same ones that rant on about mobile phone signals giving you head cancer


This must surely be the most useless invention ever. The few micro-watts it would develop, and randomly at that, are plain silly. Instead of carrying this joke, carry a spare battery/charging device, it has the same form factor. At least the latter has some substantial and real energy.


Surely people ought to determine how much electricity is actually available in the air, before building a device to extract it and save it. If you place a coil around a wireless is carrying AC current, a current will be generated in the coil. If you do this to your household electricity supply, then it is obviously classed as theft. Whether it is detectable is another debate.I read the other day that around 25% of electricity is stolen in places such as India, but that is probably done with direct electrical connections anyway, bypassing the meter.

David Clarke

Ha that's funny...the power company showering family homes with cancer-causing EMF and then prosecuting the same people should they be intelligent enough to harvest a few watts of power. There should be a law...tit for tat and that sort of thing...


as children we accessed florescent lighting utilizing this source i don't see anything new here or worthwhile, it's a 4th grade science project.


wonder where it would lead to down the road. a nano-shaker genny. rfi or background emf-vibrationTesla) theory at a nano-scale (cell phone charger from background cell noise?). I'd seen the little shaker genny battery stuff a few months back that's similar for heart pacemaker battery (less frequent battery changes). when will it replace batteries for laptops? (ambient background noise(FCC?) as a power source-white noise?).... maybe star noise could run one on a long journey to tau ceti?(sic) Speaking of Tesla - the corkscrew building looks about like one of his gizmos (for ac(spark?) thru the air?). and electronics just keep getting cheaper... realistically the pacemaker (penny size) shaker generator runs flashlights (led), the filament bulb ones take a winder mechanism. Materials wise- maybe they could stack specific lengths(thicknesses of graphene or something dopeable (pnp?)) to collect a range of frequencies- the batteryless AM receiver (ear bud speaker) would be a good start, but how to get more than 10 watts from something 'quieter' than the moon-


So far they are talking about getting this energy from "ambient" sources. So in other words- catching some of the leaks. If they were truely getting something out of nature that would sound a lot better to me. The best thing we have going right now would be gathering solar energy directly I would say. But one day we may figure out a way to capture some other form of energy that the sun is delivering to us.


Often overlooked in the ambient electromagnetic or 'free energy' realm, Nathan Stubblefield was harvesting ~ 'earth energy' over 100 years ago. This wasn't 60 HZ and wasn't energy being broadcast by radio towers.

David Mott

I read that Tesla claimed that all he was doing was just capturing a small portion of the flood of energy that was coming from the sun and bombarding everything in its path 24/7. His coil was called a magnifying transmitter early on, but that would be a HUGE misnomer if what was really going on was tapping into solar radiation after "priming the pump" with one of his coils. If we were to have some kind of device that could extract just a small fraction of the energy that comes to us from the sun, we wouldn't have to burn any fuels or use nuclear radiation for power. Or put up ugly wind farms or solar panels. A device with a front end that was designed and tuned to the correct frequency for our goal of capturing the solar energy is doable in theory, however, practicality soon takes over. Anybody got an idea here on how to do this?


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