A consortium is working on a project to maximize energy harvesting on a spacecraft of the future. The initiative seeks to find energy-saving and -maximizing solutions to enable eco-friendly aircraft to stay in space for long periods of time without the need to return to Earth to re-fuel, or to avoid carrying vast amounts of heavy fuel on long-stay journeys.

There needs to be frequent communication between the aircraft and Earth, and power is needed to send huge quantities of data as well as receiving instructions from a communications center. The research will look at how mechanical energy generated by the vibration of the aircraft’s wings can be transferred, stored, and used to support the communications system.

Sensors constructed from special spatial material are adhered to the surface of the aircraft wing panels. Vibration from the wings is then transferred to and collected by the sensor to generate electricity, maximizing the energy generated by the craft.