Catching Power Out of Mid-Air

The times have certainly given way to digital but radio waves are re-defining their value. The Tate Ambient Power Module, patented by Joseph Tate of California, converts radio-wave energy (manmade and natural) into energy that can be used by small appliances such as smoke detectors and clock radios.
The device is simple in its design and composition. The Ambient Power Module (APM) is nothing more than an electronic circuit connected to an antenna and grounded to the earth. Tate made this come to life by just loosely wrapped wire around a 3-inch plastic tube with a whip antenna. This module will deliver low voltage up to several milliwatts dependent upon the local radio noise levels and antenna specifications.
Once put together this crafty little unit can generate 36 volts/9 watts of power, equivalent to the output of several Duracell batteries. Apparently, this device in close proximity to large quantities of metal (bridges, ships, etc) winds up the output. The interesting added bonus to this creative module is that it might also be helpful in forecasting earthquakes by watching the rising and falling energy levels.

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of has grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.

2 responses

  1. Hello… I built 100 APMs in one afternoon with Joe Tate at the Exploratorium in San Francisco back in the mid-80s. He had received a grant from the USGS to plant them (with computer monitoring) on the San Andreas Fault. I highly recommend experimenting with the APM. Consider using some of the new antenna designs that are available (see antenna files at for examples)

  2. Hello,
    It is a real pleasure to find this information…let me explain
    Over tha past four years I have built is fixed wireless data network, in four states – with 56 tower sites – using the ISM and UNII bands – 900MHz, 2.4GHz, 5.3GHz and 5.8GHz.
    Roughly a year ago, I was driving to one of the remote towers and pondering the question – why can’t RF energy be used to power electronic devices? Batteries are analog and poluting the world!
    Let’s face it – RF is now one if the most prolific, man-made, energy sources generated through-out the world.
    Joe Tate has done it! Curious – why can’t 2.4GHz be used – it’s the frequency deployed in millions of homes for WiFi and it’s being deployed by municiplatiies around the world for Mesh WiFi systems. Plus the power level is significant.
    How can I learn more?

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