Energy harvesting is a promising and evolving field of research capable of supplying power to systems in a broad range of applications. Energy harvesting encompasses many distinct technologies, including photovoltaic panels, wind turbines, kinetic motion harvesters, and thermal generators. Each technology utilizes different processes to transform energy from the environment into usable electrical energy. As such, there are many analogous functions and processes that are common or similar across the various domains. To leverage and understand these functions and processes, functional modeling approaches are needed to identify these similarities and functions ripe for innovation in new systems. This paper describes a method for modeling the functional architectures of a sample set of energy harvesters, using a functional common basis from the literature. Vector space analysis is used to identify patterns and correlations in the use of functions across different products and energy-harvesting domains in the sample set. The resulting analysis indicates that systems in the same domain usually have very similar function structures, differing only by the addition or removal of a few driving or supporting functions. Systems in different domains also typically have similar structures, with the substitution of different material and energy flows into the system. A generalized functional model for energy harvesting is described, along with possible design ramifications and key opportunities to innovate. Several recommendations are given for the continued development and improvement of the functional common basis and, more generally, functional modeling methodologies. These include improved standardization and explanation of abstract functions, such as blending with the environment, and of organizational conventions to improve consistency.

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