Batteries Replaced With Sustainable Power Supply

ABB and Micropelt have used energy harvesting to replace batteries with an unlimited, sustainable, maintenance-free power supply. Energy harvesting is being used by ABB's research-and-development centres in Ladenburg, Germany, and in Daettwil, Switzerland, and by Micropelt, based in Freiburg, Germany. As the result of a joint development project, an ABB Wirelesshart temperature transmitter has been equipped with a thermal energy harvesting unit containing two Micropelt MPG-D651 thermo-generators, each with a footprint of 6mm.

A temperature gradient of 30C between the sensed medium and ambient air is sufficient to fully cover the power demand of the mesh-networked wireless instrument. Dr Marco Ulrich, ABB's project leader, said: 'Wireless instruments provide for a much more flexible and comprehensive use of sensors at much reduced total cost, particularly under difficult conditions. 'However, none of our customers can accept having to exchange batteries with hundreds or thousands of instruments on a regular basis.

'Our technology demonstrator proves the concept of large, complex sensor networks at a fraction of the previously accrued total cost of ownership,' he added. 'We certainly save some hundreds of thousands of high-power batteries, but far more important are all the additional sensing points that will help producing more energy efficiently, optimise the utilisation of process equipment and shift to the highly cost-efficient condition-based maintenance,' said Dr Joachim Nurnus, Micropelt's chief technical officer. According to Nurnus, the technology will be demonstrated, along with various other self-sustaining wireless prototypes, at the upcoming sensor shows in Nuremberg, Germany, in May, and in Chicago, Illinois, in June.


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