Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Analyzing energy potential

02.05.2012
Sensors, radio transmitters and GPS modules all feature low power consumption. All it takes is a few milliwatts to run them. Energy from the environment – from sources such as light or vibrations – may be enough to meet these requirements. A new measurement device can determine whether or not the energy potential is high enough.
The freight train races through the landscape at high speed, the train cars clattering along the tracks. The cars are rudely shaken, back and forth. The rougher the tracks, the more severe the shaking. This vibration delivers enough energy to charge small electronic equipment: this is how the sensors that monitor temperatures in refrigerator cars, or GPS receivers, can receive the current they need to run.

Vibration replaces batteries
Experts refer to this underlying technology as “energy harvesting“, where energy is derived from everyday sources such as temperature or pressure differences, air currents, mechanical movements or vibrations. But is this really enough to supply electronic microsystems? The answer is provided by a data logger that is also installed on board, a product by the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits. This compact system analyzes and characterizes the potential of usable energy – in this case, the oscillations created during the ride. It measures key parameters of the source of the vibrations, such as the amplitude and the frequency spectrum of acceleration.

Researchers attaching a data logger to a shipping container. © Fraunhofer IIS

“We can use the data collected to design vibration converters, such as the piezoelectric generators, to feed the sensors, radio transmission receivers, tracking systems and other low-power-consuming devices with enough energy to power them,“ explains the IIS group manager and engineer, Dr. Peter Spies. “The tracking systems in use to date run on just a battery. These batteries need constant replacement, but that involves a lot of effort and expense. Thanks to energy harvesting, we can replace the batteries and wiring.“

Logistics processes are not the only candidates, however. The energy “harvested“ can be used for a great many other applications as well – to charge heart-rate monitors, sensors in washing machines and production plants, or measurement systems in cars to measure the air pressure in tires.

The elements of the data logger include an acceleration sensor, a GPS module, a micro-controller, an SD card and a WiFi interface. The sensor measures the freight train‘s acceleration along three axes. At the same time, the GPS module determines the vehicle‘s position and stores the data along with the acceleration values on the SD card. These parameters can be used to pinpoint the train‘s speed and the amount of energy available to it. “That way, we can fine-tune the energy converter and tailor it to the application involved,“ the researcher adds.

The data logger is already in use in freight cars, trucks and machinery. Spies and his team are currently working to develop a complete tracking system that includes not only a GSM module and a GPS receiver but also a vibration converter that turns mechanical energy into electrical energy. The researchers are showcasing a prototype of the IIS data logger at the Sensor+Test 2012 trade fair, May 22-24 in Nuremberg, in Hall 12, Booth 202.

Dr.-Ing. Peter Spies | Fraunhofer Research News
Further information:
http://www.fraunhofer.de/en/press/research-news/2012/may/analyzing-energy-potential.html

More articles from Trade Fair News:

nachricht Diamond Lenses and Space Lasers at Photonics West
15.12.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

nachricht COMPAMED 2017: New manufacturing processes for customized products
06.12.2017 | IVAM Fachverband für Mikrotechnik

All articles from Trade Fair News >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>