Industrial Wireless Temperature Transmitter Powered by Heat
ABB and Micropelt Prove Thermal Energy Harvesting to Solve the Battery Issue of Wireless Sensors
Freiburg, Germany -- March 10, 2010. Wireless sensors are rather inexpensive and can be deployed almost anywhere. Deploying more sensors would lead to safer and more efficient process control, and much reduced maintenance cost – if cost and effort of battery maintenance could be obviated.
Energy harvesting is used by the ABB R&D Centers Ladenburg, Germany and Daettwil, Switzerland, and Micropelt, Freiburg, Germany to replace the battery with an unlimited, green, sustainable, maintenance-free power supply. 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 Thermogenerators MPG-D651 with a footprint of 6 mm² each. A temperature gradient of 30°C 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, sees a major breakthrough: “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.”
Dr. Joachim Nurnus, Micropelt’s CTO, adds to the point: “We certainly save some hundreds of thousands of high power batteries, but far more important are all the additional sensing points which will help producing more energy-efficiently, optimize the utilization of process equipment, and shift to the highly cost-efficient condition-based maintenance. We have only just begun to understand the enormous economical and ecological potential of ubiquitous wireless sensing. Now, we very much look forward to sharing this with our customers along with a host of other self-sustaining wireless demonstrators and prototypes at the upcoming sensors shows in Nuremberg, Germany, in May and Chicago, IL, in June.”
I usually don't add the obligatory "about" data from the release, but in this case, I thought Mcropelt is so little known that it would be helpful:
Micropelt GmbH, a 2006 spin-off from the research cooperation between Infineon Technologies and Fraunhofer Institute IPM Freiburg, develops and markets the world’s smallest and most effective thermoelectric elements for clean-tech power generation (energy harvesting) for sensing, cycling and cooling. Readily available standard products from the pilot-production plant at the company’s headquarters in Freiburg, Germany are currently being evaluated by and incorporated into the products of more than 40 customers. A large-scale production facility, fully financed and currently under construction in Halle, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, is expected to raise capacity to some 10 million devices per year by mid 2010.