The fluid transducer: Electricity from gas and water

Oct 27, 2008
The resulting pressure fluctuation is then converted into electrical energy by piezoceramics in the pressure chambers. Credit: Fraunhofer TEG

Air compression systems can be found in many manufacturing operations. If a leak occurs anywhere in the system, the air pressure drops and production comes to a halt until the source of failure has been found. Sensors constantly monitor the pressure in order to keep costly fault-related losses to a minimum.

At present, these sensors are either battery-driven or connected up by complex technical wiring. This often makes it very difficult or even impossible to install sensors in places that are hard to reach. Fraunhofer researchers from Stuttgart, Germany, have developed a new technology that enables the production of energy-autonomous and thus low-maintenance sensors.

"Our system is eminently suitable for sensors in pneumatic plants, as we can convert the kinetic energy from air or water into electricity," explains José Israel Ramirez, who is doing research on this topic at the TEG. "The fluidic energy transducer generates electricity in the microwatt or milliwatt range. This is sufficient to supply cyclically operating sensors with enough energy to read out and transmit the relevant data."

The fluid-electricity conversion takes place in a fixed housing, through which the medium is fed on a course similar to that of blood circulating in the heart. The Coandã effect causes the constant stream of fluid to oscillate. This produces a periodic pressure fluctuation in the feedback branches, which are coupled to piezoceramics. "The piezoceramics convert the fluidic energy into electricity," says group leader Axel Bindel, summarizing the principle. This fluidic conversion is simple and cost-efficient. " We have the advantage that both air and water can be used to generate energy.

What's more, we don't have any movable parts in our system. The structure can be produced in simple processes, and that saves costs." The new technique can be applied to any system in which a fluid or a gas is guided through a fixed geometry – in supply networks or in medical engineering, for example. "Our objective is to be able to provide currently battery-driven devices, such as water meters, with an autonomous supply of energy in the near future, resulting in completely independent systems," says Bindel. The TEG researchers will be presenting a prototype of the fluid transducer at the joint Fraunhofer stand at the electronica trade fair.

Source: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

Explore further: Drone postal deliveries begin in Switzerland

Related Stories

New capability takes sensor fabrication to a new level

Jun 30, 2015

Operators must continually monitor conditions in power plants to assure they are operating safely and efficiently. Researchers on the Sensors and Controls Team at DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory ...

Street lighting, car-charging system shown in UK

Jun 19, 2015

Here is an Idea: a street lighting system with integrated electric vehicle charging. The idea is from the BMW Group and they showcased the idea in action this month at the MINI plant in Oxford, UK. They have ...

Recommended for you

Drone postal deliveries begin in Switzerland

3 hours ago

Wondering where your package is? Look up! Switzerland's postal service said Tuesday it had begun testing parcel deliveries by unmanned drones, although widespread use of the flying postmen is not likely to kick in for another ...

Omnidirectional free space wireless charging developed

3 hours ago

Mobile devices, such as smartphones and laptops, have become indispensable portable items in modern life, but one big challenge remains to fully enjoying these devices: keeping their batteries charged.

Europe's deepest glider to be developed

Jul 06, 2015

19 partners from across Europe have come together to develop Europe's first ultra-deep-sea robot glider. This glider will be capable of sampling the ocean autonomously at depths of 5000m, and maybe more in ...

Researchers help reconstructing the Michelangelo bronzes

Jul 06, 2015

Engineers and imagers from the University of Warwick's Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) and anatomists from Warwick Medical School at the University of Warwick are helping Art historians from the University ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.