The fluid transducer: Electricity from gas and water

October 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: 'Power Over Wi-Fi' named one of the year's game-changing technologies

Related Stories

Salty solution to better, safer batteries

November 19, 2015

A team of researchers from the University of Maryland (UMD) and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) have devised a groundbreaking "Water-in-Salt" aqueous Lithium ion battery technology that could provide power, efficiency ...

A new symmetry underlies the search for new materials

November 17, 2015

A new symmetry operation developed by Penn State researchers has the potential to speed up the search for new advanced materials that range from tougher steels to new types of electronic, magnetic, and thermal materials. ...

Mirage maker

October 30, 2015

Aditya Sadhanala wanders over to the wall, turns a pulley, and a wooden box about a metre squared swings up and away. Below it gleams an array of carefully positioned lasers, deflectors and sensors surrounding a piece of ...

Recommended for you

The ethics of robot love

November 25, 2015

There was to have been a conference in Malaysia last week called Love and Sex with Robots but it was cancelled. Malaysian police branded it "illegal" and "ridiculous". "There is nothing scientific about sex with robots," ...

Glider pilots aim for the stratosphere

November 20, 2015

Talk about serendipity. Einar Enevoldson was strolling past a scientist's office in 1991 when he noticed a freshly printed image tacked to the wall. He was thunderstruck; it showed faint particles in the sky that proved something ...


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.