Researchers Develop Wireless Bridge Sensors Without Batteries

Oct 17, 2007
Researchers Develop Wireless Bridge Sensors Without Batteries
Clarkson University Assistant Professor Edward S. Sazonov and graduate students Darrell Curry and Haodong Li check data from a wireless bridge sensor on the Route 11 bridge in Potsdam, N.Y. Clarkson researchers have developed technology that uses the vibrations caused by passing traffic to power wireless bridge monitoring sensors.

Clarkson University researchers have developed technology that uses the vibrations caused by passing traffic to power wireless bridge monitoring sensors.

Wireless battery-powered sensors that monitor bridges and report changes that may lead to failure are easy to install, but it is unwieldy to provide power for the sensors.

Each bridge needs at least several sensors, many installed in hard-to-access locations. Replacing millions of batteries could become a problem, adding to the expense of maintaining the bridges. The Clarkson researchers have found a way around this problem.

"We have completely eliminated the battery from the equation," says Assistant Professor Edward S. Sazonov, who developed the technology along with Professor Pragasen Pillay. "Hermetically sealed wireless sensors powered by bridge vibration can remain on the bridge without need of maintenance for decades, providing continuous monitoring of such parameters as ice conditions, traffic flows and health status."

The two electrical and computer engineering professors, along with graduate students Darrell Curry and Haodong Li, used the New York State Route 11 bridge, a steel girder structure, which runs over the Raquette River in Potsdam, N.Y., as a case study.

Energy was harvested by locating an electromagnetic generator on a girder. The harvester responded to one of the natural vibration frequencies of the bridge. Each time a car or a truck passed over the bridge, even in a different lane from the sensor installation, the whole structure vibrated and excited the mover in the generator, producing electrical energy. Harvested electrical energy powered unique wireless sensors that increased energy output of the harvester and consumed only microwatts of power while performing useful tasks.

Sazonov and Pillay have been invited to present their work at the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies Meeting in Washington, D.C., in January. The board provides support for their research.

They are also working on using the energy harvesting technology to power the various sensors in passenger cars.

Wireless monitoring of bridges and overpasses has gained much attention in the past few years. Bridge collapses happen suddenly and unpredictably, often leading to tragic loss of human life. In 2006, the Federal Highway Administration listed 25.8 percent of the nation's 596, 842 bridges as either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. While many of these bridges will remain in service for years, they need monitoring and rehabilitation. Currently, bridge monitoring is performed through periodic visual inspections. In the tragic example of I-35W Mississippi River bridge collapse, the bridge passed a visual inspection a year prior to failure.

Read more about this research at www.intelligent-systems.info/bridge.htm

Source: Clarkson University

Explore further: Team develops faster, higher quality 3-D camera

Related Stories

Certain interactive tools click with web users

12 minutes ago

Before web developers add the newest bells and the latest whistles to their website designs, a team of researchers suggests they zoom in on the tools that click with the right users and for the right tasks.

Printing silicon on paper, with lasers

31 minutes ago

In seeking to develop the next generation of micro-electronic transistors, researchers have long sought to find the next best thing to replace silicon. To this end, a wealth of recent research into fully ...

Image: Claude Nicollier repairing Hubble

52 minutes ago

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble space telescope. Hubble was designed to be maintained and repaired by astronauts and since its launch in 1990 five Space Shuttle missions made ...

Recommended for you

Team develops faster, higher quality 3-D camera

4 hours ago

When Microsoft released the Kinect for Xbox in November 2010, it transformed the video game industry. The most inexpensive 3-D camera to date, the Kinect bypassed the need for joysticks and controllers by ...

Researchers finding applications for tough spinel ceramic

14 hours ago

Imagine a glass window that's tough like armor, a camera lens that doesn't get scratched in a sand storm, or a smart phone that doesn't break when dropped. Except it's not glass, it's a special ceramic called ...

Classroom acoustics for architects

Apr 23, 2015

The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) has published a free online booklet for architects to aid in the application of ANSI/ASA S12.60-2010/Part 1-American National Standard Acoustical Performance Criteria, Design Requirements, ...

JRC wins competition on indoor localization

Apr 23, 2015

A team of JRC researchers outperformed 27 teams from academia and industry across the globe and achieved best overall result at a competition on indoor localisation in Seattle, USA. Providing accurate position ...

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.