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: TAU researchers move Star Trek's fictional "Tricorder" into the real world

Related Stories

Getting a critical edge on plutonium identification

Mar 24, 2015

A collaboration between NIST scientists and colleagues at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) has resulted in a new kind of sensor that can be used to investigate the telltale isotopic composition of plutonium ...

Protecting Earth from space weather

Mar 20, 2015

This week's spectacular glowing auroras in the night sky further south than usual highlighted the effect that 'space weather' can have on Earth.

Recommended for you

Affordable 3D printer heating up on Kickstarter

1 hour ago

When the printing site 3DPrint.com heard of a company planning to promote a printer affordable to many, "we had flashbacks from last year when a number of incredibly cheap machines launched crowdfunding campai ...

Cost-effective production of magnetic sensors

22 hours ago

They are found wherever other measurement methods fail: magnetic sensors. They defy harsh environmental conditions and also function in fluids. A new procedure is now revolutionizing the production of two-dimensional ...

Measurement of components in 3D under water

22 hours ago

Conveying systems for oil and gas, operated in the sea have many important underwater components. The maintenance of such components is elaborate and expensive, as measuring them is complicated. Fraunhofer ...

Plastic parts for internal combustion engines

23 hours ago

Efforts to produce lighter vehicles necessarily include engine parts, such as the cylinder casing, which could shed up to 20 percent of its weight if it were made of fiber-reinforced plastic rather than aluminum ...

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.