Researchers Develop Wireless Bridge Sensors Without Batteries

October 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: Sensor-enhanced surgical robot enables highly precise and safe spinal operations

Related Stories

3-D printing remakes the strain gauge

January 10, 2018

Rahul Panat and a team of researchers from CMU, WSU, and UT-El Paso have developed a new 3-D printing technique for manufacturing strain gauges that breaks the Poisson Ratio by 40%.

A major step forward in organic electronics

January 12, 2018

Researchers at the Laboratory of Organic Electronics, Linköping University, have developed the world's first complementary electrochemical logic circuits that can function stably for long periods in water. This is a highly ...

Nano-sensor measures tension of tissue fibres

November 28, 2017

Bacteria are able to attach themselves to tissue fibres with the aid of a 'nano-adhesive'. Just how they achieve this was investigated a few years ago by Viola Vogel, Professor of Applied Mechanobiology at ETH Zurich, using ...

Recommended for you

Cryptocurrency rivals snap at Bitcoin's heels

January 14, 2018

Bitcoin may be the most famous cryptocurrency but, despite a dizzying rise, it's not the most lucrative one and far from alone in a universe that counts 1,400 rivals, and counting.

Top takeaways from Consumers Electronics Show

January 13, 2018

The 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, which concluded Friday in Las Vegas, drew some 4,000 exhibitors from dozens of countries and more than 170,000 attendees, showcased some of the latest from the technology world.

Finnish firm detects new Intel security flaw

January 12, 2018

A new security flaw has been found in Intel hardware which could enable hackers to access corporate laptops remotely, Finnish cybersecurity specialist F-Secure said on Friday.

0 comments

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.