A leading company specializing in harvesting of thermal energy Micropelt has partnered with Royal Dutch Shell to convert waste heat into a maintenance-free, sustainable power supply meant for wireless sensor devices.
Shell perceives that wireless sensor networks can assist in decreasing maintenance costs and increasing productivity by means of better status information. Energy harvesting removes the primary battery requirement in most wireless sensors.
A team from Shell headed by Don Mulder used a Micropelt TE-Power PROBE Thermoharvester along with an IPS thin film battery for developing a buffered perpetual source of power for a model Rosemount wireless pressure transmitter that executes an industrial mesh networking protocol named WirelessHART. The field trial conducted by Don concluded that the new energy source was reliable in functioning and easy to setup.
Replacing a primary battery pack having a capacity of around 16 amp hours, designed for a life of 5 – 10 years, the TE-Power PROBE thermoharvester can be attached to a source of heat through a 1/4” thread. Mulder hopes that the instrumentation sector will begin producing products that integrate the energy harvesting technology of Micropelt. Furthermore, the benefits to production plants will include significant cost savings as well as increased process optimization and operational flexibility.
Micropelt GmbH produces and markets the most effective and smallest thermoelectric elements in the world. The company serves the clean-tech energy harvesting; thermal cycling, sensing and cooling markets among others. Micropelt intends to commence volume production by using its highly scalable proprietary processes.
Micropelt thermogenerators (TEGs) have an intrinsic voltage-boost effect, which makes even 12 mm2 TEGs ideal for driving wireless devices. Moreover, 6 mm2 TEGs are suitable for compact integral battery less and wireless designs.
Micropelt markets a wide variety of integral thermoharvesters, such as TE-Power NODE, a completely functional wireless sensor node, meant for wireless in-field evaluation. Target markets include condition monitoring and industrial sensing in applications involving HVAC enhanced control, metering, energy saving and building automation.