Harvesting energy with flow measurements

Energy Harvesting on rotary motion

Energy Harvesting technology makes it possible to produce small amounts of electricity from light, heat, vibrations or the environment to power autonomous systems such as sensors, wireless transmitters and displays. Fraunhofer IIS researchers have now developed a way to produce electricity through volume flows with so-called oval gear meters.

By mounting an array of magnets on the gears and fixing inductors on the housing of the oval gear meter, electricity can be generated through the rotation of the gears alone. A wireless communications module can then transmit the measurement data without the need for batteries.

In many fields of application such as pipelines and fuel pumps, remote control and monitoring of the volume flow is essential in some situations. To date, the power needed to process and transmit the measurement data had to be provided via battery or cable, which leads to additional maintenance and installation effort. In many cases this additional cost makes remote access to the flow meter measurement data economically unfeasible. By deploying energy harvesting, these flow meter systems can be economically installed in difficult-to-access areas with a maintenance-free power source over the entire service life of the meter.

The flow measurement system with remote read-out and its own energy supply was developed jointly with the project partners Bopp & Reuther Messtechnik GmbH and WIKON GmbH within the “Oval Wheel Meters” project of the Central Innovation Program for SME (ZIM). The project was funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology under the project sponsorship of the German Federation of Industrial Research Associations (AiF).