The Internet of Things (IoT) is revolutionizing how companies in every sector operate, manage and produce. We advance towards a more intelligent industry where all machinery is connected, and organizations can detect possible irregularities in real-time while measuring process performance.
Battery-Less Sensor is funded by the Ministry for Industry, Commerce, and Tourism’s line of Innovative Business Groups. Projects like this focus on making progress towards the so-called connected industry. Battery-Less sensor is an IoT initiative developed by Valoriza Medioambiente, a Sacyr company, in collaboration with startup Alternative Energy Innovations (AEInnova) and coordinated by the Cluster de l’Energia Eficient de Catalunya (CEEC).
Battery-Less Sensor is a project that consists of using residual heat present in processes as a power source for new-generation wireless sensors with no need for batteries. This way, these devices measure temperature and vibration levels in industrial processes or monitor rotative machines to facilitate predictive maintenance, avoiding stopping production and creating early alerts of potential machine failures in industrial processes. The project encompasses power generation, obtaining, analyzing, and visualizing data: creating alarms to help prevent unforeseen events that might lead to an unexpected stoppage.
Currently, we monitor machines through solutions that work by wired sensors or require batteries. These methods demand a serious investment. Besides the economic cost, batteries present a massive environmental issue, as they are mostly produced with cobalt and lithium, which are scarce materials. Batteries also contain environmentally harmful heavy metals like mercury, lead, and cadmium. By the end of their life cycle, batteries are hazardous waste due to their high toxicity, inflammability, and reactivity levels.
Solutions like “Battery-Less Sensor” are the alternative; devices powered by energy harvesting from industrial residual heat. Around 21% of residual heat power is wasted every year in the European industry. Likewise, research shows that we could retrieve around 336.9TWh of energy.
Battery-Less Sensor is in total alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), and it contributes to improving the sector, sustainability, economy, and society in general.
As of today, we have carried out pilot projects based on this solution to demonstrate the devices functioning in low-temperature conditions and isolated machines. However, these pilots face some technical challenges.