Billions of dollars are spent and lost every year to replace flawless machine parts because constant and ubiquitous condition monitoring has always been considered too expensive and complex,” said Burkhard Habbe, VP of business development at Micropelt GmbH, Freiburg, Germany.
The company recently introduced the TE-Power RING wireless condition monitoring system for bearings, transmissions, and similar parts that wear during operation. This fully integrated, battery-free, on-shaft device monitors the condition of parts to determine if and when they need maintenance or replacing. Powered by a bearing’s frictional heat, the TE-Power RING can measure temperature and pressure and record vibration signals, giving you direct access to actual condition information of the wear of rotating parts.
Integrating the TE-Power RING system to monitor bearings saves money because only parts that actually need replacing are replaced. Existing parts can be used for a longer period of time and the number of spare parts stocked and manufactured can be reduced.
The TE-Power RING operates using Micropelt’s high voltage energy harvesting thermogenerator chip technology. Each Micropelt MPG-D751 chip has an approximate footprint of 14 mm². One to four chips are used to convert a bearing’s frictional heat into mW of electricity according to the demands of the powered monitoring device. One mW harvested over one year equals the energy content of 10 to 15 AA primary cells. Tests on the company’s simulator have shown that even a bearing without mechanical load generates enough frictional heat for the thermogenerator to effectively make power measurements.
The thermoelectric elements are based on a proprietary scalable MEMS (Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems) micro-structuring platform technology. Compared to conventional thermoelectric elements, the approach reduces component and feature sizes by orders of magnitude, yielding 10 times higher cooling or heating power densities.
The monitoring results of the TE-Power RING can be broadcast through a wireless network. Micropelt has worked with Texas Instruments to use its commercially available ultra-low power wireless technology. Volker Prueller, EMEA marketing manager, Catalogue MCU and Low-Power RF at Texas Instruments noted, “Micropelt’s battery-free thermal energy harvesting technology offers a renewable source of power and freedom from traditional batteries.”
Filed Under: Bearings, Machine tool industry + subtractive manufacturing, Wireless, Energy management + harvesting, Test + measurement • test equipment