Everactive (Charlottesville, Va.; www.everactive.com) has just launched its Machine Health Monitor (MHM) product for batteryless vibration and temperature sensing of process machinery (photo). The MHM harvests waste energy from small temperature differentials (10°F or greater) and ambient light (100 lux or greater) to power the sensor and to transmit wireless data continuously. The product joins Everactive's initial product, a batteryless industrial internet of things (IIoT) temperature sensor for steam-trap applications.
The batteryless sensor systems are made possible by ultra-low-power computer chips designed with sub-threshold circuits that operate continuously with miniscule levels of electricity. "There's nothing exotic about the chip materials and manufacturing process," explains Brian Alessi, marketing director for Everactive. "The ability to sense and transmit data continuously results from the careful design of the system as a whole, with the objective of operating under the ‘energy ceiling' for harvested power."
Asset sensor systems represent a critical aspect of the trend toward digitalization and IIoT-enabled process optimization, but the sensors require power to detect signals and transmit data. Managing and replacing batteries for the number of sensors currently projected for industrial processes presents a large maintenance challenge. "If, as some analyses predict, one trillion sensors were installed on industrial assets, it would require replacing 913 million batteries daily," says Alessi. "And that is not sustainable, from a maintenance resource or environmental standpoint."
Thus far, Everactive has installed batteryless steam-trap sensors at about a dozen sites, and is rolling out the MHM product this month. The devices are built to be robust, Alessi says, with IP66 protection for dust and water, and compliance with Class 1, Div. 2 hazardous area requirements.