Energy-Harvesting Radio Could Make Bridges Safer
Press Photo via Kansas State University
Its amazing the things we forget, or don’t know exist. Most people wouldn’t realize the effort and expense that goes into changing batteries in sensors on bridges that tell us the health of the structure.
Kansas State University is flying to the rescue, working to create an energy-harvesting radio that can transmit the data needed, minus the battery changes.Working as a team, Bill Kuhn, engineering professor, and Xiaohu Zhang, master’s student are figuring out a device for Perigrine Semiconductor that can transmit data without battery power. They’ve come up with the idea of using solar cells (the demo device uses some collected from solar powered calculators) to capture energy to power a radio that can send the signals – now they need to test how far the info can be transmitted.
They’re also looking into other ways energy could be harvested, from thermal to electrochemical. Perhaps they could take some advice from a certain heat-collecting bridge in Japan.
Looking at this endeavor reminds us of the millions of ways in which we can integrate renewable energy into needed devices, and significantly reduce our need for batteries.