Many of these projects involve energizing low-power
devices, such as sensors, through capture of wasted energy from vibrations or
heat dissipation. But that still leaves a massive amount of energy being released by industrial systems that remains uncaptured for greater use.
To help address this, the German Federal Ministry of Economics and
Technology is funding a project at Deprag Schulz GmbH & Co. (a supplier of
air motors) to capture excess process gas for energy generation. Of course,
energy recovery from excess process gas in not a new idea, but Deprag Schulz's
new project does add a new twist. The Deprag Schulz project involves converting
small amounts of residual energy (5 to 20 kW) directly into electricity using a small generator.
Because no standard generator was small enough or employed suitable
materials for use as the core of the energy unit (calculated rotational speed
of the generator is around 40,000 rpm), Deprag Schulz had to
develop an electric generator specifically for this purpose. The result is a turbine
generator based on a permanent magnet synchronous induction machine for the
generation of electricity.
The prototype from Deprag Schulz is a compact unit made from a
microexpansion turbine with an electrical generator which produces electricity
from gas. The core turbine generator unit, not including the electrical control
box, is not much bigger than a shoebox and can be used locally where gas is
either released unused by the industrial process or where a high level of
pressure is reduced to a lower value.
Here's how the turbine generator works: Gas flows into the turbine and is
pressed through jets to accelerate its movement. When it meets the blades of
the turbine and is diverted, it releases energy. This kinetic energy is
then converted to electrical energy in the generator.
The key to the design of this prototype is that the turbine and electric
generator have one shared drive shaft. This means that, when the turbine
rotates, the generator's rotor rotates at the same time and electrical energy
As an application example for this turbine generator, the tanks used in
smelting of metals are cooled by compressed air. The compressed air flows
through cooling channels and absorbs heat. Typically, this air is then released
into the atmosphere without being used. With the turbine generator, the energy
absorbed from the heat can be converted to electricity by passing it through
the microexpansion turbine and the integrated generator and then feeding the
resulting power back into the grid.
According to a study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, one of the factors in the collapse of the original World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001, was the reduction in the yield strength of the steel reinforcement as a result of the high temperatures of the fire and the loss of thermal insulation.
Robots are getting more agile and automation systems are becoming more complex. Yet the most impressive development in robotics and automation is increased intelligence. Machines in automation are increasingly able to analyze huge amounts of data. They are often able to see, speak, even imitate patterns of human thinking. Researchers at European Automation
call this deep learning.
The promise of the Internet of Things (IoT) is that devices, gadgets, and appliances we use every day will be able to communicate with one another. This potential is not limited to household items or smartphones, but also things we find in our yard and garden, as evidenced by a recent challenge from the element14 design community.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.