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Researchers Harvest Energy From Planes
4/30/2013

Researchers at Vienna University of Technology, working in collaboration with EADS Innovation Works, have developed an energy harvesting module that can leverage the temperature change of a plane's fuselage created when it takes off and lands to power sensors that can monitor the structural health of the aircraft.   (Source: Vienna University of Technology)
Researchers at Vienna University of Technology, working in collaboration with EADS Innovation Works, have developed an energy harvesting module that can leverage the temperature change of a plane’s fuselage created when it takes off and lands to power sensors that can monitor the structural health of the aircraft.
(Source: Vienna University of Technology)

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notarboca
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Another method as well?
notarboca   4/30/2013 8:04:37 AM
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Temperature change to harvest voltage is a good idea.  These folks even have a working prototype.  My thought is that there is a great build up of static electricity on an aircraft in flight (witness the static "wicks" on the wing trailing edges that help dissipate it).  Wonder if this energy could be harvested as well?

Elizabeth M
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Re: Another method as well?
Elizabeth M   4/30/2013 8:27:09 AM
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That's quite interesting, notarboca, I didn't think of that. But if the temperature-change method proves successful, I'm sure researchers will look for other ways to harvest energy on airplanes as well. That could be another way they do it.

naperlou
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like in space
naperlou   4/30/2013 8:57:40 AM
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Elizabeth, this reminds me of the radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) that is used in the interplanetary flights.  The big difference is that RTGs convert a high temperature into a voltage. 

Elizabeth M
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Re: like in space
Elizabeth M   4/30/2013 9:30:00 AM
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Interesting, naperlou. I don't know alot about that topic, but I will do some research to see what you mean. Sounds similar, but perhaps with a bit of a different process to achieve a similar result.

Charles Murray
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Re: Another method as well?
Charles Murray   4/30/2013 5:39:39 PM
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When I started reading this article, I was expecting the energy source to be vibration. I live near O'Hare Airport in Chicago and my windows often shake when planes approach runway 27. So I was surprised to see that it uses temperature differences, which is certainly a viable source as well, given that the temperature outside at 35,000 feet is about -40F. Maybe they could use both sources and gather even more energy.

tekochip
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Cowl to Ambient?
tekochip   4/30/2013 9:17:08 PM
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 Why not cowl to ambient? The temperature difference between ambient air and inside the cowl is huge even in my diminutive aircraft.
 
The static discharge can be very impressive. After one night flight I was attaching the tow bar to the nose wheel and saw a good 3" spark jump into the tow bar. That's why there are sooooo many warnings about grounding before fueling.


NadineJ
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clean energy hub
NadineJ   4/30/2013 11:39:55 PM
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It's good to see more coming out of Austria.  It may soon rival Germany for alternative energy innovation.

AnandY
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Re: Cowl to Ambient?
AnandY   5/1/2013 3:37:52 AM
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That's why there are sooooo many warnings about grounding before fueling.

Static electric charge developed during the flight is huge. Do ground crews have to worry about a shock hazzard if the aircraft has not had the charge dissipated? How is the static charge buildup is prevented from reaching hazzardous potetial?

AnandY
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Hybrid energy harvester
AnandY   5/1/2013 3:41:36 AM
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Sound generated by planes during takeoff and landing is very high in dB. This inturn can be useful for the Hybrid Solar-Vibration Energy Harvester, as described in one of your blog, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Another method as well?
Elizabeth M   5/1/2013 6:56:23 AM
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I know what you mean, Chuck, that is exactly what I thought when I only read a headline about the work before I actually read about the research itself. I have previously spoken to other researchers about using vibrations of cars passing over a bridge to harvest energy for structural integrity sensors, so I knew vibration was a viable method. I suppose what you're proposing is definitely a future possibility.

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