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)
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Researchers have been working on a number of alternative chemistries to lithium-ion for next-gen batteries, silicon-air among them. However, while the technology has been viewed as promising and cost-effective, to date researchers haven’t managed to develop a battery of this chemistry with a viable running time -- until now.
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