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)
Thermoelectric energy harvesting that works by taking advantage of temperature changes is not a new idea. But using this method in such an innovative way on airplanes is pretty new. I really like the closed loop of harvesting energy created by the plane to power sensors that monitor that plane's health.
That is indeed a valid concern, jhankwitz, but I think the developers of this technology tried to take that into consideration, which is why the sensor is using an energy harvester rather than a traditional power source. But you are right to be skeptical of the idea of "something for nothing," that is for sure.
This may be a viable source of unused energy, but is the addition of extra weight and equipment used to collect and store it overall as or more efficient than conventional sources? For some reason, a little red flag starts waving in my brain every time I read one of these 'something for nothing' articles.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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