ABB’s energy harvesting wireless temperature transmitter ‘could go on forever’

ABB technology gives chemicals manufacturer a true remotely powered temperature sensor

Thanks to our novel energy harvesting technology, West Midlands based manufacturer of speciality chemicals, Robinson Brothers are now able to make remote temperature measurements without the need for a power supply to the transmitter. Combined with our WirelessHART communications technology, this eliminates the need for any cabling to the instrument.

Robinson Brothers are currently trialling the transmitter on the steam main supplying its manufacturing plant, which has been successfully operating for over three months without drawing any power from its back-up battery.

Says Tom Rutter, E&I manager, “it looks like it could go on forever, provided there’s steam flowing through the line. We’ve already got over 10,000 measurement points around the site but we don’t have much wireless technology. It’s something we’ll be looking to do more of in future projects because there are terrific cabling costs involved in installing conventional instrumentation and the potential savings are obvious, we are extremely pleased with its performance.”

The system was installed by integration specialist ICA Services, which suggested exploring energy harvesting as a way of eliminating cabling costs in future instrumentation schemes at the West Midlands site.

The ABB transmitter is powered by an on-board micro-thermoelectric generator (micro-TEG), which is driven by the temperature difference between the steam pipe and the ambient surroundings.

The micro-TEGS used in ABB’s WirelessHART temperature transmitters provide a robust and compact solution for energy harvesting from either hot or cold processes. With many industrial processes, having an abundance of heat, such as those at Robinson Brothers, the power that can be delivered by TEGs is sufficient to operate wireless sensors in a variety of locations.

The system at Robinson Brothers needs a minimum temperature difference of around 30°C, which is easily achieved in this application where the steam flows at around 106°C and the ambient air is typically 26°C. The transmitter also has a built-in back-up battery which is not used during normal plant operation.

ICA Services engineers set up the transmitter to send data wirelessly to a remote wireless gateway, which feeds the signal into the site’s existing Ethernet network and then to an ABB SM500F data recorder.

With wiring and installation costs accounting for almost 50 percent of the total cost of a device, it makes both financial and technological sense to use wireless devices wherever possible.

Energy harvesting provides an ideal alternative to wired or battery-powered devices in processes suited to the use of wireless devices. Energy harvesting takes energy from the environment and converts it into usable electrical energy, which is then used to power the wireless device. As well as thermal energy, energy harvesting technology can also be used to derive power from solar radiation, vibration and kinetic energy from flowing media or moving parts.

For more information about ABB’s WirelessHART and energy harvesting technology, call 0870 600 6122 or email moreinstrumentation@gb.abb.com ref. ‘WirelessHART’ and/or ‘energy harvesting’.

For more about ICA Services and Robinsons Brothers, please visit www.icaservices.co.uk or www.robinsonbrothers.co.uk.

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