Wiegand Energy Harvester Opens New Windows to the Internet of Things
UBITO, a member of the FRABA family of technology companies, has announced a breakthrough in its development of Wiegand technology as an energy source for smart sensors. After more than two years of effort at FRABA’s R&D center in Aachen (Germany), a research team has demonstrated a prototype of a wireless sensor powered by a Wiegand technology that could participate in an ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) network. The project involved the development of an exciting new Wiegand Harvester capable of capturing enough energy to power the sensor’s electronics package, including a high-efficiency ultra-wide-band radio transmitter. This achievement – a world’s first – helps to position Wiegand technology (which collects energy from movements of an external magnetic field) beside established energy harvesting techniques such as solar, piezo, or thermo-electrics as an energy source for sensor nodes in the emerging Internet of Things (also known as Industry 4.0).
“Wiegand sensors have been a core component of our encoder products for over 15 years” comments Tobias Best, global head of the UBITO startup. “While this technology has provided a highly reliable way of detecting and recording rotations in flow meters and multiturn encoders, we have always been looking forward to its wider potential, especially for energy harvesting.” With this goal in mind, FRABA undertook a development project aimed at improving the energy output from Wiegand devices and demonstrating the possibility of self-powered sensors that could detect events and transmit data wirelessly to an IoT network. The R&D project was conducted by specialists from FRABA and Aachen’s University for Applied Science, with financial support from the German Ministry of Education and Technology. The project team succeeded in producing a new “Wiegand Harvester” – a device that could generate over fifty times more energy than commercial Wiegand sensors. Best continues: “This level of output makes it possible to dream of energy self-sufficient sensors that can communicate data wirelessly over a significant distance.”