Wireless applications that need continuous monitoring to save energy, detect unsafe or other avoidable conditions and need to avoid creating serious maintenance issues are prime candidates for energy harvesting. Steam trap monitoring provides an excellent example of this type of batteryless sensing.
Roughly 20% of the steam leaving a typical facility’s central boiler plant in space heating applications is lost due to leaking steam traps according to a U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) report. While these losses occur for operating traps, the DOE estimates that between 15% and 30% of not regularly inspected and maintained steam traps will fail. The solution is a continuous monitoring system that uses batteryless sensors to deliver real-time warnings and alerts through the cloud, without the need for manual inspection or requiring battery replacement.
Taking advantage of this analysis, Hill Air Force base deployed Everactive batteryless sensors in its batteryless Steam Trap Monitoring and Machine Health Monitoring systems. These sensors continuously monitor 650 steam traps and 550 rotating machines throughout the base, which covers one million acres with 1,700 facilities.
Powered solely through low levels of harvested energy, the Everactive sensors eliminate batteries completely. The wireless sensors transmit data continuously up to a distance of 250 meters to the company’s Internet of Things (IoT) gateways, and then to the cloud. After data analysis by Everactive experts, they provide actionable information and direction to the facility’s maintenance and reliability professionals.
Building on the success of the current Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract with the U.S. Air Force, Everactive has entered a new Phase I SBIR contract to identify additional use cases, beyond steam traps and rotating machines, that will benefit from using batteryless technology.