Researchers are increasingly looking for new ways to provide energy for low-power devices like wireless sensors without using batteries. One new way is by harvesting energy from other sources. Recently, a team of Viennese researchers came up with a way to harvest energy from airplanes to power sensors attached to a planeís fuselage that can be used to monitor and collect data on aircraft structural health.
Researchers from the Vienna University of Technology, working with EADS Innovation Works, have developed and tested a thermoelectric Energy Harvesting Module that can leverage the temperature difference created when a plane takes off and lands, creating energy for nodes on the sensors. The sensors will be used to augment the high cost of maintenance on aircrafts by providing continuous monitoring of a craft, and transmitting that data to its maintenance system, researchers said.
Solar irradiation is the most optimum for energy harvesting that airliners can use but a system has to be capable of using multiple sources including vibration energy harvesting and temperature differentials the article is referring to. There are solutions available today but much improvements are needed.