Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Student’s invention harvests energy from earthquakes


23 November 2012
_____________________________________________________

Student’s invention harvests energy from earthquakes

A wireless vibration sensor being developed by a Victoria University student could provide a low-cost solution for engineers to monitor the damage of buildings affected by earthquakes.

Daniel Tomicek, a fourth year Electronic and Computer Systems Engineering student, has been working on the innovative device, which harnesses the kinetic energy generated by earthquakes, as part of his final year research project.

The wireless sensor Daniel has developed is designed to be placed in several locations of a building to monitor the stress sustained by different areas during an earthquake.

The sensor harnesses the energy of the building’s movement during an earthquake to power itself, measuring the acceleration of the movement, and transmitting information in the form of data packets to an off-site computer. The data can then be used by engineers to help assess the extent of damage to the building.

When earthquakes occur, the energy harvested from the vibrations activates the wireless transceiver to transmit the data packets which contain the sensor’s identifier. The greater the vibrations, the greater the energy harvested and the more packets that are sent. The device uses minimal energy—so when there is no movement, the sensor simply does not operate.

Daniel has been working with Professor Winston Seah and Dr Ramesh Rayudu from Victoria’s Faculty of Engineering to develop a prototype which is affordable, and can be easily fixed to different parts of a building.

Currently, no sensor exists in the marketplace that doesn’t rely on batteries or electricity supply to run—meaning Daniel’s sensor is a major step forward.

“The biggest challenge has been figuring out how to make the sensor work from a cold start—how to ensure the initial packet of information was sent, given that earthquake movements begin so suddenly,” says Daniel.

He has been testing the sensor’s capabilities recently at Te Papa’s Earthquake House in its Awesome Forces exhibit, where the device monitored ‘earthquakes’ at the house over the course of a week.

“Testing at the Earthquake House was a real success. The device managed to sense each earthquake and send packets of information for each one.”

“Being able to use the exhibit was a very handy way of testing the device, and the staff members at Te Papa were really supportive.”

Daniel says he was inspired to create a kinetic sensor after a friend worked on a similar project during a summer research scholarship at Victoria University. He had also heard about applications being developed in Europe, where special springs added to dance floors in nightclubs can harness an electrical current generated by the movement of dancers, which is then stored in batteries and used to run devices.

Daniel is looking forward to graduating next year and doing some overseas travel, before applying the skills he has learnt at university in the workplace.

Daniel Tomicek’s wireless vibration sensor which he built during his
fourth year of engineering studies at Victoria University.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Crown Accounts: Government Ekes Out Six-Month Surplus Of $9M

The New Zealand government eked out a tiny surplus in the first six months of the fiscal year as growth in domestic consumption lifted the goods and services tax take, while uncertainties over the Kaikoura earthquake costs meant expenses were less than expected. More>>

ALSO:

Almost 400 Jobs: Shock At Cadbury's Dunedin Factory Closure

Workers at Cadbury in Dunedin are reeling after learning this morning that the iconic Cadbury factory is to close, with the loss of almost 400 jobs... “The company had reported it was doing well and this has come out of the blue,” says Chas. More>>

ALSO:

Transport: Boards Of Inquiry For Auckland Roading Projects

Boards of Inquiry have been appointed to decide on two significant Auckland roading projects in a move which will get a decision by the end of the year, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry announced today. More>>

ALSO:

Three Months On: Quake Reciovery In Kaikōura And Elsewhere

Three months after the magnitude 7.8 earthquake on 14 November, encouraging recovery progress is being made in affected communities. More>>

ALSO:

Jetstar, Qantas For Govt Transport: Government Still In Talks With Air NZ

The government is still negotiating with national carrier Air New Zealand in a cross-agency air travel contract that will add a number of new airlines to the list of approved flyers. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news