A Fully Integrated, Printed, Self-Rechargeable Wireless Sensor Node for Engine and Motor Condition Monitoring

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We envision a new generation of cyber-physical products designed, manufactured, maintained and serviced in a consistent way over their complete life cycle. This will be achieved by instrumenting the sub-assemblies of the product with wireless rechargeable sensors for (i) continuous monitoring of the assembly process (ii) control of operational parameters adapting to the condition of the product and external environment (iii) continuous monitoring of the product health for assuring condition-based maintenance (CbM), long term sustainability, and selective reuse of sub-assemblies. Such predictive maintenance can only be completed by investigating historical health data, typically in the form of vibrations for motors and engines, and identifying changes in the signal with system wear and age. Current vibration sensing systems are large, require special mounting configurations, and must be integrated into a power system with cables and a direct connection to a data storage and analysis system. Any network larger than only a handful of wired sensors quickly becomes an issue when the machine to be monitored is in a confined space, like for the engines of vehicles.

dispenserWireless sensor nodes can solve the problem of integration, but current node systems have a field lifetime that is dictated by the on-board energy storage. Primary (non-rechargeable) batteries are typically used, thus requiring a technician to go into the field to replace them at the end of their use phase in order to keep each node running. This can pose a major problem if the network is large or the nodes are located in difficult to reach areas. It is paramount that each node includes technology to harvest sources of energy available in the immediate environment around the node to recharge itself, thus allowing it to remain in use in the field for periods of time on the order of years.

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