Winterthur/Dübendorf ZH – Researchers at the ZHAW School of Engineering have collaborated with the water research institute Eawag to develop a sensor that can monitor water pipes in real time. The sensors are able to harvest their own energy.

Researchers at the ZHAW School of Engineering have collaborated with the Swiss water research institute Eawag to develop the sensor solution ADAWIM (Autonomous and Distributed Architecture for Water Infrastructure Monitoring). The sensors can measure parameters such as water flow and soil moisture. Data is processed locally and transmitted wirelessly to a gateway, which transfers the information to a server for further processing and visualization.

ADAWIM is special because the sensors are able to harvest their own energy. In one version, the system can obtain the energy needed from temperature difference in the operational environment, between the water or wastewater pipe and the soil, for example. In another, researchers integrated high-efficiency photovoltaic cells.

“While energy harvesting from temperature differences is less efficient than solar power, the advantage is it can be used almost anywhere,” explained project head Marcel Meli from the ZHAW Institute of Embedded Systems. “The combination of different heat sources – depending on the location or time of year – ensures a reliable supply of energy.”

ADAWIM has already been successfully employed in field tests. The researchers now plan to find a business partner for the further development of the sensor solution into a marketable product.

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