Wireless sensors powered by microbial fuel cells
Veluchamy, Raaja R. A.
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Monitoring parameters characterizing water quality, such as temperature, pH, and concentrations of heavy metals in natural waters, is often followed by transmitting the data to remote receivers using telemetry systems. Such systems are commonly powered by batteries, which can be inconvenient at times because batteries have a limited lifetime and must be recharged or replaced periodically to ensure that sufficient energy is available to power the electronics. To avoid these inconveniences, a microbial fuel cell was designed to power electrochemical sensors and small telemetry systems to transmit the data acquired by the sensors to remote receivers. The microbial fuel cell was combined with low-power, high-efficiency electronic circuitry providing a stable power source for wireless data transmission. To generate enough power for the telemetry system, energy produced by the microbial fuel cell was stored in a capacitor and used in short bursts when needed. Since commercial electronic circuits require a minimum 3.3 V input and our cell was able to deliver a maximum of 2.1 V, a DC-DC converter was used to boost the potential. The DC-DC converter powered a transmitter, which gathered the data from the sensor and transmitted it wirelessly to a remote receiver. To demonstrate the utility of the system, temporal variations in temperature were measured, and the data were wirelessly transmitted to a remote receiver.
Shantaram A, Beyenal H, Angathevar Veluchamy RR, Lewandowski Z, "Wireless sensors powered by microbial fuel cells," Environ Sci Technol, 2005 39(13):5037-5042