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Innovative Wireless Design Announced at Sensors Expo

June 9, 2010

Tellurex and Dexter Research unveil a self-powered, deploy-and-forget, temperature- and presence-sensing building management system that provides reliable communications between sensors and remote monitoring systems.


ROSEMONT, IL /PRNewswire/ -- An innovative self-powered, wireless, temperature-sensing proof-of-concept was unveiled at Sensors Expo & Conference with an integrated demonstration of their respective technologies by Dexter Research and Tellurex Corp.

The integrated display at the show operates as a truly autonomous sensing system. The demonstrator transmits in 6-second cycles and is powered exclusively by waste heat with only a 4°C to 9°C Delta T. The integration is robust and highly portable and has been designed to operate 24/7. The Dexter-Tellurex demonstration will be continuous at Booth 821 on June 8 and 9 of this year's Sensors Expo and Conference.

The Dexter-Tellurex joint project design meets growing demand for a new and state-of-the-art, deploy-and-forget building management system that can provide reliable communication between sensing nodes and monitor systems thousands of feet apart. The integration of Tellurex and Dexter technologies demonstrates a system designed to eliminate continuous battery-replacement technologies and the associated lifetime issues related to re-charge cycles and long-term environmental impact.

Design Benefits

  • Deploy-and-forget noncontact temperature and presence sensing
  • Simplified placement/installation/relocation
  • Integrated system that is fully self-powered and self-sustaining
  • No electrical wiring to run/reduced facility or site operating delays
  • Rapid cycles of sensor monitoring
  • No batteries requiring periodic replacement, re-charging, and disposal
  • Design works across multiple sensors

The Technology Story
Dexter Research, a leader in infrared detectors, has been developing advanced wireless sensing to provide their customers with cutting-edge technology. Concurrently, Tellurex, a thermoelectric materials and device leader, was developing high-performance solid-state micro-generators for wireless devices. By merging the technologies, it was possible to deliver a fully integrated self-powered wireless temperature-sensing/data acquisition system.

Thermoelectric power generation technology converts heat to DC power. By applying a temperature difference (Delta T) across a thermoelectric generator (TEG), a proportional DC voltage is developed to power an electrical load.

In recent years, there has been a growing interest is using low-power wireless devices for sensing and collecting data. A complementary desire was to be able to power these solutions wirelessly without the need for constant battery replacement. Because of their ability to harvest normally wasted or ambient energy sources, Tellurex TEG's appeared to be a natural choice because they can provide sufficient amounts of energy for these devices. While it was easy for Tellurex technology to extract enough power for such applications, the voltage output was too low for this practical use. Recent advancements in power-conversion electronics now allow for sufficient voltage to seamlessly integrate with wireless transceiver hardware.

These innovations have enabled Tellurex Corp. and Dexter Research to complete a demonstration project that provides wireless transmission of temperature-sensing data every 6 seconds, powered exclusively by waste heat, with only a 4°C to 9°C Delta T. Energy is channeled from waste energy at the surface of a conventional heating duct. The difference in temperature between that duct and a finned sink (which dissipates heat into the ambient air), allows the TE module to generate a regulated 3.3 VDC for the rest of the application hardware.

The system provides its own storage capacity to power bursts of energy for data transmission. This spent capacity can then be recovered when the support hardware enters into sleep' mode. All of the necessary energy for this operation is derived from waste heat, with no wiring between the sensing and receiving stations and without any secondary power source. It is truly a deploy-and-forget system.

The Present and the Future
The demonstration system is a proof of concept. Development is continuing with the intent to provide customers with full electronic-support solutions available on a single printed circuit board and mechanical kits that provide pre-configured heat sinks, TEG's, and mounting plates suitable for many applications. Other DC-to-DC converters will be developed, as well, for environments that can provide much greater Delta T's. As always, custom solutions will be available for those needing a specialized approach. Interested persons should watch the Tellurex Web site and Dexter Research Web site for future details.

The Companies
Tellurex Corp. has created several industry-leading thermoelectric products over the past quarter-century. Tellurex offers the "most powerful commercially available power generation thermoelectric technology in the world." The company's technology offers support for HVAC management, mobile presence-sensing systems, automotive fuel-efficiency initiatives, defense stealth targets, and field re-charging of battery-powered devices, such as cell phones, GPS units, and computers. The firm's thermoelectric heat-pumping, air-to-air coolers are able to bring the thermal load of an enclosed box to below-ambient temperatures—and with suitable controllers, keep them stable to within ± 0.1°C of set point. And with no moving parts, Tellurex module durability, reliability, and easily controlled noise have become valued attributes of its brand.

Since 1977, Dexter Research has been the "preferred provider of infrared thermopile detectors for science and industry." Today, the company offers the world's largest selection of thermopile-based solutions, including high-quality, high-output Bismuth-Antimony thin film and silicon-based infrared-sensing thermopile detectors. Its products detect temperature change in precise 0.1°C increments. Dexter Research also offers standard detectors in high volumes and customizes detectors for specific needs. Integrated modules serve as complete sensing subsystems. Customers in scientific research, automotive, aerospace, home appliances, security systems, medical equipment, and more now rely on Dexter Research for the highest-performance detectors.

Awards and Certification
Dexter Research was awarded a Michigan Top 50 Companies To Watch in 2008 and featured on television's Economic Report in 2009. Tellurex Corp. was awarded a Corp magazine Science and Technology award in 2010 and was headlined as "Keeping Michigan On The Cutting Edge." Both firms are ISO 9001:2008 certified.