The Climate Sensor Network complements the USDA Forest Service's Remote Automated Weather Stations network. Its durable and inexpensive mesh network of low-power sensory nodes was designed to operate underneath the forest canopy, and collect and report data on wind speed and direction, air humidity, and temperature. The data, which is transmitted back to fire officials, can be used to assist in the prediction of areas in the forest at higher risk for fires at the time the information is collected. The initial contract is for a total of five network systems, the first to be deployed in Boise, Idaho, and tested through the end of this year.
"Voltree Power's technology lets us cost-effectively micro-monitor forest conditions under the canopy and identify high-risk areas," said Victoria Henderson, branch chief of equipment and chemicals for the U.S. Forest Service's Fire and Aviation Management unit. "This Climate Sensor Network installation is a very small but important phase of our decision on whether to widely deploy the technology. Fire prediction is one of many potential applications; we can collect whatever data we need with these sensors. This first installation will enable us to think more broadly about this opportunity."
"The USDA Forest Service is our first customer, so this is an exciting development for us," said Stella Karavas, CEO of Voltree Power. "We've been collaborating for nearly two years to integrate our breakthrough technology with their systems, and create a low-cost, low-maintenance way for them to collect a new level of detailed environmental data. This preliminary contract is a confirmation of our progress."
In 2008, Voltree Power received a patent for its bio-energy harvesting technology, which collects the energy that is naturally produced by living trees and other large plants, and uses it to trickle charge and run low-power circuits. The USDA Forest Service is evaluating a wireless mesh network application of the technology, with nodes that consist of low-power transceivers, sensors, and Voltree Power's bio-energy harvesting technology. Data collected by the nodes would be transmitted from one node to another until they reach a central monitoring station. Each station provides a satellite microwave uplink connection that allows the collected information to be shared with government agencies and many others worldwide.
Enthusiasm Builds for Bio-Energy Harvesting Technology
The USDA Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management are not the only major entities to recognize the potential of Voltree Power's patented bio-energy harvesting technology.
Texas Instruments has been an enthusiastic and generous contributor to the development of the Climate Sensor Network, providing industry leading, ultra-low power embedded processing and power management technology that enables innovative, self powered applications.
"Voltree's cutting-edge technology demonstrates that energy harvesting solutions have real world implications that could impact our daily lives," said Adrian Valenzuela, product marketing manager at Texas Instruments. "Utilizing TI's ultra-low power technology, Voltree's Climate Sensor Network can achieve 20+ years without maintenance, making it an ideal solution for these types of self-powered systems."
In addition, work by a group at the University of Washington with no ties to Voltree has confirmed the viability of operating low-power circuitry from tree power, a methodology covered broadly by Voltree's issued patent and pending patent applications. With such independent confirmation and proprietary rights, Voltree continues its business model of collaboration and serving its customers' needs.
"We are just scratching the surface in terms of potential applications, and we're thrilled to see the excitement build among corporations, government agencies, and academia," said Karavas. "As the patent holder of the core technology, we invite inquiries from potential project partners."
About Voltree Power
Voltree Power is leading the way in the practical integration of three distinct technologies: energy harvesting, lower-power radios, and wireless mesh networks. Such integration offers solutions for numerous remote-sensing applications that include agricultural/ sensing, waterway/reservoir monitoring, hydrology as well as border and other remote location surveillance using motion, heat, illegal substance and radiation detectors placed nearly everywhere, including under triple canopy.
Voltree's patented "Bioenergy Harvester" converts metabolic plant energy into usable electricity. The "Voltree Power Module" is a pioneering alternative to the battery that eliminates the impracticality of battery replacement in extensive mesh networks.
Voltree Power offices and manufacturing facility are based in Canton, MA, U.S.A.