Water wise

Element - - Clean Technology -

Univer­sity of Waikato sci­en­tists are hop­ing to cre­ate a smart water me­ter, com­pletely pow­ered by the water run­ning through it. En­gi­neer­ing Pro­fes­sor Jonathan Scott, PHD stu­dent Mark Jones and Sum­mer Re­search Schol­ar­ship stu­dent Wayne Crump are look­ing at the best way to harvest power by sep­a­rat­ing elec­tri­cal charge in water, with­out mov­ing parts. They’re look­ing to cre­ate a charge sepa­ra­tion through the use of a stream­ing po­ten­tial cell, and are hop­ing to harvest enough power to run a smart water me­ter which can wire­lessly re­port water con­sump­tion. The cell works by forc­ing water through a glass mi­cro-chan­nel which has a charge bound to its sur­face. As water trav­els through the chan­nel, ions of an op­po­site po­lar­ity cling to the charged sur­face. When pres­sure pushes these ions through the chan­nel, a use­ful amount of electricity builds up. Op­ti­mal de­sign of a stream­ing po­ten­tial cell is in­trin­sic to PHD stu­dent Mark Jones’ re­search. “If we can harvest en­ergy from the water we’re me­ter­ing, then we re­move the need for bat­ter­ies, which is what cur­rent smart water me­ters need. Not only will this pre­vent thou­sands of bat­ter­ies end­ing up in landŽlls each year but also save hav­ing to re­place them, a much greener al­ter­na­tive.”

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