The inventors at Boeing never cease amazing me. It seems they have a checklist of every possible way a form of energy gets wasted so that they can convert it into electricity.
They have found a way to convert noise at airports – sound energy – to electricity and also, last month one of their patent application revealed how using a piezoelectric material in spacer and fillers of aircraft can generate electricity.
As I was saying, inventors at Boeing have put a check on another item in their checklist. This time they have filed a patent application for a process to generate electrical energy from a compressed gas in the pneumatic system.
Pneumatic systems are widely used in manufacturing and maintenance industry. Their working principle involves using pressurized gas to generate mechanical energy. That is, compressed gases are used for moving heavy objects or even stopping a moving object. You can find an easy definition of mechanical energy here.
If you look around, you will yourself surrounded by pneumatic systems. The compresses air brake system in buses and trucks is a great example.
Where Boeing Finds its Application?
As per the patent application of Boeing, in the manufacturing of an aircraft different pneumatic systems are used. A human operator has to check various parameters of these installed systems so that they could keep running smoothly.
The problem is that many of these are installed at locations that are difficult to reach. One solution is installing sensors for monitoring purpose. These sensors will run on either batteries or electric lines.
This brings another set of problem. The use of electrical lines increases expense to install and maintain the devices. Further, batteries need to be maintained at different intervals.
Hence, the inventors are Boeing arrived at this solution where they are installing monitoring sensor with rechargeable batteries. As they are using batteries, the expense to install electric wires gets negated. And the batteries will be getting recharged from the electricity harvested from a pneumatic system.
To me this is amazing. You find a problem and you attack it with full force. You don’t settle with general or available solutions that are not effective rather you find an optimum solution. This invention is an example of solving a pressing problem using creativity.