Professor Jonathan
Scott, University of
Hamilton, New Zealand --- (METERING.COM) --- February 14, 2012 - Unlike electric meters, water meters need a battery for power – but now University of Waikato scientists are working 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 the electrical charge in water, without moving parts.

Through the use of a streaming potential cell, they are looking to create a charge separation and hope be able to harvest enough power to run a smart water meter. To date the researchers have recorded a total of 30 mV with their prototypes. For context a low power microprocessor can run on 900 mV.

The cell works by forcing water through a glass micro-channel that 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.

“In engineering terms, this is a chance to achieve something practical from an effect that has to date been no more than a curiosity from the world of physics,” says Scott.

Much of the research is focused on optimizing the design of the streaming potential cell.