Self-powered smart faucets

Research Highlights

- A self-powered measurement and communication module turns drinking water faucets into Internet of Things nodes

- Energy autarkic displays and data communication modules are demonstrated

- The system design allows for mass production of these modules at low cost



Goal of this project was to extend a micro-turbine for small water pipes (20 mm diameter) that delivers both energy and information on flow rate to power a local display and a radio communication module. Challenges include the stochastic electricity supply due to varying water flows and the impact of the electric current drawn by the electronics on turbine frequency, which, at the same time, serves as input for the flow rate measurements. 



An energy management module that is aware of buffer states and that predicts power demand based on future commands has been developed, enabling or stalling data processing and communication tasks. Effects of current, drawn by the radio frequency module on generator load and thus turbine speed, are compensated by state-aware linearization to accurately infer flow rate from turbine frequency. The functionality was completely built in software, so that all mechanical components remained unchanged, avoiding higher system cost.   



The system has been developed and tested, leading to batch production and subsequently supporting the commercialization and mass production of the derived products by the spinoff company Amphiro AG. The resulting products enabled several large-scale field studies on domestic water and energy consumption and are now being rolled out in a large-scale water conservation campaign by the Singaporean government.

Selected Publications

V. Tasic, T. Staake, T. Stiefmeier, V. Tiefenbeck, E. Fleisch and G. Tröster, "Self-powered water meter for direct feedback," 2012 3rd IEEE International Conference on the Internet of Things, Wuxi, 2012, pp. 24-30.

Arrangement for determination of e.g. consumption of cold water to display flow rates, Application DE102010022311A1


This project has been funded in parts by the Commission for Technology and Innovation and Amphiro AG

Date: 2009 - 2011



Voikan Tasic, Thorsten Staake, Verena Tiefenbeck, Elgar Fleisch 

ETH IfE: Thomas Stiefmeier, Gerhard Tröster


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