New technology generates power using conveyor belt energy

Martin Engineering has introduced its new technology that uses kinetic energy from a moving conveyor belt to generate power to run electronic systems within a power station.

The Martin Roll Gen System to create a self contained mini power station that allows operators to run electrical monitoring systems and safety mechanisms.

Operators are not required to maintain a special stock of conveyor rollers, since the generator can be employed on a variety of steel rollers.

Intelligent monitoring systems for any conveyor system require power for extended operation.  Due to the distances involved, cabled communication systems are not ideal, and therefore wireless communication systems are more advantageous.  Options such as solar power are not well suited to the general conditions of a conveyor system, as monitoring devices are often required in an enclosed structure without access to sunlight, or for continuous operation during both day and night.

“We found that we could draw energy from a moving belt by attaching an independent generator directly to one of the rollers,” said Paul Harrison, Global Engineering Manager.  “This way, the conveyor could produce power without altering the structure of the system or affecting its physical configuration.”

Being able to add a generator to a roller delivers the benefit of utilizing the proven reliability of existing roller designs, while drawing power from the belt for a wide variety of electronic devices.  Product engineers developed a design to accomplish this through the use of a magnetic coupling that attaches to the end of an existing roller.  The outside diameter of the generator matches the diameter of the roll, but places the generator outside the material path to avoid the heavy loads and fugitive material that tends to damage existing design attempts.  The roll generator is held in a fixed position by the roll support system, but is not normally required to bear any of the material load.

In the new, patent-pending design, a “drive dog” is attached to the end face of the roll that is resting on the generator, using magnets.  The drive dog engages the generator through the outer housing’s machined drive tabs.  The magnetic attachment ensures that electrical or mechanical overload does not force the roll to stop; instead the magnets will slip on the roll face.

The conveyor roll loads are carried by the large support shaft in the generator, which does not rotate and is rigidly mounted to the idler support structure.  The generator forms a lightweight driven unit that does not affect the existing roll in any way, except to be rotationally engaged via the magnets, and so draw a small amount of mechanical power in order to generate the electrical energy.

The generator is sealed from fugitive material and forms an integral unit independent of the conveyor roll.  The bearings of the generator are able to handle the conveyor belt load, as they are of similar size to the roller.