The aim of this project
In a rapidly changing environment and an ongoing decrease of habitats for wild animals, the investigation how to integrate and protect them is a growing demand of the public. The question how endangered animals like the wolf of lynx can be preserved and integrated in the cultural heritage of Germany is one of the most recent one.
A commonly used possibility to investigate or monitor needs, habits or health of an animal is the attachment of a collar at the animal. This collar can monitor e.g. position, activity and temperature at the animal. This data is typically sent to a base station or satellite where it is than forwarded to a database. Problems rises when there is a need for a long-term monitoring system. As the systems needs energy for its task and therefore batteries, there is only a limited operational time. The usage of energy directly at the animal from the surrounding – called energy-harvesting – is a promising approach to prolong the operational time or even run solely on that.
One possible energy-harvesting technique is the usage of thermal energy out of temperature gradients between two spots. At the application of a tracker, the fur of the animal represents the warm side whereas the cold side is the ambient temperature. For warm blooded animals, this leads to a relative steady energy income. This is an advantage compared to other harvesting techniques like solar which are heavily dependent on the surrounding and often do not work in deep forests.
Our tracker, that is being developed and will be fully energy-autonomous, uses only the temperature-gradient between the mammal and its environment for harvesting the small amounts of electric energy. This is done with a thermoelectric energy generator (TEG) which supplies our circuit with enough energy for fulfilling the basic requirements for wildlife monitoring:
- Tracking the position of the animal
- Monitoring activity
- Monitoring temperature