Successful completion of the joint SmartFilter project – intelligent microsystem for filter monitoring
In February 2014, the “SmartFilter – intelligent microsystem for filter monitoring” development project was successfully completed. This was a cooperative project in the area of electronics and microsystems funded by the “KMU Innovation: Information and Communications Technology (ICT)” project by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the federal government’s “High Tech” strategy, with active support provided by VDI/VDE Innovation + Technik GmbH.
Within the SmartFilter project, coordinated by project leader and partner EDC Electronic Design Chemnitz GmbH, Turck duotec GmbH in Grünhain-Beierfeld and X-FAB Semiconductor Foundries AG in Erfurt were jointly working on the development of an intelligent microsystem for filter monitoring. Their work was supported by research from the Chair for Electronic Components in Micro Engineering and Nanotechnology at Technische Universität Chemnitz.
Funding for the joint “SmartFilter” project from the Ministry for Education and Research during the project term (1 September 2010 to 28 February 2014) amounted to around 560,000 euros. The companies involved invested a further 480,000 euros into the research project themselves.
The objective and brief of the project was to develop a microsystem to read the operational status of industrial filters based on the detection and subsequent analysis of pressure differences. The SmartFilter microsystem was thus specified to accurately determine dirt levels in the filter cartridges of industrial extraction systems. By following a holistic development approach, the project partners managed to create an intelligent filter monitoring system that brings together several innovations and is unique both in terms of its functionality and its complexity. As well as determining the dirt level of a filter cartridge, the SmartFilter system permits identification of the filter and the filter class. This results in considerably higher workplace safety, as both the required filter efficiency as well as the use of a filter cartridge suitable for the given extraction system are reliably determined by the SmartFilter system.
In the future, SmartFilter will be able to actively monitor the filter functions and qualities of many different special filters. Examples of these include filter systems deployed in operating theatres, or in underpressure systems used for asbestos removal – just two scenarios from a wide range of future applications. Whatever the area of deployment, the temperature gauge implemented in the SmartFilter system additionally increases occupational safety and facilitates active fire detection in the filter cartridges.
The technological make-up of the SmartFilter microsystem features non-contacting transmission of data as well as power. This systems innovation, which is facilitated through an RFID interface, significantly reduces the maintenance needed for industrial filter systems as cable-free setup permits much faster filter cartridge replacement, thereby keeping plant downtime to a minimum.
Only the most up-to-date process and assembly technologies were used to put together the SmartFilter system. Thanks to their combined use, the project benefited from a monolithic integration of sensor element, analysis electronics and RFID interface. These versatile system components were tightly packed onto a single microchip and will be suitable for large-scale serial production based on 350-nm CMOS technology.
Due to its boldly innovative nature, the development completed as part of the SmartFilter project has been registered as a patent in the area of filter monitoring. Following an in-depth examination of the patent application in May 2013, the German Patent Office has issued a patent for a “monolithic microsystem for a detachable filter insert in a filter system for controlled purification of media”.
With the given copyrights for the development and the existing, fully functional demonstration unit, the project partners will jointly migrate the SmartFilter system into a structure suitable for serial production. Completion of the pilot run and extensive preparations for the first serial run are scheduled for June 2014. The commercial exploitation of the project results by the German-based project partners will significantly boost the competitiveness of the partners, as well as help to permanently secure the research-based positions at the involved companies.
SmartFilter is a joint project completed by the following partners:
Turck duotec GmbH
Am Bockwald 2
X-FAB Semiconductor Foundries AG
Supported by „Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)“
Support programme „KMU-innovativ: Informations- und Kommunikationstechnologie / Elektronik und Mikrosysteme“ ,