PsiKick Brings Patented Batteryless IoT Sensor to Steam Traps

By Ken Briodagh

PsiKick, a venture-backed startup developing batteryless IoT systems, recently announced its new Steam Trap Monitor (STM), which is designed to continuously analyze steam traps to deliver cost-saving insights across a range of industrial environments.

Steam traps, which are designed to discharge unwanted condensate, are critical components in the vast steam systems utilized worldwide for manufacturing, power-generation, heating, sterilization, and other processes. Despite their prevalence, steam traps are notoriously faulty; according to the U.S. Department of Energy, unmaintained traps show failure rates of 3-5 years.

“Poorly monitored steam traps result in billions of dollars of wasted energy annually across a large array of industries. Unless a company expends significant resources to maintain a rigorous inspection schedule, undetected blow-thru traps are the equivalent of leaving your doors and windows open with the AC on. Even worse, cold steam trap failures can result in expensive downtime and dangerous safety hazards,” said Bob Nunn, President and CEO, PsiKick. “The PsiKick Steam Trap Monitor provides a cost-effective solution to continuously monitor steam traps and receive real-time status of failures, or alerts about the possibility of a near-term failure, enabling quick intervention and providing immediate operating cost savings.”

Leveraging its semiconductor design technology developed by researchers at both the University of Michigan and the University of Virginia, PsiKick’s mission is to solve the battery problem with a suite of maintenance-free, self-powered sensing systems. Dr. David Wentzloff , co-founder and co-CTO, PsiKick, said. “Considering even 3-year battery lifetimes of wireless sensors, if the IoT industry hits a conservative total of 20 billion sensors, that would require 18 million battery replacements per day. Few organizations have the labor or capital to maintain such systems.”

The STM system consists of PsiKick’s proprietary sensors, called “Smart Sense Nodes” (or S2Ns), that are powered exclusively from harvested energy from heat or indoor light, therefore eliminating the need for a battery. No batteries means no maintenance costs over the S2N’s lifetime, which is guaranteed to exceed 20 years. S2Ns—one per steam trap— transmit data upon request using PsiKick’s proprietary low-power Psi-Fi protocol to “Control Nodes” gateways that provide multiple backhaul options.

The PK Cloud features a proprietary algorithm that analyzes the continuous sensor data for key insights, such as steam trap failure states and the costs associated with those failures. The PK Cloud includes an easy-to-use interface that allows for straightforward configuration and provisioning, displays real-time dashboard data, and generates failure notifications and alerts.

“The data provided by the system goes beyond reporting failures to providing insights for preventative management,” said Dr. Ben Calhoun, co-founder and co-CTO, PsiKick. “That being said, the savings from reductions in wasted steam alone provide a compelling ROI for our customers.”

Ken Briodagh is a writer and editor with more than a decade of experience under his belt. He is in love with technology and if he had his druthers would beta test everything from shoe phones to flying cars.

Edited by Ken Briodagh

Editorial Director