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A better temperature sensor and a technology to test batteries with sound were awarded Princeton’s Intellectual Property Accelerator Fund

Published on February 8, 2017 by Sharon Adarlo

Two projects led by professors at Princeton University’s Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment received funding from the University’s Intellectual Property Accelerator Fund.

Forrest Meggers, assistant professor of architecture and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, will use this funding to support his work on developing a novel sensor to measure radiant temperature from surfaces instead of air temperature to more accurately determine thermal comfort in a space. Daniel Steingart, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, will use the fund to support the development of a method to gauge the health of a battery using sound.

(Four other projects on campus were also awarded funding. More information on them can be found here.)

Details on the two Andlinger Center-based projects are provided below:

Forrest Meggers

Assistant Professor of Architecture and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment

Spherical Motion Average Radiant Temperature (SMART) building sensor and 3D thermal renderer

Current building controls only maintain the thermal conditions of room air. Air temperature is only one of several factors that impact thermal comfort while heat transfer by radiation from surfaces influence roughly half of thermal comfort. To address these issues, Meggers’ lab has developed an inexpensive, non-contacting mean radiant temperature sensor that measures surface radiant temperatures, calculates the mean radiant temperature at any given location, tracks temperatures in a 3D space, and is also capable of perceiving the presence of occupants. The sensor can be deployed for building controls, diagnostics by HVAC technicians, and during the design phase of a structure. Usage of the sensor would not only increase comfort for occupants, but also save money and boost energy efficiency in buildings. For this project, Meggers obtained a provisional patent and developed working prototypes. Funds from this grant will be dedicated to producing a compact and robust design for the sensor, verifying performance of the device, and developing a user interface and building system integration in collaboration with Siemens and Princeton’s facilities department. The end goal is a sleek, compact, marketable product and application package that seamlessly allows analysis of any space.

Daniel Steingart

Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment

Finding Bad Batteries Before They Find You

Batteries are ubiquitous and their use is likely to increase in the indefinite future. However, batteries are not meeting the demands and expectations of the market with progress difficult and slow market uptake of new technologies. Broadly speaking, there are two reasons for this: It is difficult to make batteries, and there are no commercially viable methods to physically “see” inside batteries during cycling. Steingart’s Electrochemical-Acoustic Time of Flight approach is a patent-pending technology that battery developers can use as a diagnostic tool, battery manufacturers can use as a quality assurance/control tool to speed up testing and reduce validation time, and battery users can employ in battery management systems to improve cell lifetime and prevent safety incidents. It can also support the emerging market for second-life (recycled) cells and help offset the cost of electrochemical energy storage. The technology utilizes the link between the way sound travels within a battery and its state of charge, state of health, and physical condition. Funding from this grant will go into tests to validate that the technology can detect degradation in lithium ion batteries. The technology has spun off into a startup company called Feasible. More on the company can be read here.

More on the Intellectual Property Accelerator Fund

The University’s Intellectual Property Accelerator Fund awards gap funding to Princeton investigators with the goal of fostering and advancing the development of nascent technologies from University labs into commercial development, and, ultimately, the global marketplace.

The fund addresses the development gap between early stage research and attractive, investment- and venture-grade opportunities. The fund is meant to support proof-of-concept work, data collection, and/or prototyping that can yield important information or further development that would make a technology more commercially attractive.

More about the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment

The mission of the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment is to develop solutions to ensure our energy and environmental future. To this end, the center supports a vibrant and expanding program of research and teaching in the areas of sustainable energy-technology development, energy efficiency, and environmental protection and remediation. A chief goal of the center is to translate fundamental knowledge into practical solutions that enable sustainable energy production and the protection of the environment and global climate from energy-related anthropogenic change.

For more information on the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, contact Sharon Adarlo, communications specialist, at or (609) 258-9979.