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Ilika announces the development and trial deployment of wireless sensors powered by Stereax® batteries for monitoring rail infrastructure. The project consortium consists of Ilika, Smart Component Technologies Ltd (SCT) and Network Rail.

In this 18-month project, self-powered sensors for monitoring key parameters affecting the performance of the railway infrastructure (load, temperature, shock) will be developed, deployed, tested and evaluated. The sensors will combine Ilika's Stereax® solid-state battery technology and SCT’s novel ultra-low power sensor platform and will be wirelessly connected to Network Rail's existing condition monitoring platform. The self-powered sensors will be maintenance free and will generate data 24/7, 365 days per year.

The self-powered sensors will be demonstrated on live Network Rail infrastructure as part of a six-month trial deployment.

The project supports Network Rail’s Rail Technical Strategy and directly addresses one of the priority challenges, Reliable and Resilient Switches, which Network Rail has published to detail specific business opportunities for the rail industry.

The solid-state battery powered sensors will be the first of this type developed and tested for the railway industry. Solid-state batteries offer substantial benefits over currently used lithium-ion batteries, including; low leakage currents, compact design with twice the volumetric energy density of lithium-ion batteries, high power density and cycle life of 5,000 cycles (equivalent to a 10-year lifespan).

The project has been awarded grant funding by Innovate UK, of which Ilika will receive ca. £115,000, with balancing contributions from the project’s partners.

“This project is a great example of how Network Rail would like to work with our supply chain to assist in the deployment of technology to that is closely aligned with our priority challenges in order to deliver significant business benefits”, stated a Network Rail spokesperson.

“SCT is at the forefront of condition monitoring of critical industrial assets. This deployment is closely aligned with our specialism of providing low cost solutions for predictive maintenance”, added Dr Jack Bryan Hughes of Smart Component Technologies.

“We have a strong consortium to deliver this product innovation, with Ilika and SCT working together with Network Rail, the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain. We are looking forward to the deployment of our Stereax® battery into Network Rail’s intelligent track monitoring system and to supporting the transition to its Predict and Prevent maintenance regime”, added Ilika’s CEO Graeme Purdy.