22 Nov '15
St. Petersburg-based innovative company SmS Tenzotherm Rus has developed a brand new line of electricity metering devices and electrical power sources. A resident of the Skolkovo innovation hub outside Moscow, the company is making next gen resistance strain gauges and an array of other semiconductor sensing devices, as well as thermoelectric generators, based on samarium sulfide (SmS), a rare-earth semiconductor with distinctive properties. Using SmS is expected to triple the efficiency of conventional thermoelectric generators, and with a much wider range of output resistance and operating temperatures compared to the current competition the strain gauges will be in demand in sectors as diverse as solar and nuclear energy, aerospace, construction, and mechanical engineering.
Samarium sulfide (SmS) has been known as a semiconductor since the 1960s, but for a long time the substance was off the radar of this country’s research think-tanks. Just a few years ago a research team of the A.F. Ioffe Physical Technical Institute in St. Petersburg—the only Russian scientific institution working in this field at that time—discovered the unique properties of the material, including that of effectively converting heat into electricity.
Now a St. Petersburg innovative business, SmS Tenzotherm Rus, wants to put the discovery to economic use by developing a new base material for semiconductor sensors and thermoelectric generators flawless enough to match the current level of global engineering and compete internationally.
SmS Tenzotherm Rus is working on a range of advanced samarium sulfide based tensometric products, including resistance strain gauges, pressure resistance gauges, pressure meters, force transducers, displacement pickups and other devices that the developers say will “show no deficiencies while maximizing the advantages that conventional semiconductor sensors have.”
The firm’s flagship product is the resistance strain gauge, a resistor whose resistance is variable and depends on a degree of its strain. The device helps measure the deformation of elements that are mechanically tied with it.
Next gen thermoelectric generators
The St. Petersburg company also hopes to make the most of the exceptional properties of the rare-earth substance to develop an innovative line of electrical power sources, primarily thermoelectric generators, with twofold or even threefold efficiency compared to today’s generators.
Thermoelectric materials used in the thermoelectric generator enable direct conversion of heat energy into electricity.
SmS Tenzotherm Rus earlier claimed that using samarium sulfide tensometric technology had already brought about a 40-50% boost in generator efficiency.
Researchers and economists are said to believe that with thermoelectric generator efficiency reaching 15%—a substantial increase from today’s less than 10%—this new line of SmS-based generators will compete with a lot of current energy sources, potentially swelling the global thermoelectric module market to a few billion dollar value.
SmS Tenzotherm Rus' resistance strain gauges, too, is a development to keep tabs on. With a much wider range of output resistance and operating temperatures compared to the current competition the gauges are likely to be in strong demand in sectors as diverse as solar and nuclear energy, aerospace, construction, and mechanical engineering.