Energy Harvesting

Combining printing and PVD technologies to manufacture thin film solar cells (with structured electrodes)
© Fraunhofer IFAM
Combining printing and PVD technologies to manufacture thin film solar cells (with structured electrodes)

Various approaches are currently being pursued to harvest the energy for sensor applications and for wireless communication of sensor signals directly from the technical system. This strategy is called energy harvesting.

The greater the quantity of energy recovered by harvesting, the smaller the batteries need to be and in some cases they can even be substituted. The overall goal is to maximize the energy recovered by energy harvesting and simultaneously minimize the energy consumption of the application.

 

 

Reliable and autarkic

Many modern plants, instruments, and vehicles contain a large number of electronic components for sensor systems, monitoring, and control. This is a major challenge for the electrical energy supply. Due to the often desired compact and light design, the technical limits of conventional energy supply systems are quickly reached.

Energy recovery from the direct surroundings of components, for example from sunlight, (waste) heat, or vibration, enables smaller components such as sensors to be supplied with the required energy. This guarantees the autarkic functioning of these electronic components. The lack of cabling means that such systems are ideal for small spaces and indeed opens up new design opportunities.

For the realization of these goals, various technologies are being combined: printed electronics, sputtered thin films, and functional composites.

By bringing together this expertise we are able to offer advanced approaches for versatile and customized energy harvesting systems. Our work mainly concentrates on the development of new materials and their use in technical applications. By also utilizing wireless signal communication we are able to offer total solutions, for example for sensor systems for components that are difficult to access.