The EU project Smart Hybrid Multimodal Printed Harvesting of Energy (SYMPHONY), whose goal is to provide an energy supply platform for providing electricity to wireless sensor nodes, focuses on the sustainable energy supply of such dispersed sensors. "A sensor requires 0.1 to 10 milliwatts of permanent, wireless transmission", explains Jonas Groten, expert for piezoelectric energy harvesting at MATERIALS, the Institute for Surface Technologies and Photonics at JOANNEUM RESEARCH. "We asked ourselves how one could ensure the permanent energy supply to hidden places in the most efficient manner. One possibility is to convert kinetic energy such as vibrations or rotations into electrical energy."
For example, kinetic energy from machines which "wobbles" in production lines can be used. For this purpose, a material with electromechanical properties is required as a "convertor". Jonas Groten continues: "We make use of a lead-free polymer with piezoelectric properties. It is not poisonous, is favourably priced and printable on large areas. In our research we are focusing on how we can further optimise this material." Three application examples of this energy-converting polymer are being examined within the context of SYMPHONY, which is coordinated by JOANNEUM RESEARCH. The three examples are the condition monitoring in a wind power plant, energy-efficient room heating or colling of a smart house, and the pressure control of hoses in (electric) bicycles. The data derived from these investigations will serve as the basis for researchers to increase efficiency and save energy.
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