The Innovative Training Network (ITN) entitled "Piezoelectric Energy Harvesters for Self-Powered Automotive Sensors: from Advanced Lead-Free Materials to Smart Systems (ENHANCE)" provides thirteen Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) with broad and intensive training within a multidisciplinary research and teaching environment. Key training topics will include development of energy harvesters compatible with MEMS technology and able to power wireless sensor. Applied to automobiles, such technology will allow for 50 kg of weight saving, connection simplification, space reduction, and reduced maintenance costs - all major steps towards creating green vehicles. Other important topics include technology innovation, education and intellectual asset management.
Each new generation of cars offers additional functionalities, more sophisticated sensing (> 100 sensors) and communication systems. At present, car industry is desperately trying to reduce the total weight of cars and consumption, particularly of fuel in order to reduce the CO2 emission. For example, the decrease of car weight by 100 kg drops the CO2 emission by 4-6 g/km. The signal transfer and supply of the high number of sensors in a vehicle introduce a complex network of wires, which has quite an impact on the mass of vehicles (up to 50 kg, several km in length) and add complexity and costs to installation and maintenance diagnostics. Thus, simplification and miniaturisation of these networks by using self-powered wireless sensors drawing the source of power from the environment are highly demanded for inaccessible locations or corrosive /harsh working conditions.
The main purpose of the ENHANCE project is to create a multidisciplinary joint research activity, implying chemistry, materials science, physics, mechanics, engineering and electronics, which will be considerably more efficient than the uncoordinated efforts of individual partners in bypassing the present limitations to enable harvesters with high-power density and their systems offering stabilised output voltage in 1-3 V range and adapted to specific needs of sensors with high autonomy and working in temperature ranges from room temperature to 600 °C in vehicles.
We are working at developing hybrid scavenging of energy available in the cars (heat (Th)– light (Lt) - vibrations (Vi)) and/or to use multiple conversion effects (piezoelectric (Pi) - pyroelectric (Py) – electromagnetic (EM) – photovoltaic (PV)) by the same transducer - heterostructure based on piezoelectric/ferroelectric/multiferroic crystals, films or nanostructures in line with the final goals of the project – creation of the efficient energy scavengers and with reasonable price and viable technologies of fabrication and integration for real industrial applications to stimulate the integration of newly developed products and technologies by the industry.
From the industrial point of view we at offering time-cost efficient and simplified fabrication of hybrid systems, create systems of vibrational / thermal / light energy scavengers not only with sufficient efficiency of energy scavenging (300- 500 μW/cm2/g2), but also with reasonable price and viable technologies of fabrication and integration for real industrial applications.