TSB-supported project aims to provide ‘Fit-and-Forget’ sensors
Organic Photovoltaic (OPV) development company Solar Press is investigating the potential for flexible plastic-based OPV modules to be used as a power source for remote autonomous sensors within buildings. The ‘energy harvesting’ project brings together a range of partners possessing world-class capability in low power sensors, OPV and energy management and will offer the potential for low cost ‘Fit-and-Forget’ sensors for carbon dioxide, humidity and temperature monitoring integrated into a smart wireless sensor network.
The focus of the project is the development of self-powered wireless CO2 sensors to monitor air quality and optimise ventilation while reducing building energy consumption. Solar Press is partnering with Gas Sensing Solutions Ltd and Seamless Sensing and the project is supported by funding from the Technology Strategy Board (TSB). End user assessment for the project will also be carried out by Schneider Electric Industries, Sontay and Ecotechnics.
OPV is particularly suited to indoor energy harvesting because of its versatility. It is able to operate under both solar and indoor levels of illumination and also direct as well as diffuse scattered light. The flexibility, low weight, conformability and opportunity for custom design offered by OPV makes it particularly suitable for integration into sensing devices. Solar Press is also working on the development of a power management interface to maximise extraction and storage.
“Our recent success in developing OPV modules for low light applications gives us confidence that our unique OPV formulations, architectures and processes can be further optimised to provide clear advantages for energy harvesting applications” said Dr Chris Harris, CEO of Solar Press.
“Maintaining the ambient environment in offices and buildings consumes up to 40% of the world’s primary energy usage according to figures from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Using OPV to power sensors in low ambient light environments – such as public buildings and offices – could have significant impact on reducing the overall cost and environmental impact of heating and ventilation systems.”