The objectives of this inducement prize are: to empower the EU water distribution market with solutions based on wireless sensor networks with energy harvesting technologies, designed for real-time monitoring of water management; and, to stimulate broader European efforts in developing solutions for this societal need.
Prizes will be awarded to working prototypes for wireless sensor networks based on energy harvesting technologies, designed to efficiently acquire, monitor, communicate and analyse information about water resources in natural or man-made environments.
The prize is open in terms of energy sources and parameters to be monitored, but proposed solutions should have a clear application and should be able to demonstrate positive impact as a result of implementation.
In the past years the R&D community together with their industrial partners and water utilities has identified a number of emerging issues for smart water monitoring.
Among the software issues the interoperability of systems, harmonisation of software development, processing algorithms and storage technologies that are capable to accommodate increasing amounts of data are the main challenges.
Among the hardware issues the main challenge is the increasing number of sensors that collect real-time and near real-time information and to its power supply. Energy harvesting technologies offer a promising solution, especially in cases where the hard-to-reach and risky location, the small size and the number of the devices required make traditional technologies impractical. Another significant challenge is in developing solutions that are able to optimise energy storage to last for the expected lifetime of the device.
It is expected to provide the EU water utilities (and/or the municipalities) with an ICT prototype for monitoring of water. The ICT prototype should be based on wireless sensor networks with energy harvesting technologies. Specifically, it is expected to stimulate the creation of an effective and scalable autonomous, zero-power wireless sensor network platform to monitor of water resources.
The prize is open in terms parameters to be monitored, but as a minimum, the proposed solution should enable the water utilities to monitor in real time the supply and demand of water resources, including leakage management.
The wireless sensor network should be based on energy-autonomous sensor nodes capable of acquiring, monitoring and eventually analysing and cooperatively communicating their data through the network to a main location.
Each energy-autonomous wireless sensor node should be composed of an energy harvesting unit to scavenge energy from the surrounding environment; a power management unit responsible for storing and regulating the voltage/current values required for either supplying the other units directly and/or charging a backup battery; wireless transmission unit to transmit this information to a central base station that operates as a central information node.
For the purpose of this prize, ‘energy harvesting technologies’ are defined as technologies capable of capturing energy from a system’s environment and converting it into usable electric power. In addition, it is expected to consider the circuitry required to store and manage the generated power.
The solution should be based on one, or an innovative combination, of sources of energy available for harvesting: light, radio-frequency (RF) electromagnetic radiation, thermal gradients, and motion, including fluid flow.