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Reporting period: 2020-03-01 to 2021-08-31

InComEss (Innovative polymer-based composite systems for high-efficient energy scavenging and storage) is a European H2020 funded project which seeks to develop green smart materials for highly efficient Energy Harvesting.
Briefly, smart polymer-based composite piezoelectric and thermoelectric materials are being developed for their integration into piezoelectric, thermoelectric or hybrid thermo/piezoelectric
devices to generate electrical energy from mechanical vibrations, thermal wasted energy, or both. These three novel Energy Harvesting Systems/prototypes will be used to power specific sensors in building, automotive and aeronautic scenarios and in an efficient manner widening the IoT implementation.
InComEss project responds to the necessity of developing novel systems with energy harvesting and storage capabilities to overcome the main drawback of the current smart materials which lies in their limited implementation (due to material’s operational reliability, issues of recyclability, dependence on rare elements and manufacturing cost concerns).
The overall objective of InComEss aims to achieve highly efficient energy harvesting systems by the combination of 1) smart piezoelectric and thermoelectric composite materials with 2) enhanced energy density printed supercapacitor. The efficiency of the developed Energy Harvesting Solutions (piezoelectric, thermoelectric and hybrid thermo/piezoelectric) will be enabled by an advanced power conditioning circuit to power sensor nodes for the IoT implementation.
The project objectives are in line with the increased energy efficiency, reduction of CO2 emissions and circular economy European Goals.
During the first period of InComEss project, the attention was centered on the screening of materials combinations for the development of green piezoelectric, thermoelectric and supercapacitors, together with the definition of KPIs to evaluate the performance of InComEss solutions. The boundaries, conditions for each use-case (building, automotive, aeronautic) as well as specific sensors were also analyzed to demonstrate the efficiency of the innovative Energy Harvesting Systems for the implementation of IoT.
Research efforts were focused on the development and characterization of novel smart materials with energy harvesting and energy storage properties. In this sense, advanced lead-free piezoelectric composite fibres were developed by wet and melt-spinning techniques. For that, different combinations of polymers and ceramic particles, optimum volume fraction of fillers within the polymer matrix as well as process parameters and polarization methods were studied with the aim of enhanced piezoelectric characteristics and output voltage. The generated voltage by the developed fibres under mechanical vibration was studied and still on process.
New thermoelectric materials based on carbon/thermoplastic composites were also investigated. Melt- or solvent-mixed composites of various thermoplastic polymers, different carbon-based fillers and additives were carried out. The aim is to obtain both n- and p-conducting materials to be able to produce thermoelectric modules based on composites. Thermoelectric properties (conductivity, seebeck coefficient, power factor) as well as output voltage generated by these types of composites under a temperature difference were studied.
Finally, several electrode solutions based on carbon and conductive polymer materials were explored for their use in printable supercapacitors. The objective is to achieve a low-cost supercapacitor with high energy density and power density by using printing techniques. Improvements on the conductivity and capacitance of the electrode materials are under research. First printed monolithic supercapacitor trials were done by using curved graphene as carbon-based electrode material.
Scientific research of these innovative materials is ongoing and expected to be finished in the second period of the project.
Potential expected impacts. In general, for society:
• Innovation. Development of new technologies, applications and services providing direct support for the wider implementation of the Digital Single Market Strategy (DSM) and IoT. InComEss solutions and the knowledge and know-how developed during the project will set the foundations to further innovate in smart materials, energy harvesting systems (EHS) and EHS-powered wireless sensors
• Industrial Competitiveness. InComEss project will strengthen the EU market positioning and competitiveness of the InComEss industrial partners as well as reinforce Europe’s industrial competitiveness and leadership in smart materials, energy efficiency systems, sensor technologies & IoT and beyond.
• Better jobs and new skills. InComEss will contribute to create high quality jobs in materials and electronics industries and throughout EU sectors (automotive, aerospace, building, energy, etc.). In this sense, training contents and activities will be developed within the project to ensure the results are correctly adopted and used by the industry and other stakeholders (education, standardisation bodies, etc.). Promotion of women participation in high-tech industry will also be attained.
• Environmental. Use of resources in a sustainable and efficient manner including the avoidance of lead and rare-earth elements. Reduction of hazardous waste by 50% through efficient manufacturing practices and materials selection. Increased recyclability of developed InComEss solutions by 60% and reduction of greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions by a 40% (enhancing life quality of EU Citizens).
• Contribution to standards. Standards will contribute to remove technical barriers to trade, leading to new markets and economic growth for industry. They will also facilitate technology transfer contributing to ensure safety of products.
Fabrication of lead-free piezoelectic fibres by wet-spinning method
Printed supercapacitor
Output voltage measurement of piezoelectric composite fibres
Characterisation of thermoelectic materials based on Carbon-Thermoplastic composites
Lead-free piezoelectric fibres by melt-spinning