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CORDIS - EU research results



Reporting period: 2021-09-01 to 2023-02-28

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 buildings, vehicle and aircrafts 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 and second 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, high-performance polymer based lead-free piezoelectric materials were developed by extrusion and melt-spinning techniques. To do that, optimized process parameters, material compositions and polarization methods were investigated with the aim of achieving improved piezoelectric coefficients and output voltage response.

New thermoelectric materials based on carbon/thermoplastic composites were developed by extrusion method at lab- and large-scale for the construction of a thermoelectric generator (TEG). Thermoelectric properties (conductivity, seebeck coefficient, power factor) as well as output voltage generated by these types of composites under a temperature difference were also addressed.

The first piezoelectric, thermoelectric, and thermo/piezoelectric generators (PEG, TEG, TPEG) were fabricated and characterized at lab-scale. Theoretical simulations of the output voltage response of these prototypes were also analyzed considering the material properties and boundary conditions (such as frequency vibrations, temperature difference etc.) available in building, automotive and aeronautic scenarios.

Regarding the energy storage developments, carbon and conductive polymer-based electrode materials were researched and processed as inks for the development of low-cost Supercapacitor devices. The screen-printed supercapacitors were produced at lab and large-scale reaching the targeted values in terms of enhanced capacitance and improved energy densities.

From the power management side, successful conditioning circuits were specifically developed to match each type of generator, connection to supercapacitor (as storage buffer) and wireless sensor nodes (WSN). For the first time, it was possible to demonstrate the successful operation of the PEG prototype able to power WSN and transmit data to an IoT platform when this prototype is subjected to mechanical vibrations (Lab-tests). This achievement was possible by lowering the energy consumption of the electronics and wireless communication protocols.

The demonstration of these Energy Generators/prototypes in the three use-cases is ongoing and will be completed in the final period of 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, aeronautic, building, energy, etc.). Training contents and activities have been developed within the project to ensure the results are correctly adopted and used by the industry and other stakeholders (education, standardisation bodies, etc.).

• 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.
Piezoelectric generator prototype
Screen-printed Supercapacitors (lab and upscaling)
Thermoelectric generator prototypes
Wireless Sensor Node (WSN) prototype attached to the development tools
Printed circuit board-conditioning circuit with different electronic components for power management