Fraunhofer IZM leads the newly started FP7 MATFLEXEND project, which will provide wearable, flexible energy harvesters that can be manufactured in a low-cost printing process, and durable materials for such purpose. First results will be shown at the IDTechEx #energy harvesting & Storage USA 1-2 April 2014, Berlin Germany, USA External Link. IZM will give a talk on integrated micro batteries at the conference and host a conference tour in its facilities.
Applications and Technology
These harvesters will be aimed at smart wearables, including wearables in medical sensing or in other consumer products. The new harvesters will be optimized for the low-frequency timing patterns and low to medium forces that arise in such applications, and thus may be advantageously integrated into consumer garments, or into an active insole for shoes.
Other relevant applications include security clothing; or technical textiles where electronic sensing may be desirable, but cabling is inconvenient or impractical. Future internet of things applications may also benefit from these autarkic power supply components.
MATFLEXEND harvesters will convert mechanical deformation into energy by using an innovative capacitive converter exploiting a capacitor´s deformation: such that capacity changes permit converting mechanical energy into usable electricity; and an energy storage device realized by a lithium-ion battery featuring an inherently flexible design. Advantages sought in the proposed technology include superior energy conversion efficiency and mechanical compliance, as well as manufacturability in a print-like continuous process, thus reducing manufacturing cost significantly.