At the Electronica trade fair in Munich (13 – 16 November), researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM in Bremen is presenting a striking innovation. A printed thermogenerator, manufactured by the team, which deposits functional structures containing ink or paste base, and has electrical circuit boards and sensors that can be attached to various interfaces.
Furthermore, the device can also produce structures, which harvest energy directly in an environmentally friendly way from heat or movement.
The sensors can also be used in factories or cars and can measure not only temperature but humidity as well, while data are transmitted via wireless communication to a computer. Dr. Volker Zöllmer, Head of Functional Structures, a specialist on the topic of Energy Harvesting at the Fraunhofer IFAM, points out that the invention is particularly useful since not only batteries last for a limited period of time, but also their disposal is harmful to the environment.
The sensor network consumes only low levels of energy, making it suitable for energy supply by means of energy harvesting. These thermogenerators can deliver sufficient quantities to power sensors in networks during sending and receiving of data.
The newly produced thermoelectrical generators are made out of a combination of metallic and thermoelectrical materials. This gives them a great advantage, since it allows them to be tailored to specific technical surfaces, and at the same time makes them adaptable and less susceptible to faults.