Organic Photovoltaic Solar Modules to be Optimised for Energy Harvesting Applications

TSB-Supported Project Designed to Provide ‘Fit and Forget' Sensors

Organic Photovoltaic (OPV) technology developer Solar Press is investigating the potential for flexible plastic based OPV modules to be used as a power source for remote, autonomous sensors within buildings – an ‘energy harvesting' application.

The project brings together partners with world-class capability in low power sensors, OPV and energy management. OPV power harvesting provides the potential for low cost ‘fit and forget' deployment of sensors for carbon dioxide, humidity and temperature monitoring as part of a smart wireless sensor network.
This project will focus on the development of self-powered wireless CO2 sensors to monitor indoor air quality and optimise ventilation and to reduce building energy consumption. Solar Press is partnering with Gas Sensing Solutions Ltd and Seamless Sensing for the project, which is supported by a grant from the Technology Strategy Board (TSB). The consortium includes end user assessment by Schneider Electric Industries, Sontay and Ecotechnics.

OPV is more versatile than most conventional PV technologies, working under both solar and indoor levels of illumination, and with direct as well as diffuse scattered light, making it especially suited to indoor energy harvesting. A key objective is to optimise Solar Press' unique OPV formulation for use indoors. The flexibility and conformability, low weight and opportunity for custom design make OPV particularly attractive for integration into sensing devices. Other key activities include developing a power management interface to maximise extraction and storage (in batteries and/or supercapacitors) of harvested energy to power the sensor and wireless transmitter.

"Our recent success in developing OPV modules for low light applications gives us confidence that our unique OPV formulations, architectures and processes can be further optimised to provide clear advantages for energy harvesting applications", said Dr Chris Harris, CEO of Solar Press. "Maintaining the ambient environment in offices and buildings consumes up to 40% of the world's primary energy usage according to figures from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development . Using OPV to power sensors in low ambient light environments - such as public buildings and offices - could have significant impact on reducing the overall cost and environmental impact of heating and ventilation systems."

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