FOXES: developing a zero-emission, portable energy supply for autonomous devices
The European Commission has recently approved the project FOXES – an acronym for “Fully Oxide-based Zero-Emission and Portable Energy Supply” – which aims at realizing a zero-emission energy supply system for powering wireless devices for the Internet of Things.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of intercommunicating electronic devices. It is the core technology of future-defining concepts like autonomous driving and Industry 4.0. IoT devices often need to be used remotely, without grid connection. The current solution is to rely on batteries, with or without energy-harvesting sources (i.e. a photovoltaic cell). But batteries have a limited lifetime – often shorter than the device itself – and a significant environmental footprint.
“With FOXES we’ll pursue a fully integrated and environmentally-sustainable approach to this problem”, says Marco Deluca, Key Scientist at Materials Center Leoben Forschung GmbH and project coordinator of FOXES. “Our goal is to realize what we call a Power Cube – an integrated 2 x 2 cm2 system, which combines a high-efficiency solar cell with a multilayer capacitor and an energy management circuit. And we want to achieve this using only low-cost and environmentally friendly processes and materials, so that the Power Cube will have no negative environmental impact at its end-of-life.”
At the end of the project, the Power Cube will be used to power a net of wireless air-quality sensors in the urban area of Barcelona. “We chose Barcelona because it is one of the European cities most suffering from NO2 and O3 pollution”, says J. Daniel Prades from the Universitat de Barcelona. “FOXES demonstrators will allow an unprecedented level of spatial resolution in monitoring emissions, facilitating the identification of problematic spots and the implementation of effective countermeasures. We will demonstrate the potential of FOXES technology for improving the well-being of citizens in urban communities.”
If the testbed of FOXES is an air-quality monitoring system, the technology targets more in general all mobile platforms that need to power an electronic/sensing interface – in the transport sector, in industrial settings, and in emergency situations.
FOXES is a project of Materials Center Leoben Forschung GmbH (AT), Bergische Universität Wuppertal (DE), AMO GmbH (DE), UNINOVA – Instituto de Desenvolvimento de Novas Tecnologias (PT), and of the Universitat de Barcelona (ES). Funded by the Horizon 2020 FET Proactive Programme with a budget of about four million Euro, the project builds on groundbreaking preliminary results of the project partners in different areas of material science, chemistry, technological processes and electronics, and aims at establishing a new technological paradigm.
The official start of the project had to be postponed to October 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We will use this time to ensure a fast start in October and the ability to react quickly and flexibly to a possible second wave”, says Deluca. “We believe that international collaborations like the ones fostered by the Horizon 2020 Programme are vital for looking beyond these troubled times and for sustaining the recovery of Europe.”
FOXES is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, under Grant Agreement Nr. 951774.