DS0202 -

HARVESting energy with polymer based ThermoElectric generatoR to power autonomous Sensors – Harvesters

Submission summary

In the last decade, electronics such as communication tools and displays, spread out in our society. Those technologies fit well with our nomadic lifestyle and one of today’s strongest trends is that things of our environment can connect to internet, i.e. Internet of Things (IoT). This market is incredibly growing and it is foreseen that the mobile communication and internet grid will enable trillions of connections in the next years. The energy source in mobile communication devices is mostly provided via a battery that has to be loaded at a specific location (electrical connection to the grid).
Photovoltaic cells emerge as an attractive energy conversion systems to recharge a battery or power a “Thing” that is connected such as a phone or a sensor. However, solar cells are not performing during nights, or they cannot be sufficiently efficient under low light irradiation such as underground use, or buildings or vehicles.
To the contrary, heat energy is present everywhere and at any time. The waste heat in transportation, industrial, or residential sectors can be considered as a massive source of unused energy. Indeed it is established that 72% of the global energy input (consumed primary energy carriers) is lost as waste heat after conversion and 63% of this waste heat is present at temperature below 100°C.
The technological breakthrough of this project is the creation of a technology, based on abundant and non-toxic materials, capable to generate electricity from low temperature (<200°C) heat sources (waste heat from combustion in industry, solar heat, but also small heat sources such as hot fluids, electric devices with Joule heating, or even human body, etc…). The target technology will enable charging a battery, to power a communication device and to make alive a “Thing” (a sensor in our case) to be connected to the cloud.
The main objective of “Harversters” project is to develop printable organic thermoelectric materials that will be efficient at low temperature (below 200°C) and to develop printing techniques needed to fabricate flexible thermoelectric generator (OTEG). The OTEG will be connected to energy storage devices driven by a power management chip in order to store the harvested energy and release it when needed. The ultimate goal is to power autonomously a sensor and to send wirelessly its information.
The Harvesters project is gathering 3 academic laboratory (CEA-LITEN, CEA-INAC and CNRS) and a SME (ID3 Technologies) with all the skills and know-how required to tackle this challenge, spanning from chemistry and materials science to physics and electronics.
LITEN, coordinator of the “Harvesters” project, recently demonstrated beyond state of the art preliminary results on thermoelectric materials. INAC has a recognized experience in materials development and advanced characterizations. IEMN has tremendous experience in physics and nano-characterization of semi-conductors.
ID3 Technologies is an SME that owns a strong expertise in RFID and biometrics systems. This company will bring its expertise in the design of stand-alone electronic products by implementing the technology developed in “Harversters” project to develop an operating proof-of-concept device.
“Harvesters” project is a multidisciplinary project that gathers the competences of chemists, physicists, materials scientists and electrical engineers to target a technological breakthrough in the field of energy conversion. This project will allow to find innovative solutions to power autonomously electronic objects. Owing to the fast growing market of the IoT, this project could give a leading position to the consortium in the field of printed thermoelectric generators.

Project coordination

Renaud Demadrille (Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


IEMN-CNRS Institut d'Electronique, de Micro-Electronique et de Nanotechnologie (IEMN)
CEA Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives (CEA)
Inac Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives

Help of the ANR 471,646 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: January 2017 - 42 Months

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