According to market research by Gartner, by 2022 a smart home will deploy around 500 sensors. Therefore, how to power these sensors sustainably and efficiently has become a critical issue. ITRI has developed Dye-sensitized cell (DSC) as Energy source Of Sensors, (D-EOS), an alternative solution to disposable batteries for smart buildings. This technology contributes to reducing hazardous battery wastes and has higher efficiency and longer service life compared to other similar DSC products, helping to create a more eco-friendly environment.
The D-EOS, a third-generation solar cell, is a collaborative result produced by ITRI and Formosa Plastics Corporation (FPC). Based on the principal of utilizing natural light to enter the cell via transparent conductive fluorine doped tin oxide (FTO) coated glass, photoelectron emission is produced while the dye goes through redox reaction at the same time. This creates a cycle that leads to power generation by D-EOS. The team developed a special co-adsorbent to maintain high uniformity in dye soaking and optimize the energy conversion rate over a large area of a DSC. A unique method for measuring the electrolyte in situ and its patented UV glue for sealing holes to avoid side chemical reactions inside the cell have also improved DSC lifetime.
Unlike other DSCs that are yet to be manufactured in large quantities, D-EOS is the world’s first commercially viable DSC product that allows mass production. A production line built in Taiwan’s Shalun Green Energy Technology Demonstration Site is able to deliver 100,000 pieces of 11x11 cm2 DSCs annually, with a product yield of 90%. D-EOS can reach a cell efficiency of 15-17%. Moreover, it has a service life of longer than 7 years and requires less frequent replacement than disposable batteries.
D-EOS can be integrated into buildings, furniture, appliances, electronic devices and portable power systems. It is also ideal to power items including electric curtains, hygrometers and thermometers as well as charging tables. The self-powered solar cell can be tuned in color or transparency for different kinds of indoor decorations. Without additional wiring required, D-EOS provides a feasible replacement option for batteries, thus greatly reducing environmental concerns and maintenance costs.
D-EOS can be used to power various indoor sensors and function under low-luminance light. In an era of smart living, this innovation offers a cost-effective sustainable solution to conventional power supply by harvesting ambient light to produce clean electricity for indoor IoT applications.