FWO SBO Sustainable Internet of Battery-Less Things (IoBaLeT)

We make the Internet of Things more sustainable by replacing batteries with renewable energy harvesting and capacitors

IoBaLeT project mission

The Internet of Things (IoT) vision has enabled the wireless connection of billions of battery-powered devices to the Internet. However, batteries are expensive, bulky, cause pollution and degrade after a few years. Replacing and disposing of billions of dead batteries every year is costly and unsustainable. Instead, we posit the vision of a sustainable Internet of Battery-Less Things (IoBaLeT). We imagine battery-less IoT devices that store energy in small capacitors, continuously replenishing their energy using sustainable energy harvesting. Such a battery-less IoT device will be environmentally friendly, live longer, and more sustainable overall.

To overcome the challenges related to removing batteries from IoT devices, the IoBaLeT project will deliver scientific innovations related to hybrid energy harvesting, wireless power transfer, energy-efficient wireless networking, and energy-aware computing. As an FWO strategic basic research project, IoBaLeT will also transfer the obtained scientific knowledge to an industry advisory committee of innovative IoT companies. This knowledge transfer will be guided by the project's valorization objectives.


Project fact sheet

  • Funding programme: FWO Strategic Basic Research (SBO)

  • Name: Sustainable Internet of Battery-Less Things

  • Acronym: IoBaLeT

  • File number: S001521N

  • Starting date: 1 October 2020

  • Duration: 4 years

  • Budget: 1 970 599 €

  • Coordinator: Prof. Jeroen Famaey

Potential applications

Hard-to-reach devices

Devices embedded into materials or deployed in remote or other hard-to-reach locations are hard and costly to access for battery maintenance. Such devices often cannot be accessed for battery replacement without damaging the materials in which they are embedded. Additionally, chemical batteries may pose a danger if implanted into living tissue (e.g., skin implants). In other cases, devices may be deployed in remote (e.g., mountainous regions) or dangerous (e.g., sewage pipes) areas.

Massive-scale sensor networks

Although devices may be easily accessible, the scale of the deployment causes battery maintenance to be exceedingly time-consuming, complex and costly. Currently, IoT deployments are mostly limited to a few hundred devices, due to the difficulty and cost of maintenance, and their limited lifetime of at most few years. Removal of batteries has the potential to break this barrier, enabling IoT applications consisting of thousands of devices. This is for example relevant for fine-grained environmental monitoring (e.g., air quality, occupancy) in buildings or cities, or for tracking goods in large logistics warehouses.

Extreme-lifetime applications

In some cases, battery replacement may be economically feasible, but unwanted due to other reasons, such as ease-of-use or maintenance-free time requirement. For example, it may not be feasible to expect the user to manually charge their device or replace batteries (e.g., wearables for the elderly). In certain scenarios, devices may also have a minimal required maintenance-free lifetime.

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