Internet of Things devices are multiplying, making everyday tasks more convenient for many people, but it comes at a cost. The United Nations expects the amount of e-waste created globally to reach 52.2 million metric tonnes this year, a significant portion of which is dead batteries.
Dracula Technologies, a French startup which is currently exhibiting virtually at Computex, wishes to help it with its organic photovoltaic technology printed by inkjet (OPV, or organic solar cells). Called LAYER (or Light As Your Energetic Response), Dracula Technologies’ OPV modules operate indoors in natural or artificial ambient light and can be used to power low-consumption indoor devices. Because they are printed and not silicon, the shape of OPV modules is more customizable, and unlike many batteries, it does not use rare earths or heavy metals. Instead, the modules are created from carbon-based materials.
Besides being better for the environment, LAYER is also more economical: the company says it can reduce the total cost of ownership by four times compared to batteries.
Dracula Technologies is currently working with manufacturers, including a partnership with Japanese semiconductor company Renesas Electronics and AND Technology Research (ANDtr) to create a self-contained, battery-less IoT device that can send messages via BLE to a mobile app.
Dracula Technologies was founded in 2011, after a project in collaboration with the CEA (French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission), a public research organization. CEO Brice Cruchon saw the commercial potential of the technology and after six years of research and development LAYER was launched through the Hello Tomorrow program for deep tech startups.
So far, Dracula Technologies has raised a total of 4.4 million euros (around 5.4 million US dollars), including 2 million euros in 2016 from angel investors for a pilot line, and 2 , 4 million euros raised last year from MGI Digital and ISRA Cards that Dracula Technologies uses to increase the production of its photovoltaic modules during its pre-industrialization phase. The company plans to move to its industrial phase in 2024, with the goal of producing millions of modules per year.
MGI Digital, a digital printing and finishing technology company, and ISRA Cards, which manufactures high-value electronic cards (such as licenses or gift and loyalty cards), are industrial partners of Dracula Technologies. It is also part of the # 1000 Solutions of the Solar Impulse Foundation, a guide to green energy solutions that can be implemented on a large scale.