Applying the 12 principles of green engineering in low TRL electronics: A case study of an energy-harvesting platform

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Doyle, Lucía
Cavero, German
Modreanu, Mircea
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Energy harvesting has been identified as a key enabling technology for the Internet of Things as it allows a battery-less functioning of electronic devices. While the use of ambient sources of energy is commonly seen as sustainable due to their renewable nature, raw material consumption and recyclability need to be assessed to ensure true sustainability. This is especially relevant in electronics, due to their high complexity stemming from the variety of components and materials in their composition. This work presents the case study of the application of the 12 Principles of Green Engineering to an energy-harvesting platform in the early technology development phase. Specifically, the technological areas of design for disassembly, materials for substitution, fabrication efficiency, and manufacturing processes that enable the use of recycled materials have been evaluated. This has allowed us to identify hazardous raw materials and recommend their substitution. Further recommendations include the adoption of mechanical fixtures to fasten lump components. Additional strategies have been identified but their application has been found out of reach of the technology developers, such as the increase in the manufacturing batch size or the inclusion of solvent recycling, which can only be implemented at larger manufacturing scales. Further strategies, such as the use of recycled Si wafers or dry adhesives as fixtures, represent future solutions for the reduction in the environmental impact which require further R&D efforts from different disciplines. This highlights the need for holistic and multidisciplinary research efforts to fully achieve the circular design.
Green engineering , Energy harvester , Nanomaterials , Electronics , Circular economy , Circular design
Doyle, L., Cavero, G. and Modreanu, M. (2023) 'Applying the 12 principles of green engineering in low TRL electronics: A case study of an energy-harvesting platform', Sustainability, 15, 11227 (18pp). doi: 10.3390/su151411227