Internet of Things devices are expanding, making daily tasks more convenient for many people – but it comes at a cost. The United Nations expects the amount of e-waste to reach 52.2 million metric tons globally this year, and a large proportion of that is dead batteries.
Dracula Technologies, a French startup currently demonstrating virtually at Computex, wants to help out with its inkjet-printed organic photovoltaic (OPV, or organic solar cell) technology. Called LAYER (or Light As Your Energetic Response), Dracula Technologies’ OPV modules run on natural or artificial ambient light indoors, and can be used to power low-consumption indoor appliances. Because they are printed and not made of silicon, the shape of the OPV module is more customizable and, unlike many batteries, it does not use rare earths or heavy metals. Instead, the modules are made from carbon-based materials.
In addition to being better for the environment, the LAYER is also more affordable – the company claims 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 the Japanese semiconductor company Renesas Electronics and Technology Research (ANDtr) to build a self-powered, battery-less IoT device, which is powered via BLE. Can send message on mobile app.
Dracula Technologies was founded in 2011 following a project in collaboration with CEA (Commissariat l’énergie atomique et aux énergies Options, or French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission), a public research organization. Chief Executive Officer Bryce Crutchon saw the business potential of tech, and after six years of research and development, Lear was launched through the Hello Tomorrow program for deep tech startups.
So far, Dracula Technologies has raised a total of €4.4 million (about US$5.4 million), including a €2 million round for a pilot line from angel investors in 2016, and 2.4 million from MGI Digital and ISRA cards last year. Euros were raised. Which Dracula Technologies is using to ramp up production of its photovoltaic modules during their pre-industrialization phase. The company plans to move into its industrial phase in 2024, aiming to produce millions of modules per year.
MGI Digital, a digital printing and finishing tech company, and ISRA Card, which manufactures high-value electronic cards (such as license or gift and loyalty cards), are Dracula Technologies’ industrial partners. It is also part of the Solar Impulse Foundation’s #1000 Solutions, a guide to green energy solutions that can be implemented on a large scale.