Facebook Research Environmental Considerations for Soft Electronics Systems and Energy Sources

Closing Date: 12/10/2021

Funding research to consider and address the ethical environmental impacts of consumer electronics energy systems and e-waste reclaim.

Facebook Research works on cutting edge research with a practical focus, and builds long-term relationships with top research institutions around the world. It also publishes papers, give talks, and collaborates broadly with the academic community.

To anticipate and mitigate the challenges related to energy storage and harvesting for consumer electronics as well as general mitigation of e-waste, technology developers must look for system-level solutions, Facebook is looking to foster further innovation in this area.

Areas of interest for this request for proposals (RFP) include evaluation of the ethical and environmental considerations of the development and decomposition of soft material technology. The proposals should focus on materials that could integrate into a consumer electronics device, and teams should consider systems that could fit around the forearm or wrist.

Teams do not need to optimise for the energy density of the battery, but should instead focus on frameworks and processes that promote ethical end-to-end technology development and use.

Materials and systems that are in scope for this RFP include the following:

  • Soft elastomeric energy systems, including storage and harvest.
  • Batteries.
  • Super capacitors.
  • Environmental energy harvesting (eg thermal -> electrical, kinetic -> electrical)
  • Biodegradable, but performant, alternatives to standard flexible circuit materials (eg polyimide)

Materials and systems that are not in scope for this RFP:

  • Very small quantities of novel materials (eg producing very small quantities of a material that are not scalable)

Areas of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

Ethically-Robust Framework for Evaluating System Decomposition

Proposals for this topic should focus on (1) defining an ethical framework for evaluating life-cycle analysis (LCA) processes for soft energy materials, and (2) developing and implementing a life-cycle analysis that is in line with this framework. The framework should capture the identification of any byproducts that may result from decomposition processes.

Proposals should include the following activities:

  • Defining an ethical framework for evaluating a life-cycle analysis process for soft energy materials.
  • Performing a life-cycle analysis and evaluating the effectiveness of the analysis for quantifying material system decomposition.
  • Quantifying the life-span and stability of the material.
  • Assessing the life-cycle analysis according to the ethical framework, and identify any ethical consideration gaps. Is there an ethical environmental consideration that is not being captured through this LCA method?
  • Demonstrating how the ethical framework can generalise to multiple soft materials.

Environmentally-Friendly Accelerated Decomposition of Soft or Flexible Battery Materials

Proposals for this topic should focus on demonstrating and quantifying the environmental impact of accelerated decomposition for battery materials. The accelerated decomposition method of choice can be an established method, now applied to soft elastomers or flexible composites for consumer electronics technology, or a completely new method.

Proposals should include the following activities:

  • Establishing biodegradable electrolytes that are more environmentally friendly than lithium. Consider answering: what ethical framework would capture this advantage? Can this framework be applied to different battery technologies?
  • Demonstrating low energy methods that accelerate the decomposition of a soft or flexible energy material. Identify the stimuli that accelerate the decomposition.
  • Quantifying the holistic environmental impact of the method, including the environmental impact of any byproducts of the decomposition processes.
  • Describing the choice of soft or flexible material, including a description of its usefulness for soft or flexible consumer technology.

Environmentally-Friendly Soft or Flexible Energy Generating Systems

Proposals for this topic should focus on the identification of environmentally-friendly, soft or flexible energy-generating systems. Proposals should also include a benchtop demonstration of how these materials could apply to small packages (equivalent in size to consumer electronics: smart phones, tablets, etc). The energy generator system can be an established environmentally-friendly material, now applied to soft or flexible for consumer technology, or a completely new material.

Funding body Facebook Research
Maximum value 150,000 USD
Reference ID S22640
Category Engineering and Physical Sciences

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