How can IoT technology help the environment
Climate protection through sustainable technologies
Climate change is considered to be one of the greatest challenges facing our society. Only a radical change of course in climate protection can stop the threatening development. In 2016, a climate protection agreement came into force, with which the countries made a binding international law commitment to limit global warming to a maximum of two degrees.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, far-reaching changes in electricity generation, mobility, agriculture, industrial processes and urban infrastructure are necessary to achieve this goal. Effective climate protection requires environmentally friendly and sustainable technologies.
Energy efficiency and renewable energies
Rethinking climate protection stands or falls with rethinking in the context of the energy transition. Only if we act in a sustainable and climate-friendly manner, from power generation to power consumption, use energy efficiently and handle energy efficiently, will a sustainable energy transition be successful. Microelectronics makes a decisive contribution to this. It helps to supply the steadily growing population with efficient and environmentally friendly energy. The steadily increasing demand for electrical energy can no longer be covered to the same extent from fossil fuels in the future. Renewable energy sources that do not contain CO2 release into the environment is therefore becoming increasingly important. One key lies in the use of wind and photovoltaic power plants.
Coal, gas and nuclear power plants have a steam turbine that converts thermal energy into mechanical energy. This in turn drives a generator that generates electricity. The speed of the steam turbine is regulated in such a way that the electricity generated is adapted to the network frequency. Only in this way can it be fed into the energy grid. Since there are no steam turbines in wind and photovoltaic power plants and the strength of the wind and solar radiation vary, so-called converters and numerous power semiconductors are required to ensure constant generator output. In this way, electricity from renewable energies can be fed into the grid. Infineon is involved in this segment with power electronic systems.
Nowadays, electric motors are at the heart of numerous systems in the context of increasing automation. Whether in cranes, conveyor belts or robots: they have become an indispensable part of today's industrial landscape. Their power requirements are correspondingly high. Electric motors already require more than 25 percent of the world's electricity demand. There is enormous potential for energy savings here. With the electronic control of the speed, the output of a motor can be adapted exactly to the current requirement - this lowers energy consumption. Numerous power semiconductors are required for such a speed-regulated motor control. Infineon supports this with its portfolio and expertise in the field of modern semiconductor systems.
And not just in industry. There is also potential in private households to make devices more economical. The principle is similar to that of industrial electric motors: a motor control regulates the speed depending on the load and the required power. Sensors built into the dishwasher, washing machine or refrigerator measure values such as temperature, humidity or engine speed. A microcontroller calculates the optimum speed on the basis of this data. Power semiconductors as an interface to the motor amplify the signals from the controller. The result: The electricity consumption in the household drops significantly.
Environmentally friendly mobility
One topic is inextricably linked with a climate-friendly, sustainable way of life - mobility. How should we move around in the future? Global population growth and advancing industrialization mean that the need for all types of transport is increasing. More and more of us want to use planes, trains or cars. At the same time, the automotive industry has to meet strict requirements in order to reduce vehicle emissions. One solution: cars with hybrid and electric drives. These vehicles help ensure that we can move around in the future with a significant reduction in pollutant emissions.
Electric vehicles are not only more environmentally friendly, but also require less maintenance and repairs. Fewer spare parts need to be replaced. The efficiency in the drive train is also much higher in electric vehicles. If the ratio between supplied and usable energy is a maximum of 45 percent in conventional combustion engines, an electric drive can achieve up to 90 percent. Electromobility is also and especially in the field of commercial vehicles an important building block for the mobility of tomorrow. Electrically powered buses, trucks and construction vehicles mean significantly less emissions and less noise.
Smart home, smart city, smart car
Data acquisition, data transmission and processing in the context of the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data are further aspects on the way to a more climate-friendly way of life. It starts in your own four walls. Here, IoT helps to transform the home into a networked smart home. This enables us to optimize our private energy management. Energy guzzlers can be tracked down and replaced, and predictive maintenance of washing machines and dishwashers can prevent malfunctions. This continues after leaving your own four walls in the Smart City.
Thanks to big data, traffic data can be evaluated in real time. As a result, traffic jams are recognized earlier and can be avoided more easily by allowing the connected vehicle to autonomously take an alternative route. When looking for a free parking space, less energy is consumed because, thanks to networking with the infrastructure, autonomous vehicles can go straight to the next free parking space without detours. Metropolises can make their infrastructures and energy systems more intelligent and energy efficient with the help of IoT and Big Data. This applies not least to the generation, storage and distribution of energy.
The prerequisite: data security
In order to be able to shape life in the future with the help of the latest technologies in a climate-friendly and sustainable manner, mobility, Industry 4.0, Smart Home and communication in general must be connected to the Internet and networked with one another. The increasing number of cyber attacks on such networked infrastructure makes it clear how great the need for security is in this context. Effective protection of electronic systems against the manipulation of data or cyber attacks is more important than ever. The identity of the person or device sending a message should be authenticated. Data and devices should be protected from unauthorized changes (integrity protection). Sensitive information should remain secret and only authenticated devices or people are allowed to read plain text. In security solutions from Infineon, cryptographic procedures are implemented that enable exactly this and are optimized for different applications. The spectrum ranges from security chips for complete IT infrastructures including servers to individual routers or tablets.
Last updated: April 2019
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