Zero-Power Wireless Infrared Digitizing Sensors for Large Scale Energy-Smart Farm

Default ARPA-E Project Image

OPEN 2018
Boston, Massachusetts
Project Term:
03/13/2019 - 03/12/2023

Technology Description:

Northeastern University will develop a maintenance-free sensor network to improve energy and agricultural efficiency by monitoring water content in biofuel feedstocks. The team’s zero-power sensors will form distributed networks that can capture, process, and communicate in-field data to help farmers determine how to maximize yield. Specifically, sensors will monitor water stress-related plant characteristics and relay this data wirelessly to a control center in the irrigation system. The proposed technology does not consume any power in standby mode, eliminating the cost of battery replacements.

Potential Impact:

The ultimate goal of this project is to initiate development of automated sensing platforms to improve the production yield of farms and reduce their energy cost.


Improving production efficiency of bioenergy feedstocks contributes to continued production and buildout of the U.S. bioeconomy.


Agriculture is on par with the power industry in water withdrawals and the dominant sector for water consumption, representing over 80% of fresh water consumed in the U.S. The technology will provide pathways to reduce water use in agriculture, improving energy efficiency and reducing bioenergy feedstock carbon intensity.


The technologies developed in this space can scale and benefit developing economies in addition to established industrialized countries. By increasing productivity and managing energy inputs, there is significant headroom to improve the energy return on investment from agriculture, meaning reduced costs of production for domestically-produced bioenergy products.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Olga Spahn
Project Contact:
Prof. Matteo Rinaldi
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:

Related Projects

Release Date: