Why to go energy autonomous?
Changing drained batteries is a serious pain not only for industries but also for individuals. It implies additional time and costs which can be avoided. For producers, it is also a matter of space in a device consumed usually by a large battery. Additionally, disposable batteries have a negative impact on the environment. Fortunately, the cure exists, and it is energy harvesting which is already used in many smart devices to prolong their life by decades.
To explain shortly how it works: each device is surrounded by different types of energy sources:
- Radio Frequency
These sources can charge a device on a continuous basis which eliminates the need to change a battery, making the lives of industrial and private consumers much easier. With these energy sources, the following gains are achievable:
- no need to replace batteries
- no need to spend extra money on new batteries
- good consciousness for not polluting environment with harmful batteries
- overall satisfaction of using a sustainable innovative device
And it helps producers of devices to gain:
- competitive advantage
- greener footprint
- increased sales
- more space in a device for useful technologies
- satisfied customers
What is the solution?
Such technologies like e-peas’ Ambient Energy Managers combined with RECOM energy harvesting module, can help you shift a device into a batteryless future with ease and confidence.
How to get started?
One of the main challenges in shifting to energy harvesting is simply getting started. At the beginning, there are often too many unknowns, and it can be overwhelming:
- Which energy source to use – photovoltaic, thermoelectric generator, electric field, flow-based or vibrational?
- How big should my storage element be?
- Should I use a supercapacitor or a rechargeable battery?
- What about energy security – do I need a back-up battery, or will I scavenge enough energy during the day to keep on running through the night?
And these are just the external aspects – what about optimization, choice and supply chain management of the electronic components in the harvester itself such as inductors, resistors and capacitors needed on my PCB to make a fully functioning energy harvesting system?
Pre-built modules will speed up your time-to-market
To help with this make-or-break decision, RECOM has developed a pre-built, pre-tested energy harvesting module and an evaluation board based on the AEM10941 harvester IC for solar energy harvesting:
e-peas’ AEM10941 – is an integrated energy management circuit that extracts DC power from up to 7-cell solar panels to simultaneously store energy in a rechargeable element and supply the system with two independent regulated voltages. It facilitates extended battery lifetime and ultimately eliminates the need for disposable batteries as energy storage elements in a large range of wireless applications such as industrial monitoring, geolocation, home automation, e-health monitoring and wireless sensor nodes. To find out more, check AEM10941 Datasheet.
It was chosen by RECOM for its competitive specifications, versatility of functions and ease of use.
RECOM energy harvesting module
The REH-3.31.8 module is a complete energy harvesting power supply, requiring just an energy source and a storage element. This frees up the design engineer’s valuable time to focus on more important decisions such as finding the optimal solar cell for the light conditions available, to fine-tune the resonant frequency of the vibrational generator or to experiment with the size of supercapacitor or Li-Ion battery needed to supply the load reliably 24/7.
To make this process even easier, RECOM also manufactures the REH-3.31.8-EVM-1 evaluation board with push-in wire connections for the energy source, storage element and the 3.3V and 1.8V output voltages. The evaluation board also contains pads for a CR2032 battery holder if an on-board back-up primary cell battery is needed. With the REH-3.31.8-EVM-1, it is possible to configure all of the features of the REH-3.31.8 module such as selection of the type of the storage element (rechargeable battery or supercapacitor), set the backup battery switch-over threshold voltage and to independently enable either or both outputs. All input and output signals of the module are easily accessible for test prob
5 benefits of using the RECOM module:
1. Ready-to-go. The REH-3.31.8 is a pre-tested 12.2mm x 12.2mm x 3.75mm SMD module with solder pads on the bottom and a metal case. No other external components are needed apart from the source and storage element to make a fully functioning energy harvester.
2. Simple assembly. The large grid array (LGA) pads allow easy, reliable soldering onto a low-cost main PCB which can be single or double-sided. The metal case makes handling and using the pick-and-place machine uncomplicated, and there is only one part in your BoM.
3. Fast time-to-market. Get your energy harvesting design up and running from Day 1. From prototyping to mass-production runs, RECOM’s European distribution hub and express delivery makes sure that you can scale up your production quickly.
4. Easy experimentation. The REH-3.31.8-EVM-1 evaluation board allows experimentation with different energy sources or storage element manufacturers to select the optimal components fine-tuned for the individual needs of your application.
5. Simple upgrade. If you later decide to upgrade to increase the amount of harvested energy, then the push-in connectors permit swapping over to a more effective energy harvester or larger storage element in seconds. Once everything is functioning correctly, then production can continue using the new configuration, with confidence that the operating specifications will not change.
Technical specifications of the REH3.31.8 and REH-3.31.8-EVM-1
The REH-3.31.8 is a dual output energy harvester module designed primarily for photovoltaic (PV) cells, but capable of running from other low voltage DC supplies delivering 50mV or more. This unique and compact (12.19 x 12.19 mm) module contains all the circuitry required to run an energy harvesting system, including a Maximum Power Point (MPP) tracking function for the PV cell.
The user needs only to add the storage element (user selectable rechargeable battery or super capacitor) and connect the power source to make it operational. Two short-circuit protected fixed voltage regulated outputs (1.8V@20mA and 3.3V@80mA) can be individually enabled/disabled. An imminent shutdown signal warns the application that there is not sufficient energy being harvested to maintain the output voltage and the module is about to power down.
The REH-3.31.8-EVM-1 allows a quick and easy evaluation of the REH-3.31.8 energy harvester module. It contains all the necessary easy-plug-in connectors to connect the energy source, energy storage element, twin output voltages and an external backup battery. The PCB footprint includes pads for a space-saving CR2032 battery holder to serve as an on-board backup battery, if required.
If a primary cell back-up battery (1.5V to 3V) is fitted, the REH-Module will automatically switch over to the back-up supply if the energy harvesting input fails to maintain an uninterrupted output.
How to purchase
Both the REH-3.31.8 module and the REH-3.31.8-EVM-1 evaluation board are available from RECOM headquarters in Austria or from one of RECOM’s business development managers based in the UK, Germany, Italy, Russia, USA or Japan. For more information, go to https://recom-power.com/energy-harvesting.html
RECOM headquarters is in the heart of Europe, in the picturesque town of Gmunden, surrounded by the beautiful Austrian Alps. In this inspiring location, RECOM engineers innovate and develop new ideas to make standard and customized power converters as well as innovative platform architectures even more efficient and reliable, promoting the concept of modular, decentralized power architectures. RECOM products have proven success in all areas of electronics – from industrial automation and energy technology through e-mobility, measurement and railway technology to medical, the IoT and automotive. The three main pillars of our success are innovative products, reliable customer support and an extensive, global distribution network, allowing our customers worldwide access to RECOM power converters in under 48 hours to provide our customers across the world with ideal power solutions and best-in-class support in our role as a service provider.
e-peas develops and markets disruptive ultra-low power semiconductor technology. This enables industrial and IoT wireless product designers to substantially extend battery lifespans and eliminate the heavy call-out costs of replacing batteries, without in any way compromising on reliability. Relying on 15 years of research and patented intellectual property, the company’s products increase the amount of harvested energy and drastically reduce the energy consumption of all power consuming blocks within wireless sensor nodes. Headquartered in Mont-Saint-Guibert, Belgium, with additional offices in Switzerland and the USA, e-peas offers a portfolio of energy harvesting power management interface ICs, microcontrollers and sensor solutions.