New energy harvesting solutions help make IoT more sustainable

Sheila Zabeu -

October 11, 2023

Two new solutions offer different methods for capturing energy from the environment, a technology known as energy harvesting with the potential to make Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors more energy sustainable.

One of them is a module developed by Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation (SSS) capable of capturing energy from electromagnetic wave noise with a high level of efficiency, according to the company, generated by robots in factories, monitors and lighting in offices, TVs in stores and homes. and similar equipment. In this way, the module presents itself as a stable power supply necessary for IoT sensors and communication devices with low power consumption.

SSS intends to employ the new technology as part of efforts to create an energy circulation model, thus contributing to the development of a sustainable IoT society.

The new SSS energy capture module uses as part of an antenna metallic portions of electronic devices that are a source of electromagnetic wave noise and also employs a rectifier circuit with high electrical conversion efficiency in an original structure. In this way, it is possible to convert electromagnetic wave noise in a range of a few Hz to 100 MHz into electrical energy to power low-power IoT sensors, for example, or even to charge batteries, despite the compact size.

According to SSS, this is the industry’s first energy capture technology based on this method that efficiently uses, as a new source of energy, previously ignored electromagnetic wave noise. Furthermore, the compact design of the module, which is achieved through a minimum number of components, guarantees greater flexibility and installation freedom. Another advantage is that, when electronic devices are turned on, energy can be captured even when they are not in use, making the technology promising in a wide variety of usage situations, both indoors and outdoors, adds SSS.

The main features of the new SSS module are:

High level of efficiency: Electronic equipment that generates noise from electromagnetic waves, such as household appliances, computers, lighting equipment, elevators and industrial equipment, can become a power source of several tens of μW to several tens of mW of power.

Applicable to a wide variety of use cases: This energy harvesting method differs from others that use sunlight, electrical waves, and temperature differences, all of which are susceptible to environmental factors such as lighting brightness and indoor environments. The new module allows continuous capture, as long as the electronic devices are only turned on, not necessarily in use.

Device status identification: As the technology continuously captures electromagnetic wave noise generated by electronic devices, it can also identify their status by detecting changes in voltage. This means, for example, that it can be used to detect whether lighting is working normally or predict failures in robots with built-in motors, for example.

One is little, two is better

The second novelty comes in the form of a PMIC, an integrated circuit for energy management, which can simultaneously handle two sources for capturing energy independently. The AEM13920, developed by epeas, can maximize energy capture from any combination of two sources, such as photovoltaic cells, thermoelectric generator, radio frequency or pulsed (kinetic) energy. According to epeas, until then, specialized PMICs were optimized to work with a single type of energy source.

epeas highlights that the ability to operate with two power sources opens up new design possibilities for small electronic devices. For example, a remote control may have separate photovoltaic cells on the front and back to collect energy whether the device is left face up or face down. In this and other applications, the AEM13920 can be a solution that helps maximize energy recovery from sources.

The AEM13920 is compatible with many types of rechargeable batteries and storage elements, such as lithium polymer, LiFP and li-ceramic models, and lithium hybrid capacitors.