Sequans Communications in France has teamed up with e-peas in Belgium on a self-powered energy harvesting LTE-M/NB-IoT wireless node design.
Power consumption and battery life is a key issue with the use of LTE-M/NB-IoT cellular wireless in the Internet of Things, as replacing batteries or ensuring there is a power supply is costly when there are millions of IoT nodes to support across a wide area such as an industrial site.
The design captures energy from a solar cell and a storage device such as a supercapacitor using e-peas’ AEM10941 energy harvesting chip to power the Sequans Monarch cellular platform and a sensor measuring power, light and humidity, and can be used indoors, which is a key step forwards. Sequans is showing its technology at CES 2021 this week.
In a typical application, the sensors collect humidity, temperature, air quality data while the solar cell loads the capacitor. The energy harvesting then supports transmission of the collected data up to 8 times a day, with no need of batteries using a 15cm2 indoor photovoltaic cell under 500Lux.
“Energy harvesting technology is ushering in a new era where IoT devices will no longer have to run on batteries,” said Didier Dutronc, EVP and head of Sequans’ massive IoT business unit.
“This will have a profound impact on the IoT market and will greatly increase the number and types of applications that can be connected to the IoT, extending it to those applications where direct power connection or manual intervention to change batteries is not possible,” he said.
Next: Energy harvesting demonstration kit
“In addition to the significant cost and practical advantages of this, this technology also allows for a more sustainable IoT world through elimination of the production and recycling of billions of batteries every year. Energy harvesting offers one of the most exciting visions of the IoT future, and through our partnership with e-peas, a leader in advanced energy harvesting solutions, we aim to bring this vision to reality.”
The demonstration kit is supplied with a small indoor DSC photovoltaic cell that can power many types of IoT applications using indoor light and LTE connectivity. In an outdoor environment, the size of the photovoltaic cell can be reduced to allow for energy-autonomous devices in an even smaller form factor.
“We are excited to collaborate with Sequans on this solution combining energy harvesting with IoT connectivity,” said Christian Ferrier, chief marketing officer, e-peas. “Not only do we show the viability of energy harvesting technology, but we show how IoT companies can build maintenance-free devices that can operate autonomously, which has a huge positive impact on sustainability, total cost of ownership and device longevity.”
Sequans and e-peas are offering a reference design with schematics for IoT companies, enabling them to design and build their own connected IoT devices using energy harvesting technology.
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