Buck-Boost converters for energy harvesting from solar and RF

June 17, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
Buck-Boost converters for energy harvesting from solar and RF
The AEM10330 and AEM30330 PMICs developed by e-peas use a buck-boost architecture for the first time to capture energy from solar, RF and vibrations

Energy harvesting pioneer e-peas in Belgium has launched two power management chips using a buck-boost architecture. As a result the AEM10330 and AEM30330 PMICs are able to deal with lower battery voltages than other solutions on the market.

The AEM10330 is designed for solar cells, while the AEM30330 is targeted at harvesting energy from RF or vibration.

Both the AEM10330 and AEM30330 have a low cold-start threshold at which they can begin to draw energy from the surrounding environment at 275mV/3µW, a substantial improvement on the previous generation of e-peas PMICs.

The PMICs can deliver up to 60mA, so storage elements can be charged rapidly, including supercapacitors. The chips include fully configurable maximum power point tracking (MPPT) to continuously monitor and regulate the input with a fast refresh rate of 20ms. This keeps the efficiency of the system as high as possible, regardless of variations in the input from the source.

Adaptive energy management permits these devices to automatically switch between boost, buck-boost and buck operational configurations as deemed appropriate. This ensures that optimal energy transfer is always maintained between the respective inputs and outputs. Furthermore, this single power converter can automatically select between three inputs (the harvester, the storage device or a primary battery) and two outputs (the storage device or the application load). The capability of directly transferring harvested energy to the load or to the storage element is one unique feature of these PMICs.

The PMICs have a working temperature range that spans from -40°C to 125°C and are supplied in compact 40-pin QFN packages and require only four components to accompany them. This translates into a low bill-of-materials which takes up very little board space.

“Since the release of the initial AEM series PMICs, e-peas has been differentiating itself from the other players in the energy harvesting sector through products with superior performance levels, alongside exceptional application knowledge,” said Christian Ferrier, Chief Marketing Officer at e-peas. “With these latest additions to the series, we are significantly increasing the pervasiveness of our technology, allowing a broader variety of use cases to benefit from it.”

www.e-peas.com

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