Belgian energy harvesting chip startup e-peas and TCT in France have extended their cooperation to develop hardware that can be used with three-phase cabling.
The deal extends a previous collaboration for single phase cables and allows sensors on industrial equipment to operate without needing a mains socket or even batteries.
The energy harvesting design consists of an e-peas AEM30940 high-performance power management IC (PMIC) accompanied by a TCT current transformer featuring one of the company’s proprietary high-permeability ferromagnetic cores. The current transformer is clipped around the cable. The AC current it extracts via induction from the cable is subsequently converted into a DC current using rectification circuitry, and the AEM30940 can then use this to power the electronic system.
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The design allows sensing and communication equipment to be deployed anywhere that there is nearby AC electricity distribution infrastructure such as industrial control/monitoring, building automation, smart grid and environment monitoring. A demonstrator uses the hardware to power a light sensor, humidity sensor, temperature sensor and a wireless transceiver IC, as well as covering real-time measurement of the current passing through the cable.
“Our company has been working closely with e-peas for just over two years, and what we have been able to achieve will have major implications for the emerging IoT sector,” said Alexandre Decombejean, Sales Manager at TCT. “The low cold-start capabilities of e-peas PMICs really provide the differentiation that we needed for this energy harvesting arrangement. Other devices would mean that too much of the available energy would simply be wasted.”
“The new three-phase cable energy harvesting hardware we are now demonstrating will give us access to a broad selection of different deployment possibilities, allowing battery-less operation to be implemented across a multitude of customer applications,” said Christian Ferrier, e-peas’ CMO. “We envisage this solution being pivotal in enabling widespread implementation of smart factory and smart city projects around the world.”
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