ANDtr delivers ground-breaking energy harvesting demonstrator in partnership with Renesas Electronics Europe and Dracula Technologies
Built using AND’s c2 IoT development platform, the device with Renesas’ SOTBTM micro controller (RE) at its core, comes with two integrated environment sensors, and sends messages over BLE to a mobile app, where the data can be visualised. It captures light energy (indirect natural and/or artificial one) from Dracula’s LAYER® OPV module, and is capable of sending multiple messages every minute on a sunny day without the need for a battery. The OPV (organic photovoltaic) harvester also performs well in a dimly lit rooms where the device is capable of sending a message every 3-5 minutes. By charging super caps, the technology is able to charge from entirely renewable energy sources and discharge the energy efficient ensuring high performance.
“AND Technology Research and Dracula Technologies were the ideal partners to help us investigate how we can use the our RE microcontrollers, implemented on the unique SOTBTM ultra-low power process to enable truly battery-less IoT sensors, both reducing the maintenance required and also greatly extending the product lifetime of IoT sensors, as well as addressing many of the concerns around the continued use of many battery technologies”
Graeme Clark, Renesas Marketing Manager
Tackling the growing dependencies on batteries
With billions of IoT devices now in operation, the dependencies on batteries is growing. The latest battery technology has taken great leaps in the past five years. Battery life has improved significantly, and energy density has been boosted to new levels previously thought unreachable. But these advancements have come at a cost. These improvements were only possible thanks to an increasingly exotic list of new compounds; these compounds come from across the world and are considered dangerous to mine, and even more dangerous when out of the ground. Lithium, in particular, has incredibly explosive properties, and other key metals such as cobalt, cadmium and manganese are also hazardous when handled.
But that’s not the only problem. Battery life is still an issue (despite improvements), especially for those with high discharge rates. Non-rechargeable batteries, on average, can’t last longer than three years and rechargeable versions struggle to go beyond 10. Disposal of these batteries then becomes a serious difficulty and risk to the environment, especially if that process isn’t handled properly. Replacing these retired batteries then brings further costs and repeats the cycle of risk and waste, and in many cases danger for workers.
Energy harvesting at the source of where we need power is one of the keys to ensuring a sustainable IoT industry. The SOTB technology overcomes significant technical challenges of self-powering devices requiring far less in-rush current (the power needed to start up a device) than a traditional micro-controller. This means that RE micro-controller’s implemented on the SOTB technology, can utilise a combination of extreme low stand-by and active power usage, switching efficiently between modes, and reducing the consumption requirements. The RE microcontroller also implements an on-chip energy harvesting controller allowing easy connection to solar cells and other harvesting technologies. The Dracula LAYER® technology is a printed technology that generates energy from ambient light using organic photoactive inks which is made from only organic materials. It doesn’t require does not require rare earth elements required for batteries.
This first of its kind, the self-powering sensor is just the start of suite sustainable energy harvesting devices to come.
About AND Technology Research
AND Technology Research is a pioneering, purpose-led technology company working to improve efficiency, sustainability, and innovation in IoT development around the world. AND’s work in IoT has already helped over 250 customers worldwide to build scalable, robust, disruptive digitally connected products. They recently launched their end-to-end technology platform c2, created from over 350 customer projects, which is already revolutionising digital product development.