Monday, June 24, 2024

Fastest Batteryless Designs with Energy Harvesting Solution Kit

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The "Energy Harvesting Solution To Go" Kit
The “Energy Harvesting Solution To Go” Kit

Energy harvesting represents a major leap forward not just for technology but in discovering ways we can live our lives in a way that is less impactful on the environment. It is the science of drawing energy from sources all around us – thermal, solar and motion to name a few. If we can utilize this energy, a whole new set of possibilities open up allowing us to be green yet remain high-tech.

The “Energy Harvesting Solution To Go” Kit provides a very easy access to energy harvesting technologies which helps developers to apply them in future batteryless products. Developers receive a complete solution from harvesting of the energy and energy management, to storage to the application. The transfer of this solution to the development of a batteryless product is made easy by providing the selection of the right components, schematics and software examples.

Contents of the Kit
The two basic parts of the kits are an energy harvesting board and the Giant Gecko starter kit.

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In the package, you will find a Giant Gecko starter kit by Energy Micro and a multi-source energy harvesting board by Linear Technology. The energy harvesting board offers two integrated energy sources to start the evaluation immediately: A solar cell (32mm x 50mm) and a thermo-generator (40mm x 40mm). In addition, you can add further external energy sources to the board. Infact, the kit is already running from the solar cell when you receive it. To evaluate your energy consumption, the voltage can be measured in real-time using Energy Micro’s Advanced Energy Monitoring software. The measurement data is collected over the same USB cable used for programming and debugging. No extra tools are required.

Energy Harvesting Board

Linear Technology Multi-Source Energy Harvester
Linear Technology Multi-Source Energy Harvester

There are four voltage converters of Linear Technology on the multi-source energy harvesting board as well. These are optimized for the different energy sources like for solar, electromagnetic, piezo-electric or thermal energy converters.

Linear Technology offers the LTC3588 for AC sources up to 20V like for piezo-electric and inductive energy generators. The IC LTC3108 supports very small input voltages of a few mV which are usually supplied by thermo-electric generators (TEG). Solar cells would be utilized ideally with the LTC3105, because this IC provides maximum power point control (MPPC). The LTC3459 together with the LTC2935 are a unique solution, because they can harvest energy from very small solar cells with interior light.

The user can select the appropriate energy converter on the energy harvesting board by setting a jumper. Optionally a bigger capacity could be selected if the energy harvesting cannot be performed well continuously.

Giant Gecko Starter Kit

Energy Micro’s EFM32 Giant Gecko Starter Kit
Energy Micro’s EFM32 Giant Gecko Starter Kit

The Giant Gecko Starter Kit is the second part of this development kit. The board contains the most energy friendly microcontroller EFM32 Giant Gecko with the most comprehensive feature set: ARM Cortex M3, 48MHz, 1024KB Flash, 128KB RAM, USB, LCD Control, Low Energy Sense, etc.. The EFM32GG990F1024 can perform complex tasks in the Deep Sleep Mode with a few microamperes and consumes only 200 μA/MHz in active mode. Following features of the starter kits can be used: 160-segment LCD display, 2 programmable buttons, a touch slider, ambient light sensor, an inductive-capacitive metal sensor, 32 MB NAND Flash and an 0.03F super capacitor to evaluate the integrated backup power domain. The programming and debugging of the on board MCU is support by the integrated Segger J-Link interface.

All necessary development tools, code examples, software libraries and application notes can be found in Energy Micro’s Simplicity Studio. One part of the Simplicity Studio is the energy Aware Profiler. The Profiler helps to display the current consumption and to create an energy profile of each software function by getting data from the on board Advanced Energy Monitor and the Segger debugger. Thus energy bugs of the application can be found easily.

The Giant Gecko Starter Kit can be connected by a 20 pin expansion header to the energy harvesting board. You can connect all starter kits of the EFM32 family – which consist of 240 compatible parts (4KB-1024KB Flash, 24-120pins) – to the energy harvesting board by this expansion header.

Würth Elektronik Components' used on Energy Micro's Board and Linear Technology's Board
Würth Elektronik Components’ used on Energy Micro’s Board and Linear Technology’s Board

The high efficient passive components of Würth Elektronik are integrated on the energy harvesting board as well as on the Giant Gecko Starter Kit. Particular notice deserve the coupled power inductors WE-EHPI. They convince because of their efficiency based on a very low ohmic resistance of each winding und a core especially developed for a rugged environment.


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