Electronic Design

Micro Battery Uses Ambient Energy To Power Wireless Sensors

The Micro Power Module (MPM) from Infinite Power Solutions provides continual power to micro-systems such as embedded wireless sensors. Unlike other rechargeable battery solutions, this module can be combined with ambient energy harvesting to supply maintenance free, continuous power to wireless sensor nodes and other micro-electronics for up to 20 years.

The MPMs feature two functional elements: near loss-less energy storage and highly efficient energy management electronics. The entire module fits in less footprint than is taken by a small Post-it Note, and only a few millimeters thick. The company’s THINERGY Micro-Energy Cell (MEC) serves as the energy storage element, and its patent-pending Passive Power Management Unit (PPMU) acts as the energy management element. This PPMU provides a simplified electronic interface between the ambient energy harvester and the THINERGY MECs.

The PPMU is distinctive in that it has no front-end regulation and charges the MEC “passively” when not in over-charge condition, consuming less than 3 nA of quiescent current. It also provides the proper care and feeding of the cell (over-voltage and under-voltage protection), simplifying the design-in process. For perpetual power, the system designer needs to provide a two-wire input from an energy-harvesting source, such as a solar cell, piezo element, thermal-electric generator, or simple RF harvesting circuit. In fact, multiple energy sources (AC or DC) may be used simultaneously to maximize charge within energy-rich ambient environments. The output of the PPMU provides regulated (2.1 V to 3.6 V) and unregulated output voltage (approximately 4 V) for direct connection to any integrated circuits. The output current is 30 mA or more, depending on the number of MECs used.

The MPM will efficiently store energy captured from ambient energy harvesting systems producing less than150 mW, including ultra-low power and highly variable energy that is difficult to capture. Even with uncontrolled charging sequences from variable energy harvesters like piezo elements, these MPMs provide excellent charge efficiency and accommodate hundreds of thousands of partial charge/discharge cycles, which is approximately 100 times more cycles than what typical rechargeable batteries offer today.

The MPMs will be available for purchase by qualified customers starting in May 2009.

Infinite Power Solutions Inc.

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