NEW YORK -- STMicroelectronics on Tuesday released the new SPV1050 low-power IC energy harvester and battery charger that connects to solar and micro-electric sources. It includes an environmentally-friendly design and integration of dual LDOs and MPPT as well as a charger supporting all battery types.
“Energy harvesting delivers environmental benefits and helps reduce equipment ownership costs, and is used increasingly as energy-conversion efficiency rises and typical system power demands fall,” said Matteo Lo Presti, group vice president and general manager, Industrial and Power Conversion Division, STMicroelectronics, in a statement. “The tremendous operational and energy-harvesting efficiency of the SPV1050, combined with its unparalleled flexibility and feature integration, enables engineers to realize many new opportunities in industrial and consumer markets.”
Pat Furlan, Strategic Sectors Development Manager at ST, told EE Times that he considers this to be a highly efficient device. “The exploding internet of things market and wearable devices need to be more self-sufficient in form,” he said. “This device offers the smart power management that would hook up to an external electric generator and take the power it is generating and bring that into the sensor node in order to power the electronics in the sensor node.”
The device manages the power by taking it and converting it to the sensor node, as part of a very low-power system. “One of the key items,” Furlan said, “is that since that power is potentially dynamic, it changes depending on how bright the sun is. This is why the device has MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking), which acts basically as a power leveler.”
Michael Markowitz, Director of Technical Media Relations, told EE Times that this power leveler amounted to the device optimizes the sun’s power. This makes very efficient use of the power available using what he called an algorithm to determine how much power is there at any given point in time.
“In our mind the end user is the engineer trying to design an application and make sure that it is powered properly,” Markowitz said. He detailed a concept called Smart Dust, in which one puts in a large number of very small sensors in a room and monitors the airflow and not have to change the battery on all of the sensors. Instead the rest of the network can compensate for one of the sensors going out and take over its workload.
“We’re reusing essentially wasted energy,” he added. “It could potentially be the light in the room, for which the electricity to create it was paid. Once created it flies out the window. This creates a mechanism to capture some of that energy.”
Furlan further explained that the electronic devices would take the power being generated from the photovoltaic (PV) cells so they can be scattered around a room in a hotel for instance to know who is in the room and, if there is no one in that room, turn the light off and the heat. Thus the power saving from this solution is hard to measure, as it can lead to saving on an important scale once it is in use in applications.
“There are many examples of use cases for this device,” Furlan said. “It is a very generic device for many applications that can be powered using a photovoltaic or thermoelectric generator.”
Harvesting is used to power small electronic devices including wireless sensors, smart-building, and industrial equipment controls. ST also claims that harvesting protects the environment by reducing CO2 emissions. ST predicts that we will see hundreds of millions of these devices in tiny quantities of harvested energy in indoor as well as outdoor environments.
— Zewde Yeraswork, Associate Editor, EE Times