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Chip Solutions Tackle the Energy Harvesting Challenge

Written by Jeff Child
Self-Sufficiency at the IoT Edge While many IoT edge devices often need to be extremely low power, having an ability to harvest their own power is an even better scenario. Chip solutions continue to emerge aimed at the energy harvesting challenge. Forecasts predict that there’s likely to be a trillion IoT sensor nodes deployed in the world by 2025. Powering those devices is going to be a challenge because many of those will be low power modules residing in remote areas. Energy harvesting will be critical in those applications because it just won’t be practical to replace trillions of batteries that only last a year or two. To help you meet that challenge, there’s a variety of chip and development platform solutions available that attack various parts of the energy harvesting puzzle. These include specialized microcontrollers (MCUs), power management chips, power regulator ICs as well as complete platform solutions and reference designs—all aimed at energy harvesting. The three most popular types of energy harvesting are solar, piezoelectric (vibration/rotation) and thermoelectric. Of the three, solar is the most widely used today and it relies on photovoltaic cells to provide energy. It’s the best fit for typical smart home, smart agriculture, smart industrial and similar applications. Piezoelectric energy harvesting leverages vibration/rotation types of energy, and is practical if you’re monitoring motors, generators or turbines—anything that moves or vibrates. Finally, thermoelectric energy harvesting is great for systems involving pipes—such as gas pipes or water pipes—where one side is hot and one side is cold, and energy can be harvested from heat transfer. No matter what the power source, a module powered by energy harvesting relies on either a harvesting power supply or an alternative set of external components that converts input from a solar, piezoelectric or thermoelectric source into some voltage range and current. Some de
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Chip Solutions Tackle the Energy Harvesting Challenge

by Jeff Child time to read: 13 min