<i>by Paul O’Shea</i>
It was really just a matter of time and now it has happened – three companies (Energy Micro, Linear Technology, and Wurth Elektronik) got together to develop a product to make it easy to develop an energy harvesting application for just about anything you want (such as solar, electromagnetic, piezo-electric or thermal energy). Although they are not the first to come up with the idea, the solution goes a long way to make it simple.
However, about a year ago, Aldvance Linear Devices (see: http://www2.electronicproducts.com/Booster_module_captures_low_power_energy-article-hlpo03_dec2011-html.aspx ) introduced the ALD EH4200 series of micropower step-up low-voltage booster modules for a mere $41 each. The booster modules use micropower MOSFET semiconductor devices and a self-starting transformer-oscillator stage to derive their operating power directly from one of the energy generators and create a voltage gain ranging from 75 to 150 times.
The new solution from Energy Micro, Linear Tech, and Wurth is called the “Energy Harvesting Solution-to-Go kit.” It provides a very easy access to energy harvesting technologies that helps developers to apply them in future batteryless products. For 199 Euros you receive a solution for harvesting , managing and storing the energy. 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. The two basic parts of the kits are an energy harvesting board and the Giant Gecko starter kit.
Linear Technology provides four voltage converters (LTC3588, LTC3108, LTC3105, and the LTC3459 together with the LTC2935) on the multisource energy harvesting board. They are optimized for the different energy sources such as solar, electromagnetic, piezo-electric or thermal energy converters. The energy harvesting board offers two integrated energy sources to start the evaluation immediately – a solar cell (32 x 50-mm) and a thermo-generator (40 x 40-mm). In addition you can add further external energy sources to the board.
The Giant Gecko starter kit contains the EFM32 microcontroller with an ARM Cortex M3, 48 MHz, 1024-kB Flash, 128-kB RAM, USB, LCD control, and low energy sense. The microcontroller can perform complex tasks in deep sleep mode with a few microamperes and consumes only 200-μA/MHz in active mode. 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. The Giant Gecko starter kit can be connected by a 20-pin expansion header to the energy harvesting board. Find out more from Wurth Electronics Midcom at firstname.lastname@example.org or 605-886-4385.