Demonstrating the advantages of energy harvesting and radio frequency (RF) technology for wireless sensing, monitoring or ambient intelligence, AdaptivEnergy has developed a demonstration kit using Joule-Thief[tm] technology to harvest energy and power Texas Instruments Incorporated’s (TI) (NYSE: TXN) ultra-low power MSP430 microcontroller (MCU) and RF technology to collect data, control the operation of a system or send sensed data to central collection sites. The Joule-Thief energy harvesting device is based on AdaptivEnergy’s Ruggedized Laminated Piezo (RLP®) technology, which enables compact energy harvesting modules to power applications such as wireless sensors. These wireless sensors could be used to gather ambient intelligence to detect and report critical conditions in factories, automobiles, office buildings, homes and other environments – all without wiring or batteries.
An emerging market with vast potential
According to Darnell Group, the potential worldwide market for energy harvesting solutions used in wireless sensor systems could reach approximately 164 million units by 2013, a compound annual growth rate of nearly 65 percent. Energy harvesting is an important emerging area of low power technology that can provide energy not only for large-scale needs through wind and solar systems, but also for smaller-scale needs such as sensor networks, utilizing the vibrations inherent in structures, vehicles and machinery to create power, or harvest energy, that can drive sensors while eliminating the need for wires and batteries. For example, Joule-Thief-enabled sensors could harvest energy from the rumbling vibrations created by traffic on a bridge, then send that data from all the wireless sensors on the bridge to a collection point where it would be analyzed to monitor structural soundness.
Energy harvesting made easy and affordable
Supplying power to a network of sensor-transmitters has traditionally required expensive wiring installation or routine battery changes. Gathering data from difficult or dangerous-to-reach locations using wired sensors may be impossible and or even compromise the safety of personnel installing wiring and replacing batteries. Today, however, AdaptivEnergy’s Joule-Thief technology makes remote structural and safety monitoring a straightforward and relatively inexpensive process.
Joule-Thief technology combines AdaptivEnergy’s unique stressed-biased RLP energy harvesting beam that converts vibrations or movement into usable electric energy. The RLP Smart Energy Beam allows up to ten times more strain to be applied to the piezoceramic than competing piezoelectric energy harvesting devices, creating more converted electric power for system use. In addition to directly sensing movement, the versatile design accepts inputs from external sensing elements that can help detect strain in bridges and high-rise buildings, equipment fatigue in factories, excessive temperatures, the presence of dangerous chemicals, unsafe events in automobiles and a variety of other environmental conditions.
Complementing the RLP Smart Energy Beam and collection electronics is active intelligence and communications based on a chipset consisting of an MSP430F2274 microcontroller and a CC2500 RF transceiver, which allows the Joule-Thief design to gain as much processing and transmission as possible from the charge stored in a capacitor. With leading low power consumption in active and standby modes, the MSP430 microcontroller provides a fast wake-up time of less than a microsecond for a preferable low power/high performance solution.
System-on-chip (SoC) integration of peripherals in the MSP430 microcontroller such as analog-to-digital converters (ADC), timers, comparators and a variety of memory configurations helped AdaptivEnergy save space and board costs while enabling them to build a maintenance-free wireless sensor suitable for a wide range of ambient intelligence applications. TI’s CC2500 RF transceivers operate in the 2.4-GHz range, making them well-suited for reliable, low-cost digital wireless applications.
Get started fast with Joule-Thief Demo kit and eZ430-RF2055 development tool
AdaptivEnergy offers a Joule-Thief Energy Harvesting Demonstration Kit that includes a RLP Smart Energy Beam along with collection and storage electronics in a matchbox-sized package, allowing developers to easily explore harvesting energy from vibrations. AdaptivEnergy also supplies TI’s eZ430-RF2500 microcontroller development tool, which includes all the hardware and software required to develop an entire wireless control network and comes in a USB stick form-factor with an emulator for in-system programming and debugging. Using the Joule-Thief kit and the eZ430-RF2500 microcontroller tool in conjunction, developers have a complete system for designing a low-cost, low power wireless sensor driven by environmental vibrations.
AdaptivEnergy has already engaged with a number of leading system developers who are using the Joule-Thief design to create advanced sensing applications that will begin appearing in the next one to two years. In addition, AdaptivEnergy has entered into a strategic agreement with In-Q-Tel, a company that identifies innovative technology to support the mission of the U.S. intelligence community.
TI enables innovation with broad range of microcontrollers
From ultra-low power 16-bit microcontrollers in the MSP430 platform to industry standard 32-bit microcontrollers and the high performance TMS320C2000[tm] controller platform, TI offers the broadest range of embedded control solutions. Designers can accelerate their designs to market by tapping into TI’s complete free software and low cost hardware tools, extensive third-party offerings and technical support. For more information on TI’s controllers, see www.ti.com/mcu.
About Texas Instruments
Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN) helps customers solve problems and develop new electronics that make the world smarter, healthier, safer, greener and more fun. A global semiconductor company, TI innovates through manufacturing, design and sales operations in more than 25 countries.
TMS320C2000 is a trademark of Texas Instruments. Joule-Thief is a trademark of AdaptivEnergy LLC. Ruggedized Laminated Piezo is a trademark of AdaptivEnergy LLC.