Design considerations of sub-mW indoor light energy harvesting for wireless sensor systems

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Wang, Wensi S.
O'Donnell, Terence
Wang, Ningning
Hayes, Michael
O'Flynn, Brendan
Ó Mathúna, S. Cian
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For most wireless sensor networks, one common and major bottleneck is the limited battery lifetime. The frequent maintenance efforts associated with battery replacement significantly increase the system operational and logistics cost. Unnoticed power failures on nodes will degrade the system reliability and may lead to system failure. In building management applications, to solve this problem, small energy sources such as indoor light energy are promising to provide long-term power to these distributed wireless sensor nodes. This paper provides comprehensive design considerations for an indoor light energy harvesting system for building management applications. Photovoltaic cells characteristics, energy storage units, power management circuit design and power consumption pattern of the target mote are presented. Maximum power point tracking circuits are proposed which significantly increase the power obtained from the solar cells. The novel fast charge circuit reduces the charging time. A prototype was then successfully built and tested in various indoor light conditions to discover the practical issues of the design. The evaluation results show that the proposed prototype increases the power harvested from the PV cells by 30% and also accelerates the charging rate by 34% in a typical indoor lighting condition. By entirely eliminating the rechargeable battery as energy storage, the proposed system would expect an operational lifetime 10-20 years instead of the current less than 6 months battery lifetime
Design consideration , Energy harvesting , PV cells , Maximum power point tracking , Indoor light illuminance , Supercapacitor
Wang, W. S., O'Donnell, T., Wang, N., Hayes, M., O'Flynn, B. and O'Mathuna, C. (2010) 'Design considerations of sub-mW indoor light energy harvesting for wireless sensor systems', ACM Journal on Emerging Technologies in Computing Systems (JETC), 6(2), pp. 1-26. doi: 10.1145/1773814.1773817
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© ACM, 2010. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of ACM for your personal use. Not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in ACM Journal on Emerging Technologies in Computing Systems (JETC), {Vol. 6, Iss. 2, June 2010}