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Power dust mote from piezoelectric transducer

06 Oct 2015  | Jim Drew

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Increasing the level of remote monitoring and control of industrial environments—such as factories, plants and refineries—enables process engineers and managers to see the overall health of a system or factory, ultimately improving decision making. The easiest way to increase monitoring and control coverage is to use Dust Networks SmartMesh wireless sensor networks, which enable installation in remote environments. SmartMesh sensors and controllers are often deployed in locations where electrical power connections are not readily available. For this reason, using energy harvesting technology as the source for powering these sensors is attractive.

The LTC3330 is a nanopower buck-boost DC/DC converter with energy harvesting battery life extender technology that can be attached to a piezoelectric transducer to provide energy to power a Dust Networks mote. It integrates a high voltage step-down energy harvesting power supply plus a buck-boost DC/DC converter powered by a primary cell battery to create a single output always-on power supply that sources power for the remote Dust mote.

When vibration energy is available, the DC/DC converter uses this as its source of power rather than the battery. For short periods when vibration energy isn't available, the it charges and balances a supercapacitor that can be called on to support the load. The DC/DC converter's combination of energy harvesting and supercapacitor charging/balancing circuitry can extend the life of the primary cell battery by several orders of magnitude, resulting in significantly fewer maintenance calls to replace batteries (with the savings multiplied by the number of installed sensors/controllers).

Interfacing the DC/DC converter with the Dust mote
Figure 1 shows the DC/DC converter with an output supercapacitor, a Dust mote attached, a battery installed and EH_ON connected to OUT2. In this configuration, when EH_ON is low, VOUT is set to 2.5V and when EH_ON is high, VOUT is set to 3.6V. A Midé V25W piezoelectric transducer is mechanically attached to a vibration source, and its electrical contacts are connected to the AC1 and AC2 pins of the DC/DC converter. The vibration source produces 1gRMS of force at a 60Hz acceleration, which produces an open circuit voltage of 10.6VPEAK. Figure 2 shows the input capacitor being recharged from the V25W piezoelectric transducer. The input capacitor charges from 4.48V to 5.92V in 208ms. The power delivered from the V25W is 648µW.

Figure 1: Dust mote setup with a supercapacitor, a battery and EH_ON connected to OUT2.

Figure 2: Midé V25W charging the 18µF input capacitance from 4.48V to 5.92V in 208ms.

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