Boosting Battery Life In IoT Devices

Somewhere between a battery and a super capacitor lies energy harvesting opps in the IoT.

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Honing in on a sweet spot for an IoT application can be very tricky, especially when it comes to a battery-based one.

However, the Paper Battery Co. is working to do just that. With technology based on a, you guessed it, a paper battery, the company’s CEO Shreefal Mehta said the company believes the concept of having power that was able to go into spaces that today the batteries and rigid caps, super caps can not go into is exactly what was needed — especially with more embedded systems all around us with distributed computing everywhere. Here, he noted, you want to have distributed power rather than centralized.

Sound like the IoT to me.

The company, which is set to provide more details on its technology this month, said it is starting to discuss these concepts with automotive companies along with IoT developers, since there is a big, centralized battery but if the peak power pulses could be distributed locally, a lot of copper wire could be saved, Mehta explained, “If you can go from an 8-gauge wire down to a 32-gauge wire, for example, because you’re just sending a digital signal now, you’re not sending a huge pulse of current. There’s also weight savings. Management is simplified too because the power is local.”

Without going into details yet, the company decided early on to focus on ultracapacitor technology. And making the battery with this technology is not complicated either, he said. “It’s so simple a second-grader could do it — it’s putting a paste of material on a sheet, putting another separator, packaging them into a roll and then you have a battery — and it actually does work — for as long as the experiment is happening. Obviously, reliability is a huge aspect to establish with a technology like this.” As such, much work was done in this regard.

Paper Battery Co.’s Power Responder line of products will launch this month, Mehta said, which has application in wireless sensor nodes with energy harvesting — ideal with wearables where a very fast recharge is needed and enough power to do certain functions. “It could even be used in conjunction with a battery in wearable situation where you can do a two minute top off and get an extra hour of runtime. We are not trying to replace the lithium battery in places where someone wants to go without charging for three days or a week. That’s not our game. But we enable some very unique features to add on to that. We can help the battery operate better: anywhere from 15 to 20 percent increased runtime just by adding this technology in. Plus, you get the quick recharge and the ability to hot-swap a battery, because we have enough power to keep the system up while a lithium battery is replaced in the wearables area.”

In the wireless sensor nodes, for energy harvesting apps, the technology’s high pulse power capability can do long range signaling. Low leakage current holds onto the electrons that are coming in from solar or vibration or other harvesting method.

“The goal is a batteryless, never-replace, put-it-there-and-forget-about-it-for-10-years technology,” Mehta added.