Huawei has selected energy harvesting technology developed by Delft startup Nowi Energy to pair with a Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) system chip called the Boudica V150. Nowi’s solution gathers energy from ambient light, heat and RF radiation, which is then fed into a smart power management integrated circuit (PMIC) that either supplies Huawei’s chip directly with electricity or stores it in a supercapacitor. This spares the battery in such a way that it will never have to be exchanged over the expected lifetime of the IoT device built around the Chinese chip.
While a battery life of ten years or more may be possible for some IoT applications, it’s often much less because of the stress typical sleep-wake cycles put on the battery. That constitutes a major problem, as changing the batteries of thousands of devices is inconvenient and costly. By harvesting additional energy from the environment and using that to spare the battery, Nowi essentially solves that issue.
“The low-power design of the Boudica V150 chip together with the high energy harvesting efficiency of our PMIC makes it possible to harvest sufficient energy for frequent NB-IoT transmissions, allowing autonomous connectivity for up to fifteen years. That means no more cables or battery changes needed: simply plug and forget,” says Nowi CEO Simon van der Jagt.
Nowi emanated (link in Dutch) from the graduation projects of industrial design engineering students Van der Jagt and Omar Link (currently COO) at the TU Delft. Working closely with the Electronic Engineering department, they developed a promising solution for the battery lifetime problem in IoT devices. Currently, Nowi employs sixteen people.