Sequans and E-Peas add energy harvesting to IoT connectivity

  • January 13, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

French firm Sequans and Belgium-based E-Peas have demonstrated energy harvesting combined with LTE-M and NB-IoT connectivity.

The joint offering enables non-stop, zero-maintenance operation of IoT devices through energy harvesting, eliminating the need for batteries.

Sequans Communications makes 5G and 4G chips and modules for massive, broadband and critical IoT. E-Peas supplies energy harvesting and processing semiconductors.

The device combines E-Peas’ AEM energy harvesting IC with Sequans’ Monarch LTE-M and NB-IoT platform to provide self-powered cellular IoT connectivity, in a small footprint, that can operate indefinitely without batteries.

“Energy harvesting technology is ushering in a new era where IoT devices will no longer have to run on batteries,” said Didier Dutronc, head of Sequans’ IoT business unit. “This will have a profound impact on the IoT market and will greatly increase the number and types of applications that can be connected to the IoT, extending it to those applications where direct power connection or manual intervention to change batteries is not possible.”

In addition to the cost and practical advantages, the technology also allows for a more sustainable IoT world by eliminating the production and recycling of billions of batteries every year.

“Energy harvesting offers one of the most exciting visions of the IoT future and, through our partnership with E-Peas, a leader in advanced energy harvesting, we aim to bring this vision to reality,” said Dutronc.

The demonstration shows the E-Peas AEM10941 IC transferring energy from a photovoltaic harvester to a storage element and then to the Monarch LTE-M and NB-IoT module where it powers a sensor device measuring power, light and humidity.

The demo kit is supplied with a small indoor DSC photovoltaic cell that can power many types of IoT applications using indoor light and LTE connectivity. In an outdoor environment, the size of the photovoltaic cell can be reduced to allow for energy-autonomous devices in an even smaller form factor.

In a typical application, such as in farming or industry, device sensors collect data such as humidity, temperature and air quality while the lighting environment is loading the capacitor. With the combination of the AEM10941 IC and Monarch module, the collected data can be sent up to eight times a day, with no need of batteries using a 15cm2 indoor photovoltaic cell under 500 lux, making the devices energy self-sufficient and CO2 neutral.

“We are excited to collaborate with Sequans on this, combining energy harvesting with IoT connectivity,” said Christian Ferrier, chief marketing officer at E-Peas. “Not only do we show the viability of energy harvesting technology, but we show how IoT companies can build maintenance-free devices that can operate autonomously, which has a huge positive impact on sustainability, total cost of ownership and device longevity.”

Sequans and E-Peas are offering a reference design with schematics for IoT companies, enabling them to design and build their own connected IoT devices using energy harvesting technology.

Founded in 2003, Sequans is based in France with offices in the USA, UK, Finland, Israel, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and China.

Headquartered in Mont-Saint-Guibert, Belgium, with offices in Switzerland and the USA, E-Peas offers a portfolio of energy harvesting power management interface ICs, microcontrollers and sensors.