MCCI and E-Peas check air pollution in New York

  • November 2, 2020
  • Steve Rogerson

As part of a community-funded project, IoT provider MCCI plans to roll out air-pollution monitoring units in economically disadvantaged neighbourhoods in New York.

They use power management ICs from Belgian firm E-Peas in the large-scale remote monitoring application within the city boroughs of Brooklyn, the Bronx and Harlem, where air pollution levels are extremely high.

MCCI has incorporated the E-Peas AEM10941, which targets solar powered implementations, into an environmental sensor module that it is about to start deploying.

The modules each feature PM2.5 particulate and VOC sensing devices, plus temperature and humidity sensors. Located on utility poles, these compact units will dynamically gather real-time data relating to their surroundings every six minutes. These data will be transmitted back to a network hub via LoRaWan connectivity for subsequent analysis.

With prototyping almost completed, the pilot scheme is due to go into operation before the end of next summer.

Thanks to the AEM10941-based energy harvesting circuit, it has been possible to avoid powering the sensor module via a battery, removing the inconvenience of battery replacement. This power management IC can deal with the DC power output from up to seven solar cells and supply hardware with two independent regulated voltages.

“As we want to carry out analysis at a granular level, the intervals between when data are acquired are very short,” said Terry Moore, CEO and founder of MCCI. “The E-Peas ICs can start extracting energy at really low voltages, ensuring the power budget requirements of our modules can be fully satisfied. The company’s track record in remote sensing applications was another important factor, as was the quick turnaround time they were able to support.”

The sensor can start operating from a low threshold, needing an input voltage of 380mV and a 3µW input power. Supplied in a 28-pin QFN package measuring 5 by 5mm, the IC incorporates all the active elements needed for an energy harvesting subsystem, including a boost converter and two LDOs. Only seven passive components – five capacitors and two inductors – are needed to accompany it, thereby keeping costs down.

“Our AEM series is continuing to make headway in a variety of different industry sectors, with ICs that are purpose built to attend to the particular demands of photovoltaic, thermal, vibration and RF-based energy sources,” said Christian Ferrier, CMO at E-Peas. “Through this project with MCCI, and others that are currently underway, we will keep on building E-Peas’ reputation as the preferred supplier of energy harvesting IC technology.”

E-Peas develops and markets low-power semiconductor technology. This lets industrial and IoT wireless product designers extend battery life and eliminate the heavy call-out costs of replacing batteries, without compromising reliability. Relying on 15 years of research and patented intellectual property, the company’s products can increase the amount of harvested energy and reduce the energy consumption of all power consuming blocks within wireless sensor nodes.

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

For over twenty five years, New York-based MCCI has been connecting systems together, and devices to people. Technologies include USB software, open-source LoRaWan IoT hardware and software, test equipment, NerveCircuit power and resource monitoring systems for commercial buildings, and community remote sensing networks with the Things Network.