Energy harvesting is often perceived as difficult due to the 150-page long datasheets and many decisions an application engineer is required to make in their PCB design process. In practice this has acted as a barrier for implementation of energy harvesting technology.
The Nowi NH2 EH PMIC changes this entirely. It requires only 1 external capacitor, making the PCB design process straightforward.
Furthermore, the Nowi MPPT functions autonomously and requires no pre-programming by the engineer. Consequently, this means that it is no longer required to have an extremely detailed understanding of the environment in which the device is placed in order to predict how the power in the environment will fluctuate, just so the PMIC can be programmed accordingly. This offers an unprecedented ease-of-use to engineers. Even with extremely limited knowledge on the topic it possible to quickly develop a high performing energy harvesting design. The Nowi NH2 EH PMIC – the easiest to integrate energy harvesting solution.
PCB area is a rare resource in many products and as a result energy harvesting has historically been problematic to implement in numerous product categories. Traditional solutions have required 150-300mm2 area due to their large assembly BOM of up to 15 external components. From wearable devices to sensor tags, this area very often is simply not available and it thereby made implementing energy harvesting all but impossible.
Nowi has an innovative design for its energy harvesting power management IC in which the BOM is reduced to 1 small external capacitor and as a result the assembly area required is minimized to just 12mm2.
For the first time, top energy harvesting performance is able to fit in just about any sized product.
In a green and connected future Nowi views energy harvesting technology as an essential and standard feature in most devices. The cost and ease-of-use long term can be maximized by increased integration and this makes size all the more important. Nowi’s energy harvesting power management technology is small enough that it can be integrated into larger SoC’s or modules.
Nowi believes that connecting the physical world to the digital world will offer tremendous societal benefits, however on this scale costs become key. There are an enormous amount of devices that require connectivity and thereby power.
Just as swapping batteries at that scale is economically unfeasible, so is having a large bill of material (BOM) for each product. The more components required, the more expensive the product will become. Traditionally energy harvesting has been expensive to implement, as up to this point any energy harvesting PMIC available has required 10-15 external components and 1-2 inductors to function.
Nowi has developed an entirely different design for energy harvesting power management which greatly reduces the required assembly BOM to just 1 external capacitor.
Besides advantages in size and simplicity this offers a large cost saving per product. The assembly BOM is reduced from $0,50-0,70 to less than 1 cent. This makes the NH2 more attractive for existing energy harvesting applications, but more importantly it enables new applications in which historically implementing energy harvesting has not been economically attractive.
The speed of the Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) of the Nowi PMIC is key in achieving optimal average efficiency. As the source of power fluctuates the PMIC needs to adapt in order to achieve the highest conversion efficiency.
Whereas in traditional power management the power source is stable and predictable, this is the opposite in ambient energy harvesting. How a source is fluctuating will differ in each application and with each product. Instead of peak efficiency, the average efficiency of a device then becomes a key metric and this is strongly impacted by MPPT performance. As a result, the amount of energy that is ‘harvested’ per day is mostly driven by how fast the PMIC is able to find the best configuration in which it can convert the most amount of power.
Nowi’s unique MPPT can adapt within 1 second to a change in the environment, this is significantly faster than any other solution available and maximizes the energy harvested throughout a day.
The Nowi MPPT feature combines speed with accuracy. As a ‘real’ MPPT it does not predict what the best configuration is, instead it real time measures the power output and adjusts itself accordingly. This patented method is different from traditional techniques and results in a higher power output as it finds the absolute best configuration for harvesting the most power, instead of a rough approximation.