e-peas looks to raise funds for ultra low power IoT microcontroller and sensors

e-peas looks to raise funds for ultra low power IoT microcontroller and sensors

Interviews |
By Nick Flaherty

“We believe the mass deployment of IoT devices will be through install and forget devices and the only way to reach that goal and bring intelligence to the edge device is combine energy harvesting with a dramatic reduction in power,” said Geoffroy Gosset, CEO and co-founder of e-peas. “So we have bult the power management side of the solution and other components that will offer dramatic reduction in power consumption – the next one is processing, then sensors. Beginning in 2020 we will have our first processing solution.”

The move follows the launch of a thermal generator that can start up a system from a temperature difference of just a couple of degrees.

“The reason we decided to design this chip was to complete the product portfolio,” said Gossett. “We noticed that that there is a lot of interest in cold start that generates a few tens of millivolts for different temperatures and people want to develop applications that use [the energy from] one or two degrees difference.”

The problem is that the efficiency of the converter falls as the voltage increases, so the new thermal energy generator (TEG) uses self oscillating circuits with an optimum efficiency at a certain voltage. “We developed a circuit with a specific architecture that actually helps people to gather all the energy rom the TEG from 5 to 10 degrees to 30 to 40 degrees – the range from 50mV to 5V is 100 fold so if you are able to cold start at 5 degrees you can harvest energy up to 500 degrees,” he said.

“We used the self-oscillating circuits to cold start a main boost converter to provide the range. The advantage is that even if the cold start is poor efficiency it’s only a transition mode because you then switch to the boost converter.” 

“This means the potential efficiency loss is fully compensated by the main converter, which uses MPPT tracking to extract all the power generated by the TEG,” he added.

With solar, RF, vibration and thermal energy harvesters now developed, the company is turning to the rest of the system as the market matures.

“We present ourselves as a one stop shop for energy harvesting whatever the source, so anyone can come to us and present a challenge and we can offer the best solution, for example we will not have to push for solar when its not the right solution.”

“We have more and more people reaching out to us knowing exactly what they want, itis already much easier than two to three years ago, and the more finished products on the market the more references people will see, the more confident people will be to select the right technology for their products.”

“We are developing the two other ranges of products – we are breaking even on the energy harvesting parts but still need funding for commercial deployment and for the commercialisation of the new range of products,” he said.

But e-peas is also continuing the development of the energy harvesting devices.

“There will be a third generation of EH circuits for different applications. What we have today will still be state of the art for some applications, and we will have a roadmap for energy harvesting.”

The company has signed distribution deals in th UA and Asia and is looking to work with partners in the eco-system

“We will remain a fabless semiconductor company but we believe that while our solutions can be used separately with competitor processors, by combining our solutions for processing and energy harvesting you have a significant gain in device autonomy and it can be used as a combo device. We will remain a semiconductor company and have no intention in developing final products. We will produce evaluation boards and reference designs but not end products.”

“We are in preliminary discussions as the fundraising tour not officially started, but it’s coming up.”

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