Energy Harvesting Startup Promises to Make the World Run Battery-free

Article By : Nitin Dahad

With its ICs supporting energy harvesting from IoT devices’ ambient surroundings, e-peas raises new funding to support market penetration...

Energy harvesting power management IC startup e-peas has raised €8 million to help accelerate the introduction of its ambient energy harvesting, processing and sensing products and open more offices worldwide.

The Belgian headquartered company, founded in 2014 as a result of research at the electronics laboratory of the Université Catholique de Louvain, has developed a portfolio of energy harvesting power management interface ICs, microcontrollers and sensors that target industrial and internet of things (IoT) wireless products. e-peas said it meets the need of customers’ energy harvesting requirements, enabling their hardware to be powered indefinitely. It addresses opportunities in industrial, home/building automation, agriculture, health monitoring, smart metering and other sectors.

With more and more connected devices, the replacement of batteries in the field can be an expensive business, so the company says demand for its technology is increasing, especially with connected IoT and edge computing devices now starting to be deployed and also ramping up. Its ICs are designed to extend battery lifespans so that call-out costs of replacing batteries can be eliminated.

Over the last three years, it has been continually broadening the scope of its ambient energy manager (AEM) product line – which now covers extracting energy from IoT devices’ surroundings from solar, thermal, vibration and RF methods, hence making them completely energy autonomous. It also plans to introduce new ultra-low power processing and sensing solutions in the near future.

Its solar energy harvesting device, the AEM10941, is an integrated energy management circuit that extracts DC power from up to seven-cell solar panels to simultaneously store energy in a rechargeable element and supply the system with two independent regulated voltages. This means it allows extended battery lifetime and ultimately eliminates the disposable battery energy storage element in a large range of wireless applications, such as industrial monitoring, geolocation, home automation, e-health monitoring and wireless sensor nodes.

For RF energy harvesting, e-peas’ IC extracts AC or DC power from ambient RF signals (Image: e-peas)

Similarly, for thermal energy harvesting it has an IC that extracts DC power from a thermoelectric generator, and for vibration energy an available IC extracts power from a mechanical harvester. For RF energy harvesting, it has two ICs, one for extracting AC power from ambient RF signals, the other for extracting DC power.

The latest funding round announced this week brings e-peas total funding to €12.8 million (US$14 million). Part of the reason for the funding is to service increasing demand for its technology and a rapidly expanding sales pipeline of around US$500 million over three continents. Romain Lavault, a Paris-based general partner at one of the lead investors, Partech, said, “Since our initial investment in 2017, we have been incredibly impressed by how Geoffroy and Julien have transformed a small R&D company into a recognized leader in low power IoT and edge computing with prestigious clients around the world. Geoffroy and Julien have also put the company in scale-up mode with the arrival of very experienced talents like Jean-Paul Bardyn and Christian Ferrier, have quadrupled the size of the team. We are proud to be supporting e-peas again on their journey to make the world run battery-free.”

Airbus Ventures, which invests in technologies that could shape aerospace, said e-peas is a key attractive partner for all those considering the design and deployment of energy-efficient autonomous devices at scale. Other investors said they were attracted to the potential makes for e-peas’ technology to make “edge device batteries live forever by solving the critical aspects of energy harvesting and energy efficiency”.

>> e-peas was featured as one of EE Times top 100 emerging startups to watch, now in its’ 20th edition.  The Silicon 100 is a list of electronics and semiconductor startups that grabbed our attention during the preceding year. Read the newly released e-book which can be downloaded from the EE Times web site.

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