IIT-Mandi Researchers Develop Power-Management Unit For Solar-Powered Wireless Sensor Nodes

IIT-Mandi Researchers Develop Power-Management Unit For Solar-Powered Wireless Sensor Nodes

These nodes, offering distinct advantages over low-power wireless communication technologies, often face challenges related to the consumption of higher peak current during data transmission, leading to battery-capacity degradation and a reduced lifespan.

PTIUpdated: Thursday, March 07, 2024, 05:40 PM IST
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IIT-Mandi Researchers Develop Power-Management Unit For Solar-Powered Wireless Sensor Nodes | Representational Pic

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mandi have patented a power-management unit designed explicitly for direct cloud-enabled indoor wireless sensor network (WSN) nodes powered by solar.

These nodes, offering distinct advantages over low-power wireless communication technologies, often face challenges related to the consumption of higher peak current during data transmission, leading to battery-capacity degradation and a reduced lifespan.

According to officials, the power-management unit is a novel design specifically tailored for applications that necessitate frequent data transmission. A key feature of this innovative architecture is the implementation of battery-supercapacitor hybrid storage to maximise battery life.

Wireless sensor nodes

The power conditioning unit (PCU) ensures efficient energy routing, allowing the system to operate optimally under varying external conditions.

"Our power-management system is designed for wireless sensor nodes powered by solar. It uses solar panels, batteries and supercapacitors for power and has an MPPT controller. It optimises node-energy distribution for performance and longevity. This power-management system maximises solar panel efficiency and battery longevity and lowers network costs.

"This power-management system has multiple-use cases in wireless sensor nodes used for environmental monitoring, precision agriculture, smart cities, disaster management and industrial IoT," Satvasheel Ramesh Powar, Associate Professor, School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, IIT-Mandi, told PTI.

The hybrid storage system integrates a supercapacitor to alleviate the battery from frequently occurring peak current, a common factor in degradation. The approach is to ensure that battery charge and discharge are free from intermittent peaks, preventing the acceleration of capacity degradation and ultimately, extending the cycle life.

Introduced a novel drip-charge controller

"We have developed a hybrid technology to power the sensor node such that the battery life can be increased where frequent data transmission is required. This product utilises a supercapacitor-battery hybrid storage scheme, which provides the required peak current during data transmission, sufficient enough to fulfil the heavy load requirement.

"We introduced a novel drip-charge controller that works in sync with the sleep period and the active period of the sensor node. The performance of the developed power-management unit is successfully tested and validated experimentally for indoor and outdoor applications," said Tushar Jain, Associate Professor, School of Computing and Electrical Engineering, IIT-Mandi.

Jain explained that the controller, coupled with the supercapacitor, provides the necessary peak current during data transmission when power from photovoltaic (PV) sources is not available.

Crop production and disease-detection management

"Simulation and experimental results have demonstrated the effectiveness of the proposed design, showcasing its ability to prevent intermittent peaks and mitigate capacity degradation acceleration. This achievement is a significant stride towards optimising the efficiency and lifespan of direct cloud-enabled sensor nodes, making those more resilient and sustainable in real-world applications.

"At IIT-Mandi, we plan to use this patented technology in various ongoing projects, namely agriculture automation, robotics and drones etc. This technology shall be further developed to make it low-cost so that it can be deployed in farmers' fields for better crop production and disease-detection management," he said.

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