Nextreme Thermal Solutions, the leader in microscale thermal power management products for the electronics industry, and Infinite Power Solutions, Inc. (IPS), an innovative manufacturer of solid-state rechargeable thin-film battery micro-energy storage devices, designed and developed a thermal charger with the ability to continuously recharge the IPS THINERGY™ Micro-Energy Cell (MEC) using an eTEG thermoelectric power generator from Nextreme. Thin-film thermoelectric technology enables thermal charging where energy scavenging from thermal sources is combined with solid-state rechargeable thin-film battery technology to provide an alternative energy source for a variety of autonomous self-powered applications.
Thermal charger stores energy harvested from waste heat using thermoelectrics to enable an alternative energy source for autonomous applications. The prototype thermal charger uses an array of 16 HV14 modules in power generation mode to provide the 4.1 volts of electricity needed to charge the MEC to a fully charged state in approximately 20 minutes. At only 0.5 millimeters high and each smaller than a sunflower seed, four of these tiny HV14 power generators can replace a AA battery.
Nextreme’s eTEG™ HV14 has demonstrated output power levels of >16mW at ΔT of 70°C and >45mW at ΔT of 120°C. Nextreme’s eTEG devices generate electricity via the Seebeck Effect, where an electrical current is produced from a temperature gradient across the device.
THINERGY MECs are the world’s most powerful batteries for their size and outperform all other micro-batteries (rechargeable and primary), including lithium coin cells, printed batteries and all other thin-film batteries. Unlike conventional batteries, these ultra-thin and rechargeable MECs can be solder attached directly to printed circuit boards (PCBs), or deeply embedded (buried) within the layers of a PCB. The MECs can also be embedded into integrated circuit (IC) packaging and multi-chip modules, as well as systems in package. The THINERGY MEC is provided to supply stored energy for use by the application during periods when the heat source is not available or is intermittent.
Applications for thermal charging from waste heat include scavenging heat from a solar panel as a supplemental source of electricity, using heat produced by an engine during combustion to charge a battery, or providing power for a remote sensor. THINERGY MECs are the ideal energy storage solution for autonomous, self-powered sensor networks. The solution substantially increases product lifetimes in the field and reduces the total cost of ownership by eliminating the prohibitive cost of battery replacement. Thermal charging ensures “Instant ON” power solutions based on energy harvesting, dramatically reduces the size of the power supply required, and enhances the performance of embedded devices for decades of maintenance-free operation.