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Charge-based supercapacitor storage estimation for indoor sub-mW photovoltaic energy harvesting powered wireless sensor nodes

Yue, Xicai; Kiely, Janice; Gibson, Des; Drakakis, Emmanuel M.


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Alex Yue
Senior Lecturer in Bioinstrumentation and Sensor Interfacing

Janice Kiely
Professor in Bio-electronics/Res In CoDi

Des Gibson

Emmanuel M. Drakakis


Supercapacitors offer an attractive energy storage solution for lifetime “fit and forget” photovoltaic (PV) energy harvesting powered wireless sensor nodes for internet of things (IoT) applications. Whilst their low storage capacity is not an issue for sub-mW PV applications, energy loss in the charge redistribution process is a concern. Currently there is no effective method to estimate the storage of the supercapacitor in IoT applications for optimal performance with sub-mW input. The existing energy-based method requires supercapacitor model parameters to be obtained and the initial charge state to be determined, consequently it is not suitable for practical applications. This paper defines a charge-based method, which can directly evaluate supercapacitor’s storage with straightforward calculations. Time constant analysis and experimental tests demonstrate that with the newly proposed method the manufacturer-specified tiny leakage current, although measured long after post-charge (e.g. 72 hours), can be directly used, making the storage estimation for a supercapacitor in IoT applications as simple as that for an ordinary capacitor. In addition, the demonstrated tiny leakage current at the required energy storage for a sub-mW PV powered IoT application enables a supercapacitor alone to be employed as the storage mechanism, thus achieving lifetime battery-replacementfree, self-powered IoT nodes.


Yue, X., Kiely, J., Gibson, D., & Drakakis, E. M. (2020). Charge-based supercapacitor storage estimation for indoor sub-mW photovoltaic energy harvesting powered wireless sensor nodes. IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics, 67(3), 2411-2421.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 3, 2019
Online Publication Date Mar 25, 2019
Publication Date Mar 1, 2020
Deposit Date Jan 8, 2019
Journal IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics
Print ISSN 0278-0046
Electronic ISSN 1557-9948
Publisher Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 67
Issue 3
Pages 2411-2421
Keywords supercapacitor, leakage current, self-discharge, charge redistribution, photovoltaic (PV), energy harvesting, internet of things, charge analysis, current-mode circuit analysis, current measurement, batteries
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Additional Information Additional Information : (c) 2019 IEEE. Personal use of this material is permitted. Permission from IEEE must be obtained for all other users, including reprinting/republishing this material for advertising or promotional purposes, creating new collective works for resale or redistribution to servers or lists, or reuse of any copyrighted components of this work in other works.


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