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Energy-harvesting power cells set to solve IoT sensor battery problem

A solution could be at hand for a technology barrier that experts say has been the primary problem limiting the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT): the need to provide batteries for IoT sensors.

The solution is a patented energy-harvesting technology – the Evercell power cell – that is capable of powering wireless IoT sensors without batteries.

BRIDG, an industry-led public-private partnership for advanced technologies and manufacturing processes, is collaborating with Face International Corporation in the development and integration of the power cell.

The Evercell technology employs a unique design and advanced materials to harvest thermal energy in any environment where the ambient temperature is above absolute zero, i.e. anywhere – reliably generating the microwatts of electrical power needed to run wireless IoT sensors without the need for batteries.

Evercell power cells are inexpensive to produce, consume no fuel, have no moving parts, and contain no toxic materials. According to company officials, an Evercell demonstration device has been operating continuously for 16 months with undiminished performance, producing enough electrical output to power a typical wireless sensor.

Developed and patented by Face International Corporation, a technology company with more than 60 patents, the Evercell could be the solution to the dependence on billions of batteries to power the sensors critical to IoT.

As part of the collaboration to commercialize the Evercell technology, BRIDG and Face intend to cooperatively undertake technology validation for product integration development and prototype manufacturing of Evercell power cells at its NeoCity campus in central Florida, with the goal to achieve mass production by 2019, based on customer-driven demand.

“In driving the continued expansion of the IoT, the Evercell technology has the potential to be to batteries what the light bulb was to candles and oil lamps,” observed Dan Holladay, BRIDG’s Director of Strategic Partnerships.

“The cost, inconvenience, and inaccessibility associated with battery replacement make them impractical as a power source for many of the IoT sensor applications. The promise of the Evercell technology could address an unmet annual demand for tens of billions of IoT devices relying on batteries that otherwise could not be deployed.”

Producing Evercell power cells in the volume required to respond to this demand is a major challenge that BRIDG is uniquely positioned to help solve.

“BRIDG will be able to assist Face with its capabilities to provide continued development and assist in creating solutions to overcome the manufacturing demand for Evercell,” Holladay explained.

“This could include coordinating efforts to optimize the Evercell technology into IoT devices and facilitating necessary patent licensing to satisfy IoT demand.”

To accelerate construction of new facilities specifically designed to mass-produce the Evercell devices, an international equity firm, Castlepines Corporation, has agreed to provide financing and other services through the investment of its own and partners’ equity in major assets for secure, long-term yields.

“We are excited to be playing a role in delivering the revolutionary Evercell technology to the market,” stated Dr. Gareth Lucken, Castlepines General Manager, MENA region.

“The positive impact of this technology on the IoT, and its potential to improve the quality of life for billions of people is obvious – as well as the importance of helping the world avoid the disposal of billions of batteries.”

The collaboration could result in the development of the initial prototype manufacturing line for the Evercell power cells at the BRIDG facility located in NeoCity, a 500-acre technology district in Osceola County, Florida.

BRIDG operates a 109,000-square-foot state-of-the-art manufacturing facility focused on semiconductor-based processes for smart sensors, photonic technologies, and next-generation integrated devices to enable innovative breakthroughs for industry partners serving government and commercial markets.

The BRIDG facility includes approximately 60,000 square feet of cleanroom laboratory/manufacturing space for use by its industry partners, which is led by stakeholders — Osceola County, the University of Central Florida, and the Florida High Tech Corridor Council.

Other major BRIDG partners include imec, Harris Corporation, Siemens, Aurora Semiconductor, Photon-X, University of Florida, University of South Florida, and Florida Institute of Technology, among others.