One of the more common techniques for accelerating designs and avoiding unexpected design problems involves software tools. For energy harvesting (EH) applications, Mentor Graphics on-line modeling and simulation platform called SystemVision, a cloud-based design system, provides component/system suppliers and users the basis for a new EH design tool. Since many designers are intrigued by the potential for EH to power wireless sensor designs and avoid replacing batteries, this could accelerate their acceptance and use of EH technologies.
According to Mike Donnelly, Principal Engineer for Cloud-Based System Modeling and Analysis at Mentor Graphics, A Siemens Business, “SystemVision is a free (for public use) and versatile tool that leverages an IEEE Standard format for modeling analog, digital and multi-discipline circuits and systems.”
The modeling tool captures the physics of the mechanism in formulas that relate the spatial, motion and physical (material) properties of the components in an EH system. The VHDL-AMS language used in SystemVision supports an executable implementation of those formulas, providing a scalable and reusable model that can be easily adjusted by the user for various configurations.
If an EH supplier makes a model of its component, then the end-user is able to place that model in his own application context, or simply “try it” in an example design context created by the supplier. As a result, customers/users gain a much richer understanding of the EH capabilities, benefits and more.
At this point, Mentor Graphics has developed three EH examples:
- An electrodynamic EH system that could be used to extract energy from the vibration of an industrial motor
- An electro-thermal EH system with a sampled-data algorithm for maximum power point tracking (MPPT)
- A higher power solar charging system for a 12 V automotive battery.