High performance monolithic power management system with dynamic maximum power point tracking for microbial fuel cells.
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Microbial fuel cell (MFC) that can directly generate electricity from organic waste or biomass is a promising renewable and clean technology. However, low power and low voltage output of MFCs typically do not allow directly operating most electrical applications, whether it is supplementing electricity to wastewater treatment plants or for powering autonomous wireless sensor networks. Power management systems (PMSs) can overcome this limitation by boosting the MFC output voltage and managing the power for maximum efficiency. We present a monolithic low-power-consuming PMS integrated circuit (IC) chip capable of dynamic maximum power point tracking (MPPT) to maximize the extracted power from MFCs, regardless of the power and voltage fluctuations from MFCs over time. The proposed PMS continuously detects the maximum power point (MPP) of the MFC and matches the load impedance of the PMS for maximum efficiency. The system also operates autonomously by directly drawing power from the MFC itself without any external power. The overall system efficiency, defined as the ratio between input energy from the MFC and output energy stored into the supercapacitor of the PMS, was 30%. As a demonstration, the PMS connected to a 240 mL two-chamber MFC (generating 0.4 V and 512 μW at MPP) successfully powered a wireless temperature sensor that requires a voltage of 2.5 V and consumes power of 85 mW each time it transmit the sensor data, and successfully transmitted a sensor reading every 7.5 min. The PMS also efficiently managed the power output of a lower-power producing MFC, demonstrating that the PMS works efficiently at various MFC power output level.
author list (cited authors)
Erbay, C., Carreon-Bautista, S., Sanchez-Sinencio, E., & Han, A.