Battery Blues

To date primary cell batteries have been the most popular way to power low cost devices. However, they have limitations that have required the battery industry to look at more innovative ways of powering devices. One of the key market areas that are helping to drive small battery innovation forward is the Internet of Things (IoT).

Current battery trends in rechargeable cells require batteries to have a lower discharge rate for several reasons; to increase the length of time the charge can be held but also the ability to be trickle charged by the range of energy harvesting chargers now available.  Energy harvesting is an exciting prospect to obtain energy from the environment. This can be from solar, heat or from the device itself, through vibration. Conversely, often fast discharge functionality is also needed to support the very high currents for pulse type communications typically found in older cellular systems.

Industrial IoT (IIoT) brings it with several additional challenges. The battery technology needs to be low cost, a small physical footprint and able to operate across a range of environments. Industrial rated batteries are required operate over wide temperature ranges both high and low and typical electronics specs for the industrial space quote temperature ranges of -40°C up to 100°C or more. So the chosen battery technology needs support these ranges. But industrial locations also often have high humidity, a variety of vibrations and some are in total darkness, if they are unmanned. To add more complications, Lithium metal primary batteries are classed as dangerous goods and are restricted on flights as there can be a risk of becoming flammable in some circumstances.

For rechargeables, Lithium-ion batteries have been the main workhorse of battery technologies over recent years – however they are now experiencing additional pressures from external influences. As the number of battery powered devices increases, the issue of disposal of the batteries is becoming more of a concern. It has been recognised the current issues of disposal around plastics will soon be followed on by safe battery disposal as a key concern as more devices such as mobile phones and cars continue to increase their battery usage. Many products have benefitted from the advancement in smaller, lower-power battery technologies, as seen in the mobile phone space, but the trend here is for larger batteries to support the increased range of activities, whilst being able to maintain a day long charge.

The current poor environmental footprint of batteries, with respect to the levels of toxic metals and chemicals, is becoming more of a focus for EU regulations with more emphasis on safe disposal. More responsibility is being put back onto the battery manufacturers who are having to finance the cost of collecting, treating and recycling all collected batteries, which will ultimately put additional pricing costs on the batteries themselves. The cost of the underlying metals used are also increasing due to the rising demand from electrical and hybrid cars. A very worrying trend is the cost of Lithium itself is expected to increase x4 in the next 5 years according to the EU.

As these increasing pressures are being applied to Lithium based batteries, more companies are looking at how they can either reduce the size, or in some cases remove the battery completely from their small devices. Harvesting energy is key to turning this into a reality. There are a wide range of energy harvesting options including thermal, solar and vibration. All these aspects could be leveraged in an industrial location as more of an energy source than a hindrance. 8power is looking at how tailored solutions can be incorporated into sensing devices to maximise the power that can be harvested from the environment. Some instances such as for outside plant equipment monitoring, a small photovoltaic cell can power a wireless sensor; whereas a larger piece of rotating plant equipment can create enough vibration to power more sophisticated and much higher power systems.

There is an abundance of energy in the environment and we need to have solutions that take advantage of this. At 8power we believe that our energy harvesting eliminates the need for battery replacement and recharging. This not only makes great economic sense, it also helps the environment by reducing the cycle of metal mining and disposal. It is a true “win-win”.

Transforming water plant equipment maintenance through condition-based monitoring

Wastewater and water treatment equipment is susceptible to failure for many reasons. Equipment networks are dispersed across a wide range of locations, most are unmanned which means many of the assets tend to receive limited, structured maintenance. There are many incidents when maintenance is reactive only when a failure is reported which is always costly. Having the ability to easily monitor a wide range of industrial equipment and detect the early onset of problems increases operational efficiency and maximises the effectiveness of maintenance resources.

In water operations and particularly in wastewater, many of the remote assets such as pumps and motors are often the root cause of problems – however the problem can be identified further through the system. This can make troubleshooting difficult, costly and time consuming. Added to this, the unpredictable nature of the external environment caused by elements such as rainfall levels, debris and sewage levels can further complicate plant management. The current estimate for the cost of maintenance of wastewater treatment plants is between 15-25% of total operational costs (Source: Hamburg Public Sewage). This is dependent on the age and historical maintenance levels of the plant equipment. We have seen figures that suggest reactive maintenance is the most expensive with the cost currently estimated at £5M-£15M per annum for a UK WASC to maintain a large sewage pumping station. These figures show there is a clear need to balance the visibility of the condition of the wastewater equipment and costs of monitoring.

Normally vibration is seen as a bad thing in plant equipment and something that engineers try to remove, but it can hold a vital clue on the condition of motors, pumps and other equipment. Vibration can be utilised to give an easy to monitor source of information. Using one of the new generation of low power, multi-axis accelerometers to monitor an asset’s health via vibration you can yield lots of useful information. Just from vibration alone it is possible to record an asset’s start and stop times, its total duty cycle and its energy usage. By simple analysis of the vibration traces you can detect if the asset has been set up correctly for time of day operation. Further analysis can also show if there are signs of blockages, bearing wear, chipped gears, shaft misalignment or surface degradation. Currently it is estimated that 30% of all sewage pumping stations contain at least one blocked or restricted element of functionality creating inefficiency and excess energy usage. Being able to easily monitor the health of these remote stations will enable a more effective maintenance approach by highlighting when assets need attention. This allows asset managers and operators to prioritise and allocate maintenance resources to the most affected sites with the target to reduce reactive maintenance costs and minimize asset downtime.

8power have engineered a small footprint, self-powered, scalable, solution that enables remote condition monitoring across a fleet of water industry assets. We use vibration to power our retrofittable, wireless sensor system. Without the constraints of battery power our devices can perform much of the vibration analysis locally on the sensor using the high-performance embedded ARM processor.

We are seeing that condition monitoring of all assets is becoming a critical business need for water treatment and wastewater processing.

Currently 8power are conducting remote condition monitoring pilot programs with water companies in the UK and Europe and will be publishing the results of these later in the year.

Martin Jackson joins 8power Limited as VP, Engineering

Martin Jackson

Martin Jackson, VP, Engineering

8power is delighted to announce the appointment of Martin Jackson as VP, Engineering with immediate effect.

Martin is an experienced technical leader and entrepreneur who has built multi-disciplinary, multi-site teams and co-founded four companies.

Before joining 8power, Martin was Group Head of Technology at Elektron Technology plc, building its engineering group to support a portfolio of specialist product and component brands. Prior to this, he served as VP Technology, VP Engineering and CTO at startups including Plastic Logic, Artimi, Frontier Silicon, Virata and Active Book.

Martin continues to serve as non-executive director of DisplayLink, where he chairs the IP Committee. Martin commented “I’m delighted to join 8power and help build a world class company.”

Dr Antony Rix, 8power CEO, welcomed Martin to the company: “As 8power prepares to grow, we are delighted that Martin has joined us to lead 8power’s engineering team. He has outstanding experience helping technology companies to scale and bring complex products to market. We look forward to working with Martin to launch our next generation of connected solutions, and build an exciting and successful business.”

 

About 8power

8power is a new start-up company commercialising novel vibration energy harvesting (VEH), sensors and wireless technology monitoring and tracking the condition of industrial and mobile assets.

For more information please contact 8power on +44 1223 781610 or through www.8power.com

8power Limited, Future Business Centre, King’s Hedges Road, Cambridge CB4 2HY, UK

8power wins prestigious IDTechEX energy harvesting award

8power is pleased to announce being awarded “Best Technical Development in Energy Harvesting” at the 2017 IDTechEX conference in Berlin. With the launch of the Track100 self-powered GPS tracker the company has taken vibration energy harvesting out of the lab and in to a family of products.

Commenting on the award 8power CEO, Dr Antony Rix said “We are delighted and grateful to the panel of independent judges for making this prestigious award. We have worked rapidly to progress the commercial success of vibration energy harvesting. Thanks to our academic partners at the University of Cambridge and the 8power team for their hard work to allow us to launch our first products so soon”.

Rix added “This award validates our energy harvesting technology and highlights that the technology has moved from research to a commercial product sector. We are seeing completely new classes of connected devices emerge with energy harvesting at their core”.

The Track100 family of devices fully integrates 8power’s patented vibration energy harvesting, power management, energy storage, GPS/GNSS positioning and a choice of wide area cellular communications, in a sleek and robust IP67 casing. For ease of operations a secure cloud hosted data platform is available to provide dashboards, analytics, device management, security and application API access to manage fleets of devices.

Designed to report location and sensor data multiple times per day over cellular and LPWA networks, the Track100 is designed to operate for years in the field with no need to charge or replace batteries, free from the requirement to provide a wired power supply. The devices make it easy to get data from unpowered assets and is ideal for transportation, construction and rail based applications.

Evaluation of Track100 devices is now underway with selected lead customers in multiple territories. Please contact us to arrange a demonstration or order an evaluation kit.

10-11 May, 2017: 8power presenting and exhibiting at Energy Harvesting Europe, Berlin

Dr Antony RixFind out how 8power is “Powering the sensor revolution”.  8power’s CEO, Dr Antony Rix, will present how our technology enables self-powered wireless solutions for industrial IoT. IDTechEx’s Energy Harvesting show is the leading international conference and exhibition on energy harvesting and related technologies.

8power will share how wireless devices such as GPS trackers, Internet-of-Things devices and condition monitoring sensors will be revolutionised by turning small amounts of vibration energy in to electrical power. Our unique & patented Vibration Energy Harvesting (VEH) technology utilises the phenomenon of parametric resonance to generate up to ten times the electrical power of vibration energy harvesting systems currently available.

This massive increase in available power enables us to run a completely self-sustaining sensor and communications systems without the need for battery replacement when operating in an environment with even modest vibration. 8power’s VEH technology is tightly integrated with low power sensors, LPWAN wide area wireless networking and local energy storage and management to allow extended operations when assets are idle. All data is made available through our cloud hosted, secure data platform.

The 8power team will be demonstrating the parametric resonance technology on site at the exhibition.

10-11 May, 2017 at the Estrel Berlin Hotel and Convention Center.

Further information

Self-powered sensor pioneer 8power wins prestigious Business Weekly award

8power, the pioneer of self-powered wireless sensors was awarded the prestigious Cambridge Graduate Business of the Year award at a gala dinner on 22 March 2017. The judges commented that they had been impressed by the rapid progress the company had made from University of Cambridge spin-out to established, revenue generating startup.

The company raised USD$1M funding in 2016 to commercialise vibration energy harvesting to power sensor systems in industrial and Internet of Things applications.

CEO Dr Antony Rix collected the award on behalf of the team. He said “we are delighted that 8power has been acknowledged as a leader in this field, and would like to recognise the University of Cambridge researchers who invented the highly distinctive intellectual property that we are now using. We would also like to thank Business Weekly for organising the awards, and the judges, supporters and sponsors who made it possible.”

“The award reflects the strength and commitment of my co-founders and the 8power team developing this technology to power smart sensors. We are grateful for the continuing support of our investors, Cambridge Enterprise, the University of Cambridge Enterprise Funds, and IP Group, as we grow the company to address this exciting market opportunity.”

Richard Green is appointed as Chair of 8power Limited

8power is delighted to announce the appointment of Richard Green as Chairman of the Board of Directors with immediate effect.

Richard is a serial entrepreneur, non-executive director and business mentor. He was co-founder and CEO of Ubisense, the award winning Industrial Internet of Things pioneer. Under Richard’s leadership Ubisense listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2011. Richard is a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and was the winner of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2010 in the Science and Technology category.

Prior to Ubisense, Richard co-founded Smallworld, an enterprise geospatial software company which listed on Nasdaq in 1996 and was acquired by GE in 2000. Richard is engaged with several early stage companies as a mentor, angel investor and non-executive director principally in the location, industrial IoT, and mobility sectors.

Richard commented “I am thrilled to join 8power at this tremendously exciting stage in its development. We have hit a real sweet spot of opportunity. Based on many years of leading research and development led by Prof. Ashwin Seshia at the University of Cambridge, the IP represents a step change in energy harvesting performance, as much as ten times existing solutions. We have a great team with lots of experience and energy to tap into a huge addressable market, backed by leading investors, IP Group and Cambridge Enterprise – a great combination.”

Welcoming Mr Green to the Board, Dr Antony Rix, 8power CEO said “We are very pleased that Richard has joined our team. He brings a wealth of valuable experience in how to grow and scale industrial IoT companies with emerging technology in global markets. I look forward to working with Richard to secure further investment in 8power and to address exciting new markets.”

8power expands executive team

Cambridge, UK, 520161201-paul-eganth December 2016 – Following an investment of approximately $1m earlier this year, Cambridge-based vibration energy harvesting specialist 8power is pleased to announce that Paul Egan has joined the company as VP of Business Development.

Paul comes to 8power from the Digital Catapult where he successfully led the Networks & Hardware platforms activity for IoTUK to deliver their highly visible, large scale demonstrator & SME acceleration programs. Prior to the Catapult Paul was a co-founder & VP of Business Development for Neul, the original pioneer of Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) for Internet-of-Things applications. Neul was acquired by Huawei in September 2014.

Paul has an impressive track record of establishing & managing high value complex partner engagements, as well as the development and execution of go-to-market strategies for innovative new technologies.

“Paul brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise in establishing start-up companies in new technology areas. He is tasked with fuelling our growth and helping take 8power to the next level of its development. Additionally, we will continue to pro-actively seek other high calibre people to meet our stated ambition to ‘power the sensor revolution’” said Antony Rix, CEO of 8power.

 

About 8power

8power is a new start-up company commercialising novel vibration energy harvesting (VEH) technology developed by researchers from the University of Cambridge. The target markets for the technology are self-powered wireless & IoT devices for sensing and measurement in industrial applications.

VEH enables power to be generated from a variety of vibration sources including motors, moving vehicles, or traffic-induced movement in structures such as bridges. The patented technology delivers 10 times higher electrical power than existing VEH systems by employing the principle of parametric resonance. This exciting discovery was pioneered by leading academics at the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction at the University of Cambridge.

For more information, please contact 8power through http://www.8power.com/contact/

8power opens new office at Future Business Centre Cambridge

8power Limited, the Cambridge University spin out, focused on commercialising vibration energy harvesting for wireless sensors and Internet of Things devices, is pleased to announce a move to the Allia Future Business Centre in Cambridge UK.

fbc_building_smallAntony Rix, 8power CEO said “Our move to the Future Business Centre will allow us to recruit further staff and accelerate our product development. We have taken enough office space for our expanding team and are delighted to secure workshop space for development, manufacturing and testing of our cutting-edge energy harvesting and wireless technologies”.

The Future Business Centre is located at the heart of the Cambridge technology community and is adjacent to Cambridge Science Park.

Earlier this year 8power received approximately US$1m in seed funding from IP Group plc, the University of Cambridge Enterprise Fund III, managed by Parkwalk Advisors, and Cambridge Enterprise, the commercial arm of Cambridge University. Antony commented “The investment will enable us to move quickly from prototypes to product, firstly for trials and then volume deployments.”

Details of 8power technology can be found at www.8power.com

.ENDS

About 8power

8power is a new start-up company commercialising novel vibration energy harvesting (VEH) technology developed by researchers from the University of Cambridge. The target markets for the technology are self-powered wireless & IoT devices for sensing and measurement in industrial applications.

VEH enables power to be generated from a variety of vibration sources including motors, moving vehicles, or traffic-induced movement in structures such as bridges. The patented technology delivers 10 times higher electrical power than existing VEH systems by employing the principle of parametric resonance. This exciting discovery was pioneered by leading academics at the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction at the University of Cambridge.

For more information

Please contact 8power on +44 1223 781610 or www.8power.com

8power Limited, Future Business Centre, King’s Hedges Road, Cambridge CB4 2HY, UK

About Allia Future Business Centre 

Allia Future Business Centre in Cambridge has been created to help people and organisations that want to start or grow an enterprise that has a positive impact on people, planet or place.

They offer affordable and flexible workspace and expert business support through free programmes like Serious Impact to help entrepreneurs start and grow impact ventures
For more information on the Allia Future Business Centre please call 01223 781200 or visit www.futurebusinesscentre.co.uk
Photo courtesy of Allia Future Business Centre Cambridge

 

8power winner at CW Discovering Startups 2016

8power Limited, a Cambridge startup developing smart sensors for industrial applications, won the 7th CW Discovering Startups Competition in October 2016.

21 October, 2016 – for immediate release

Discovering Startups is the flagship annual startup competition of CW (Cambridge Wireless), the leading networking organisation for the wireless industry. It attracted a wide range of applicants, from which 10 companies were selected to pitch before a high-profile panel of 29 judges from organisations including Barclays, Breed Reply, BT, CIC, Deloitte UK, Google, London Business Angels, Samsung, Silicon Valley Bank, Wayra, and other experts from the technology, investment and venture capital community.

The event, held on 19 October 2016, was kindly hosted by Deloitte and sponsored by Invest in Provence, Dorsey and IC Resources. The event was also supported by Digital Catapult, SETsquared, St. John’s Innovation Centre, Tech City, Tradefair, Department for International Trade, Google and Wayra.

8power was selected as one of the three winners, along with AlgoDynamix from London and 8power’s fellow Cambridge Enterprise and Ideaspace startup Focal Point Positioning.

“All 10 finalists impressed the judges and it was challenging to whittle it down to three winners,” said Bob Driver, CEO at CW. “The competition always creates a buzz and is a great showcase for the very best in tech innovation from the UK and beyond, while the passion and quality of the pitches showed that invention and entrepreneurship are stronger than ever.”

David Cobb, innovation tax partner at Deloitte and one of the judges, said: “The finalists this year lived up to expectations and proved that the UK technology start-up scene is in rude health. Congratulations to the winners, 8power, AlgoDynamix and Focal Point Positioning, who each showed a great breadth of technology expertise and business acumen. While the spotlight is on the three winners it was a tremendous opportunity for all the finalists to get feedback and advice from 28 industry experts and investors that they can use to help drive their businesses forward.”

The three winners all received a Discovering Start-Ups trophy along with:

  • A delegate pass for the 2017 Future of Wireless International Conference
  • Free year’s CW Founder Membership
  • Ticket to attend the 2017 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona courtesy of Tradefair and the Department of International Trade
  • A secured place in the semi-finals of the £50K Wayra Acceleration programme

Commenting on the award, Dr Antony Rix, CEO of 8power, said: “We are delighted that the judges recognised 8power’s potential. The quality of pitches was tremendous and we congratulate the other finalists and winners. It was a great event that allowed us to make links both with the investment community and with potential customers. We look forward to building on this success over the coming years.”

Further information:

Photo: 8power’s Antony Rix (second from left at the front) with the other two finalists and Discovering Startups judges.

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