Energy harvesting, low-power sensor modules are characterised by their energy independence, power consumption, size, robustness to withstand the environmental conditions, maintenance demand and long term operation. To secure any of these conditions focus has to be put on the device energy reservoir. Traditional approach would reach for the battery and at the very beginning of the development, accept the limitations that go along with it. These limitations in form of high temperature difference dependency, current peaks, limited charge cycles, loss of operating voltage and capacity, soon become constraints in the sensor module life cycle. Answer to these constraints and a guarantor of a long sensor module life cycle is a supercapacitor. An energy storage which does not have any special charging requests, other than ensuring that the maximum voltage is not exceeded, or that a minimum voltage is not reached. Supercapacitors have a low ESR (equivalent series resistance), typically of the order of 100 mΩ. This reduces internal losses during charge and discharge cycles allowing them to handle current surges without the output voltage dropping significantly. Lithium-ion supercapacitors especially have good self-discharge characteristics and retain their voltage for years.
Part of the book: Exergy and Its Application