Abstract

Environmental energy is an attractive power source for low power wireless sensor networks. We present Prometheus, a system that intelligently manages energy transfer for perpetual operation without human intervention or servicing. Combining positive attributes of different energy storage elements and leveraging the intelligence of the microprocessor, we introduce an efficient multi-stage energy transfer system that reduces the common limitations of single energy storage systems to achieve near perpetual operation. We present our design choices, tradeoffs, circuit evaluations, performance analysis, and models. We discuss the relationships between system components and identify optimal hardware choices to meet an application’s needs. Finally we present our implementation of a real system that uses solar energy to power Berkeley’s Telos Mote. Our analysis predicts the system will operate for 43 years under 1% load, 4 years under 10% load, and 1 year under 100% load. Our implementation uses a two stage storage system consisting of supercapacitors (primary buffer) and a lithium rechargeable battery (secondary buffer). The mote has full knowledge of power levels and intelligently manages energy transfer to maximize lifetime.