Batteries make the world go round. Not just in cellphones and laptop computers, but in all sorts of other devices, many of which need to run 24/7. There are two problems with batteries, though – they cost money, and they need to constantly be replaced or recharged.
While this isn’t such a problem for consumer devices and gadgets, it is a major issue for always-on monitoring systems, used in hundreds of venues – security systems, utility monitoring, farms and factories. In those venues, managers are forced to keep strict track of when batteries were installed and when they need to be changed, and a foul-up could cost an organization time and any money.
Israeli startup Sol-Chip has a solution: an eco-friendly renewable battery power technology using photovoltaic energy (PV), integrated with low power electronic devices (VLSI). All those alarms, monitors, game devices, and many others can now use a low-cost, disposable, solar-powered batteries that can be recharged with the power of the sun. The batteries are integrated with chips that are designed for a specific device or product, so the batteries are actually part of the device itself. It’s a green, low-cost solution that takes the burden off managers, and puts it on the sun, which is “responsible” for powering and recharging the batteries that make these devices go, the company says.
Although the chips can be used in all sorts of devices, inside or outside, they are ideal for things like identity tags used for products in a warehouse, which currently use, for the most part, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. As a pilot project, Sol-Chip has developed a series of chips for use on dairy farms; the chips can be attached to cows and other animals, allowing farmers to monitor their animals. “If the system costs 100 dollar per head and the farmer has 10,000 heads of cattle you can figure out the time, effort and expense in replacing such systems,” says Sol-Chip CEO Dr. Shani Keysar. “With our photovoltaic-PV renewable battery especially designed for small, low power devices, farmers can save themselves all that work and money, on maintaining their herd management solutions.”
“We are concentrating for now on the agricultural market, where there is a great opportunity,” Keysar says. “For example, one application we are working on is for Israeli company Netafim, a large maker of plant watering systems. Our technology will allow sprinkler systems to work almost indefinitely, without the need to change batteries.”
It’s a major breakthrough for small devices, says Keysar, and one with many applications. “There are all sorts of devices in farms, agriculture , infrastructure and homes that will benefit from this technology,” she says. Take, for example, medical equipment used in emergency situations. “Battery performance and replacement is a major headache for medical personnel responsible for ensuring that life-saving equipment is ready when it is most needed,” Keysar says. “Our technology ensures that staff have one less thing to worry about.”