Charge-based supercapacitor storage estimation for indoor sub-mW photovoltaic energy harvesting powered wireless sensor nodes

Xicai Yue, Janice Kiely, Des Gibson, Emmanuel M. Drakakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
250 Downloads (Pure)


Supercapacitors offer an attractive energy storage solution for lifetime “fit and forget” photovoltaic (PV) energy harvesting powered wireless sensor nodes for internet of things (IoT) applications. Whilst their low storage capacity is not an issue for sub-mW PV applications, energy loss in the charge redistribution process is a concern. Currently there is no effective method to estimate the storage of the supercapacitor in IoT applications for optimal performance with sub-mW input. The existing energy-based method requires supercapacitor model parameters to be obtained and the initial charge state to be determined, consequently it is not suitable for practical applications. This paper defines a charge-based method, which can directly evaluate supercapacitor's storage with straightforward calculations. Time constant analysis and experimental tests demonstrate that with the newly proposed method the manufacturer-specified tiny leakage current, although measured long after post-charge (e.g. 72 hours), can be directly used, making the storage estimation for a supercapacitor in IoT applications as simple as that for an ordinary capacitor. In addition, the demonstrated tiny leakage current at the required energy storage for a sub-mW PV powered IoT application enables a supercapacitor alone to be employed as the storage mechanism, thus achieving lifetime battery-replacement-free, self-powered IoT nodes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2411-2421
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics
Issue number3
Early online date25 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2020


  • supercapacitor
  • leakage current
  • self-discharge
  • charge redistribution
  • photovoltaic (PV)
  • energy harvesting
  • internet of things
  • charge analysis
  • current-mode circuit analysis


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