Power Management in Energy Harvesting Sensor Networks [Journal Paper]

NESL Technical Report #: 2006-5-1

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Abstract: Power management is an important concern in sensor networks, because a tethered energy infrastructure is not available and an obvious concern is to use the available battery energy efficiently. However, in some of the sensor networking applications, an additional facility is available to ameliorate the energy problem: harvesting energy from the environment. Certain considerations in using an energy harvesting source are fundamentally different from that in using a battery because, rather than a limit on the maximum energy, it has a limit on the maximum rate at which the energy can be used. Further, the harvested energy availability typically varies with time in a nondeterministic manner. While a deterministic metric such as residual battery suffices to characterize the energy availability in the case of batteries, a more sophisticated characterization may be required for a harvesting source. Another issue that becomes important in networked systems with multiple harvesting nodes is that different nodes may have different harvesting opportunity. In a distributed application, the same end-user performance may be achieved using different workload allocations, and resultant energy consumptions, at multiple nodes. In this case it is important to align the workload allocation with the energy availability at the harvesting nodes. We consider the above issues in power management for energy harvesting sensor networks. We develop abstractions to characterize the complex time varying nature of such sources with analytically tractable models and use them to address key design issues. We also develop distributed methods to efficiently use harvested energy and test these both in simulation and experimentally on an energy harvesting sensor network, prototyped for this work.

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Publication Forum: ACM Transactions on Embedded Computing Systems (in revision)

Page (Count): 35

Date: 2006-05-11

Public Document?: Yes

NESL Document?: Yes

Document category: Journal Paper

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