Energy harvesters withstanding high temperatures could provide potentially unlimited energy to sensor nodes placed in harsh environments, where manual maintenance is difficult and costly. Experimental results on a classical microcantilever show a 67% drop of the maximum power when the temperature is increased up to 160 °C. This decrease is investigated using a lumped-parameters model which takes into account variations in material parameters with temperature, damping increase and thermal stresses induced by mismatched thermal coefficients in a composite cantilever. The model allows a description of the maximum power evolution as a function of temperature and input acceleration. Simulation results further show that an increase in damping and the apparition of thermal stresses are contributing to the power drop at 59% and 13% respectively.
The conventional resonant-approaches to scavenge kinetic energy are typically confined to narrow and single-band frequencies. The vibration energy harvester device reported here combines both direct resonance and parametric resonance in order to enhance the power responsiveness towards more efficient harnessing of real-world ambient vibration. A packaged electromagnetic harvester designed to operate in both of these resonant regimes was tested in situ on the Forth Road Bridge. In the field-site, the harvester, with an operational volume of ~126 cm3, was capable of recovering in excess of 1 mW average raw AC power from the traffic-induced vibrations in the lateral bracing structures underneath the bridge deck. The harvester was integrated off-board with a power conditioning circuit and a wireless mote. Duty- cycled wireless transmissions from the vibration-powered mote was successfully sustained by the recovered ambient energy. This limited duration field test provides the initial validation for realising vibration-powered wireless structural health monitoring systems in real world infrastructure, where the vibration profile is both broadband and intermittent.
Among the various methods of extracting energy harvested by a piezoelectric vibration energy harvester, full-bridge rectifiers (FBR) are widely employed due to its simplicity and stability. However, its efficiency and operational range are limited due to a threshold voltage that the open-circuit voltage generated from the piezoelectric transducer (PT) must attain prior to any energy extraction. This voltage linearly depends on the output voltage of the FBR and the forward voltage drop of diodes and the nature of the interface can significantly limit the amount of extracted energy under low excitation levels. In this paper, a passive scheme is proposed to split the electrode of a micromachined PT into multiple (n) equal regions, which are electrically connected in series. The power output from such a series connected MEMS PT allows for the generated voltage to readily overcome the threshold set by the FBR. Theoretical calculations have been performed in this paper to assess the performance for different series stages (n values) and the theory has been experimentally validated. The results show that a PT with more series stages (high n values) improves the efficiency of energy extraction relative to the case with fewer series-connected stages under weak excitation levels.
This paper reports on the theory and experimental verification of utilising air damping as a soft stopper mechanism for piezoelectric vibration energy harvesting to enhance shock resistance. Experiments to characterise device responsiveness under various vibration conditions were performed at different air pressure levels, and a dimensionless model was constructed with nonlinear damping terms included to model PVEH response. The relationship between the quadratic damping coefficient ζ n and air pressure is empirically established, and an optimal pressure level is calculated to trade off harvestable energy and device robustness for specific environmental conditions.
Jia, Yu; Du, Sijun; Seshia, Ashwin A.(IOP Publishing, 2015-12-01)
Most MEMS piezoelectric vibration energy harvesters involve either cantilever-based topologies, doubly-clamped beams or membrane structures. While these traditional designs offer simplicity, their frequency response for broadband excitation are typically inadequate. This paper presents a new integrated cantilever-on-membrane design that attempts to both optimise the strain distribution on a piezoelectric membrane resonator and improve the power responsiveness of the harvester for broadband excitation. While a classic membrane-based resonator has the potential to theoretically offer wider operational frequency bandwidth than its cantilever counterpart, the addition of a centred proof mass neutralises its otherwise high strain energy regions. The proposed topology addresses this issue by relocating the proof mass onto subsidiary cantilevers and integrates the merits of both the membrane and the cantilever designs. When experimentally subjected to a band-limited white noise excitation, up to approximately two folds of power enhancement was observed for the new membrane harvester compared to a classic plain membrane device.
Du, Sijun; Jia, Yu; Seshia, Ashwin A.(IOP Publishing, 2015-12-01)
A resonant vibration energy harvester typically comprises of a clamped anchor and a vibrating shuttle with a proof mass. Piezoelectric materials are embedded in locations of high strain in order to transduce mechanical deformation into electric charge. Conventional design for piezoelectric vibration energy harvesters (PVEH) usually utilizes piezoelectric material and metal electrode layers covering the entire surface area of the cantilever with no consideration provided to examining the trade-off involved with respect to maximizing output power. This paper reports on the theory and experimental verification underpinning optimization of the active electrode area of a cantilevered PVEH in order to maximize output power. The analytical formulation utilizes Euler-Bernoulli beam theory to model the mechanical response of the cantilever. The expression for output power is reduced to a fifth order polynomial expression as a function of the electrode area. The maximum output power corresponds to the case when 44% area of the cantilever is covered by electrode metal. Experimental results are also provided to verify the theory.
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