The Department of Mechanical Engineering is located on Thornton Science Park, a modern expressly-designed site that profits from a recently-completed multi-million pound renovation that has created a state-of-the-art teaching and research facility. The site was home to Shell UK’s exploration and research centre since the 1940s, and its takeover by the University heralded the opportunity to apply its legacy to the continuation of world-class innovation and research in the North West.

Recent Submissions

  • Interface Cohesive Elements to Model Matrix Crack Evolution in Composite Laminates

    Shi, Yu; Pinna, Christophe; Soutis, Constantinos; University of Chester; University of Sheffield; University of Manchester (Springer, 2013-10-02)
    In this paper, the transverse matrix (resin) cracking developed in multidirectional composite laminates loaded in tension was numerically investigated by a finite element (FE) model implemented in the commercially available software Abaqus/Explicit 6.10. A theoretical solution using the equivalent constraint model (ECM) of the damaged laminate developed by Soutis et al. was employed to describe matrix cracking evolution and compared to the proposed numerical approach. In the numerical model, interface cohesive elements were inserted between neighbouring finite elements that run parallel to fibre orientation in each lamina to simulate matrix cracking with the assumption of equally spaced cracks (based on experimental measurements and observations). The stress based traction-separation law was introduced to simulate initiation of matrix cracking and propagation under mixed-mode loading. The numerically predicted crack density was found to depend on the mesh size of the model and the material fracture parameters defined for the cohesive elements. Numerical predictions of matrix crack density as a function of applied stress are in a good agreement to experimentally measured and theoretically (ECM) obtained values, but some further refinement will be required in near future work.
  • Predicting the critical heat flux in pool boiling based on hydrodynamic instability induced irreversible hot spots

    Zhao, Huayong; Williams, Andrew; Loughborough University; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2018-03-07)
    A new model, based on the experimental observation reported in the literature that CHF is triggered by the Irreversible Hot Spots (IHS), has been developed to predict the Critical Heat Flux (CHF) in pool boiling. The developed Irreversible Hot Spot (IHS) model can predict the CHF when boiling methanol on small flat surfaces and long horizontal cylinders of different sizes to within 5% uncertainty. It can also predict the effect of changing wettability (i.e. contact angle) on CHF to within 10% uncertainty for both hydrophilic and hydrophobic surfaces. In addition, a linear empirical correlation has been developed to model the bubble growth rate as a function of the system pressure. The IHS model with this linear bubble growth coefficient correlation can predict the CHF when boiling water on both flat surfaces and long horizontal cylinders to within 5% uncertainty up to 10 bar system pressure, and the CHF when boiling methanol on a flat surface to within 10% uncertainty up to 5 bar. The predicted detailed bubble grow and merge process from various sub-models are also in good agreement with the experimental results reported in the literature.
  • A micromachined device describing over a hundred orders of parametric resonance

    Jia, Yu; Du, Sijun; Arroyo, Emmanuelle; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Cambridge; University of Chester (AIP Publishing, 2018-04-24)
    Parametric resonance in mechanical oscillators can onset from the periodic modulation of at least one of the system parameters, and the behaviour of the principal (1st order) parametric resonance has long been well established. However, the theoretically predicted higher orders of parametric resonance, in excess of the first few orders, have mostly been experimentally elusive due to the fast diminishing instability intervals. A recent paper experimentally reported up to 28 orders in a micromachined membrane oscillator. This paper reports the design and characterisation of a micromachined membrane oscillator with a segmented proof mass topology, in an attempt to amplify the inherent nonlinearities within the membrane layer. The resultant oscillator device exhibited up to over a hundred orders of parametric resonance, thus experimentally validating these ultra-high orders as well as overlapping instability transitions between these higher orders. This research introduces design possibilities for the transducer and dynamic communities, by exploiting the behaviour of these previously elusive higher order resonant regimes.
  • Evidence for the Perception of Time Distortion During Episodes of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

    Jia, Yu; Miao. Ying; University of Chester; Aston University (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2018-05-17)
    Alice in Wonderland syndrome (AIWS) is a rare perceptual disorder associated with sensation of one or several visual and/or auditory perceptual distortions including size of body parts, size of external objects, or passage of time (either speeding up or slowing down). Cause for AIWS is yet to be widely agreed, and the implications are widely varied. One of the research difficulties is the brevity of each episode, typically not exceeding few tens of minutes. This article presents a male adult in late 20s who has apparently experienced AIWS episodes since childhood, and infection has been ruled out. Reaction speed tests were conducted during and after AIWS episodes, across a span of 13 months. Statistically significant evidence is present for delayed response time during AIWS episodes when the patient claims to experience a sensation of time distortion: where events seem to move faster and people appear to speak quicker.
  • A finite element analysis of impact damage in composite laminates

    Shi, Yu; Soutis, Constantinos; University of Chester; University of Manchester (Cambridge University Press, 2012-12-01)
    In this work, stress-based and fracture mechanics criteria were developed to predict initiation and evolution, respectively, of intra- and inter-laminar cracking developed in composite laminates subjected to low velocity impact. The Soutis shear stress-strain semi-empirical model was used to describe the nonlinear shear behaviour of the composite. The damage model was implemented in the finite element (FE) code (Abaqus/Explicit) by a user-defined material subroutine (VUMAT). Delamination (or inter-laminar cracking) was modelled using interface cohesive elements and the splitting and transverse matrix cracks that appeared within individual plies were also simulated by inserting cohesive elements between neighbouring elements parallel to the fibre direction in each single layer. A good agreement was obtained when compared the numerically predicted results to experimentally obtained curves of impact force and absorbed energy versus time. A non-destructive technique (NDT), penetrant enhanced X-ray radiography, was used to observe the various damage mechanisms induced by impact. It has been shown that the proposed damage model can successfully capture the internal damage pattern and the extent to which it was developed in these carbon fibre/epoxy composite laminates.
  • Experimental and theoretical study of a piezoelectric vibration energy harvester under high temperature

    Arroyo, Emmanuelle; Jia, Yu; Du, Sijun; Chen, Shao-Tuan; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Cambridge; University of Chester (IEEE, 2017-08-01)
    This paper focuses on studying the effect of increasing the ambient temperature up to 160 °C on the power harvested by an MEMS piezoelectric micro-cantilever manufactured using an aluminum nitride-on-silicon fabrication process. An experimental study shows that the peak output power decreases by 60% to 70% depending on the input acceleration. A theoretical study establishes the relationship of all important parameters with temperature and includes them into a temperature-dependent model. This model shows that around 50% of the power drop can be explained by a decreasing quality factor, and that thermal stresses account for around 30% of this decrease.
  • Real-world evaluation of a self-startup SSHI rectifier for piezoelectric vibration energy harvesting

    Du, Sijun; Jia, Yu; Zhao, Chun; Chen, Shao-Tuan; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Cambridge; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2017-08-02)
    This paper presents an enhanced SSHI (synchronized switch harvesting on inductor) rectifier with startup circuit and representative environment validation using real world vibration data collected from a tram. Compared to a conventional SSHI rectifier, the proposed rectifier dynamically monitors the working status of the circuit and restarts it when necessary. The proposed rectifier is designed in a 0.35 μm HV CMOS process and its performance is experimentally evaluated. With a 500-second real-world collected vibration data, the conventional and the proposed SSHI rectifiers record average power performance improvements by 9.2× and 22× respectively, compared to a passive full-bridge rectifier. As the startup circuit helps restart the SSHI rectifier several times, it is able to extract energy in an increased excitation range and its average power output performance is 2.4× higher than a conventional SSHI rectifier.
  • A New Electrode Design Method in Piezoelectric Vibration Energy Harvesters to Maximize Output Power

    Du, Sijun; Jia, Yu; Chen, Shao-Tuan; Zhao, Chun; Sun, Boqian; Arroyo, Emmanuelle; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Cambridge; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2017-07-19)
    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 electrical charge. Conventional design for piezoelectric vibration energy harvesters (PVEH) usually utilizes piezoelectric materials and metal electrode layers covering the entire surface area of the cantilever with no consideration provided to examine the trade-off involved with respect to maximize output power. This paper reports on the theory and experimental verification underpinning optimization of the active electrode area in order to maximize output power. The calculations show that, in order to maximize the output power of a PVEH, the electrode should cover the piezoelectric layer from the peak strain area to a position, where the strain is a half of the average strain in all the previously covered area. With the proposed electrode design, the output power can be improved by 145% and 126% for a cantilever and a clamped-clamped beam, respectively. MEMS piezoelectric harvesters are fabricated to experimentally validate the theory.
  • Shock Reliability Enhancement for MEMS Vibration Energy Harvesters with Nonlinear Air Damping as Soft Stopper

    Chen, Shao-Tuan; Du, Sijun; Arroyo, Emmanuelle; Jia, Yu; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Cambridge; University of Chester (IOP Publishing, 2017-09-20)
    This paper presents a novel application of utilising nonlinear air damping as soft mechanical stopper to increase the shock reliability for MEMS vibration energy harvesters. Theoretical framework for nonlinear air damping is constructed for MEMS vibration energy harvesters operating in different air pressure levels, and characterisation experiments are conducted to establish the relationship between air pressure and nonlinear air damping coefficient for rectangular cantilever MEMS micro cantilevers with different proof masses. Design guidelines on choosing the optimal air pressure level for different MEMS vibration energy harvesters based on the trade-off between harvestable energy and the device robustness is presented, and random excitation experiments are performed to verify the robustness of MEMS vibration energy harvesters with nonlinear air damping as soft stoppers to limit the maximum deflection distance and increase the shock reliability of the device.
  • Modelling low velocity impact induced damage in composite laminates

    Shi, Yu; Soutis, Constantinos; University of Chester; University of Manchester (SpringerOpen, 2017-07-26)
    The paper presents recent progress on modelling low velocity impact induced damage in fibre reinforced composite laminates. It is important to understand the mechanisms of barely visible impact damage (BVID) and how it affects structural performance. To reduce labour intensive testing, the development of finite element (FE) techniques for simulating impact damage becomes essential and recent effort by the composites research community is reviewed in this work. The FE predicted damage initiation and propagation can be validated by Non Destructive Techniques (NDT) that gives confidence to the developed numerical damage models. A reliable damage simulation can assist the design process to optimise laminate configurations, reduce weight and improve performance of components and structures used in aircraft construction.
  • Magnetically levitated autoparametric broadband vibration energy harvesting

    Kurmann, Lukas; Jia, Yu; Manoli, Yiannos; Woias, Peter; University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland; University of Chester; University of Freiburg (IOP Publishing, 2016-12-06)
    Some of the lingering challenges within the current paradigm of vibration energy harvesting (VEH) involve narrow operational frequency range and the inevitable non-resonant response from broadband noise excitations. Such VEHs are only suitable for limited applications with fixed sinusoidal vibration, and fail to capture a large spectrum of the real world vibration. Various arraying designs, frequency tuning schemes and nonlinear vibratory approaches have only yielded modest enhancements. To fundamentally address this, the paper proposes and explores the potentials in using highly nonlinear magnetic spring force to activate an autoparametric oscillator, in order to realize an inherently broadband resonant system. Analytical and numerical modelling illustrate that high spring nonlinearity derived from magnetic levitation helps to promote the 2:1 internal frequency matching required to activate parametric resonance. At the right internal parameters, the resulting system can intrinsically exhibit semi-resonant response regardless of the bandwidth of the input vibration, including broadband white noise excitation.
  • Rotary bistable and Parametrically Excited Vibration Energy Harvesting

    Kurmann, Lukas; Jia, Yu; Hoffmann, Daniel; Manoli, Yiannos; Woias, Peter; University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland; University of Chester; Hahn-Schickard; University of Freiburg (IOP Publishing, 2016-12-06)
    Parametric resonance is a type of nonlinear vibration phenomenon [1], [2] induced from the periodic modulation of at least one of the system parameters and has the potential to exhibit interesting higher order nonlinear behaviour [3]. Parametrically excited vibration energy harvesters have been previously shown to enhance both the power amplitude [4] and the frequency bandwidth [5] when compared to the conventional direct resonant approach. However, to practically activate the more profitable regions of parametric resonance, additional design mechanisms [6], [7] are required to overcome a critical initiation threshold amplitude. One route is to establish an autoparametric system where external direct excitation is internally coupled to parametric excitation [8]. For a coupled two degrees of freedom (DoF) oscillatory system, principal autoparametric resonance can be achieved when the natural frequency of the first DoF f1 is twice that of the second DoF f2 and the external excitation is in the vicinity of f1. This paper looks at combining rotary and translatory motion and use autoparametric resonance phenomena.
  • High temperature performance of a piezoelectric micro cantilever for vibration energy harvesting

    Arroyo, Emmanuelle; Jia, Yu; Du, Sijun; Chen, Shao-Tuan; Seshia, Ashwin A. (IOP Publishing, 2016-12-06)
    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.
  • Utilising Nonlinear Air Damping as a Soft Mechanical Stopper for MEMS Vibration Energy Harvesting

    Chen, Shao-Tuan; Du, Sijun; Arroyo, Emmanuelle; Jia, Yu; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Cambridge; University of Chester (IOP Publishing, 2016-12-06)
    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.
  • Connection Configurations to Increase Operational Range and Output Power of Piezoelectric MEMS Vibration Energy Harvesters

    Du, Sijun; Chen, Shao-Tuan; Jia, Yu; Arroyo, Emmanuelle; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Cambridge; University of Chester (IOP Publishing, 2016-09-06)
    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.
  • Micromachined cantilevers-on-membrane topology for broadband vibration energy harvesting

    Jia, Yu; Du, Sijun; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Cambridge; University of Chester (IOP Publishing, 2016-10-17)
    The overwhelming majority of microelectromechanical piezoelectric vibration energy harvesting topologies have been based on cantilevers, doubly-clamped beams or basic membranes. While these conventional designs offer simplicity, their broadband responses have been limited thus far. This paper investigates the feasibility of a new integrated cantilevers-on-membrane design that explores the optimisation of piezoelectric strain distribution and improvement of the broadband power output. While a classic membrane has the potential to offer a broader resonant peak than its cantilever counterpart, the inclusion of a centred proof mass compromises its otherwise high strain energy regions. The proposed topology addresses this issue by relocating the proof mass onto subsidiary cantilevers and combines the merits of both the membrane and the cantilever designs. Numerical simulations, constructed using fitted values based on finite element models, were used to investigate the broadband response of the proposed design in contrast to a classic plain membrane. Experimentally, when subjected to a band-limited white noise excitation, the new cantilevers-on-membrane harvester exhibited nearly two fold power output enhancement when compared to a classic plain membrane harvester of a comparable size.
  • Piezoelectric vibration energy harvesting: A connection configuration scheme to increase operational range and output power

    Du, Sijun; Jia, Yu; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Cambridge; University of Chester (SAGE, 2016-12-12)
    For a conventional monolithic piezoelectric transducer (PT) using a full-bridge rectifier, there is a threshold voltage that the open-circuit voltage measured across the PT must attain prior to any transfer of energy to the storage capacitor at the output of the rectifier. This threshold voltage usually depends on the voltage of the storage capacitor and the forward voltage drop of diodes. This article presents a scheme of splitting the electrode of a monolithic piezoelectric vibration energy harvester into multiple (n) equal regions connected in series in order to provide a wider operating voltage range and higher output power while using a full-bridge rectifier as the interface circuit. The performance of different series stage numbers has been theoretically studied and experimentally validated. The number of series stages (n≥1n≥1) can be predefined for a particular implementation, which depends on the specified operating conditions, to achieve optimal performance. This enables the system to attain comparable performance compared to active interface circuits under an increased input range while no additional active circuits are required and the system is comparatively less affected by synchronized switching damping effect.
  • Eight parametric resonances in a multi-frequency wideband MEMS piezoelectric vibration energy harvester

    Jia, Yu; Du, Sijun; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Cambridge; University of Chester (IEEE, 2016-01-24)
    This paper presents a multi-order parametric resonant MEMS piezoelectric disk membrane, for the purpose of broadening the operational frequency bandwidth of a vibration energy harvester by employing the nonlinearity-induced bandwidth broadening associated with this phenomenon as well as the multi-frequency response associated with the higher orders. The fundamental mode -3dB bandwidth at 2.0 g recorded 55 Hz, while the first parametric resonant peak exhibited 365 Hz and the -3dB of the first 8 orders accumulated to 604 Hz. The membrane parametric resonator also experimentally demonstrated over 3-folds improvement in power density compared to a conventional direct resonator (cantilever), when subjected to band-limited white noise.
  • An Efficient Inductor-less Dynamically Configured Interface Circuit for Piezoelectric Vibration Energy Harvesting

    Du, Sijun; Jia, Yu; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Cambridge; University of Chester (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2016-07-07)
    Vibration energy harvesting based on piezoelectric materials is of interest in several applications such as in powering remote distributed wireless sensor nodes for structural health monitoring. Synchronized Switch Harvesting on Inductor (SSHI) and Synchronous Electric Charge Extraction (SECE) circuits show good power efficiency among reported power management circuits; however, limitations exist due to inductors employed, adaption of response to varying excitation levels and the Synchronized Switch Damping (SSD) effect. In this paper, an inductor-less dynamically configured interface circuit is proposed, which is able to configure the connection of two piezoelectric materials in parallel or in series by periodically evaluating the ambient excitation level. The proposed circuit is designed and fabricated in a 0:35 μm HV CMOS process.The fabricated circuit is co-integrated with a piezoelectric bimorph energy harvester and the performance is experimentally validated. With a low power consumption (0:5 μW), the measured results show that the proposed rectifier can provide a 4.5 boost in harvested energy compared to the conventional full-bridge rectifier without employing an inductor. It also shows a high power efficiency over a wide range of excitation levels and is less susceptible to SSD.
  • An Efficient SSHI Interface With Increased Input Range for Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting Under Variable Conditions

    Du, Sijun; Jia, Yu; Do, Cuong D.; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Cambridge; University of Chester (IEEE, 2016-08-10)
    Piezoelectric vibration energy harvesters have been widely researched and are increasingly employed for powering wireless sensor nodes. The synchronized switch harvesting on inductor (SSHI) circuit is one of the most efficient interfaces for piezoelectric vibration energy harvesters. However, the traditional incarnation of this circuit suffers from a significant start-up issue that limits operation in low and variable amplitude vibration environments. This paper addresses this start-up issue for the SSHI rectifier by proposing a new architecture with SSHI startup circuitry. The startup circuitry monitors if the SSHI circuit is operating correctly and re-starts the SSHI interface if required. The proposed circuit is comprehensively analyzed and experimentally validated through tests conducted by integrating a commercial piezoelectric vibration energy harvester with the new interface circuit designed in a 0.35-μm HV CMOS process. Compared to conventional SSHI rectifiers, the proposed circuit significantly decreases the required minimum input excitation amplitude before energy can be harvested, making it possible to extract energy over an increased excitation range.

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