• In situ fabrication of carbon fibre–reinforced polymer composites with embedded piezoelectrics for inspection and energy harvesting applications

      Yan, Xue; Courtney, Charles; Bowen, Chris; Gathercole, Nicholas; Wen, Tao; Jia, Yu; Shi, Yu; Aerospace Research Institute of Material and Processing Technology; University of Bath; University of Chester
      Current in situ damage detection of fibre-reinforced composites typically uses sensors which are attached to the structure. This may make periodic inspection difficult for complex part geometries or in locations which are difficult to reach. To overcome these limitations, we examine the use of piezoelectric materials in the form of macro-fibre composites that are embedded into carbon fibre–reinforced polymer composites. Such a multi-material system can provide an in situ ability for damage detection, sensing or energy harvesting. In this work, the piezoelectric devices are embedded between the carbon fibre prepreg, and heat treated at elevated temperatures, enabling complete integration of the piezoelectric element into the structure. The impact of processing temperature on the properties of the macro-fibre composites are assessed, in particular with respect to the Curie temperature of the embedded ferroelectric. The mechanical properties of the carbon fibre–reinforced polymer composites are evaluated to assess the impact of the piezoelectric on tensile strength. The performance of the embedded piezoelectric devices to transmit and receive ultrasonic signals is evaluated, along with the potential to harvest power from mechanical strain for self-powered systems. Such an approach provides a route to create multi-functional materials.
    • A Numerical Feasibility Study of Kinetic Energy Harvesting from Lower Limb Prosthetics

      Jia, Yu; Wei, Xueyong; Pu, Jie; Xie, Pengheng; Wen, Tao; Wang, Congsi; Lian, Peiyuan; Xue, Song; Shi, Yu; Aston University; University of Chester; Xidian University; Xi'an Jiaotong University (MDPI, 2019-10-10)
      With the advancement trend of lower limb prosthetics headed towards bionics (active ankle and knee) and smart prosthetics (gait and condition monitoring), there is an increasing integration of various sensors (micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers, strain gauges, pressure sensors, etc.), microcontrollers and wireless systems, and power drives including motors and actuators. All of these active elements require electrical power. However, inclusion of a heavy and bulky battery risks to undo the lightweight advancements achieved by the strong and flexible composite materials in the past decades. Kinetic energy harvesting holds the promise to recharge a small on-board battery in order to sustain the active systems without sacrificing weight and size. However, careful design is required in order not to over-burden the user from parasitic effects. This paper presents a feasibility study using measured gait data and numerical simulation in order to predict the available recoverable power. The numerical simulations suggest that, depending on the axis, up to 10s mW average electrical power is recoverable for a walking gait and up to 100s mW average electrical power is achievable during a running gait. This takes into account parasitic losses and only capturing a fraction of the gait cycle to not adversely burden the user. The predicted recoverable power levels are ample to self-sustain wireless communication and smart sensing functionalities to support smart prosthetics, as well as extend the battery life for active actuators in bionic systems. The results here serve as a theoretical foundation to design and develop towards regenerative smart bionic prosthetics.
    • Parametric Study of Environmental Conditions on The Energy Harvesting Efficiency for The Multifunctional Composite Structures

      Wen, Tao; Ratner, Alon; Jia, Yu; Shi, Yu; University of Chester;University of Warwick; Aston University
      This paper presents a parametric study of the efficacy of an integrated vibration energy harvesting device under the environmental condition representative of an offshore wind turbine. A multifunctional glass fibre composite with an integrated Micro Fibre Composite (MFC) energy harvesting device was tested by swept sine vibration under environmental conditions that ranged from – 40°C to 70°C in temperature and 10%RH to 90%RH in humidity in order to characterise the sensitivity and dependence of energy harvesting on environmental conditions. Experimental vibration testing was complemented with theoretical analysis to investigate the relative contributions to the temperature dependence of energy harvesting. This included mechanical properties of the stiffness and strength of the cantilever structure and the electrical properties of the MFC transducer, including its dielectric constants and charge coefficients. An inverse proportionality was observed between the magnitude of harvested energy and the climatic temperature. The efficiency of energy harvesting was dominated by the stiffness of the cantilever, which displayed viscoelastic temperature dependence. The sample was also tested with a vibration profile obtained from a wind turbine in order to validate the temperature influence under typical service conditions. Numerical modal analysis was used to determine the shapes of resonance modes, the frequencies of which were temperature dependent. Humidity was observed to have a secondary influence on energy harvesting, with no significant short-term effect on the structural properties of the samples within the limits of the experimental method.