A piezoelectric wafer-stack vibration energy harvester for wireless sensor networks

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering, 2013, 8692
Issue Date:
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Over the past few decades, wireless sensor networks have been widely used in civil structure health monitoring application. Currently, most wireless sensor networks are battery-powered and it is costly and unsustainable for maintenance because of the requirement for frequent battery replacements. As an attempt to address such issue, this paper presents a novel piezoelectric vibrational energy harvester to convert the structural vibration into usable electrical energy for powering wireless sensor networks. Unlike the normal cantilever beam structure, the piezoelectric harvester presented in this paper is based on the wafer-stack configuration which is suitable for applications where large force vibration occurs, and therefore can be embedded in civil structures to convert the force induced by vibration of large structures directly into electrical energy. The longitudinal mode of the piezoelectric wafer-stack was developed firstly to illustrate the force-to-voltage relationship of piezoelectric materials and to find the inter-medium force that will be used to convert vibration energy into electrical energy. Then, two electromechanical models (without and with a rectified circuit), considering both the mechanical and electrical aspects of the harvester, were developed to characterize the harvested electrical power under the external load. Exact closed-form expressions of the electromechanical models have been derived to analyze the maximum harvested power and the optimal resistance. Finally, a shake table experimental testing was conducted to prove the feasibility of the presented piezoelectric-wafer-stack harvester under standard sinusoidal loadings. Test results show that the harvester can generate a maximum 45mW (AC) or 16mW (DC) electrical power for sinusoidal loading with 40mm amplitude and 2Hz frequency, and the harvested electrical power is proportional to the levels of exciting vibrational loading. © 2013 SPIE.
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