Harvesting energy

Increasing power generated from ambient vibrations

The Challenge

Structures such as aircraft and offshore wind turbines need continuous monitoring to assess safety, integrity, and reliability, a task historically carried out by humans.

Over the past decade new Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) systems, powered remotely by AI (Artificial Intelligence), have been pioneered. These systems require an uninterrupted power supply for the sensors that underpin it.

Vibration Energy Harvesters (VEH), which scavenge energy from the ambient vibration of host structures, are being developed to address this need. However, the power harvested from conventional (linear) VEHs drops significantly if the ambient vibration frequency deviates from the design frequency.

Miniatured piezoelectric non-linear VEH that will increase harvested power from a wide range of ambient vibration sources

The Method

Development of piezoelectric non-linear Vibration Energy Harvesters

Professor Sondipon Adhikari is looking to address the issue of power loss in VEH, employing non-linear VEH over traditional linear VEH.

Utilising analytical and computational methods for the development of piezoelectric non-linear VEH, and subsequent fabrication of prototypes in the laboratory, Professor Adhikari has discovered that an optimally designed non-linear VEH can harvest power over a wide range of ambient excitation

Piezoelectricity is a form of electricity that accumulates in certain solid materials in response to applied mechanical stress. This source of energy will be used in the design of tall buildings and will be stored in strategically distributed self-charging batteries, bringing a new level to self-sufficiency through self-powered monitoring.

Professor Adhikari and his team are collaborating with Smart Materials, Structures & Systems Lab, IIT Kanpur in India to develop VEH from fluid flow excitations. The prototype is currently being developed to power sensors for monitoring pollution in river Ganges in India.

Professor Adhikari’s research has been funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund and the Royal Society and Marie Curie actions in Horizon 2020.

Professor Adhikari is a fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and an associate fellow of American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). He is also a member of the Society for Experimental Mechanics (SEM), and The Institute of Nanotechnology (IoN).

The Impact

The main aim of this research is to produce miniatured piezoelectric non-linear VEH that will increase harvested power from a wide range of ambient vibration sources and help power future AI-enabled wireless Structural Health Monitoring systems for building, bridges, aircraft and offshore wind turbines.

This will in-turn result in safer, smart and reliable engineering dynamic structures at a significantly reduced cost.

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