Optimisation and frequency tuning concepts for a vibration energy harvester

Ooi, Beng Lee

Engineering
December 2010

Thesis or dissertation


Rights
© 2010 Beng Lee Ooi. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.
Abstract

With current electronic designs becoming more versatile and mobile, applications that were wired and bulky before have now seen a great reduction in size and increase in portability. However, the issue is that the scaling down in size and cost of electronics has far outpaced the scaling up of energy density in batteries. Therefore, a great deal of research has been carried out to search for alternative power sources that can replace or enhance the conventional battery. Energy harvesting (also known as energy scavenging) is the process whereby ambient energy is captured and stored. The ambient energy here refers to energy that is pre-existing in nature, and is self-regenerating and has extended life time from a battery.

After reviewing many possible energy scavenging methods, the conversion of ambient vibrations to electricity is chosen as a method for further research. There are plenty of different methods to transform ambient vibration to electricity, but in this research only piezoelectric and electromagnetic conversions are pursued. In order to harvest the most energy with the harvesting device, the harvester’s fundamental mode must be excited. However, this is not always possible due to fluctuations in the frequency of the vibration source. By being able to change the natural frequencies of the device, the harvester could be more effective in capturing ambient energy.

In this thesis, the behaviour of the various types of energy sources is studied and the obtained information is later used to generate a vibration signal for subsequent simulation and experiments. A converter based on a piezoelectric bimorph is investigated. The resultant outputs from the design are compared to the model and the analysis is presented. The mechanical strain distributions on the beam’s surface for five different geometric structures are compared and discussed. This is followed by a discussion of the feasibility of improving the strain distribution by changing the beam’s depth (height) along the cantilever beam length. Lastly, a novel frequency tuning method, which involves applying a different effective electrical damping in different quadrants of the oscillating cycle, is proposed. The results of this analysis are presented, along with experimental results that indicate that the behaviour of the system can be changed over a limited range by changing the effective electrical damping during the oscillation cycle.

Publisher
Department of Engineering, The University of Hull
Supervisor
Gilbert, J. M. (James Michael)
Qualification level
Doctoral
Qualification name
PhD
Language
English
Extent
Filesize: 4,658KB
Identifier
hull:4472
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