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A Comparison of Power Harvesting Techniques and Related Energy Storage Issues - Farmer Thesis

A Comparison of Power Harvesting Techniques and Related Energy Storage Issues - Farmer Thesis

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Thesis on Energy Harvesting
Thesis on Energy Harvesting

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Published by: Roberto Pereira Silveira on Nov 06, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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 A comparison of power harvesting techniquesand related energy storage issues
 by
Justin R. Farmer
Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of theVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State Universityin partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of 
Master of Science
in
Mechanical Engineering
Dr. Daniel J. Inman, Chair Dr. Donald J. LeoDr. Nakhiah GoulborneMay 15, 2007Blacksburg, VirginiaKeywords: Power harvesting, piezoelectric, thermoelectric, active fiber compositesCopyright 2007, Justin R. Farmer 
 
A comparison of power harvesting techniquesand related energy storage issues
Justin R. Farmer
Abstract
Power harvesting, energy harvesting, power scavenging, and energy scavengingare four terms commonly used to describe the process of extracting useful electricalenergy from other ambient energy sources using special materials called transducers thathave the ability to convert one form of energy into another. While the words power andenergy have vastly different definitions, the terms “power harvesting” and “energyharvesting” are used interchangeably throughout much of the literature to describe thesame process of extracting electrical energy from ambient sources. Even though most of the energy coupling materials currently available have been around for decades, their usefor the specific purpose of power harvesting has not been thoroughly examined untilrecently, when the power requirements of many electronic devices has reduceddrastically.The overall objective of this research is to typify the power source characteristicsof various transducer devices in order to find some basic way to compare the relativeenergy densities of each type of device and, where possible, the comparative energydensities within subcategories of harvesting techniques. Included in this research is alsoa comparison of power storage techniques, which is often neglected in other literaturesources.An initial analysis of power storage devices explores the background of secondary(rechargeable) batteries and supercapacitors, the advantages and disadvantages of each,as well as the promising characteristics of recent supercapacitor technologydevelopments. Also explored is research into the effectiveness of piezoelectric energy
 
harvesting for the purpose of battery charging, with particular focus on the current outputof piezoelectric harvesters.The first objective involved presenting and verifying a model for a cantilever  piezoelectric bimorph. Next, an investigation into new active fiber composite materialsand macro fiber composite devices utilizing the
31
coefficient is performed incomparison to a monolithic piezoelectric bimorph. The information gathered here wasused to design a two bimorph device termed the mobile energy harvester (MEH). Worn by a human being at the waste level, the MEH harvests energy from each footfall duringwalking or running.The next objective involved characterizing small temperature gradient (less than200
o
C) thermoelectric generators (TEGs). Four TEGs were linked in series and joinedwith a specially made aluminum base and fin heat sink. This device was then mounted tothe exhaust system of an automobile and proved capable of recharging both an 80 and a300 milliamp-hour battery. A switching circuit concept to step up the output voltage isalso presented. However, the circuit proves somewhat difficult to implement, so analternative DC/DC device is proposed as a possible solution. With the advent of highlyefficient, low voltage DC to DC converters, it is shown that their high current, lowvoltage output can be converted to a higher voltage source that is suitable for manyelectronic and recharging applications.As extensive literature exists on the capabilities of photovoltaic andelectromagnetic energy harvesting, no original experimentation is presented. Instead,only a brief overview of the pertinent technological advances is provided in thisdocument for the purpose of comparison to piezoelectric and thermoelectric energyharvesting. The main research focus, as described above, is dedicated to designing and performing original experiments to characterize cutting edge piezoelectric andthermoelectric transducer materials. To conclude and unify the document, the finalsection compares the power harvesting techniques with one another and introducesmethods of combining them to produce a hybrid, multiple energy domain harvestingdevice. A piezoelectric-electromagnetic harvesting combination device is presented andscrutinized, revealing that such a device could improve the amount of energy extractedfrom a single harvesting unit.

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