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Advanced Materials Research Vols.

712-715 (2013) pp 1368-1371


(2013) Trans Tech Publications, Switzerland
doi:10.4028/www.scientific.net/AMR.712-715.1368

Online: 2013-06-27

Designing Piezoelectric Harvesting Unit from Road Vibration


Sun Chun-hua, Shang Guang-qing, Zhang Yong-kang, Du Jian-hong
Department of Mechanic and Electronic Engineering, Suzhou Vocational University, Suzhou
215104, China
sunch@jssvc.edu.cn, shanggq@jssvc.edu.cn,zyk@jssvc.edu.cn, djh@jssvc.edu.cn
Keywords: PZT; road vibration; piezoelectric harvesting unit; arrayed

Abstract: To open up a new way of green energy, the piezoelectric harvesting technology from
road vibration is proposed. Research status at home and abroad is reviewed, some existed problems
are pointed out. With the software of ANSYS, the arrayed space between piezoelectric vibrators and
the material and thickness of substrate are chosen in the light of higher harvesting energy and better
coupling properties. From the simulation results, can a unit of 280*280*20mm be determined.
When it is embedded under 40mm asphalt concrete pavement, 1.785MW electric power can be
harvested from each traffic lane and per kilometer. This shows that application of the piezoelectric
harvesting unit has very nice optimistic prospects.
Introduction
With intensification of global warming and shortage of oil, coal, natural gas and other
non-renewable resources, the quest for renewable and sustainable green energy has become an
important challenge for the sustainable development of human civilization. Renewable energy
sources can be continuously replenished from the environment or generated in shorter cycle.
Widespread renewable energy exist in the physical environment for human survival, such as wind,
hydro, solar, biomass and so on. Compared to fossil energy, the renewable energy in environment is
more in line with the requirements of sustainable development.
As critical infrastructure, road plays an important role in the national production and economic
growth. Road bears the transportation function, it is also generated a large number of environmental
energy. The energy can be transformed into electric power with photovoltaic, thermoelectric, wind
power and piezoelectric modes. Table 1 shows energy conversion intensity with different modes[1].
Table 1 Energy conversion Intensity with different modes(mW. cm-2)

Photovoltaic Thermoelectric
100
0.375

Wind power
1

Piezoelectric
200-700

From Table 1, it can be drawn that the piezoelectric mode possesses the highest conversion
intensity. According to the report[2], Chinas highway mileage is 410*104km. Therefore, potential
renewable energy is considerable if piezoelectric harvesting technology is used in road.
Related work
Several recent studies have investigated piezoelectric energy harvesting technology from road.
Innowattech Company in Israel reported that they have developed unique patented piezoelectric
generators which harvests the mechanical energy imparted to railways, roadways and pedestrian
ways from passing traffic
which is usually dissipated
as wasted heat and converts
it into green electricity[3].
The system is called
Innowattech Piezo Electric
Fig.1 IPEGTM Harvesting System Fig.2 IPEGTM Harvesting System
TM
Generator (IPEG ), as
shown in Fig.1-2.
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Advanced Materials Research Vols. 712-715

1369

The IPEGTM Harvesting System can generate electrical power up to 0.5MW/h in two-lane
roadways. If it is connected with the local electrical grid, it can supply electricity for 600-800
families. The cost and payback period of IPEGTM are about one half and one-third of the solar
energy, respectively. Its service life is about 30 years. The IPEGTM possesses some good qualities
such as a low-cost, fast recovery, clean, reliable and no pollution. It is especially suited for
supplying electricity for specific needs in remote sites which are far from the electrical grid.
However, the technology about IPEGTM is still in the stage of external security, it can not provide
a direct reference to the Chinese researchers.
Cao et al [4]in the patent of CN1633009A disclosed a piezoelectric energy harvesting method
from a highway vibration energy. The piezoelectric equipment, which is stacked by several
piezoelectric ceramic sheets and embedded under the asphalt pavement, directly transform vibration
into electricity for usage or storage. Huang et al[5] compared the mechanical responses of asphalt
pavement and cement concrete pavement to traffic load from the energy harvest efficiency. They did
some comparative analysis of different types of piezoelectric ceramics as well as transducers[6].
The results show that PZT-5H is more suitable for piezoelectric energy harvest from highway and
bridge-type transducer is more efficient for energy harvest and more suitable for coupling with
traffic load.
Zhao et al[7] analyzed with finite element method the energy converting efficiency of the
transducers. The result shows that the converting efficiency is approximately 5%-30% on asphalt
pavement. They also designed a Cymbal for harvesting energy from asphalt pavement. The electric
potential is about 97.33V of the designed Cymbal. And its potential maximum output power is
about 1.2mW at 20 Hz vehicle load frequency.
However, Sun et al[8] did some research on piezoelectric effect of Cymbal transducer under action
of alternating force by the finite element analysis(FEA). The result shows that either in resonant or
in off-resonant, the metal cap of Cymbal bears the biggest stress so that its life may be shorter, as
shown in Fig.3-4. It means that the metal cap is easy to produce fatigue and thereby the Cymbal life
is effected. Therefore, Cymbal is not suitable for equipping under the road. They also did
mathematic model for piezoelectric stacks in series and parallel to instruct designing piezoelectric
equipment[9].
The above reviews show that research on piezoelectric energy harvesting technology from road is
still in the primary stage. Many issues such as performance requirements, harvester design and
analysis have not been addressed. This paper presents one new kind of piezoelectric harvest unit for
harvesting vibration energy from asphalt pavement on larger area.

Fig.3 Stress in resonance


frequency

Fig.4 Stress in off-resonance


frequency

The design and analysis of piezoelectric harvesting unit


One of the main aims for designing piezoelectric harvest unit is to harvest the higher electricity
power. The second is to possess good coupling efficiency with the road. The embedded
piezoelectric harvester should not reduce the performance of the pavement, or increase the fuel
consumption of the vehicle. It means that the surface displacement on the road with the harvester is
almost same or even less than the displacement without the harvester. At the same time, the
harvester has longer life, which can match the road. Therefore, a new kind of harvesting unit is
designed, as shown in Fig.5.
ANSYS is used in this paper to perform the mechanical and piezoelectric analysis. The typical
surface of asphalt pavement always includes 2-3 layers, in which the thickness of the top layer is
about 40 mm. The harvester should be embedded in the pavement as close as possible to the surface

Advances in Manufacturing Science and Engineering

Substrate

Epoxy resin

PZT vibrator

Harvesting
Unit

Asphalt
Concrete

t2

150mm

t1

0.7MPa

L1

40mm

1370

L2
L

Fig.5 The designed piezoelectric


harvesting Unit

500mm

Fig.6 FEA model

for getting more energy. The bottom of the top layer of the pavement is the best location to set the
harvester. The FEA model is constructed according to the practical pavement and axisymmetric
characteristic, as shown in Fig.6.
Table 2 PZT-5A material properties
0.7MPa is the typical tire pressure of the
Parameters
Value
larger car and is accepted here to be contact
3
7500
stress. Its contact length is 230mm. PZT 5A Densitykg/m
Poisson's
ratio
0.32
is chosen as the PZT material because of its
4.46

Relative
high (dg) value. The material properties are

T
permittivity

2.301

listed in Table 2.
33 r

4
.
46
10-9F/m
The elastic module and Poisson ratio of

Asphalt concrete is 1500MPa and 0.35,


Piezoelectric
0
0
0 12.5 0
0
respectively. Types of Plane13 and Plane42 voltage constant

0
0
12.5 0 0
0
are chosen to mesh PZT 5A and other
matrix [d]
3.1 13.5 3.1 0
0 0

materials in FEA model.


pC/N
Table 3 shows effect of different substrate
0
158.3 69.1 67.5 0 0

materials on the piezoelectric property, road


0
69.1 158.3 67.5 0 0
Flexible
deformation rate and stress.
67.5 67.5 149.9 0 0
0
piezoelectric

From Table 3, conclusions can be drawn


constant matrix 0
0
0
45 0
0
that with the improvement of the rigidity of

[s] GPa
0
0
0 45
0
0
the base material, the harvested electricity by
0
0
0
0 0 44.6

a piezoelectric harvesting unit and the


deformation rate of the asphalt pavement are reduced, but the largest stress on the substrate is
increased. Therefore, epoxy resin is chosen as substrate material.
Table 3 Effect of different substrate materials
Substrate materials
Epoxy Resin Aluminum alloy Copper alloy
Harvested electricity (mJ)
0.280
0.270
0.268
Deformation rate (%)
0.23
2.05
2.05
Largest stress(MPa)
0.606
0.985
1.18

Stainless steel
0.254
1.36
1.91

Table 4 lists effect of thickness of epoxy resin layer. Thus, with the increase of thickness t1, the
harvested electricity and effected stress are gradually increased, but the pavement deformation rate
is reduced. Therefore, the thickness choice of epoxy resin as substrate is t1= 5mm in view of
consolidated various considerations.
Table 4 Effect of epoxy resin layer thickness
4
Thickness
mm

1
2
3
Harvested electricity (mJ)
0.267
0.276
0.280
0.286
Deformation rate (%)
3.18
2.27
0.23
0.68
Largest stress(MPa)
0.601
0.604
0.606
0.608

5
0.291
1.59
0.609

Table 5 shows the effect of arrayed space L2. The arrayed space L2=4mm can be accepted if
comprehensive factors are considered.
Assuming that centers of the tire and piezoelectric harvesting unit are consistent when the cars
move on the road, the width of designed piezoelectric unit should be larger than the width of trunk
tire, which is about 230mm. Therefore, 8 piezoelectric vibrators can be arrayed when the space is L2

Advanced Materials Research Vols. 712-715

Arrayed space
mm

Harvested electricity (mJ)


Deformation rate (%)
Largest stress(MPa)

1371

Table 5 Effect of arrayed space


8
10
12
2
4
6
14
0.242 0.261 0.257 0.248 0.254 0.262 0.268
2.28
2.5
2.72 2.95 3.18 3.42 3.64
6.18 5.97 5.88 5.91 5.94 5.96 5.98

=4mm according to the results of FEA. Supposing the diameter of PZT 5A to be 30*10 mm and the
distance on two sides L1=6mm, total width of the unit is 280mm. Thus, piezoelectric unit can be
made into a square of 280*280*20mm. 64 piezoelectric vibrators can be arrayed on the unit. Total
electricity of 16.768mJ can be harvested with a unit. If the tire load causes 15Hz structural vibration
frequency, 0.25W electric power is generated, 1.785MW electricity can be harvested on each lane
and per kilometer.
Conclusion
In order to promote the research and development of piezoelectric energy harvest form road, the
technical research status is reviewed. Based on the analysis, a new piezoelectric unit is designed in
the paper in the light of higher harvesting energy and better coupling properties. The simulation and
calculation show that the preferred piezoelectric unit of 280*280*20mm can harvest 1.785MW
electricity on each lane and per kilometer. Application of the piezoelectric harvesting technology
from road has very nice optimistic prospects.
Acknowledgements
This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No.51175359),
Suzhou Technology Infrastructure Plan Project (SZS201009) and the Innovation Fund of Suzhou
Vocational University (2012SZDYJ01) and Qinglan Project.
Reference
[1] Y.M. Liu. Active energy harvesting. University Park: the Pennsylvania State University, 2006
[2] Comprehensive planning division of Ministry of Transport of China. 2011 statistical bulletin of
highway and waterway transportation development. 2012
[3] Information on http://www.innowattech.co.il/index.aspx
[4] B. G. Cao, Z. H. Gao, Z. P. Song, et al. Method and system of highway harvesting energy from
piezoelectric vibration: China, Patent 1633009A(2005)
[5] R.B. Huang, Y.L. Niu, H.D. Zhao, et al. Technical approach and research prospect of
piezoelectric energy harvest from highway. China Journal of Highway and Transport.
Vol.25(2012), p1-8.
[6] H.D. Zhao, Y.H. Liang, J.M. Ling. Study on harvesting energy from pavement based on
piezoelectric effects. Journal of Shanghai Jiaotong University. Vol.45(Sup. , 2012), p62-66
[7] Zhao H D, Yu J, Ling J. Finite element analysis of Cymbal piezoelectric transducers for
harvesting energy from asphalt pavement. Journal of the Japan Ceramic Society. Vol.118(2010),
p909-915
[8] C.H. Sun, Y.Y. Tao, H.B. Wang, et al. Piezoelectric Effect of Cymbal Transducer under Action
of Alternating Force. Modern manufacturing engineering, Vol.10(2010), p91-94
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3th International conference on intelligent system design and engineering applications, 2013
Hongkong: 954-957

Advances in Manufacturing Science and Engineering


10.4028/www.scientific.net/AMR.712-715

Designing Piezoelectric Harvesting Unit from Road Vibration


10.4028/www.scientific.net/AMR.712-715.1368