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1

Electrical & Computer Engineering, Wayne State University, MI 48202

2

V-Power Inc., Detroit, MI 48202

Abstract: This paper reports a vibration energy harvesting device for tire pressure monitoring application based

on a novel asymmetric air-spaced piezoelectric cantilever. This air-spaced cantilever structure leads to several

highly desirable advantages. First, the voltage generated is increased due to the much larger distance between the

piezoelectric layer and the neutral plane, and the increased voltage promises higher AC to DC conversion

efficiency. Second, the overall energy conversion efficiency is further increased by enabling the majority of the

mechanical energy for electricity generation. Last, the asymmetric structure makes the device more robust since

the piezoelectric layer is operating in the compression mode. An analytical model was developed and the design

optimization was discussed. A new prototype device was built and tested both in the lab and on the road. The

experiment results show that the device has a great performance as we expected and the maximum power

generated is 47 W with a 21.6 gram proof mass and a driving speed of ~50 mph.

Keywords: vibration energy harvesting, tire pressure monitoring system, air-spaced cantilever

generation. Moreover, the reliability is also improved

by making the piezoelectric layer operate in

compression mode.

INTRODUCTION

This work is pursued in response to a new federal

rule (Federal Moving Vehicle Safety Standard 138)

mandating that all vehicles sold in the U.S. after Jan.

1, 2008 will be outfitted with a tire pressure

monitoring system (TPMS). Current TPMS utilizes

lithium batteries as the power supply. Based on

estimated usage, these batteries are expected to last as

few as 6 years. The customer could lose the use of a

federally mandated safety feature and would be

looking at repair costs of as much as $1000. These

costs could severely impact automakers through

possible warranty claims and litigation due to injury

from battery failure. In addition, the environmental

impact of roughly 80 million more lithium batteries

being produced and disposed of each year is immense.

Therefore, automotive companies are actively

searching for a battery-less solution for TPMS

devices. Among many battery-less solutions,

piezoelectric vibration energy harvesting device is

believed to be a promising technology [1].

However, for TMPS applications it is very

challenging to simultaneously meet the power and

reliability requirements mainly due to the large

centripetal force. In this paper, we proposed an energy

harvesting device based on novel piezoelectric

asymmetric air-spaced cantilevers. With this structure,

the amplitude of the AC voltage generated is

increased, leading to a larger AC to DC energy

conversion efficiency. The overall energy conversion

efficiency is further increased by enabling the

majority of the mechanical energy for electricity

0-9743611-5-1/PMEMS2009/$202009TRF

ANALYTICAL MODEL

Fig. 1 shows the schematic of an asymmetric airspaced cantilever with a bottom mechanical beam (w1

t1 l), a top piezoelectric beam (w2 t2 l), and a

proof mass (wpm tpm lpm). The distances from

neutral plane to bottom and top beams are d1 and d2,

and the distance between top and bottom layer is D.

E1, E2,, I1, I2, A1 and A2 are Youngs moduli, moments

of inertia and section areas of bottom and top beams,

respectively.

harvesting device based on asymmetric air-spaced

cantilever.

When acceleration a is applied in vertical

direction, the proof mass will displace accordingly

403

dominant to increase energy conversion efficiency.

a conventional cantilever, the deformation of the airspaced cantilever should be considered in both pure

bending and S-shape modes respectively.

The

bending rigidities for the two modes Rp and Rs are

[2]:

RP = E1 ( I1 + A1 d12 ) + E2 ( I 2 + A2 d 2 2 )

RS = E1 I1 + E2 I 2

DESIGN OPTIMIZATION

Noting that only the energy stored in the top

sensing layer by pure-stretching/compression is used

to generate output voltage, here we define the

mechanical energy conversion efficiency as the

ratio

of

the

energy

stored

by

purestretching/compression of the top sensing layer to the

total mechanical energy, and that is [2]:

(1)

(2)

be derived separately:

kP =

4 RS 1

l3 2

(3)

kS =

12 RS

l3

(4)

optimal to maximize the mechanical energy

conversion efficiency when t1 and D are fixed.

O =

1

2

RS

12(3 2 + 1)

ml 3 (3 2 + 1) 2 + 3 2 2 ( 1) 2

ma (l + l pm )d 2

(6)

0.8

C=0.005

0.7

0.01

0.6

(7)

0.02

0.04

0.5

2 RP

(9)

1

1+ C

1+ 1+ + 2

C C (3 2 + 1)

easily find other parameters and finalize the design.

The plot of efficiency versus with different C is

presented in Fig. 2. As we can see in the figure, the

mechanical energy conversion efficiency can reach

more than 70% once optimized. It is a significant

improvement compared with conventional unimorph

cantilever which has less than 37.5% of mechanical

energy conversion efficiency.

(5)

piezoelectric beam is:

2 =

where C= t12/12D2.

frequency is derived as:

f0 =

(8)

where =d1/D.

Then, the total effective spring constant can be

calculated by combining these two spring constants

as:

12 R

1

1

1

k E = ( + ) 1 = 3 S

2

kP kS

l 3 + 1

(1 )(1 )

1/ 3 2 + 1

piezoelectric beam is proportional to d2 which is

approximately equal to the gap between the top and

bottom beams for asymmetric air-spaced cantilevers.

Therefore, the AC voltage generated will be

significantly higher, increasing the AC to DC

conversion efficiency. Also note that the average

normal strain of the piezoelectric beam is only

affected by the pure bending since strains due to Sshape bending are cancelled across the thickness.

0.06

0.4

0.3

0.2

0.1

0

0.05

0.1

0.15

0.2

different C (=4.75).

404

constant is smaller than the theoretical one since the

proof mass is also subject to deformation in the

experiment which was ignored in the analytical

model. Second, the mass of the system is larger than

theoretical one since we didnt consider the mass of

the mechanical beam and PZT layer in the analytical

model. Last, the bonding is not perfectly rigid,

leading to softening effect of the boundary.

EXPERIMENT

A prototype vibration energy harvesting device

has been developed using PZT sheet (T120-A4E-602)

purchased from Piezo System, Inc., Cambridge, MA,

USA. The resulting vibration energy harvesting

device with bottom mechanical layer (15 mm0.9

mm8 mm), top PZT layer (5 mm0.502 mm8mm),

and a proof mass (15 mm6 mm 30mm) is shown

mechanical shaker, which is used to generate

mechanical vibrations.

30

Voltage sensitivity (V/g)

Commercial

accelerometer

35

Vibration Energy

harvesting device

Mechanical

shaker

25

20

15

10

5

0

0

500

600

vehicle (2003 Mazda Tribute). The assembly is

shown in Fig. 5. The vibration energy harvesting

device was mounted on the wheel up-side-down to

make sure the PZT operates in compression mode.

The wiring to the rotary assembly on the wheel was

achieved using a slip-ring from Michigan Scientific.

The two lead wires from the energy harvesting device

were connected to the rotor of the slip-ring. There

is an internal mechanism to electrically connect the

terminals on the rotor to the stator. Then the

signals from the stator were wired out through the

aluminum tube and recorded by a USB-based data

acquisition board (NI USB 6210) controlled by a

laptop computer.

direction, the air-spaced cantilever also vibrates

generating a sinusoidal voltage between top and

bottom surfaces of the PZT sheet. The voltage

sensitivity (V/g) at low frequency can be easily

calculated since the expression of average normal

strain in the top piezoelectric beam 2 is already

known by Eq. 7:

d31

Et

0 3 2 2 2

200

300

400

Frequency (Hz)

energy harvesting device as a function of frequency.

harvesting device up-side-down mounted on a

mechanical shaker.

V /a =

100

(10)

relative dielectric constant of PZT in direction 3, 0 is

vacuum permittivity, and =l/lT ( lT is the total length

of the diced PZT) is a coefficient which considers the

parasitic PZT capacitances on the base and proof

mass.

As we can see from the bench-top

characterization results shown in Fig. 4, the voltage

sensitivity is 1.81 V/g at low frequency, and it is

close to the theoretical one calculated by Eq. 10 which

is 1.97 V/g. Also, we can find that the resonant

frequency of the device is 354 Hz, and this is about

25% lower than the theoretical resonant frequency

471 Hz calculated by Eq. 6. There are several possible

Aluminum

tube

Rotor

Energy harvesting

device

Stator with

rubber cover

405

harvesting device was used to charge a 32 F

capacitor through a bridge rectifier. The result with

~50 mph driving speed and 21.6 gram of proof mass

is shown in Fig. 8. As we can see in the figure, it

takes about 35 seconds to charge the capacitor to

around 8 V, and the maximum power is calculated to

be 47 W.

speeds and different weights of the proof mass were

performed, and the power spectral density of the

output voltage from the device is plotted in Fig. 6 and

7. As we can see in the figures, there are two peaks in

the power spectrum plot. It is obvious that the first

peak at low frequency corresponds to the rotation rate

of the tire, i.e., 11 Hz in Fig. 6 is for a driving speed

of 55 mph and 6 Hz in Fig. 8 is for a driving speed of

30 mph. The second peak at high frequency represents

the resonant frequency of the device. Therefore, 470

Hz in Fig. 7 is for mass weight of 10.8 gram and 340

Hz in Fig. 8 is for mass weight of 21.6 gram.

0.8

x 10

Voltage (V)

4

2

5

10

15

100

200

300

400

Frequency (Hz)

500

600

road test when driving speed is 55 mph and proof

mass is 10.8 gram. Two peaks: 11 Hz (inset) and 475

Hz.

x 10

0.8

x 10

-6

0.8

0.4

0.2

0.4

0

0

10

0.2

0

0

100

200

Frequency (Hz)

300

Voltage

Power

45

50

50

55

60

Time (s)

65

70

0

75

asymmetric air-spaced cantilevers for tire pressure

monitoring system has been demonstrated. Analytical

model with the method of decomposing the

deformation of the cantilever into pure bending and Sshape bending modes has been developed. Design

was optimized to achieve more than 70% of

mechanical conversion efficiency. A prototype device

was then developed and tested both in the lab and on

the road. The output voltage sensitivity and resonant

frequency show good agreement with theoretical

values calculated using our analytical model. The

road test preliminarily demonstrated the feasibility of

vibration energy harvesting device based on

asymmetric air-spaced cantilevers for powering the

tire pressure monitoring system.

0.6

0.6

60

CONCLUSION

-6

40

Time (s)

by the energy harvesting device. Bottom: voltage of

one charging cycle and corresponding power.

Driving speed is ~50 mph, and the mass of the proof

mass is 21.6 gram.

0.2

0

0

20

0

0

0.4

0

0

-7

0.6

Power (uW )

x 10

-6

Voltage (V)

10

400

REFERENCES

[1] M. Shaw 2007 Battery-Less TPMS Technologies

Intelligent Tire Technology Conference, 2007.

[2] Q. Zheng, Y. Xu 2008 Asymmetric air-spaced

cantilevers for vibration energy harvesting Smart

Materials & Structures 17 2008.

road test when driving speed is 30 mph and the proof

mass is 21.6 gram. Two peaks: 6 Hz (inset) and 336

Hz.

406

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