Energy Harvesting from Vibrations

Energy harvesting from environmental vibrations or some form of kinetic energy has seen an increase in interest during the past years as part of the generally growing awareness for alternative energy sources. Next to the typical electro mechanical methods, piezo electric devices have proven to be very effective in harvesting energy and operating as a supply source for low power electronic devices. Typical applications are for portable electronics, wearables, IoTs, sensor-controlled and condition monitoring systems due to the wide usable frequency range, and adaptability.

It is important to notice that piezo electric harvesters are most economic if used for low power requirements < 1Ws (1J). This is by many magnitudes less than compared with state of the art Solar cells/panels and TEGs and should be always considered for design/application feasibility.

Vibration or other forms of kinetic energy exist in many forms all around us, such as machine vibration, flowing water, wind, human motion, and shock waves. For many decades industrial and academic research units have focused their attention on harvesting energy from vibrations using piezoelectric transducers.

Macro Fiber Composite The development of piezoelectric composite material, like the MFC, helped overcome some of the limitations of the monolithic piezo ceramic components, especially brittleness, lack of reliability, and conformability.

Advances in ultra-low power electronic components have made a new type of electronic device possible: Battery free, autonomous devices functioning solely on harvesting mechanical vibrations with piezoelectric components.

Applications for MFC vibration harvesters:

  • Resonant and non-resonant vibration energy harvester
  • Autonomous data acquisition systems, IoTs
  • Structural Health Monitoring (SHM)
  • Active RFID systems
  • Wearables

Battery free, autonomous devices

Complete battery free devices based on piezo electric harvesters are a reality today. Complete electronic devices with a power consumption of <10mWs (10mJ) can be manufactured cost-effectively.

CL-50

With a connected storage for excess energy like a super cap or thin film battery, higher burst consumption as normally required for RF telemetry can be accomodated as well. Energy harvesters based on the MFC have a lifetime of more than 10 years ( ‹ 10Hz and 600ppm), which is necessary in order to compete with battery based devices.

Designing piezo electric vibration harvesters is not an easy task. It requires knowledge and skill in mechanics, piezo ceramics and electronics to design systems that are cost-effective and highly efficient. Typically efficacy of todays piezo electric harvester range between 4-10%.

Smart Material is actively involved in the research and development of vibration energy harvesters. We have developed the P2 type MFC line mostly as an optimized version for energy harvesting applications. The MFCs with item numbers M2814P2, M8514P2, M8528P2, M8557P2 and M8585P2 are the preferred components used in many vibration energy harvesting applications.

Smart Material also presents its research and results at many of the leading conferences dedicated to the growing energy harvesting applications. Check out our Publications section for references.

EnergyHarvester Insole

Smart Material has developed a series of Evaluation Kits, Electronic Circuits and Harvester Generator Components to help customers studying this interesting field, for rapid prototyping, and the development of energy harvesting applications based on the MFC product line.

MFC Cantilever M8528P2C-01