Piezoelectric energy harvesting utilizing metallized poly-vinylidene fluoride (PVDF)
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The primary objective of the enclosed thesis was to identify and develop a viable concept for an autonomous sensor system that could be implemented onto the surface of a road. This was achieved by an analysis of combinations of materials, sensing methods, power sources, microsystems, energy storage options, and wireless data transmission systems; the sub-systems required for an autonomous sensor. Comparison of sensing methods for the application of an on-road, autonomous sensor yielded a piezoelectric material as the ideal choice. A 52μm thin film of poly- vinylidene fluoride (PVDF) was chosen and coated with Ag electrodes on both sides.This was due to many constraints imposed by the intended environment including: physical, electrical, thermal, and manufacturing characteristics. One major hurdle in providing an autonomous sensor is the power source for the sensing, encoding, and transmission of data. Research involved determining the option best suited for providing a power source for the combination of sensors and wireless telemetry components. An energy budget of 105μJ was established to determine an estimate of energy needed to wirelessly transmit data with the selected RF transmitter. Based on these results, several candidates for power sources were investigated, and a piezoelectric energy harvesting system was identified to be the most suitable. This is an ideal case as the sensor system was already based on a piezoelectric material as the sensing component. Thus, a harvesting circuit and the sensor can be combined into one unit, using the same material. By combining the two functions into a single component, the complexity, cost and size of the unit are effectively minimized. In order to validate the conclusions drawn during this sensor system analysis and conceptual research, actual miniaturized systems were designed to demonstrate the ability to sense and harvest energy for the applications in mind. This secondary aspect of the research was a proof-of-concept, developing two prototype energy harvesting/sensing systems. The system designed consisted of a PVDF thin film with a footprint of 0.2032 m x 0.1397m x 52μm. This film was connected to an energy-harvesting prototype circuit consisting of a full-wave diode bridge and a storage capacitor. Two prototypes were built and tested, one with a 2.2μF capacitor, the other with a 0.1mF capacitor. The film was first connected to an oscilloscope and impulsed in an open circuit condition to determine the sensor response to a given signal. Secondly, the energy harvesting circuits were tested in conjunction with the film to test the energy supply component of the system. Lastly, the film and both energy-harvesting systems underwent full scale testing on a road using a vehicle as the stimulus. Both systems showed excellent rectification of the double polarity input with an evident rise in voltage across the capacitor, meaning energy was harvested. Typical results from the tests yielded 600-800mV across the 2.2μF capacitor, harvesting only a few μJ of energy. The 0.1mF capacitor system yielded approximately 4V per vehicle axle across the capacitor, harvesting 400-800μJ of energy. This equates to 4-8 times the required energy for wireless data transmission of the measurement data, which was estimated by other research groups to be on the order of 105μJ for the given system, and therefore proves the concept both, for bench-top and full-scale on-road experiments under controlled laboratory conditions.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
SupervisorYang, Qiaoqin; Achenbach, Sven
CommitteeKlymyshyn, David; Park, Peter; Zhang, Chris
Copyright DateAugust 2011
Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting