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Piezo electric and vibration based energy harvesting

Structural vibrations can be found everywhere in the world. From vibrating machines to flow-induced vibrations and from human motion to the road your drive your vehicle upon. These vibrations are most often undesirable and provisions are made to dampen them. This is typically done using dissipative means such as hydraulic dampers or rubber mounts or in case of bolted constructions the microslip in the joints provides sufficient damping.

In recent years much research has been done towards using piezo electric materials to convert the energy within these vibrations to electrical power. This power is then used for low-power monitoring systems, in the milliwatt to watt range. These autonomous systems show high reliability and require no attention as information can be transmitted wirelessly to a central processing node.

Within the SD&A group at the University of Twente a number of directions are being explored. One such direction is the ability to harvest energy from traffic. Typically this would imply a higher fuel consumption however some locations can be pinpointed where vibrations are unavoidable. Such locations are speed bumps, the road just prior to stoplights, bridge expansion joints, etc.

Together with the civil engineering bureau Tauw we are looking towards harvesting energy from bridge transitions. Expansion joints are necessary components and always induce vibrations in the vehicle and in the bridge itself. These are dampened by the shock absorbers on your vehicle and in rubber mounts under the bridge. A concept was presented for the ‘Mooi Nederland’ subsidy program and was awarded twenty thousand euros from the jury and an additional ten thousand following a public vote.

For more information regarding this project, contact P.H. de Jong

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