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Title: A gravitational torque energy harvesting system for rotational motion
Author: Toh, Tzern Tzuin
ISNI:       0000 0004 2700 1353
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis describes a novel, single point-of-attachment, gravitational torque energy harvesting system powered from rotational motion. The primary aim of such a system is to scavenge energy from a continuously rotating host in order to power a wireless sensor node. In this thesis, a wireless tachometer was prototyped. Most published work on motion-driven energy harvesters has used ambient vibrations in the environment as the energy source. However, none of the reported devices have been designed to harvest energy directly from continuous ambient rotation. There are important applications such as tire pressure sensing and condition monitoring of machinery where the host structure experiences continuous rotation. In this work, it is shown that in many applications, a rotational energy harvester can offer significant improvements in power density over its vibration-driven counterparts. A prototype single point-of-attachment rotational energy harvester was conceived using a simple direct-current generator. The rotational source was coupled to the stator and an offset mass was anchored on the rotor to create a counteractive gravitational torque. This produces a relative angular speed between rotor and stator which causes power to be generated. Power transfer from the generator to a load was maximised by enforcing an input impedance match between the generator’s armature resistance and the input impedance of a boost converter which in this case, functioned as a resistance emulator. Energy storage and output voltage regulation were implemented using supercapacitors and a wide-input buck regulator respectively. When excess power was generated, it was stored in the supercapacitors and during low source rotation speeds, i.e. insufficient harvested power, the supercapacitors will discharge to maintain operation of the interface electronics. A detailed optimisation procedure of a boost converter was conducted in Matlab in order to minimise the power loss, resulting in a maximum voltage gain of 11.1 and measured circuit efficiency of 96 %. A state-space control model of the harvester electronics was developed in the analogue domain using classical control techniques and this showed the system to be closed-loop stable. A final prototype of the rotational energy harvesting system was built and this comprised an input impedance controller, wireless transmitter and tachometer. The entire system has a measured end-to-end efficiency which peaked at 58 % from a source rotation of 1400 RPM with the generator producing 1.45 W under matched load conditions.
Supervisor: Mitcheson, Paul ; Yeatman, Eric Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral