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Title: Radio frequency energy harvesting for embedded sensor networks in the natural environment
Author: Sim, Zhi Wei
ISNI:       0000 0004 2720 1400
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2012
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The agricultural sector is an emerging application area for Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs). This requires sensor nodes to be deployed in the outdoor environment so as to monitor pertinent natural features, such as soil condition or pest infestation. Limited energy supply and subsequent battery replacement are common issues for these agricultural sensor nodes. One possible solution is to use energy harvesting, where the ambient energy is extracted and converted into usable electrical form to energise the wireless sensors. The work presented in this thesis investigates the feasibility of using Radio Frequency (RF) energy harvesting for a specific application; that is powering a generic class of wireless ground-level, agricultural sensor networks operating in an outdoor environment. The investigation was primarily undertaken through a literature study of the subject. The first part of the thesis examines several energy harvesting/ wireless energy transfer techniques, which may be applicable to power the targeted agricultural WSN nodes. The key advantages and limitations of each technique are identified, and the rationale is being given for selecting far-field RF energy harvesting as the investigated technique. It is then followed by a theoretical-based system analysis, which seeks to identify all relevant design parameters, and to quantify their impact on the system performance. An RF link budget analysis was also included to examine the feasibility of using RF energy harvesting to power an exemplar WSN node - Zyrox2 Bait Station. The second part of the thesis focuses on the design of two energy harvesting antennas. The first design is an air-substrate-based folded shorted patch antenna (FSPA) with a solid ground plane, while the second design is a similar FSPA structure with four pairs of slot embedded into its ground plane. Both antennas were simulated, fabricated and tested inside an anechoic chamber, and in their actual operating environment - an outdoor field. In addition, a power harvester circuit, built using the commercially available off-the-shelf components, was tested in the laboratory using an RF signal generator source. The results from both the laboratory and field trial were analysed. The measurement techniques used were reviewed, along with some comments on how to improve them. Further work on the RF energy harvester, particularly on the improvement of the antenna design must be carried out before the feasibility and viable implementations for this application can be definitively ascertained.
Supervisor: Grieve, Bruce Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: energy harvesting ; wireless power transmission ; agricultural wireless sensor network