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Title: Pico-grid : multiple multitype energy harvesting system
Author: Mohd Daut, Mohamad Hazwan
ISNI:       0000 0004 7661 2070
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis focuses on the development of a low power energy harvesting system specifically targeted for wireless sensor nodes (WSN) and wireless body area network (WBAN) applications. The idea for the system is derived from the operation of a micro-grid and therefore is termed as a pico-grid and it is capable of simultaneously delivering power from multiple and multitype energy harvesters to the load at the same time, through the proposed parallel load sharing mechanism achieved by a voltage droop control method. Solar panels and thermoelectric generator (TEG) are demonstrated as the main energy harvesters for the system. Since the magnitude of the output power of the harvesters is time-varying, the droop gain in the droop feedback circuitry should be designed to be dynamic and self-adjusted according to this variation. This ensures that the maximum power is capable to be delivered to the load at all times. To achieve this, the droop gain is integrated with a light dependent resistor (LDR) and thermistor whose resistance varies with the magnitude of the source of energy for the solar panel and TEG, respectively. The experimental results demonstrate a successful variation droop mechanism and all connected sources are able to share equal load demands between them, with a maximum load sharing error of 5 %. The same mechanism is also demonstrated to work for maximum power point tracking (MPPT) functionality. This concept can potentially be extended to any other types of energy harvester. The integration of energy storage elements becomes a necessity in the pico-grid, in order to support the intermittent and sporadic nature of the output power for the harvesters. A rechargeable battery and supercapacitor are integrated in the system, and each is accurately designed to be charged when the loading in the system is low and discharged when the loading in the system is high. The dc bus voltage which indicates the magnitude of the loading in the system is utilised as the signal for the desired mode of operation. The constructed system demonstrates a successful operation of charging and discharging at specific levels of loading in the system. The system is then integrated and the first wearable prototype of the pico-grid is built and tested. A successful operation of the prototype is demonstrated and the load demand is shared equally between the source converters and energy storage. Furthermore, the pico-grid is shown to possess an inherent plug-and-play capability for the source and load converters. Few recommendations are presented in order to further improve the feasibility and reliability of the prototype for real world applications. Next, due to the opportunity of working with a new semiconductor compound and accessibility to the fabrication facilities, a ZnON thin film diode is fabricated and intended to be implemented as a flexible rectifier circuit. The fabrication process can be done at low temperature, hence opening up the possibility of depositing the device on a flexible substrate. From the temperature dependent I-V measurements, a novel method of extracting important parameters such as ideality factor, barrier height, and series resistance of the diode based on a curve fitting method is proposed. It is determined that the ideality factor of the fabricated diode is high (> 2 at RT), due to the existence of other transport mechanism apart from thermionic emission that dominates the conduction process at lower temperature. It is concluded that the high series resistance of the fabricated diode (3.8 kΩ at RT) would mainly hinder the performance of the diode in a rectifier circuit.
Supervisor: Hasko, David Gregory ; Nathan, Arokia Sponsor: Yayasan Khazanah ; Cambridge Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Energy harvesting ; load sharing control ; wearable system ; self-adjusted voltage droop ; metal oxide semiconductor ; thin film diode