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INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF R&D IN ENGINEERING, SCIENCE AND MANAGEMENT

Vol.2, Issue 4, June 2015, Impact Factor-0.439, p.p.125-139, ISSN 2393-865X

A Comparisonal Study: Vibrational Energy Harvesting Techniques


Ashwani Kumar
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University Institute of Engineering & Technology
Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak, Haryana, India
ABSTRACT
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________
In our advance and high-tech world the issue of increasing electric demand and its fulfillment has attracted the focus of researchers. There
are various resources for the extraction of electricity, out of them main resources from which major demand of electricity is fulfilled are:
thermal power plants, hydro power plants and nuclear power plants. The whole world is looking towards the eco-friendly and never ending
energy resources like: solar energy, wind energy, geothermal energy, water energy, vibrational energy etc. to become independent from nonrenewable energy resources. Harvesting the electric energy from vibrating systems, is a significant step in this direction. This paper puts light
on the basic three vibrational energy harvesting techniques: piezoelectric, electrostatic and electromagnetic harvesters.
Keywords: Energy harvesting, piezoelectric materials, electrostatic materials, electromagnetic materials

__________________________________________________________________________________

1. INTRODUCTION
We all are surrounded by vibrating bodies/systems like: vehicles, industrial and household machines,
small electronic devices such as phone, music systems, wrist watch even our body is also produces
vibrations in different ways: heart beats, blood circulatory, walking movements. So we can understand the
universal availability of vibrations in our surrounding atmosphere, hence the energy harvesting from
vibrations can be a better option to produce electricity. Due to increasing demand of low power portable
electronic devices (MEMS) and requirement of micro level energy harvesters, researchers have focused on
the vibrational energy harvesting techniques.
Energy Harvesting, Power Harvesting or Energy Scavenging is the process of converting ambient energy,
which would otherwise go waste or lost, into usable electrical energy (electrical power). Electrical energy
thus extracted can be stored either for later use into the batteries or can be used instantaneously through an
efficient circuit. Energy harvesters can be broadly classified into two categories: macro level and micro
level energy harvesters, solar and wind energy harvesters comes under macro level energy harvesting
systems while the field of micro level energy harvesting is still not deeply touched by the researchers that
is vibrational energy harvesting. As the portability in electronics is growing size of electronic devices is
trying to be minimized(portable mobile phones, ear phones, Bluetooth phones, music systems, pacemakers
etc.) and thus their power requirement is also decreasing. Vibrational energy harvesting systems can be a
better power supply option for these low powered electronic devices. In this paper we have studied all
three basic techniques of vibrational energy harvesting techniques, their fundamental principles of
operation, their applications, their inter-comparison to choose the best one for energy harvesting
applications from human foot steps.
Figure(1) shows that energy harvesting from ambient energy sources can be used as an alternative for
micropowering.
Available at :www.rndpublications.com/journal
R&D Publications

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Figure: 1 Energy harvesting as an alternative for micropowering


In the last few years, the topic of energy harvesting or energy scavenging from ambient mechanical
vibrations has attracted the attention of researchers. Many techniques have been analyzed by research
groups to find out their capabilities to harvest electric energy from vibrations. There are three basic
techniques which can be used to convert vibrations into electric energy: piezoelectric, electrostatic and
electromagnetic generators. In electrostatic generator there are two conductors separated by a dielectric
which vibrate relative to each other behaving like a capacitor. In an electromagnetic-energy harvester a
coil attached to an oscillating mass traverses a magnetic field that is established by a stationary magnet.
The coil travels through a varying amount of magnetic flux, inducing an AC voltage according to
Faraday's law. Piezoelectric generators have gained most attention out of these three techniques because
of their ability to directly convert applied strain energy into electrical energy due to their crystalline
molecular structure which exhibits a local charge separation known as electric dipole. When the material
is strained deformation of dipoles takes place as a result of which en electric charge is produced with in
the materials that can be removed through a rectifying circuit and can either be used to power portable
electronic devices or can be used to recharge the batteries for later use. In this paper we will discuss all
these three techniques in detail and compare their utilities in different formats. Figure(2) shows different
vibration-energy harvesting techniques.

Figure: 2 Vibrational energy harvesting techniques


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2. ENERGY HARVESTING VIA PIEZOELECTRIC HARVESTER


In the last few years, there has been an increasing demand for low-power and portable-energy sources due
to the development and mass consumption of portable electronic devices. Furthermore, the portableenergy sources must be associated with environmental issues and imposed regulations. These demands
support research in the areas of portable-energy generation methods. In this scope, piezoelectric materials
become a strong candidate for energy generation and storage in future applications. In this section we will
discuss the energy generation using nano technology by means of piezoelectric materials to convert the
mechanical energy into the electric energy.
The electric power generation using the piezoelectric element is one of the techniques utilizing the
piezoelectric effect. The wasted energy in the natural phenomenon, e.g., wind and tidal energy, and the
generated vibration on the structure such as a bridge, can be reutilized by this energy harvesting technique.
Several groups have been investigating the energy harvesting techniques using the piezoelectric material
PZT ceramics are suitable for the energy harvesting system since the conversion efficiency from the
mechanical to the electrical energy is governed by the piezoelectric constants d and g and the PZT
ceramics have high piezoelectric constants and quality factor. . Ashwani et al.(2014) used the direct
piezoelectric effect to harvest the energy from cantilever beam and inverse effects to control the vibrations
of the plate through making FEM model in ANSYS and using Block Lanczos solver to find out the
optimal placement of different shapes actuator patches in the region of maximum strain[1].
2.1 Principle of Operation
Piezoelectric materials are those which have the ability to produce an electric charge when a mechanical
stress is applied (the material is sretched or compressed) and conversely they get strained when an electric
field is applied on them. The former phenomena is called direct effect while the second one is called
inverse effect. Figure(3) shows the phenomena of charge separation in piezoelectric materials.

Figure: 3 The piezoelectric effect causes crystal materials like quartz to generate an electric charge
when crystal material is compressed, twisted or pilled. The reverse also is true, as the crystal
material compresses or expands when an electric voltage is applied
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Pierre and Jacques Curie were the first to discover the piezoelectric effect in 1880 by measuring surface
charges which were demonstrated on specially arranged crystalline salts of naturally occurring materials
such as cane sugar, Rochelle salt and quartz. The term piezoelectricity was subsequently coined by the
German mathematician Hermann Hankel, coming from the Greek word piezen which means to press.
Figure(4) shows the piezoelectric effect in a cylindrical body under different loading conditions.

Figure: 4 Piezoelectric effect in a cylindrical body (a) no load, (b) compressed, (c) stretched,
(d) shorten, (e) lengthen, (f) grow and shrink. Shah, A. A. (2011) [2].
To produce piezoelectric effect a poly-crystal is heated above the curie temperature under the influence of
a strong electric field. The raised temperature inside the crystal speeds up the random movement of its
molecules while the applied electric field causes to align the dipoles in the same direction (shown in
figure:5).

Figure: 5 Alignment of dipoles in a piezoelectric material


2.2 Piezoelectric Materials (Material with Piezo properties)
Piezoelectric materials can be broadly classified into three categories: 1. Naturally occurring crystals:
Berlinite (AlPO4), Cane sugar, Quartz, Rochelle salt, Topaz, Tourmaline Group Minerals, and dry bone
(apatite crystals). 2 Man-made ceramics: Barium titanate (BaTiO3), Lead titanate (PbTiO3), Lead
zirconate titanate (Pb[ZrxTi1-x]O3 0<x<1) - More commonly known as PZT, Potassium niobate
(KNbO3), Lithium niobate (LiNbO3), Lithium tantalate (LiTaO3), Sodium tungstate (NaxWO3),
Ba2NaNb5O5, Pb2KNb5O15. 3 Polymer: Polyvinyledene fluoride (PVDF).

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2.3 Modes of Operation and Governing Equations
Potentially different magnitude of stress, strain can be produced in the piezo material by applying the
electric field along its different surfaces. Hence to facilitate the ability to apply electric potential in three
directions, piezoelectric properties must contain a sign convention. To under this in a simple way
piezoelectric materials can be generalized into two cases, one is stack configuration which operates in the
-33 mode and another is bender configuration which operates in -31 mode (shown in figure:6).
Assumption of sign convention is that poling is always in 3 direction. In the -33 mode , electric field is
applied in 3 direction and material is strained in poling or 3 direction. In -31 mode electric field is
applied in 3 direction and material is strained in the 1 direction or perpendicular to the poling
direction.

Figure: 6 The piezoelectric transduction modes


Kubba et al.(2014) [3]

Figure: 7 Direction of forces affecting


a piezoelectric element

Chopra (2002) explained the coupled electromechanical behavior of piezoelectric materials using
following two linearized constitutive equations [4]:
Direct piezoelectric effect:

d
Di = eij E j d im m
Converse piezoelectric effect:
E
k d cjk E j S km
m
where vector Di is the dielectric displacement in N/mV or C/m 2 , k is the strain vector, E j is the applied
electric field vector in volts/meter, and m is stress vector in N/m 2 . The piezoelectric constants are the
c

piezoelectric coefficients d imd and d jk in m/V or C/N, the dielectric permittivity eij in N/V 2 or F/m, and
E
is the elastic compliance matrix in m 2 /N. The superscripts c and d refer to the converse and direct
S km
effects, respectively, and the superscript and E indicate that the quantity is measured at constant stress
and constant electric field, respectively.

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2.4 Energy Harvesting Circuitry
An input vibration applied on to a piezoelectric material as shown in Figure 3 causes mechanical
strain to develop in the device which is converted to electrical charge. Lead- zirconate-titanate (PZT) is a
commonly used piezoelectric material for power generation. The equivalent circuit of the
piezoelectric harvester can be represented as a mechanical spring mass system coupled to an
electrical domain as shown in figure( 8 ) . Here, LM represents the mechanical mass, CM the
mechanical stiffness and RM takes into account the mechanical losses. The mechanical domain is
coupled to the electrical domain through a transformer that converts strain to current. On the electrical
side, Cp represents the plate capacitance of the piezoelectric material. At or close to resonance, the
whole circuit can be transformed to the electrical domain, where the piezoelectric element when excited
by sinusoidal vibrations can be modelled as a sinusoidal current source in parallel with a capacitance Cp
and resistance Rp. One of the challenges in a power generator of this type is the design and construction
of an efficient power conversion circuit to harvest the energy from the PZT membrane. Another
unique characteristic of this power source is that it outputs relatively low output voltages for the low
levels of input vibration typically encountered in ambient conditions. This low output voltage makes
it challenging to develop rectifier circuits that are efficient since many diode rectifiers require non zero
turn-on voltage to operate.

Figure: 8 Equivalent circuit of a piezo-harvester. Dhingra et al.(2013) [5]


A piezoelectric harvester is usually represented electrically as a current source in parallel with a
capacitor and resistor. The current source provides current proportional to the input vibration
amplitude. The power output by the piezoelectric harvester is not in a form which is directly usable
by load circuits such as micro-controllers, radios etc. which the harvester powers. The voltage and
current output by the harvester needs to be conditioned and converted to a form usable by the loadcircuits as shown in the figure(9). The power conditioning and converting circuits should also be able to
extract the maximum power available out of the piezoelectric energy harvester. Commonly used analog
and digital circuits require a regulated supply voltage to operate from. Since the piezoelectric
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harvester outputs a sinusoidal current, it first needs to be rectified before it can be used to power circuits.

Figure: 9 Piezoelectric mechanical energy harvesting circuit


3. ENERGY HARVESTING VIA ELECTROSTATIC HARVESTER
Electrostatic devices: they use a variable capacitor structure to generate charges from a relative motion
between two plates.
This method depends on the variable capacitance of vibration-dependent varactors. A varactor, or
variable capacitor, which is initially charged, will separate its plates by vibrations; in this way,
mechanical energy is transformed into electrical energy. Constant voltage or constant current achieves
the conversion through two different mechanisms. For example, the voltage across a variable capacitor
is kept steady as its capacitance alters after a primary charge. As a result, the plates split and the
capacitance is reduced, until the charge is driven out of the device. The driven energy then can be
stored in an energy pool or used to charge a battery, generating the needed voltage source. The most
striking feature of this method is its IC-compatible nature, given that MEMS (Micro-electromechanical
system) variable capacitors are fabricated through relatively well-known silicon micro-machining
techniques. This scheme produces higher and more practical output voltage levels than the
electromagnetic method, with moderate power density.
3.1 Conversion Principle
Electrostatic converters are capacitive structures made of two plates separated by air, vacuum or any
dielectric materials. A relative movement between the two plates generates a capacitance variation
and then electric charges. These devices can be divided into two categories:
Electret-free electrostatic converters that use conversion cycles made of charges and discharges
of the capacitor (an active electronic circuit is then required to apply the charge cycle on the structure
and must be synchronized with the capacitance variation).
Electret-based electrostatic converters that use electrets, giving them the ability to directly convert
mechanical power into electricity. Figure: 10 shows the principle of operation of the electrostatic
transducer (constant charge type).

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Figure: 10 The electrostatic transducer, showing the charges on the electrodes +qand q, the
electric field E, a constant voltage V and time varying voltage Vt. Mitcheson et al.(2008) [6]
Electret-based converters are electrostatic converters, and are therefore based on a capacitive structure
made of two plates (electrode and counter-electrode (Figure 11). The electret induces charges on
electrodes and counter-electrodes to respect Gausss law. Therefore, Qi, the charge on the electret is
equal to the sum of Q1 and Q2, where Q1 is the total amount of charges on the electrode and Q2
the total amount of charges on the counter-electrode (Qi=Q1+Q2). A relative movement of the
counter- electrode compared to the electret and the electrode induces a change in the capacitor
geometry (e.g. the counter-electrode moves away from the electret, changing the air gap and then the
electret's influence on the counter-electrode) and leads to a reorganization of charges between the
electrode and the counter-electrode through load R (Figure 12). This results in a current circulation
through R and one part of the mechanical energy (relative movement) is then turned into electricity.

Figure: 11 Electret based electrostatic conversion-Concept. Boisseau et al.(2012) [7]

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Figure:12 Figure: Electret based electrostatic conversion-Charge circulation. Boisseau et al.(2012)


[7]
3.2 Types of Electrostatic Vibration Energy Harvesters
Electrostatic energy harvesters are based on variable capacitors. There are two sets of electrodes in the
variable capacitor. One set of electrodes are fixed on the housing while the other set of electrodes are
attached to the inertial mass. Mechanical vibration drives the movable electrodes to move with respect
to the fixed electrodes, which changes the capacitance. The capacitance varies between maximum and
minimum value. If the charge on the capacitor is constrained, charge will move from the capacitor to a
storage device or to the load as the capacitance decreases. Thus, mechanical energy is converted to
electrical energy. Electrostatic energy harvesters can be classified into three types as shown in Fig. 13,
i.e. In-Plane Overlap which varies the overlap area between electrodes, In-Plane Gap Closing
which varies the gap between electrodes and Out-of-Plane Gap which varies the gap between two
large electrode plates.

Figure: 13 Three types of electrostatic energy harvesters (a) In-Plane Overlap (b) In-Plane Gap
Closing (c) Out-of-Plane Gap Closing. Zhu, D. (2011) [8]
3 . 3 Power Management Control Circuits (PMCC) Dedicated to Electrostatic VEH (eVEH)
Sometimes electrostatic vibration energy harvesters are characterized by a high output voltage that may
reach some hundreds of volts and a low output current (some 100nA). Obviously, it is impossible to
power any application, any electronic device with such a supply source. This is the reason why a power
converter and an energetic buffer are needed to develop autonomous sensors. Following figure presents
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the conversion chain.
Power Management Control Circuits (PMCC, Figure: 14) can have many functions: changing eVEH
resonant frequency, controlling measurement cycles.

Figure: 14 Power management control circuit to develop viable VEH, Boisseau et al.(2012) [7]
In conclusion we can say that electrostatic energy harvesters have high output voltage level and low
output current. As they have variable capacitor structures that are commonly used in MEMS devices,
it is easy to integrate electrostatic energy harvesters with MEMS fabrication process. However,
mechanical constraints are needed in electrostatic energy harvesting. External voltage source or precharged electrets is also necessary. Furthermore, electrostatic energy harvesters also have high output
impedance.
4. ENERGY HARVESTING VIA ELECTROMAGNETIC HARVESTER
This technique uses a magnetic field to convert mechanical energy to electrical energy. A coil
attached to the oscillating mass is made to pass through a magnetic field, which is established by a
stationary magnet, to produce electric energy. The coil travels through a varying amount of magnetic
flux, inducing a voltage according to Faraday's law. The induced voltage is inherently small and
therefore must be increased to become a viable source of energy. Techniques to increase the induced
voltage include using a transformer, increasing the number of turns of the coil, or increasing the
permanent magnetic field . However, each of these parameters is limited by the size constraints of the
microchip as well as its material properties.
4.1 Working Principle
Electromagnetic induction is based on Faraday's Law which states that an electrical current will be
induced in any closed circuit when the magnetic flux through a surface bounded by the conductor
changes. This applies whether the magnetic field changes in strength or the conductor is moved
through it. In electromagnetic energy harvesters, permanent magnets are normally used to produce
strong magnetic field and coils are used as the conductor. Either the permanent magnet or the coil is
fixed to the frame while the other is attached to the inertial mass. In most cases, the coil is fixed while
the magnet is mobile as the coil is fragile compared to the magnet and static coil can increase lifetime
of the device. Ambient vibration results in the relative displacement between the magnet and the coil,
which generates electrical energy. According to the Faradays Law, the induced voltage, also
known as electromotive force (e.m.f), is proportional to the strength of the magnetic field, the
velocity of the relative motion and the number of turns of the coil.

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4.2 Types of Electromagnetic Harvester
Generally, there are two types of electromagnetic energy harvesters in terms of the relative
displacement. In the first type as shown in Fig. 15(a), there is lateral movement between the magnet
and the coil. The magnetic field cut by the coil varies with the relative movement between the magnet
and the coil. In the second type as shown in Fig. 15(b), the magnet moves in and out of the coil. The
magnetic field cut by the coil varies with the distance between the coil and the magnet. In contrast, the
first type is more common as it is able to provide better electromagnetic coupling.

Figure: 15 Two types of electromagnetic energy harvester. Zhu, D. (2011) [8]


Electromagnetic energy harvesters have high output current level at the expense of low voltage. They
require no external voltage source and no mechanical constraints are needed. However, output of
electromagnetic energy harvesters rely largely on their size. It has been proven that performance of
electromagnetic energy harvesters reduce significantly in micro scale (Beeby et al., 2007a) [9].
Furthermore, due to the use of discrete permanent magnets, it is difficult to integrate electromagnetic
energy harvesters with MEMS fabrication process.
Figure (16) shows the comparison of normalized power density of some reported electromagnetic
vibration energy harvesters. It is clear that power density of macro-scaled electromagnetic vibration
energy harvesters is much higher than that of micro-scaled devices. This proves analytical results
presented by Beeby et al.(2007 a) [9].

Figure: 16 Comparison of normalized power density of some existing electromagnetic vibration


energy harvesters. Beeby et al.(2007 a) [9]
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5. Comparison Between Vibrational Energy Harvesting Techniques


In the last few years we have seen significant growth in the field of energy harvesting because of
ever-increasing desire to produce portable and wireless electronics with extended lifespans. Energy
harvesting from ambient energy sources for powering these portable electronic devices can
eliminate the need of conventional batteries. Ambient energy is omnipresent in our environment in
the form of solar and radio frequency radiation, thermal energy, energy from chemical and
biological sourcessuch as salinity gradient and blood sugar levels, respectivelyand
mechanical energy from natural phenomena such as waves or from vibrations generated by manmade activity. Ambient vibrations, in particular, were until recently considered of little interest as
an energy source due to their very low energy level. Past attempts to harvest them have focused on
physical energy conversion methods, such as micro-electro-mechanical systems, which do not
require fossil fuels. Today, the main challenge is to harvest enough energy to power electronic
devices. Since these devices are becoming smaller in size and consume less power, they may be
well suited for ambient vibration conversion systems for charging batteries or supplying power
directly. The integration of multidisciplinary research produced mechatronic harvesting systems:
fruits of the synergistic integration of mechanics, electronics, control theory, and computer science
within product design and manufacturing to improve functionality. These can be used as
autonomous source of electrical energy for remote or wireless applications powered by ambient
mechanical vibrations from machines, aircraft, ships, bridges, buildings, and so forth.
As we have discussed earlier in above sections there are mainly three methods of harvesting
energy from vibrations: piezoelectric, electrostatic, electromagnetic energy harvesters. These
have their own limitations, requirements, advantages, disadvantages and working conditions. It
is always not possible to implement any of these techniques for a particular application because
of their specific circuitry and input energy sources requirements. In this section we will
compare advantages and disadvantages of each of these three techniques and their capabilities
to harvest energy.
Roundy et al.(2003) performed a qualitative comparison study of three basic vibration energy
harvesting methods. They found in their analysis that a piezoelectric harvester can directly
convert vibrations into electrical energy without any need of additional voltage source but
electrostatic harvesters require a separate voltage source to operate. Electromagnetic harvester
dont require any separate voltage source to function but produce relatively low output
voltages. They also noticed that it is more easy to integrate the electrostatic harvesters into
micro-systems than piezoelectric harvesters. After this analysis they performed the modeling
experimental testing of cantilever piezoelectric harvester and an electrostatic harvester and
found that piezoelectric harvester can generate more power per unit volume than electrostatic
harvester however electrostatics are more suited for integration into Microsystems[10].
Roundy(2005) continued his study of comparison of vibration energy harvesting techniques
conducted in 2003 and presented some more effective and practical conclusions. He stated that
selection of a particular energy harvesting technique depends upon the physical constraints of
the system and environmental conditions. He analyzed that piezoelectric harvesters produce
high voltage and low currents, also the current generation decreases in both electrostatic and
piezoelectric harvesters as the size of device decreases. While electromagnetic harvester
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produce low voltages and the voltage output decreases as the size of device decreases. He
observed some critical implementation issues regarding electrostatic generators because they
require oscillation level of hundred of microns while maintaining minimum capacitive gap
(about 0.5 m or less) and providing power at a level similar to other harvesters[11].
Sterken et al(2004) conducted the the comparative study to analyze the size constraints
imposed by the application for different vibrational energy harvesters in order to make it easy
for designers to select a particular energy harvesting method for a given application. They
compared the all three vibartional energy harvesting techniques through their mathematical
modeling and declared that all three techniques can be used under different conditions but they
are more effective under some particular domains. They made some conclusions on the behalf
of this comparative study like: in electrostatic generators small gap between the capacitors
should be maintained for their effective functioning hence their application is limited in small
size systems, while the application of electromagnetic generators is best suited for large
systems in which large size harvesters can be fitted. They also found that maximum power
generation capability of electrostatic generators was lesser than other two harvesters but they
can be used for any application without any size constraints[12].
Poulin et al(2004) compared analytically the energy harvesting capabilities of electromagnetic
and piezoelectric harvesters from human movement to power portable electronic devices.
Electromagnetic device under consideration was composed of coil containing a translating
magnet and the piezoelectric device was made from a cantilever piezoceramic bar. They
compared the typically sized devices of each type and concluded that maximum volumetric
power output of both devices was relatively close while the difference in their resonant
frequency was considerable. The resonant frequency of electromagnetic device was the order of
few hertz while it was on the order of few hundred kilohertz for piezoelectric device. Also a
considerable difference was seen in matching load resistance, it was in the k range fo r
electromagnetic system and in the M range for piezoelectric system. Finally it was concluded
that piezoelectric harvesters are more useful for micro-level power harvesting applications
because of their ability to yield high power density while electromagnetic harvester are best
suited for macro-level applications because of large size device requirements[13].
Niu et al.(2004) studied the electric power generation capabilities of electrostatic,
electromagnetic and piezoelectric harvesters from heel strike during human walking. They
found that electrostatic generators require additional voltage source to operate hence they are
not suited for heel strike energy harvesting applications but they can give better results than
electromagnetic generators in the case when small displacements are involved. It was found
that piezoelectric generator do not give significant power output during compression mode,
while in the bending mode the cantilever beam mounted in the heel was not capable of utilizing
the energy of heel strike excitation. Regarding electromagnetic devices it was observed that
they have low efficiency of energy conversion under low frequency vibrations produced by the
heel strike but the efficiency can be improved by converting heel strike excitation into
rotational excitation[14]. Maezencki(2005) showed a comparisonal view of vibration energy
harvesting techniques depending upon their reliability and feasibility study ( As shown in
Table:1)[15].

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Table: 1 Comparison of Vibration Energy Harvesting Techniques. Maezencki(2005) [15]

6. CONCLUSIONS
A vibration energy harvester is an energy harvesting device that couples a certain transduction
mechanism to ambient vibration and converts mechanical energy to electrical energy. Ambient
vibration includes machinery vibration, human movement and flow induced vibration. For energy
harvesting from machinery vibration, the most common solution is to design a linear generator that
converts kinetic energy to electrical energy using certain transduction mechanisms, such as
electromagnetic, piezoelectric and electrostatic transducers. Electromagnetic energy harvesters have
the highest power density among the three transducers. However, performance of electromagnetic
vibration energy harvesters reduces a lot in micro scale, which makes it not suitable for MEMS
applications. Piezoelectric energy harvesters have the similar power density to the electromagnetic
energy harvesters. They have simple structures, which makes them easy to fabricate. Electrostatic
energy harvesters have the lowest power density of the three, but they are compatible with MEMS
fabrication process and easy to be integrated to chip-level systems.
Electromagnetic energy harvesters dont require any additional voltage source to operate and
have highest power density among three but these are more suited for macro-scale applications
not for micro-level applications like MEMS.
Electrostatic energy harvesters require a separate voltage source to operate which make it
useless for powering independent portable electronic devices however it is easy to integrate
them into small size microsystems to produce significant amount of output power.
Piezoelectric energy harvesters have the capability to directly convert strain energy into
electrical energy without any requirement of additional voltage sources and can be integrated
into any microsystem without any size issue and hence best suited for human powered
applications. They have the ability to yield a high power density to power portable electronic
devices.
In this way we have compared three different vibrational energy harvesting techniques in
different aspects. This study helps the designers and engineers to select a particular energy
harvesting technique for a particular application under different constraints.
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