An international research team led by Tohoku University has designed a new power generation device by combining piezoelectric composites with carbon fiber reinforced polymers (CFRP), a commonly used material that is both lightweight and strong. The new device transforms vibrations from the surrounding environment into electricity, providing an efficient and reliable medium for self-powered sensors.
Details of the team’s research have been published in the journal Nano Energy without a paywall.
Energy harvesting involves converting energy from the environment by using it piezoelectric into usable electricity and is critical to ensuring a sustainable future.
Harvesting energy through vibrations researchers develop a highly durable and efficient device. Image credit: Tohoku University. Click the press release link for more images and information.
Fumio Narita, co-author of the study and professor at Tohoku University’s Graduate School of Environmental Studies, said: “Everyday objects, from refrigerators to street lights, are connected to the Internet as part of the Internet of Things (IoT) and many of them have sensors that collect data, but these IoT devices need power to operate, which is difficult if they are in remote locations or if there are many of them.”
The sun’s rays, heat and vibrations can generate electricity. Vibrational energy can be utilized due to the ability of piezoelectric materials to generate electricity when physically stressed. Meanwhile, CFRP lends itself to applications in aerospace and automotive, sports equipment and medical equipment due to its durability and light weight.
“We pondered whether a piezoelectric vibrating energy harvester (PVEH), leveraging the toughness of CFRP in conjunction with a piezoelectric composite, could be a more efficient and durable means of harvesting energy,” said Narita.
The group fabricated the device using a combination of CFRP and potassium sodium niobate (KNN) nanoparticles mixed with epoxy resin. The CFRP served as both an electrode and a reinforcing substrate.
The so-called C-PVEH device lived up to its expectations. Tests and simulations revealed that it could maintain high performance even after being folded more than 100,000 times. It has proven capable of storing the electricity generated and powering LED lights. Furthermore, it outperformed other KNN-based polymer composites in terms of energy generation density.
The C-PVEH will help advance the development of self-powered IoT sensors, leading to more energy-efficient IoT devices.
Narita and her colleagues are also excited about the technological advances of their breakthrough. “In addition to the social benefits of our C-PVEH device, we are excited about the contributions we have made to the field of energy harvesting and sensor technology. The combination of excellent energy production density and high resilience may guide future research on other composite materials materials for different applications,” he added.
The piezoelectric is a fascinating field. With much in common with microphones that generate electrical information, the piezoelectric simply produces watts. Oddly enough, making high-performance microphones is much more developed than piezoelectric devices.
Achieving sufficient motion to flex a piezoelectric device has been a starting point that varies immensely. A heavy-duty diesel engine that shakes is a very different proposition than a structure that bends in the wind.
This technology is approaching small sources of high frequency energy.
So far, there have been no highly inexpensive piezoelectric devices for mass-market sale. But the gap is narrowing to marketability.
By Brian Westenhaus via New Energy and Fuel
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