Harvesting Electric Power through an Instrumented PVDF Backpack Harness

Period of Performance: 08/01/2006 - 05/31/2007


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Nanosonic, Inc.
158 Wheatland Drive Array
Pembroke, VA 24136
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Research Institution

Michigan Technological University
1400 Townsend Drive
Houghton, MI 49931
Institution POC


The proposed research is to model, design and develop a prototype backpack harness that is capable of generating electricity due to the differential forces between the wearer and a backpack that occur during walking while minimizing the weight and effect on the soldier. The design will replace the traditional harness system with a prototype harness that incorporates piezoelectric polymer PVDF. Piezoelectric materials will allow the applied load to be directly converted to electrical energy, making them well suited for this application. The design will utilized piezoelectric polymer PVDF due to its high strength, flexibility and the ease with which it can be designed to replace current harnesses. Additionally, an advanced nanostructured electrode will be assembled on the material such that it can withstand the high cycle strain that would damage traditional electrodes. The foremost goal and novel aspect of the proposed effort is to generate a usable amount of electrical energy while maintaining the functionality of the harness. A system of energy storage electronics will be integrated with the PVDF harness to provide a functional prototype of the power harvesting backpack, which will be subjected to a series of experimental characterizations. BENEFITS: The proposed research offers significant potential in many military and civilian applications. The proposed energy harvesting backpack harness will be designed to integrate into the traditional backpack systems used by the military, providing power for communications, navigation and sensing electronics. In addition to the direct military application, this technology has significant potential in civilian markets as well. The overabundance of personal electronics in everyday life makes the system extremely viable for the commercial market. The technology could easily be transitioned to hiking backpacks, school backpack or travel luggage provide means for recharging handheld GPS systems, cellular phones, PDAs, or any other low power personal electronics device.