Development of a Miniature, Vibro-Mechanical Energy Harvester for Powering Wireless Sensors

Period of Performance: 03/25/2009 - 07/22/2011

$917K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Microstrain, Inc.
459 Hurricane Lane, Suite 102
Williston, VT 05495
Principal Investigator

Abstract

A major barrier to the widespread adoption of wireless sensors for structural health monitoring is the requirement to power the network of wireless nodes. Batteries have a limited lifespan, adding significant size, weight, and costs to the wireless sensor network,and may represent a long term environmental problem. Battery maintenance can be eliminated by harvesting energy from the environment. For many structures, strain and vibration energy are prevalent during operation, and these energies can be exploited to allow the realization of maintenance free wireless sensor networks. The design of an optimized energy harvesting system for sensing requires a comprehensive knowledge of the strain and/or vibration energies available in the operational environment. Furthermore, the sensing requirements must be well defined,including the sensor types and number of channels, their burst sample rates, duty cycles, and wireless data communications rates & range. The objective of this proposal is to miniaturize a vibro-mechanical energy harvester for the purpose of powering a dedicated wireless sensor hub. The sensor hub shall be capable of supporting a wired multidrop sensor network, including corrosion, strain, pressure, and vibration sensors.