Energy Harvesting for Self-Powered Sensors for Smart Transportation Infrastructures

While there has been intense focus on ubiquitous sensing of transportation infrastructures, powering sensors and other peripherals by drawing wires from existing utility lines becomes cost-prohibitive and frequently a complex operation. These sensors can be powered by alternative sources of power much more efficiently and at significantly lower costs. Harvesting energy from ambient vibration sources, including traffic induced vibration of transportation infrastructures, is one of the most attractive options for powering sensors on transportation infrastructures. The highway statistics shows that the average daily vehicles miles traveled in the US is more than 5000 million, representing a massive source of kinetic energy that lies unused in the national transportation network. A large portion of this unused kinetic energy is generated by the daily traffic load on highway bridges, pavements and other transportation infrastructures in the form of low- frequency vibration, and it can be effectively harvested to power sensors and monitoring peripherals. The proposed concept of the self-powered sensors relies on the use of existing sensors that could be powered by compact and modular energy harvesters installed in any part of a transportation infrastructure without elaborate wiring. The principal investigators have been investigating the application of electromagnetism in smart transportation infrastructures. The proposed research aims to develop an innovative approach, termed as electromagnetic energy harvesting system (EMEHSs), for energy harvesting from transportation infrastructures. The EMEHS will utilize the innovative concept of creating an array of large number of small permanent magnets through certain optimization criteria to achieve strong and focused magnetic field in a particular orientation. When these magnets are attached to a flexible sub-system and are placed close to copper coils, ambient and traffic induced vibration of the sub-system induces eddy current in copper coils, which can be further amplified by a secondary circuit and can be stored in chargeable batteries. The mass and stiffness of the sub-system can be adjusted such that a low- frequency vibration due to the traffic load can effectively induce the vibration of the sub-system. This vibration can be further amplified by tuning the frequency of the sub-system to resonance condition. A key innovation of the proposed research, as compared to other energy harvesters, will be the optimization of array of permanent magnets and planar shape of the copper coils to maximize harvested energy. Practical and economic feasibility and field implementation of the device on a bridge will also be investigated in this work. Based on detailed numerical simulations and modeling, a larger scale device will be first tested in the laboratory and then will be installed on a bridge to demonstrate the technology and its effectiveness in powering typical monitoring sensors.


Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01736233
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Connected Cities for Smart Mobility towards Accessible and Resilient Transportation Center (C2SMART)
  • Contract Numbers: USDOT 69A3551747124
  • Files: UTC, RiP
  • Created Date: Apr 15 2020 3:09PM