Piezoelectric energy harvesting: vortex induced vibrations in plants, soap films, and arrays of cylinders
Hobbs, William Bradford
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The goal of this project was to develop a wind generator that utilizes the collective oscillating motion of multiple piezoelectric devices. These devices would be an alternative to rotating turbine designs for low power generation, for use in applications such as remote power generation. A series of inexpensive devices were developed that harvested energy from vortex shedding, both as independent and cooperative devices. The behavior of single devices was studied, but more interestingly, the way that multiple devices arranged together can increase power output was studied. It was shown that individual devices could harvest more energy if they were placed as specific positions relative to the vortices shed by devices upstream. Through investigating the behavior of these devices, fundamental principles of the phenomenon of vortex induced vibrations were explored. Methods were developed to measure the amplitude and frequency of these vibrations in a wind tunnel, through high speed video and correlations that were found between oscillation and power output from the piezoelectric transducers. Similarly, vortex induced vibrations were explored in an approximation of a two dimensional system in a flowing soap film.