Bistable laminates for energy harvesting

  • Peter Harris

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This thesis presents novel research in the area of energy harvesting from broadband vibra-tions. The aim of energy harvesting is to recover energy wasted or unused in the environmentto power low-consumption devices on the order of hundreds of microwatts to milliwatts. The motivation is twofold. In providing a localized, self-contained power source, device reliability, flexibility of installation location can be improved, and maintenance costs can be reduced.Furthermore, reduced reliance on batteries will mitigate the environmental impact associated with resource extraction, and disposal. To this end, this thesis investigates bistable laminates with piezoelectric transduction as broadband energy harvesters. Hitherto, a wealth of literature exists in which narrowband energy harvesters have been studied and optimized to operate over a small frequency interval. While these have been successful to the point of having devices commercially available, many situations exist where the dominant frequencies from which energy is to be harvested change with respect to time, or may be dominated by noise, thus not having a truly dominating frequency. Energy harvesters with nonlinear frequency responses have attracted substantial research interest because of their ability to respond over a broaderfrequency band. Due to complexities of the response of these harvesters, particularly when the intensity of the vibrational input is high, modeling their behavior is difficult. Designing these harvesters is therefore challenging as the relationships between the various design parameters and power output can be highly involved, or require numerical solutions as analytical solutions may not be possible. This thesis helps to address this knowledge gap. Bistable laminates ofboth cantilever and plate configuration are studied. Parametric studies are undertaken to empirically demonstrate the relationship between power output and parameters such as resistance load, proof mass addition, operation orientation, different shapes, ply angles, and introduction of adjustable magnetic compression. Modeling work is also undertaken to capture the mainfeatures of the nonlinear response such as subharmonics, superharmonics, and snap-through. A study is also carried out to quantify the differences of performance between a linear harvester and an equivalent bistable counterpart. As a practical demonstration, some plate-type harvesters are subjected to excitation patterns based on measured train data. Ultimately, thisthesis provides an in depth understanding of bistable shape, layup, and design on harvesting performance.
Date of Award26 Jul 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorChris Bowen (Supervisor) & Nigel Johnston (Supervisor)


  • Bistable
  • Laminate
  • Energy harvesting
  • vibration

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