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Long-term testing of a vibration harvesting system for the structural health monitoring of bridges

Sensors and Actuators A Physical
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.sna.2014.07.003
  • Frequency Up-Conversion
  • Pfig
  • Vibration Harvesting
  • Structural Health Monitoring
  • Wireless Sensors
  • Charge Pump
  • Design
  • Physics


Abstract Advances in energy harvesting systems are needed to power wireless sensors for structural health monitoring. Research on developing a harvesting system that converts the low frequency, non-periodic, and low-acceleration vibrations present on bridges is continued and significantly extended in this work. The mechanics of the harvester were optimized to increase its robustness and lifetime, power electronics were added, and the complete system was installed on the New Carquinez suspension bridge in California. The complete results and analysis are presented in this study. The power management circuit is added to rectify and boost the low AC output of the harvester and convert it into a usable DC voltage. The harvester design is further enhanced to significantly improve performance and robustness. During short-term on-bridge testing, the system was able to charge a 10μF capacitor to 2V DC, and the average harvester output power ranges from 1.6 to 5.0μW, depending on the location on the bridge, a 10× improvement over previous results. A long-term test of the harvesting system has been conducted, during which the performance of the system was monitored remotely using a wireless sensor network. The system improvements described in this study enabled continuous operation in the harsh bridge environment for 13 months starting April 30, 2012 and constitute a major milestone in the development of miniaturized motion harvesters. Finally, the system was retrieved and analyzed to understand and verify the cause of observed long-term performance changes.

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