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Developing Innovative Energy Harvesting Approaches for Infrastructure Health Monitoring Systems

[+] Author Affiliations
Travis McEvoy, Eric Dierks, Jason Weaver, Sumedh Inamdar, Krystian Zimowski, Kristin L. Wood, Richard H. Crawford

University of Texas, Austin, TX

Dan Jensen

United States Air Force Academy, USAF Academy, CO

Paper No. DETC2011-48359, pp. 325-339; 15 pages
  • ASME 2011 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 5: 37th Design Automation Conference, Parts A and B
  • Washington, DC, USA, August 28–31, 2011
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5482-2
  • Copyright © 2011 by ASME


Many factors must be addressed when designing infrastructure health monitoring systems. Structures in remote locations or with limited accessibility make the requirements for these systems unique and challenging. For locations where connection to the power grid is difficult or impossible, monitoring system life is severely limited by battery technology. Alternatively, an energy harvesting power supply can make the monitoring system independent of the grid while increasing capabilities and lifetime beyond what is possible with current battery technology. This paper discusses a design and development methodology for developing energy harvesting aspects of a health monitoring system. The system comprises a sensor module that monitors the health of the structure, an on-site processing module that analyzes the data, and a wireless communication module that transmits the data. The method is demonstrated by examples of energy harvesting systems for a bridge monitoring application, using solar, wind, and vibration energy harvesters to provide power to a wireless network, local data processors, and strain gauges. Theoretical feasibility of energy harvesting in these domains has been previously demonstrated. The examples described in this paper validate the feasibility previously calculated as well as illustrate shortcomings in the current technology that inhibit potential implementation. The examples also show areas where innovation is needed to continue to advance the technology of energy harvesting in this application on infrastructure.

Copyright © 2011 by ASME



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