Date of Award

Fall 2015

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Marianna Shubov

Second Advisor

Rita Hibschweiler

Third Advisor

Steve Wineberg


Energy Harvesting from ambient waste energy for the purpose of running low-powered electronics has emerged during last decades. The goal of energy harvesting devices is to provide remote sources of electrical power and/or recharge storage devices such as batteries and capacitors.

The evolution of low-power-consuming electronics have led to and active academic research in energy harvesting. One of the most studied areas is the use of the piezoelectric effect to convert ambient vibration into useful electrical energy. The focus of this study on placed on detailed mathematical analysis of electromechanical models of piezoelectric energy harvester. The area of vibration-based energy harvesting incorporates knowledge and methods from mechanics, material science, and electrical circuitry. Researches from all three disciplines contribute heavily to energy harvesting literature. The term energy harvester is defined as the generator device undergoing vibrations due to a specific form of excitation. The main focus, therefore, is placed on modeling and electromechanical response of the device for the respective form of excitation rather than investigating the storage components and the power electronics aspects.

The electromechanical response of a piezoelectrical energy harvester and the amount of power it generates are completely dependent on the nature of ambient energy. In the analytical framework of our study, harmonic and non-harmonic forms of ambient excitation can be considered as well as moving-load excitations, periodic inputs and airflow-induced vibrations (aeroelastic energy harvesters).

The ultimate goal in this research field is to power small electronic devices by using the vibration energy available in their environment. If this can be achieved, the requirement of an external power source as well as the maintenance costs for periodic battery replacement and the chemical waste of conventional batteries can be significantly reduced.