Analysis of AC low-voltage energy harvesting
Julian, Alexander L.
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Piezoelectricity is a material property that generates an electric charge proportional to the mechanical stress placed on the material. This phenomenon was first discovered by the Curie brothers in 1880. This material property gives the ability to turn vibrations into an electrical waveform, but power electronics is necessary to harness this low-level energy. AC power is often produced at the power plant level in modern society; however, low voltage AC power is widely available in vibrational form. The U.S. Navy may be able to utilize piezoelectric technology to harness wasted vibrational energy. Some of these applications include inserting a piezoelectric harvester in shoes to supply small amounts of power to cell phones or utilizing motion energy to provide power to iPod chargers. The power electronics that provides full bridge rectification and step down conversion, which achieves AC-DC power harvesting, is discussed. Also discussed is a breakdown of possible applications for such a device as well as the benefits of turning AC power into DC. A Linear Technology LTC-3588-1 integrated circuit was simulated in software and demonstrated in hardware. The hardware experiment showed that the software accurately predicted the performance of the chip.