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Energy Harvesting Techniques for Small Scale Environmentally-Powered Electronic Systems

Carli, Davide (2013) Energy Harvesting Techniques for Small Scale Environmentally-Powered Electronic Systems. PhD Thesis , Università degli Studi di Ferrara.

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    The continuous advances in integrated circuit fabrication technologies, circuit design, and networking techniques enable the integration of an in-creasing number of functionalities in ever smaller devices. This trend de-termines the multiplication of possible application scenarios for tiny em-bedded systems such as wireless sensors, whose utilization has grown more and more pervasive. However, the operating life time of such sys-tems, when placed in locations not allowing a wired connection to a de-pendable power supply infrastructure, is still heavily limited by the finite capacity of currently available accumulators, whose technology has not improved at the same pace of the electronic systems they supply. Energy harvesting techniques constitute a real solution to power un-tethered computing platforms in this kind of spatially-distributed applica-tions. By converting part of the energy freely available in the surrounding environment to electrical energy, the operating life of the system can be extended considerably, potentially for an unlimited time. In recent years an increasing number of researchers have investigated this possibility. In this dissertation we discuss our results about the study and design of systems capable of harvesting energy from various regenerative sources. We start with the design of an airflow energy harvester, focusing on the optimization of its power generation and efficiency performances, and obtaining superior results with respect to similar works in literature. Then we deal with the improvement of this architecture to implement a fully autonomous vibrational harvester, featuring uncommon in-the-field configuration capabilities. Afterwards we investigate the applicability of self-powered wireless sensor nodes to heavy duty and agricultural machinery, finding attractive vibration sources capable of providing enough power to sustain remarkable data transmission rates. To address remote monitoring applications with stringent needs in terms of power supply availability, we present a truly flexible multi-source energy harvester, along with a simulation framework expressly developed to anticipate the harvester performance when placed in a specific operating environment. Furthermore, the design strategies allowing energy harvesters to fully exploit the locally generated power can be profitably applied in the field of distributed electricity generation from renewable energy sources, to enhance the self-consumption capabilities of microgeneration systems. Based on this motivation, we finally propose a grid-assisted photovoltaic power supply to improve the self-sustainability of ground-source heat pumps, and analyze original data on the consumption profiles of these systems to assess the effectiveness of the design. Energy harvesting techniques have the potential to enable many cut-ting-edge applications, especially in remote sensing and pervasive computing areas, which can bring innovations in several fields of human activity. In this thesis we contribute tackling some of the numerous open research challenges still hampering the widespread adoption of this technology.

    Item Type:Thesis (PhD Thesis)
    Date:26 March 2013
    Tutor:Ruggeri, Massimiliano
    Coordinator:Trillo, Stefano
    Institution:Università degli Studi di Ferrara
    Divisions:Dipartimento > Ingegneria
    Subjects:Area 09 - Ingegneria industriale e dell'informazione > ING-INF/01 Elettronica
    Uncontrolled Keywords:Energy harvesting, Low-power design, Power management, Wireless sensor networks, Self-consumption
    Identification Number:10.5072//838
    Deposited on:23 Jun 2015 15:59


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