Characterisation of a knee-joint energy harvester powering a wireless communication sensing node
Smart Materials and Structures
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Human-based energy harvesters are attractive as sustainable replacements for batteries to power wearable or implantable devices and body sensor networks. In the work presented here, a knee-joint energy harvester (KEH) was introduced to power a customer-built wireless communication sensing node (WCSN). The KEH used a mechanical plucking technique to provide sufficient frequency up-conversion - from a few Hz to the resonant frequency of the KEH - so as to generate the high power required. It was actuated by a knee-joint simulator, which reproduced the knee-joint motion of human gaits at a walking frequency of 0.9 Hz. The energy generated was first stored in a reservoir capacitor and then released to the WCSN in a burst mode with the help of an energy aware interface (EAI). The WCSN was deployed with a 3-axis accelerometer, a temperature sensor, and a light detector for data sensing. A Jennic microcontroller was utilised to collect and transmit the measured data to a base station placed at a distance of 12 m. The energy generation by the KEH and the energy distribution in the system was characterised in real time by an in-house-built set-up. The results showed that the KEH generated an average power output of 1.76 mW when powering the WCSN. After charging the reservoir capacitor for 28.4 s, the KEH can power the WCSN for a 46 ms period every 1.25 s. The results also clearly illustrated how the energy generated by the KEH was distributed in the system and highlighted the importance of using a high performance power management approach to improve the performance of the whole system. Key words: piezoelectric energy harvester; wearable; wireless communication sensing node; human motion
Vol. 25, No. 5, 055013