En-ComE: Energy Harvesting Powered Wireless Monitoring Systems Based on Integrated Smart Composite Structures and Energy-Aware Architecture

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Engineering Computer Science and Maths

Abstract

BAE Systems with the support of EPSRC have launched a challenge to universities to develop novel technologies that can be applied to new and aspirational aircraft programmes. In particular, the Persistent Green Air Vehicle (PERGAVE) concept is a future unmanned air vehicle (UAV), not yet an aircraft design, which can sustain missions of at least months' and ultimately more than a year's duration. In this respect, PERGAVE is a highly flexible HALE (High Altitude Long Endurance) aircraft, with vibration and aeroelastic characteristics specific to each PERGAVE design concept. Methodologies have been developed by NASA to predict flight dynamics of HALE aircraft. An operational profile such as this will require extremely low energy demands from on-board systems to meet both the endurance and environmental targets. It will also require comprehensive condition monitoring of structures and systems (e.g. vibration and loading) as well as environmental parameter measurement (e.g. temperature, ionizing radiation levels and doses) to allow operators to assess the viability of the aircraft at every stage of its mission. This project will respond to the PERGAVE challenge by developing energy harvesting powered wireless data links and real time condition and environmental sensor nodes in an integrated smart composite airframe structure for monitoring. The nodes will operate in an energy autonomous manner, without the need for power supplies or batteries and therefore it is truly energy autonomous. The research has the following five work packages:
WP1: Requirement capture and study of the system design specifications and architecture
WP2: Integration of the energy harvesting element into the composite structure
WP3: Multiphysical modelling and simulation for optimisation of the whole system
WP4: Development of low power consumption wireless sensor nodes
WP5: Testing of the technology demonstrator

The WPs will specifically target design and demonstration of a deployable real time energy autonomous wireless sensing communication systems that can be used for structural health monitoring and environmental parameter measurement aligned to the next generation, unmanned air vehicle programme in BAE Systems. Uniquely in the UK, this work will take a system level specification and design approach combining optimisation with novel energy harvesting technology designed for flexible deployment in manufactured composite structures with wireless sensing, which are all integrated in a novel energy and power management architecture. This provides end-to-end capability that will be suitable not only for the PERGAVE vehicle but also for other applications requiring remote asset condition monitoring in harsh environments (e.g. off-shore wind farms).

The principal novelty of the project lies in the implementation of combined materials and structures design, optimisation and manufacturing processes, our enhanced energy harvesting technology and efficient energy-aware and energy-flow control mechanism, which has the potential to be prototyped as a self-powered, light weight and wireless health monitoring system for future air vehicles.

The research will build on investigator track records on energy harvesting with wireless sensing, sensors and aerospace monitoring, and composite manufacturing at Cranfield University, aircraft and composite structural modelling and optimization at Lancaster University, and ionizing radiation monitoring at the University of Central Lancashire to undertake this timing and challenging project.

The project partners are BAE Systems in Military Air&Information and Advanced Technology Centre, AgustaWestland Ltd, TRW, dstl, EPSRC National Centres for Innovative Manufacturing in Through-life Engineering Services. These partners represents aerospace, defence and automotive sectors. There are Aerospace, Aviation & Defence KTN and Zartech organisations as dissemination partners to support the impact activities.

Planned Impact

Since this project aligns with the EPSRC-supported PERGAVE concept of BAE Systems, it fits with EPSRC's strategy and portfolio. BAE Systems is Britain's largest exporter of manufactured goods and is UK MoD's largest single supplier of defence capability and technology. The company links to a large industrial supply chain that reaches well beyond the defence industry and so this project can provide underpinning technology in an industrial sector highly strategic to the UK economy. PERGAVE itself is a generic HALE platform and is applicable to security and defence reconnaissance as well as civil and commercial tasks such as earth resources monitoring, observation and communications. Hence this work will be an important contribution to future growth in equipment and system supply chains for these industries in the next 5-10 years.

The technology has applications beyond the aerospace industry, e.g. in wind turbine monitoring. Renewable energy production and reduction of carbon emission are seen as a high priority of national importance. The UK is developing a substantial offshore wind industry with the potential deployment throughout the country in the next 20 to 30 years reaching an estimated capacity of 35GW, and have earmarked up to £120 million to support the development of a UK-based offshore wind industry. Remote, offshore wind farms are costly and dangerous to maintain so the provision of wireless, accurate and comprehensive condition monitoring data is vital to ensure the most efficient maintenance planning. Other industries that could benefit from this system include automotive, transport, nuclear energy, oil and gas pipe-lines and bridge and tunnel infrastructure services. The technology will allow high-value manufacturing industry to sustain and expand their business into engineering services.

The report on the "Innovation and Research Strategy for Growth", published by the UK Department for Business Innovation & Skill (BIS) in December 2011, has prioriised four emerging technology areas for investment, one of which is EH. BIS is launching a series of technology and innovation centres to be competitive on the world stage, two of which are High Value Manufacturing and Offshore Renewable Energy. Although this research will directly support the aircraft industry, it could trigger a wealth of materials, ICT, sensors and instrumentation research in the UK and the world.

This research is well connected to a number of EPSRC research areas, including "Manufacturing the Future", "Materials Engineering - Composites", "RF and Microwave communications", "Sensors and Instrumentation", "Performance and Inspection of Mechanical Structures and Systems" and "Energy". The proposed research underpins societal challenge themes of "Manufacturing the Future" and "Energy", and contributes to national capability themes of "Engineering" and "ICT".

Publications

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Chew Z (2016) Airflow energy harvesting with high wind velocities for industrial applications in Journal of Physics: Conference Series

 
Description We are investigating how to integrate piezoelectric energy harvesting elements onto composite materials and we are also investigating how to develop low power consumption wireless sensing modulus integrated with energy harvesting for aircraft industry.

We have successfully investigated the know-how technology on energy harvesting powered wireless sensing. We will have a showcase to industry and academic in May 2016.
Exploitation Route We have worked with a number of industries for exploitations at the moment, including Airbus and BAE Systems.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Energy,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport

 
Description We have demonstrated the developed technology to 20 industry delegates. We had an exhibition stand on Berlin to show our technology. We had 3 invited talks, in the UK, USA and Germany.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport
Impact Types Economic

 
Description EPSRC
Amount £64,000 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2017 
 
Description Energy harvesting enabling system for applications
Amount £64,750 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2016 
End 10/2019
 
Description Intitial GW4 funding for energy harvesting
Amount £2,500 (GBP)
Organisation GW4 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2014 
End 07/2014
 
Description SENTIENT - SENsors To Inform &Enable wireless NeTworks
Amount £144,049 (GBP)
Funding ID 101657 
Organisation TSB Bank plc 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2014 
End 12/2016
 
Description Unlocking the science for an Autonomous Structural Health Monitoring System
Amount £17,000 (GBP)
Organisation GW4 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2014 
End 05/2015
 
Description Wide bandwidth energy harvesting for applications
Amount £64,750 (GBP)
Organisation University of Leeds 
Department Faculty of Engineering
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2016 
End 04/2020
 
Title Energy-aware Approaches for Energy Harvesting Powered Wireless Sensor Nodes 
Description Intensive research on energy harvesting powered wireless sensor nodes (WSNs) has been driven by the needs of reducing the power consumption by the WSNs and the increasing the power generated by energy harvesters. The mismatch between the energy generated by the harvesters and the energy demanded by the WSNs is always a bottleneck as the ambient environmental energy is limited and time-varying. This paper introduces a combined energy-aware interface (EAI) with an energy-aware program to deal with the mismatch through managing the energy flow from the energy storage capacitor to the WSNs. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact These two energy-aware approaches were implemented in a custom developed vibration energy harvesting powered WSN. The experimental results show that, with the 3.2 mW power generated by a piezoelectric energy harvester (PEH) under an emulated aircraft wing strain loading of 600 µe at 10 Hz, the combined energy-aware approaches enable the WSN to have a significantly reduced sleep current from 28.3 µA of a commercial WSN to 0.95 µA and enable the WSN operations for a long active time of about 1.15 s in every 7.79 s to sample and transmit a large number of data (388 bytes), rather than a few ten milliseconds and a few bytes, as demanded by vibration measurement. When the approach was not used, the same amount of energy harvested was not able to power the WSN to start, not mentioning to enabling the WSN operation, which highlighted the importance and the value of the energy-aware approaches in enabling energy harvesting powered WSN operation successfully. 
 
Title Energy-aware Approaches for Energy Harvesting Powered Wireless Sensor Nodes 
Description Intensive research on energy harvesting powered wireless sensor nodes (WSNs) has been driven by the needs of reducing the power consumption by the WSNs and the increasing the power generated by energy harvesters. The mismatch between the energy generated by the harvesters and the energy demanded by the WSNs is always a bottleneck as the ambient environmental energy is limited and time-varying. This paper introduces a combined energy-aware interface (EAI) with an energy-aware program to deal with the mismatch through managing the energy flow from the energy storage capacitor to the WSNs. These two energy-aware approaches were implemented in a custom developed vibration energy harvesting powered WSN. The experimental results show that, with the 3.2 mW power generated by a piezoelectric energy harvester (PEH) under an emulated aircraft wing strain loading of 600 µe at 10 Hz, the combined energy-aware approaches enable the WSN to have a significantly reduced sleep current from 28.3 µA of a commercial WSN to 0.95 µA and enable the WSN operations for a long active time of about 1.15 s in every 7.79 s to sample and transmit a large number of data (388 bytes), rather than a few ten milliseconds and a few bytes, as demanded by vibration measurement. When the approach was not used, the same amount of energy harvested was not able to power the WSN to start, not mentioning to enabling the WSN operation, which highlighted the importance and the value of the energy-aware approaches in enabling energy harvesting powered WSN operation successfully. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact When the approach was not used, the same amount of energy harvested was not able to power the WSN to start, not mentioning to enabling the WSN operation, which highlighted the importance and the value of the energy-aware approaches in enabling energy harvesting powered WSN operation successfully. 
 
Title Micropower Circuit for Maximum Power Transfer Using Direct VOC/2 Finding Method for Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting 
Description A novel implementation method of maximum power transfer for piezoelectric energy harvesters (PEHs) connected to a rectifier with a smoothing capacitor at the rectifier output is presented based on the half open-circuit voltage (VOC/2) of a rectified PEH by exploiting the RC response of a circuit formed by the PEH, rectifier, and smoothing capacitor. The presented technique has a specifically designed high-pass filter which has a peak output voltage that corresponds to the VOC/2 of the PEH, which is also the voltage when maximum power transfer occurs in that circuit configuration. The control circuit filters and differentiates the voltage across the smoothing capacitor to directly determine the timing of reaching the VOC/2 of the PEH without having to find the VOC first, and is fully implemented using discrete analog components without the need of a programmable controller, leading to low power consumption of the method. The control circuit is used in conjunction with a full wave diode bridge rectifier and a DC-DC converter to harvest energy from a macro-fiber composite (MFC) PEH. The MFC was subjected to various strain levels at low frequencies from 2 to 10 Hz. Experimental results show that the implemented circuit is adaptive to various vibration amplitudes and frequencies and has a maximum power transfer efficiency of up to 98.28% with power consumption as low as 5.16 µW 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Have been disseminated to UK Energy Harvesting Network, IEEE Sensors 2016 Conference 
 
Title Strain Energy Harvesting Powered Wireless Sensor System Using Adaptive and Energy-Aware Interface for Enhanced Performance 
Description This paper presents a wireless sensor system (WSS) powered by a strain energy harvester (SEH) through the introduction of an adaptive and energy-aware interface for enhanced performance under variable vibration conditions. The interface is realized by an adaptive power management module (PMM) for maximum power transfer under different loading conditions and an energy-aware interface (EAI) which manages the energy flow from the storage capacitor to the WSS for dealing with the mismatch between energy demanded and energy harvested. The focus is to realize high harvested power and high efficiency of the system under variable vibration conditions, and an aircraft wing structure is taken as a study scenario. The SEH powered WSS was tested under different peak-to-peak strain loadings from 300 to 600 µe and vibrational frequencies from 2 to 10 Hz to verify the system performance on energy generation and distribution, system efficiency, and capability of powering a custom-developed WSS. Comparative studies of using different circuit configurations with and without the interface were also performed to verify the advantages of the introduced interface. Experimental results showed that under the applied loading of 600 µe at 10 Hz, the SEH generates 0.5 mW of power without the interface while having around 670 % increase to 3.38 mW with the interface, which highlights the value of the interface. The implemented system has an overall efficiency of 70 to 80 %, a long active time of more than 1 s, and duty cycle of up to 11 % for vibration measurement under all the tested conditions. 
Type Of Material Data analysis technique 
Year Produced 2014 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Has been disseminated to the UK Energy Harvesting Network, EURO Sensors 2016 
 
Description EN-Come 
Organisation BAE Systems
Department BAE Systems Avionics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution My research group are taking a leadership role to develop the energy harvesting powered system using integrated smart Composite Structures and energy-aware architecture to enable dealing with mismatch of energy harvested and energy demanded.
Collaborator Contribution Industry supplied the system requirement and technical assessment to the progress.
Impact on-going
Start Year 2014
 
Description EN-Come 
Organisation BAE Systems
Department BAE Systems Military Air & Information
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution My research group are taking a leadership role to develop the energy harvesting powered system using integrated smart Composite Structures and energy-aware architecture to enable dealing with mismatch of energy harvested and energy demanded.
Collaborator Contribution Industry supplied the system requirement and technical assessment to the progress.
Impact on-going
Start Year 2014
 
Description EN-Come 
Organisation Lancaster University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution My research group are taking a leadership role to develop the energy harvesting powered system using integrated smart Composite Structures and energy-aware architecture to enable dealing with mismatch of energy harvested and energy demanded.
Collaborator Contribution Industry supplied the system requirement and technical assessment to the progress.
Impact on-going
Start Year 2014
 
Description EN-Come 
Organisation University of Central Lancashire
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution My research group are taking a leadership role to develop the energy harvesting powered system using integrated smart Composite Structures and energy-aware architecture to enable dealing with mismatch of energy harvested and energy demanded.
Collaborator Contribution Industry supplied the system requirement and technical assessment to the progress.
Impact on-going
Start Year 2014
 
Description SMARTER 
Organisation University of Barcelona
Department Psychiatry Barcelona
Country Spain 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution we have developed the following items for the collaboration for the SMARTER project: 1. an integrated piezoelectric energy harvester onto carbon fibre composite materials 2. fully analogue microwatt power consumption power management circuit for efficient energy harvesting 3. energy-aware interface for integrating of energy harvesting and wireless sensor nodes. 4. fully integrated energy harvesting powered wireless sensor nodes for aero-craft industrial application
Collaborator Contribution University of Toulouse, LAAS-CNRS has developed super-capacitor for energy storage in the system. University of Barcelona has developed a power management for the system.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary research collaboration, encompassing materials, physics, mechanical, electrical and electronic engineering, and information and communication technology with an "integrated system approach. We have developed ground breaking circuitry and integration to meet key challenges in energy harvesting for applications.
Start Year 2012
 
Description SMARTER 
Organisation University of Toulouse
Department Laboratory for Analysis and Architecture of Systems
Country France 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution we have developed the following items for the collaboration for the SMARTER project: 1. an integrated piezoelectric energy harvester onto carbon fibre composite materials 2. fully analogue microwatt power consumption power management circuit for efficient energy harvesting 3. energy-aware interface for integrating of energy harvesting and wireless sensor nodes. 4. fully integrated energy harvesting powered wireless sensor nodes for aero-craft industrial application
Collaborator Contribution University of Toulouse, LAAS-CNRS has developed super-capacitor for energy storage in the system. University of Barcelona has developed a power management for the system.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary research collaboration, encompassing materials, physics, mechanical, electrical and electronic engineering, and information and communication technology with an "integrated system approach. We have developed ground breaking circuitry and integration to meet key challenges in energy harvesting for applications.
Start Year 2012
 
Title Method of controlling an energy harvesting system 
Description Method of controlling an energy harvesting system 
IP Reference WO2018220406A1 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2017
Licensed Commercial In Confidence
Impact Looking for investors
 
Title Energy-aware Approaches for Energy Harvesting Powered Wireless Sensor Nodes 
Description Intensive research on energy harvesting powered wireless sensor nodes (WSNs) has been driven by the needs of reducing the power consumption by the WSNs and the increasing the power generated by energy harvesters. The mismatch between the energy generated by the harvesters and the energy demanded by the WSNs is always a bottleneck as the ambient environmental energy is limited and time-varying. This paper introduces a combined energy-aware interface (EAI) with an energy-aware program to deal with the mismatch through managing the energy flow from the energy storage capacitor to the WSNs. These two energy-aware approaches were implemented in a custom developed vibration energy harvesting powered WSN. The experimental results show that, with the 3.2 mW power generated by a piezoelectric energy harvester (PEH) under an emulated aircraft wing strain loading of 600 µe at 10 Hz, the combined energy-aware approaches enable the WSN to have a significantly reduced sleep current from 28.3 µA of a commercial WSN to 0.95 µA and enable the WSN operations for a long active time of about 1.15 s in every 7.79 s to sample and transmit a large number of data (388 bytes), rather than a few ten milliseconds and a few bytes, as demanded by vibration measurement. When the approach was not used, the same amount of energy harvested was not able to power the WSN to start, not mentioning to enabling the WSN operation, which highlighted the importance and the value of the energy-aware approaches in enabling energy harvesting powered WSN operation successfully. 
Type Of Technology New/Improved Technique/Technology 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact Published in IEEE Sensors Journal 2017 
 
Title Micropower Circuit for Maximum Power Transfer Using Direct VOC/2 Finding Method in Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting 
Description A novel implementation method of maximum power transfer for piezoelectric energy harvesters (PEHs) connected to a rectifier with a smoothing capacitor at the rectifier output is presented based on the half open-circuit voltage (VOC/2) of a rectified PEH by exploiting the RC response of a circuit formed by the PEH, rectifier, and smoothing capacitor. The presented technique has a specifically designed high-pass filter which has a peak output voltage that corresponds to the VOC/2 of the PEH, which is also the voltage when maximum power transfer occurs in that circuit configuration. The control circuit filters and differentiates the voltage across the smoothing capacitor to directly determine the timing of reaching the VOC/2 of the PEH without having to find the VOC first, and is fully implemented using discrete analog components without the need of a programmable controller, leading to low power consumption of the method. The control circuit is used in conjunction with a full wave diode bridge rectifier and a DC-DC converter to harvest energy from a macro-fiber composite (MFC) PEH. The MFC was subjected to various strain levels at low frequencies from 2 to 10 Hz. Experimental results show that the implemented circuit is adaptive to various vibration amplitudes and frequencies and has a maximum power transfer efficiency of up to 98.28% with power consumption as low as 5.16 µW. 
Type Of Technology Systems, Materials & Instrumental Engineering 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact It will be published in IEEE Transaction of Industrial Circuits in 2017 ( High impact Journal) 
 
Title Single Piezoelectric Transducer as Strain Sensor and Energy Harvester Using Time-multiplexing Operation 
Description This paper presents a single piece of macro-fiber composite (MFC) piezoelectric transducer as a multifunctional device of both strain sensor and energy harvester for the first time in the context of an energy harvesting powered wireless sensing system. The multifunction device is implemented via time-multiplexing operation for alternating strain sensing and energy harvesting functions at different time slots associated with different energy levels, that is, when there is insufficient energy harvested in the energy storage for powering the system, the MFC is used as an energy harvester for charging up the storage capacitor; otherwise, the harvested energy is used for powering the system and the MFC is used as a strain sensor for measuring structural strain. A circuit is designed and implemented to manage the single piece of MFC as the multifunctional device in a time-multiplexing manner, and the operation is validated by experimental results. The strains measured by the MFC agree well with a commercial strain sensor of extensometer and therefore, the studied method can be potentially used for autonomous structural health monitoring of strain. 
Type Of Technology Systems, Materials & Instrumental Engineering 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact This work has been disseminated to IEEE Sensors and accepted by IEEE Transaction of Industrial Circuits (high impact factor) 
 
Title Strain Energy Harvesting Powered Wireless Sensor System Using Adaptive and Energy-Aware Interface for Enhanced Performance 
Description This paper presents a wireless sensor system (WSS) powered by a strain energy harvester (SEH) through the introduction of an adaptive and energy-aware interface for enhanced performance under variable vibration conditions. The interface is realized by an adaptive power management module (PMM) for maximum power transfer under different loading conditions and an energy-aware interface (EAI) which manages the energy flow from the storage capacitor to the WSS for dealing with the mismatch between energy demanded and energy harvested. The focus is to realize high harvested power and high efficiency of the system under variable vibration conditions, and an aircraft wing structure is taken as a study scenario. The SEH powered WSS was tested under different peak-to-peak strain loadings from 300 to 600 µe and vibrational frequencies from 2 to 10 Hz to verify the system performance on energy generation and distribution, system efficiency, and capability of powering a custom-developed WSS. Comparative studies of using different circuit configurations with and without the interface were also performed to verify the advantages of the introduced interface. Experimental results showed that under the applied loading of 600 µe at 10 Hz, the SEH generates 0.5 mW of power without the interface while having around 670 % increase to 3.38 mW with the interface, which highlights the value of the interface. The implemented system has an overall efficiency of 70 to 80 %, a long active time of more than 1 s, and duty cycle of up to 11 % for vibration measurement under all the tested conditions. 
Type Of Technology Systems, Materials & Instrumental Engineering 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact Has been disseminated to Euro Sensors 2016 Conference 
 
Description 4 Papers published in the IEEE Sensors Conference 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Promotion of energy harvesting research in energy harvesting and attract attentions from the world.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description High Performance Energy Harvesting Technology Demonstration Event to Industry 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Around 20 industry delegates from AirBus, BAE Systems and DSTL and others attended with presentations and 3 live technology demonstrators.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://emps.exeter.ac.uk/engineering/research/structures-dynamics/energyharvesting/newsandevents/
 
Description My Group has attended the UK Energy Harvesting Workshop held in 2016. I had invited a presetation. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Promotion of Exeter Research in Energy Harvesting
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016