(UG2) A Cantilevered Piezoelectric Energy Harvester Driven by Vortex-Induced Vibrations on a Cylinder in Water

Authors: Tayla Feldman, Joseph Gilmartin, Evan McCauley, Brendan Merritt, Alyssa Tepe

Advisors: Brian Savilonis

Category: Undergraduate


This Major Qualifying Project (MQP) team of seniors in Mechanical Engineering designed, built, and tested a renewable energy harvester from the flow of water through a river. This system converted the vortex-induced vibrations (VIV) of a cylinder into the bending of two cantilevers with two piezoelectric transducers attached to their fixed ends. The cantilever was designed so its natural frequency matches the vortex shedding frequency of the cylinder in a given water flow. The alternating current (AC) from the transducers was then converted into a direct current (DC) using a rectifying circuit with a diode bridge and a filter capacitor as well as a voltage regulator. This functional system, which achieved a maximum electrical power of 3.14 μW, has the capability of powering low-power electronics including temperature sensors. This can be scaled to produce more power by increasing the size of the device, particularly the piezoelectric strips, by having multiple devices of this sort beside one another to compound the output power, or by increasing the natural frequency of the resonating system.