The researchers developed a highly efficient energy harvesting device

June 15, 2023

(Nanowerk News) An international research group has engineered a new energy-generating device by combining a piezoelectric composite with carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP), a commonly used material that is light and strong. This new device converts vibrations from the surrounding environment into electricity, providing an efficient and reliable means of self-contained sensors.

Details of the group’s research are published in a journal Nano Energy (“Energy Harvesting and Wireless Communication by Carbon Fiber-Reinforced Piezoelectric Nanocomposites”). Principle, structural design, and application of carbon fiber reinforced piezoelectric nanocomposite materials. (Image: Tohoku University)

Energy harvesting involves converting energy from the environment into usable electrical energy and is essential to ensuring a sustainable future.

“Everyday items, from refrigerators to street lamps, are connected to the internet as part of the Internet of Things (IoT), and many of them are equipped with sensors that collect data,” said Fumio Narita, one of the study’s authors and professor at the School of Tohoku University Graduate School of Environmental Studies. “But these IoT devices need power to function, which is challenging if they’re in remote locations, or if there’s a lot of them.”

Sunlight, heat and vibration can all generate electrical power. Vibration energy can be harnessed thanks to the ability of piezoelectric materials to generate electricity when subjected to physical stress. Meanwhile, CFRP is suitable for applications in the aerospace and automotive industries, sports equipment, and medical devices due to its durability and light weight.

“We pondered whether piezoelectric vibrational energy harvesters (PVEH), which utilize the toughness of CFRP together with piezoelectric composites, could be a more efficient and long-lasting way of energy harvesting,” said Narita.

The group made the device using a combination of CFRP nanoparticles and potassium sodium niobate (KNN) mixed with an epoxy resin. CFRP serves as a reinforcing electrode and substrate.

The so-called C-PVEH device met his expectations. Tests and simulations reveal that it can maintain high performance even after being bent more than 100,000 times. Proven to be able to store the electricity generated and turn on the LED lights. Moreover, it outperforms other KNN-based polymer composites in terms of energy output density.

C-PVEH will help drive the development of standalone IoT sensors, leading to more energy-efficient IoT devices.

Narita and his colleagues are also excited about the technological advances of their breakthrough. “In addition to the social benefits of our C-PVEH devices, we are very pleased with the contributions we have made in the fields of energy harvesting and sensor technology. The combination of excellent energy output density and high robustness may guide future research into other composite materials. for various applications.”

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