Design and development of multifunctional energy harvesting and storage systems for sensor applications
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This research focuses on the design and development of multifunctional components intended to provide three basic functions: (i) power generation, (ii) power storage, and (iii) structural support. They are made of composite multi-material systems that include smart materials. By combining various functions into the same component significant performance, weight, space, assembly and packing benefits can be achieved. A major portion of this thesis is devoted to the use of piezoelectric layers in order to generate few milliwatts of power and enhance the utility of electrical mobility products and subsystems while facilitating new venues for implementing such devices. Shoes and pneumatic tires were used to harvest energy from their innate motion and various useful applications of harvested energy have been demonstrated in the form of sensors and power sources for larger devices. Shoe-based power generation can be used for charging Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) tags, GPS sensors, portable electronics, etc. Tire-based power generation can be used for powering battery-less wireless Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS), wireless Vehicle Speed Sensors (VSS), tire health monitoring sensors, etc. Fully functional proof-of-product prototypes of a variety of multifunctional components were developed and subjected to experimentation and testing using custom designed and built lab-scale made experimental machinery. Contrary to the paradigm, the possibility of using piezoelectric materials in automotive tires to produce few watts of power (>2 watts) has been successfully demonstrated with applications ranging from powering more demanding sensors to onboard batteries. An Electronic Vehicle Control System (EVCS) with electronic differential and cruise control capabilities has also been designed, developed and tested on the Extended Range Plug-In Hybrid vehicle previously developed at UOIT.