Positive displacement pumps and actuators are a known source of vibrations and noise in hydraulic systems. The vibrations come from a component of pressure in the fluid, known as dynamic pressure or acoustic pressure, which alternates about a static or desired set pressure level. A hydraulic pressure energy harvester (HPEH) converts the acoustic pressure into electrical power through the use of piezoelectric crystals, which generate electrical charge as a response to direct mechanical stress from the acoustic pressure. The power response from previous HPEH devices has been shown to be suitable for low power sensors and wireless monitoring communications. Potential outcomes of the research include replacing conventional wiring or batteries associated with sensing equipment. HPEH devices could be especially useful in remote or hard to access locations.
My project is to test past HPEH devices and design an improved device. Testing has posed the challenge of identifying why the power responses from the device don't live up to what is predicted by a developed electro-mechanical model. Design challenges include limiting the stress on the piezoelectric element to avoid damage, and creating a sealed interface between the piezoelectric element and the fluid.
I've been very busy learning a lot of stuff and it feels like I'm running out of time too quickly. I hope to submit finalized designs soon so that the new device can be made and tested before my time is up!