Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting

Using the Piezo Effect for Self-Sufficient Energy Supply

Power Generation from the Environment

The term "energy harvesting" refers to the generation of energy from sources such as ambient temperature, vibration or air flow.

Converting the available energy from the environment allows a self-sufficient energy supply for small electric loads such as sensors or radio transmitters.

Kinetic energy can be converted into electrical energy by means of the piezoelectric effect: Piezo elements convert the kinetic energy from vibrations or shocks into electrical energy.

Using suitable electronics, this effect can be used for creating a self-sufficient energy supply system. This is of particular interest whenever a power supply via cable is not possible and the use of batteries and the associated maintenance expenditure are not desired.


Use of the Direct Piezoelectric Effect

Mechanically deforming a piezo crystal with tension or pressure generates electrical charges that can be measured as voltage on the electrodes of the piezo element.


Application-Oriented Solutions

Any energy harvesting solution must be adapted individually to the respective application. Consequently, energy converters, energy stores and electronics are adjusted to the energy requirements of the energy user and the energy excitation conditions.


  • Condition Monitoring and Structural Health Monitoring (SHM)
    A typical application example is the monitoring of components in complex systems such as airplane wings. Piezo transducers perform a series of functions, they measure deformations, but also supply transmitters with energy for wireless data transmission.
  • Data Monitoring and Data Transmission
    Power supply for sensors and radio transmitters, for example in heating and air-conditioning technology for monitoring the temperature or the air flow in pipes.
  • Product Monitoring During Transport
    If vehicle vibrations are used for generating energy, products can be continuously monitored during transport without the corresponding sensors having to be connected to a power supply or equipped with batteries. This is useful if temperatures have to be recorded inside closed containers, for example.
  • Energy Supply of Wireless ZigBee Networks

Designing an Energy Harvesting Solution

The design of an energy harvesting solution depends on the characteristics and requirements of the environmental parameters.

For the energy source, for example, one needs to distinguish between continuous and pulsed motions. Moreover, the conditions of the electric user must also be taken into consideration: The important parameters include the required voltage, the power and the input impedance, i.e., capacitive or resistive.

With this data it is possible to design and dimension the transducer and storage electronics, including the mechanical system.

PI Ceramic has extensive knowledge and years of experience in developing customized solutions for piezoelectric applications.



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Fundamentals, Characteristics and Applications
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