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The design of vibration energy harvesters (VEHs) is highly dependent upon the characteristics of the environmental vibrations present in the intended application. VEHs can be linear resonant systems tuned to particular frequencies or nonlinear systems with either bistable operation or a Duffing-type response. This paper provides detailed vibration data from a range of applications, which has been made freely available for download through the Energy Harvesting Network's online data repository. In particular, this research shows that simulation is essential in designing and selecting the most suitable vibration energy harvester for particular applications. This is illustrated through C-based simulations of different types of VEHs, using real vibration data from a diesel ferry engine, a combined heat and power pump, a petrol car engine and a helicopter. The analysis shows that a bistable energy harvester only has a higher output power than a linear or Duffing-type nonlinear energy harvester with the same Q-factor when it is subjected to white noise vibration. The analysis also indicates that piezoelectric transduction mechanisms are more suitable for bistable energy harvesters than electromagnetic transduction. Furthermore, the linear energy harvester has a higher output power compared to the Duffing-type nonlinear energy harvester with the same Q factor in most cases. The Duffing-type nonlinear energy harvester can generate more power than the linear energy harvester only when it is excited at vibrations with multiple peaks and the frequencies of these peaks are within its bandwidth. Through these new observations, this paper illustrates the importance of simulation in the design of energy harvesting systems, with particular emphasis on the need to incorporate real vibration data.
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