An electromechanical finite element model for piezoelectric energy harvester plates

C De Marqui Jr, A Erturk, DJ Inman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

278 Citations (Scopus)


Vibration-based energy harvesting has been investigated by several researchers over the last decade. The goal in this research field is to power small electronic components by converting the waste vibration energy available in their environment into electrical energy. Recent literature shows that piezoelectric transduction has received the most attention for vibration-to-electricity conversion. In practice, cantilevered beams and plates with piezoceramic layers are employed as piezoelectric energy harvesters. The existing piezoelectric energy harvester models are beam-type lumped parameter, approximate distributed parameter and analytical distributed parameter solutions. However, aspect ratios of piezoelectric energy harvesters in several cases are plate-like and predicting the power output to general (symmetric and asymmetric) excitations requires a plate-type formulation which has not been covered in the energy harvesting literature. In this paper, an electromechanically coupled finite element (FE) plate model is presented for predicting the electrical power output of piezoelectric energy harvester plates. Generalized Hamilton's principle for electroelastic bodies is reviewed and the FE model is derived based on the Kirchhoff plate assumptions as typical piezoelectric energy harvesters are thin structures. Presence of conductive electrodes is taken into account in the FE model. The predictions of the FE model are verified against the analytical solution for a unimorph cantilever and then against the experimental and analytical results of a bimorph cantilever with a tip mass reported in the literature. Finally, an optimization problem is solved where the aluminum wing spar of an unmanned air vehicle (UAV) is modified to obtain a generator spar by embedding piezoceramics for the maximum electrical power without exceeding a prescribed mass addition limit.
Translated title of the contributionAn electromechanical finite element model for piezoelectric energy harvester plates
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9 - 25
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Sound and Vibration
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Academic Press


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