Nonlinear energy harvesting from base excitation in automotive applications

Energy harvesting is an emerging technological field, aiming, among others, to harvest kinetic energy from mechanical oscillations and converting the same to useful electrical energy. Usually, the reclaimed energy is quite small, acquired by lightweight devices which can be positioned in confined spaces and do not significantly add to the system mass and inertia. This potential use is in line with the vehicular powertrain development principle of high output power- to-light weight ratio as this concept has progressively led to increasing vibratory energy. These devices would potentially supply a few mW of power, which can typically power automotive sensors, potentially reducing the ever-increasing vehicle wiring network. A multitude of such devices positioned strategically can recover some of the vibratory energy of a plethora of vibration phenomena. The paper outlines some of these phenomena and proposes the use of a magnetic translational harvester. A preliminary study based on an experimental set up and a devised non-linear model show good potential across a range of frequencies, typical of engine order vibration at engine idling condition. However, the potential exists for both the optimisation of the demonstrated observer and increased energy recovery for suitable location(s) in the powertrain system.