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Integrated Solar and Piezoelectric Renewable Energy Project

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Installation, Integration, and Development

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Herbert L. Hess University of Idaho, Moscow

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Herb Hess is Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Idaho, where he teaches subjects in He received the PhD Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1993. His research and teaching interests are in power electronics, electric machines and drives, electrical power systems, and analog/mixed signal electronics. He has taught senior capstone design since 1985 at several universities.

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Saied Hemati University of Idaho, Moscow

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Saied Hemati received the bachelor's and master's degrees in electronics engineering from Isfahan University of Technology, in 1993 and 1997, respectively, and the doctorate in electrical engineering from Carleton University, in 2005.

He has worked in various research positions within the electronics industry and academia in Iran, Canada, Sweden, and the USA. He is the recipient of several awards an scholarships within all of the same nations. He joined the University of Idaho in 2013. His research interests include the theory of operation and the design and implementation of iterative error-correcting decoders.

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Small photovoltaic energy collection systems are readily available in a wide range of forms, from various do-it-yourself project instructions to plug-and-play demonstrators. Piezoelectric energy collection systems are likewise readily available, though some assembly may be required. Each can capture energy and store that energy in a battery. Various indicators and communications hardware sometimes accompany such photovoltaic systems. This paper describes an undergraduate student project that integrates energy collection by means of a combined photovoltaic and piezoelectric system, communicating the process wirelessly to an LCD display. The students learn and apply basic engineering skills, including the important skill of specifying and combining several subsystems, each of which may already be well known, into a creative end product.

Such an energy collection system, as an end product, can become quite complicated. To make the project feasible, we simplify it to its basic elements of photovoltaic energy collection, piezoelectric energy collection, energy processing and storage, and wireless communication and control. Energy is collected by each prescribed means. It is either stored capacitively for pulsed energy transfer to the battery as is the case of the piezoelectric subsystem. Or it is transferred continuously and directly to the battery, as is the case of the photovoltaic system. The difference in energy processing methodology is primarily based on the anticipated amount of energy in each case. Energy aggregation and storage is in a lithium battery. An Arduino microcontroller is programmed to supervise energy collection and storage. Appropriate voltage and current sensors provide data that enables the Arduino to calculate and to display the amount of energy captured. This information is communicated wirelessly to a primitive data collection system and then displayed on an LCD screen. Appropriate design schematics, parts selection, and test results will be provided in the paper. The result is a prototype that collects energy by both means, stores the energy, and communicates how much energy is being stored.

The application for this energy harvesting system is for transportation, collecting energy available from an ordinary, heavily traveled highway. The system captures energy from the sunshine on the road and from the deformation of the road surface as cars pass by. This project’s deliverable is a prototype on a PC board without hardened packaging.

This is an interdisciplinary project of an unusual sort. The students enrolled in a Mechanical Engineering design course to learn to create the initial design, up to the point of realizing a schematic diagram ready for building. They then enrolled in an Electrical Engineering design course to complete the circuitry, communication, and display. Descriptions, schematics, and performance data will be provided in the paper, along with an assessment of the feasibility and appropriateness of this project, its interdisciplinary character, and its performance. The paper is intended to document a unique and successful undergraduate design project.

Hess, H. L., & Hemati, S. (2017, June), Integrated Solar and Piezoelectric Renewable Energy Project Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28545

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