University of Twente Student Theses


Design of an energy harvesting system for wireless sensor nodes on railway tracks

Schonewille, R. (2017) Design of an energy harvesting system for wireless sensor nodes on railway tracks.

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Abstract:As part of their railway preventive maintenance and condition monitoring system, Strukton aims to implement wireless sensor nodes on railway tracks. A local power source based on kinetic energy harvesting from railway track vibrations has been designed during this thesis. The work initially consists of two separate subjects. First, the principle of kinetic energy harvesting has to be investigated. Based on this analysis, the energy harvesting principle most suitable for railway track application can be distinguished. Secondly the relevant loads available from the railway track must be found. These loads serve as input for the energy harvester such that its output can be estimated. It was chosen to use the compression of a piezo stack as energy harvesting principle. To model the railway track, a finite element model is built. The vehicle is represented as a sequence of sprung masses that moves along the track. The vehicle and rail interact through contact forces by which the displacements can be obtained. The output of the model are the relative displacements between rail and sleeper under three different vehicle types. Based on these displacements, an energy harvesting mechanism was designed. The design aimed to prevent overload of the stack, incorporate a transmission ratio and to increase the excitation frequency. A prototype was built as a prove of concept. It was shown that the mechanism does incorporate the main functionalities required. However, the output power was lower than expected. The design was based on a design procedure for precision mechanisms. The optimization for longitudinal stiffness lead to a trade off between longitudinal stiffness and bending stress. This implies that the design rules used were unfit for the current mechanism. Based on these observations, a new set of rules was suggested.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:ET: Engineering Technology
Subject:52 mechanical engineering
Programme:Mechanical Engineering MSc (60439)
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