27 April 2011 Improving an energy harvesting device for railroad safety applications
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Abstract
Due to hundreds of fatalities annually at unprotected railroad crossings (mostly because of collisions with passenger vehicles and derailments resulting from improperly maintained tracks and mechanical failures), supplying a reliable source of electrical energy to power crossing lights and distributed sensor networks is essential to improve safety. With regard to the high cost of electrical infrastructure for railroad crossings in remote areas and the lack of reliability and robustness of solar and wind energy solutions, development of alternative energy harvesting devices is of interest. In this paper, improvements to a mechanical energy harvesting device are presented. The device scavenges electrical energy from deflection of railroad track due to passing railcar traffic. It is mounted to and spans two rail ties and converts and magnifies the track's entire upward and downward displacement into rotational motion of a PMDC generator. The major improvements to the new prototype include: harvesting power from upward displacement in addition to downward, changing the gearing and generator in order to maximize power production capacity for the same shaft speed, and improving the way the system is stabilized for minimizing lost motion. The improved prototype was built, and simulations and tests were conducted to quantify the effects of the improvements.
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Abolfazl Pourghodrat, Carl A. Nelson, Kyle J. Phillips, Mahmood Fateh, "Improving an energy harvesting device for railroad safety applications", Proc. SPIE 7977, Active and Passive Smart Structures and Integrated Systems 2011, 79770U (27 April 2011); doi: 10.1117/12.880631; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.880631
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