Interest on Dielectric ElectroActive Polymer (DEAP) generators has aroused among scientists in recent years, due to the former ones’ documented advantages against competing electromagnetic and field-activated technologies. Yet, the need for bidirectional energy flow under high step-up and high step-down voltage conversion ratios, accompanied by low-average but relatively high-peak currents, imposes great challenges on the design of the employed power electronic converter. On top of that, the shortage of commercially-available, high-efficient, high-voltage, low-power semiconductor devices limits the effective operational range of the power electronic converter. In this paper, a bidirectional tapped-inductor buck-boost converter is proposed, addressing high- efficient high step-up and high step-down voltage conversion ratios, for energy harvesting applications based on DEAP generators. The effective operational range of the converter is extended, by replacing its high-side switch with a string of three serialized MOSFETs, to accommodate the need for high-efficient high-voltage operation. Experiments conducted on a single DEAP generator - part of a quadruple DEAP generator energy harvesting system with all elements installed sequentially in the same circular disk with a 90° phase shift - validate the applicability of the proposed converter, demonstrating energy harvesting of 0.26 J, at 0.5 Hz and 60% delta- strain; characterized by an energy density of 1.25 J per kg of active material.
The Dielectric ElectroActive Polymer (DEAP) generator energy harvesting cycles have been in the spotlight of the scientific interest for the past few years. Indeed, several articles have demonstrated thorough and comprehensive comparisons of the generator fundamental energy harvesting cycles, namely Constant Charge (CC), Constant Voltage (CV) and Constant E-field (CE), based on average theoretical models. Yet, it has not been possible until present to validate the outcome of those comparisons via respective experimental results. In this paper, all three primary energy harvesting cycles are experimentally compared, based upon the coupling of a DEAP generator with a bidirectional non-isolated power electronic converter, by means of energy gain, energy harvesting efficiency and energy conversion efficiency.