In past few years, there has been significant focus towards developing small scale renewable energy based power sources for powering wireless sensor nodes in remote locations such as highways and bridges to conduct continuous health monitoring. These prior efforts have led to the development of micro-scale solar modules, hydrogen
fuel cells and various vibration based energy harvesters. However, the cost effectiveness, reliability, and practicality of these solutions remain a concern. Harvesting the wind energy using micro-to-small scale wind turbines can be an excellent solution in variety of outdoor scenarios provided they can operate at few miles per hour of wind speed. The conventional electromagnetic generator used in the wind mills always has some cogging torque which restricts their operation above certain cut-in wind speed. This study aims to develop a novel piezoelectric wind turbine that utilizes bimorph actuators for electro-mechanical energy conversion. This device utilizes a Savonius rotor that is connected to a disk having magnets at the periphery. The piezoelectric actuators arranged circumferentially around the disk also have magnets at the tip which interacts with the magnetic field of the rotating disk and produces cyclical deflection. The wind tunnel experiments were conducted between 2-12 mph of wind speeds to characterize and optimize the power output of the wind turbine. Further, testing was conducted in the open environment to quantify the response to random wind gusts.
An attempt was made towards integration of the piezoelectric wind turbine with the wireless sensor node.