Design, modelling and testing of a compact piezoelectric transducer for railway track vibration energy harvesting

Guansong Shan, Yang Kuang, Meiling Zhu (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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To enable wireless sensor networks to monitor rail infrastructures in real-time, a cost-effective power source is in need. This work presents the design, modelling and testing of a piezo stack energy harvester with frequency up-conversion mechanism for scavenging energy from railway track vibration. The proposed harvester is designed to meet railway track applications’ size, frequency, and stress requirements. A compact design integrating the inertial mass and the piezo stack transducer systems is used to enable the mechanical collision for realising the frequency up-conversion mechanism and ensure the size of the energy harvester is suitable for the limited space on the railway track. The frequency bandwidth of the energy harvester is broadened by utilizing the longitudinal and torsional oscillation of the designed plate springs which enable the system to have two adjacent natural frequencies. The mechanical transformer of the piezo stack transducer system is designed to achieve the required stress level under both the impact force caused by the collision motion and the inertial force generated by the random vibration of the rails. A finite element model (FEM) analysing the free vibration of the piezo stack transducer caused by the frequency up-conversion mechanism is developed to analyse the dynamic characteristics of the coupled system. Lab tests are carried out to validate the proposed FEM and evaluate the impact of different factors such as load resistance, acceleration, initial interval, plate spring, and pulse excitation on power generation. Experimental results show that the energy harvester has two resonant frequencies of 17 Hz and 20 Hz. The frequency up-conversion mechanism can convert this low-frequency vibration into the piezo stack transducer’s high resonant frequency vibration of 94 Hz. A maximum average power of 6.72 mW with a 1-mW-bandwidth of 15 Hz is obtained when actuated at 0.7 RMS g acceleration.
Original languageEnglish
Article number113980
Number of pages11
JournalSensors and Actuators A - Physical
Early online date31 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2022


  • Vibration energy harvesting
  • Piezo stack
  • Mechanical transformer
  • Frequency up-conversion
  • Railway track


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