Title page for ETD etd-04292005-113104

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Martin, Benjamin Ryan
Author's Email Address bemartin@vt.edu
URN etd-04292005-113104
Title Energy Harvesting Applications of Ionic Polymers
Degree Master of Science
Department Mechanical Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Leo, Donald J. Committee Chair
Inman, Daniel J. Committee Member
Robertshaw, Harry H. Committee Member
  • Energy Storage
  • Energy Harvesting
  • Energy Scavenging
  • Ionic Polymers
Date of Defense 2005-04-22
Availability unrestricted
Energy Harvesting Applications of Ionic Polymers

Benjamin R. Martin


The purpose of this thesis is the development and analysis of applications for ionic polymers as energy harvesting devices. The specific need is a self-contained energy harvester to supply renewable power harvested from ambient vibrations to a wireless sensor. Ionic polymers were investigated as mechanical to electrical energy transducers. An ionic polymer device was designed to harvest energy from vibrations and supply power for a wireless structural health monitoring sensor.

The ionic polymer energy harvester is tested to ascertain whether the idea is feasible. Transfer functions are constructed for both the open-circuit voltage and the closed-circuit current. The impedance of the device is also quantified. Using the voltage transfer function and the current transfer function it is possible to calculate the power being produced by the device.

Power generation is not the only energy harvesting application of ionic polymers, energy storage is another possibility. The ionic polymer device is tested to characterize its charge and discharge capabilities. It is charged with both DC and AC currents. An energy storage comparison is performed between the ionic polymers and capacitors. While the polymers performed well, the electrolytic capacitors are able to store more energy. However, the ionic polymers show potential as capacitors and have the possibility of improved performance as energy storage devices. Current is measured across resistive loads and the supplied power is calculated. Although the power is small, the ionic polymers are able to discharge energy across a load proving that they are capable of supplying power.

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