Holistic approach to energy harvesting

11 October 2011

Barrow is testing his system on a car engine. The hardware on the engine is detecting vibrations, processing them, and transmitting them wirelessly to a laptop computer

A summer internship has resulted in a new way of harvesting power.

Every year ECS-Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton employs a number of its own students to work as interns over the summer vacation, participating in research projects and affiliated to one of the ECS research groups.

Over the summer months, Stuart Barrow (MEng Electronic Engineering Part 4) has made a valuable contribution to a pioneering EPSRC-funded energy-harvesting project.

Barrow has been developing an ultra low-power system that analyses vibrations and transmits them wirelessly. This is useful for machinery condition monitoring, since sensors can be installed on pieces of equipment to provide early detection of problems (so that maintenance can be carried out).

In the photo, Barrow is testing his system on a car engine. The hardware on the engine is detecting vibrations, processing them, and transmitting them wirelessly to a laptop computer.

Dr. Geoff Merrett commented: “These opportunities for summer internships are great for the students, as it allows them to apply the things that they have learnt to real electronics projects in a research environment, and great for the University as interns make very real and valuable contributions. This has been the second year that I have employed Stuart [Barrow] on an internship, and the skills and knowledge that he has developed during his degree have made him a very valuable part of the research teams.”

Stuart Barrow has been working for three months under the EPSRC-funded Next Generation Energy-Harvesting Electronics - Holistic Approach project, which is directed by ECS Professor Bashir Al-Hashimi. The project is developing efficient vibration energy harvesters, power conditioning electronics, and computation circuits. The system that Barrow has developed will soon be self-powered; being powered by vibrations as well as sensing them).

The holistic project joins up three different research fields, including energy harvesting and MEMS processing methods, low-power embedded computing systems, and electronic design automation. The project is focussing on three interlinked themes (microgenerator design, computation circuits, and system optimisation), and involves over 25 people at four academic institutions.


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