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The behavior of a piezoelectric vibration-driven energy harvester with different power processing circuits is evaluated. Two load types are considered: a resistive load and an ac-dc rectifier load. An optimal resistive and optimal dc-voltage load for the harvester is analytically calculated. The difference between the optimal output power flow from the harvester to both load circuits depends on the coupling coefficient of the harvester. Two power processing circuits are designed and built, the first emulating a resistive input impedance and the second with a constant input voltage. It is shown that, in order to design an optimal harvesting system, the combination of both the ability of the circuit to harvest the optimal harvester power and the processing circuit efficiency needs to be considered and optimized. Simulations and experimental validation using a custom-made piezoelectric harvester show that the efficiency of the overall system is 64% with a buck converter as a power processing circuit, whereas an efficiency of only 40% is reached using a resistor-emulating approach.
Date of Publication: Dec. 2010