Electromagnetic energy harvesting from structural vibrations during earthquakes

Wenai Shen, Songye Zhu, Hongping Zhu, You Lin Xu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


Energy harvesting is an emerging technique that extracts energy from surrounding environments to power low-power devices. For example, it can potentially provide sustainable energy for wireless sensing networks (WSNs) or structural control systems in civil engineering applications. This paper presents a comprehensive study on harvesting energy from earthquake-induced structural vibrations, which is typically of low frequency, to power WSNs. A macroscale pendulum-type electromagnetic harvester (MPEH) is proposed, analyzed and experimentally validated. The presented predictive model describes output power dependence with mass, efficiency and the power spectral density of base acceleration, providing a simple tool to estimate harvested energy. A series of shaking table tests in which a single-storey steel frame model equipped with a MPEH has been carried out under earthquake excitations. Three types of energy harvesting circuits, namely, a resistor circuit, a standard energy harvesting circuit (SEHC) and a voltage-mode controlled buck-boost converter were used for comparative study. In ideal cases, i.e., resistor circuit cases, the maximum electric energy of 8.72 J was harvested with the efficiency of 35.3%. In practical cases, the maximum electric energy of 4.67 J was extracted via the buck-boost converter under the same conditions. The predictive model on output power and harvested energy has been validated by the test data.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449-470
Number of pages22
JournalSmart Structures and Systems
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016


  • Circuit
  • Earthquake
  • Low frequency
  • Predictive model
  • Shaking table test
  • Vibration energy harvesting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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