Dissertations and Theses @ UNI

Award Winner

Recipient of the 2009 Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award.

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Open Access Dissertation


Renewable energy sources; Microelectromechanical systems--Energy consumption; Sensor networks--Energy consumption;


Conventional electrochemical batteries power most of the portable and wireless electronic devices that are operated by electric power. In the past few years, electrochemical batteries and energy storage devices have improved significantly. However, this progress has not been able to keep up with the development of microprocessors, memory storage, and sensors of electronic applications. Battery weight, lifespan and reliability often limit the abilities and the range of such applications of battery powered devices. These conventional devices were designed to be powered with batteries as required, but did not allow scavenging of ambient energy as a power source. In contrast, development in wireless technology and other electronic components are constantly reducing the power and energy needed by many applications. If energy requirements of electronic components decline reasonably, then ambient energy scavenging and conversion could become a viable source of power for many applications. Ambient energy sources can be then considered and used to replace batteries in some electronic applications, to minimize product maintenance and operating cost. The potential ability to satisfy overall power and energy requirements of an application using ambient energy can eliminate some constraints related to conventional power supplies. Also power scavenging may enable electronic devices to be completely self-sustaining so that battery maintenance can eventually be eliminated. Furthermore, ambient energy scavenging could extend the performance and the lifetime of the MEMS (Micro electromechanical systems) and portable electronic devices. These possibilities show that it is important to examine the effectiveness of ambient energy as a source of power. Until recently, only little use has been made of ambient energy resources, especially for wireless networks and portable power devices. Recently, researchers have performed several studies in alternative energy sources that could provide small amounts of electricity to low-power electronic devices. These studies were focused to investigate and obtain power from different energy sources, such as vibration, light, sound, airflow, heat, waste mechanical energy and temperature variations.

This research studied forms of ambient energy sources such as waste mechanical (rotational) energy from hydraulic door closers, and fitness exercise bicycles, and its conversion and storage into usable electrical energy. In both of these examples of applications, hydraulic door closers and fitness exercise bicycles, human presence is required. A person has to open the door in order for the hydraulic door closer mechanism to function. Fitness exercise bicycles need somebody to cycle the pedals to generate electricity (while burning calories.) Also vibrations, body motions, and compressions from human interactions were studied using small piezoelectric fiber composites which are capable of recovering waste mechanical energy and converting it to useful electrical energy. Based on ambient energy sources, electrical energy conversion and storage circuits were designed and tested for low power electronic applications. These sources were characterized according to energy harvesting (scavenging) methods, and power and energy density. At the end of the study, the ambient energy sources were matched with possible electronic applications as a viable energy source.

Year of Submission


Year of Award

2009 Award


Department of Industrial Technology

First Advisor

Mohammad Fahmy

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (xvii, 235 pages)



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