Center for Energy Harvesting Materials and Systems (CEHMS) Proposal #1127936

This proposal seeks funding for the Center for Energy Harvesting Materials and Systems (CEHMS) located at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Requests for Fundamental Research are authorized by an NSF approved solicitation, NSF 10-601. The solicitation invites I/UCRCs to submit proposals for support of industry-defined fundamental research.

Researchers at Virginia Tech's Center for Energy Harvesting materials and Systems (CEHMS) propose to investigate two approaches to energy harvesting. One mechanism is the capture of energy from airflows with small scale wind mill, for placement in locations such as air ducts to capture the wasted energy. The design and computational modeling of this system is innovative and represents significant intellectual merit. The second approach involves the development of structured materials to capture indoor light energy and vibrational energy. The intellectual merit of the investigation focuses on the detailed, comprehensive characterization of bismuth layered structured materials that can serve to capture energy through vibrational mechanisms. The concept is to first draw the materials into fibers, then to develop methods to prepare the materials in sheet form for application on the walls, much like wallpaper.

The objective of harvesting energy through devices in the air ducts and walls is to provide alternative power sources for wireless sensors. Such wireless sensors are essential to monitor environmental factors and optimally manage energy usage. While the power requirements of such sensors are decreasing through improvements, their use remains a challenge as the cost of battery changes is unacceptable and solar power in not available for interior sensors.

The societal benefits of energy efficient smart buildings are significant in terms of economy and environment. The proposed work would result in capture of wastage energy in the building environment and its use towards improving the comfort level of occupants. The success in proposed tasks will lead to significant changes in the current generation building infrastructure creating new economy and jobs. Students will benefit as participants in the research and through incorporation of the project results in a course on energy harvesting offered at Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech and CEHMS have a strong history of intellectual property development, and the research partners at United Technologies Research Center (UTRC) are interested in commercialization of the results.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP)
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Lawrence A. Hornak
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United States
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