Free, ambient energy is widely available in the environment and can be harnessed to power mobile devices. The Pennsylvania State University (PSU) site of the Center for Energy Harvesting Materials and Systems (CEHMS) develops energy harvesting and storage technologies that can provide continuous power to a wide range of wireless devices, including machinery diagnostic equipment, environmental sensors, and health-monitoring wearables. Novel power management electronics are proposed that dynamically route power to the load and maintain battery charge. This site will invent new materials, structures, and systems that dramatically increase the harvested power and the ability to store energy efficiently, enabling a new generation of self-powered wireless devices with smaller footprints and more capabilities. The PSU CEHMS site will also investigate the scale up of energy producing devices and storage systems for renewable energy support in the grid and electric vehicles. The site will also participate in the organization of tutorial sessions for students, faculty, and industry members during the annual Energy Harvesting Workshop run by the Energy Harvesting Society based at the PSU Navy Yard. CEHMS includes a broad international program with universities, government labs and industries from Germany, South Korea, Canada, Taiwan, and India. PSU CEHMS faculty will supervise senior design projects on energy harvesting and involve undergraduate students in a variety of CEHMS activities.
The PSU CEHMS site has research thrusts in materials development, integration tools, and modeling to optimize the performance of energy harvesting technologies and systems. The research aims to increase the electromechanical coefficients of active materials, exploit specific phenomena to increase power density, improve the efficiency of rectifiers that transform translational motion into rotational motion and electric circuits for conversion, regulation, rectification, and storage. Research plans include the design of wireless battery management systems, multi-modal energy harvesting for wearables, and new battery and supercapacitor chemistries. Novel materials for energy storing batteries and supercapacitors will be discovered and experimentally tested. Models that predict the performance and degradation of energy storage and harvesting systems will increase understanding of these complex multiphysics problems. Model-based systems and control will provide robust and reliable performance of energy harvesting and storage systems. The addition of the Penn State Site will allow CEHMS to meet the intellectual challenges of developing hybrid power systems for a wide range of applications.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.