Vibration-based energy harvesters have been extensively studied and investigated to harvest the energy produced by environmental mechanical vibration sources as mean to produce low electrical energy, thereby supplying low-power sensors and actuators. Different devices have been proposed as energy harvesters, cantilevers-based geometries have been pursued frequently in the literature. Here, we propose the geometry of an elastomeric circular membrane coupled with an electret (soft electrostatic generator) with a central proof mass. By soliciting the designed device around its resonance frequency of 14Hz with an acceleration of 0.4g for a mass of 9.5g, the system produced an average electric power of 24μW for an optimal resistance of 150MΩ. An analytical study developed closely with a finite element simulation with Comsol® allowed to validate the obtained experimental results, suggesting that this approach can be used as a tuning method to develop other geometrical shapes and conceive large-scale devices for vibration energy harvesting applications.
Harvesting human kinetic energy to produce electricity is an attractive alternative to batteries for applications in wearable electronic devices and smart textile. Dielectric elastomers generators (DEGs) represent one of the most promising technologies for these applications. Nevertheless, one of the main disadvantages of these structures is the need of an external polarization source to perform the energetic cycle. In the present work, a hybrid electret-dielectric elastomer generator in DEG mode is presented. In this configuration, the electret material is used as polarization source of a classical DEG, i.e. an electrostatic generator based on electrical capacitance variation. The electrical energy output in this mode (1.06mJ.g−1) could be higher than the one obtained using a classical electret mode (0.55mJ.g−1), i.e. charges recombination. In this paper, the operation principle of the hybrid generator will be fully described and the design rules for the realization of the prototype will be presented. The experimental data obtained from the prototype will be compared to the results of FEM simulations.