Base isolation is the most popular seismic protection technique for civil engineering structures. However, research has revealed that the traditional base isolation system due to its passive nature is vulnerable to two kinds of earthquakes, i.e. the near-fault and far-fault earthquakes. A great deal of effort has been dedicated to improve the performance of the traditional base isolation system for these two types of earthquakes. This paper presents a recent research breakthrough on the development of a novel adaptive seismic isolation system as the quest for ultimate protection for civil structures, utilizing the field-dependent property of the magnetorheological elastomer (MRE). A novel adaptive seismic isolator was developed as the key element to form smart seismic isolation system. The novel isolator contains unique laminated structure of steel and MR elastomer layers, which enable its large-scale civil engineering applications, and a solenoid to provide sufficient and uniform magnetic field for energizing the field-dependent property of MR elastomers. With the controllable shear modulus/damping of the MR elastomer, the developed adaptive seismic isolator possesses a controllable lateral stiffness while maintaining adequate vertical loading capacity. In this paper, a comprehensive review on the development of the adaptive seismic isolator is present including designs, analysis and testing of two prototypical adaptive seismic isolators utilizing two different MRE materials. Experimental results show that the first prototypical MRE seismic isolator can provide stiffness increase up to 37.49%, while the second prototypical MRE seismic isolator provides amazing increase of lateral stiffness up to1630%. Such range of increase of the controllable stiffness of the seismic isolator makes it highly practical for developing new adaptive base isolation system utilizing either semi-active or smart passive controls.
Over the past few decades, wireless sensor networks have been widely used in civil structure health monitoring application. Currently, most wireless sensor networks are battery-powered and it is costly and unsustainable for maintenance because of the requirement for frequent battery replacements. As an attempt to address such issue, this paper presents a novel piezoelectric vibrational energy harvester to convert the structural vibration into usable electrical energy for powering wireless sensor networks. Unlike the normal cantilever beam structure, the piezoelectric harvester presented in this paper is based on the wafer-stack configuration which is suitable for applications where large force vibration occurs, and therefore can be embedded in civil structures to convert the force induced by vibration of large structures directly into electrical energy. The longitudinal mode of the piezoelectric wafer-stack was developed firstly to illustrate the force-to-voltage relationship of piezoelectric materials and to find the inter-medium force that will be used to convert vibration energy into electrical energy. Then, two electromechanical models (without and with a rectified circuit), considering both the mechanical and electrical aspects of the harvester, were developed to characterize the harvested electrical power under the external load. Exact closed-form expressions of the electromechanical models have been derived to analyze the maximum harvested power and the optimal resistance. Finally, a shake table experimental testing was conducted to prove the feasibility of the presented piezoelectric-wafer-stack harvester under standard sinusoidal loadings. Test results show that the harvester can generate a maximum 45mW (AC) or 16mW (DC) electrical power for sinusoidal loading with 40mm amplitude and 2Hz frequency, and the harvested electrical power is proportional to the levels of exciting vibrational loading.