Performance-aware design for piezoelectric energy harvesting optimisation via finite element analysis

Martinelli, Cristiano and Coraddu, Andrea and Cammarano, Andrea (2023) Performance-aware design for piezoelectric energy harvesting optimisation via finite element analysis. International Journal of Mechanics and Materials in Design, 19 (1). pp. 121-136. ISSN 1573-8841 (

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Most of the optimisation studies of Vibration Energy Harvesters (VEHs) account for a single output quantity, e.g. frequency bandwidth or maximum power output, but this approach does not necessarily maximise the system efficiency. In those applications where VEHs are suitable sources of energy, to achieve optimal design it is important to consider all these performance indexes simultaneously. This paper proposes a robust and straightforward multi-objective optimisation framework for Vibration Piezoelectric Energy Harvesters (VPEHs), considering simultaneously the most crucial performance indexes, i.e., the maximum power output, efficiency, and frequency bandwidth. For the first time, a rigorous formulation of efficiency for Multi-Degree of Freedom (MDOF) VPEHs is here proposed, representing an extension of previous definitions. This formulation lends itself to the optimisation of FE and MDOF harvesters models. The optimisation procedure is demonstrated using a planar-shape harvester and validated against numerical results. The effects of changing some structural parameters on the harvester performance are investigated via sensitivity analysis. The results show that the proposed methodology can effectively optimise the global performance of the harvester, although this does not correspond to an improvement of every single index. Furthermore, the optimisation of each performance index individually results in a variety of design configurations that greatly differs from one another. It is here demonstrated that the design obtained with the multi-objective function here proposed is similar to the design obtained when optimising the efficiency.