An analytic study of vibrational energy harvesting using piezoelectric tiles in stairways subjected to human traffic

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This work investigates analytically, the use of piezoelectric tiles placed on stairways for vibrational energy harvesting-harnessing electrical power from natural vibrational phenomena-from pedestrian footfalls. While energy harvesting from pedestrian traffic along flat pathways has been studied in the linear regime and realised in practical applications, the greater amounts of energy naturally expended in traversing stairways suggest better prospects for harvesting. Considering the characteristics of two types of commercially available piezoelectric tiles-Navy Type III and Navy Type V-analytical models for the coupled electromechanical system are formulated. The harvesting potential of the tiles is then studied under conditions of both deterministic and carefully developed random excitation profiles for three distinct cases: linear, monostable nonlinear and an array of monostable nonlinear tiles on adjacent steps with linear coupling between them. The results indicate enhanced power output when the tiles are: (1) placed on stairways, (2) uncoupled and (3) subjected to excitation profiles with stochastic frequency. In addition, the Navy Type V tiles are seen to outperform the Navy Type III tiles. Finally, the strongly nonlinear regime outperforms the linear one suggesting that the realisation of commercially available piezoelectric tiles with appropriately tailored nonlinear characteristics will likely have a significant impact on energy harvesting from pedestrian traffic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)968-985
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Mathematics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019


  • Applications of stochastic analysis
  • applications in engineering and industry
  • computational methods for stochastic equations

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