Amplified piezoelectric stack actuators for harvesting electrical energy from a backpack

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Over the past few decades the use of portable and wearable electronics has grown steadily. These devices are becoming increasingly more powerful, however, the gains that have been made in the device performance has resulted in the need for significantly higher power to operate the electronics. This issue has been further complicated due to the stagnate growth of battery technology over the past decade. In order to increase the life of these electronics, researchers have begun investigating methods of generating energy from ambient sources such that the life of the electronics can be prolonged. Recent developments in the field have led to the design of a number of mechanisms that can be used to generate electrical energy, from a variety of sources including thermal, solar, strain, inertia, etc. Many of these energy sources are available for use with humans, but their use must be carefully considered such that parasitic effects that could disrupt the user's gait or endurance are avoided. This study develops a novel energy harvesting backpack that can generate electrical energy from the differential forces between the wearer and the pack. The goal of this system is to make the energy harvesting device transparent to the wearer such that his or her endurance and dexterity is not compromised. This will be accomplished by replacing the strap buckle with a mechanically amplified piezoelectric stack actuator. Piezoelectric stack actuators have found little use in energy harvesting applications due to their high stiffness which makes straining the material difficult. This issue will be alleviated using a mechanically amplified stack which allows the relatively low forces generated by the pack to be transformed to high forces on the piezoelectric stack. This paper will develop a theoretical model of the piezoelectric buckle and perform experimental testing to validate the model accuracy and energy harvesting performance. Copyright © 2007 by ASME.

Publication Title

2007 Proceedings of the ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, DETC2007