Finding an efficient source of energy has always been a big challenge for humans on Earth. Fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, have traditionally been considered as major sources of energy. These energy sources are not only nonrenewable but are also harmful to our health and environment. A large portion of this energy is consumed by vehicles moving daily in big cities, causing significant pollution of the environment. However, the motion of vehicles through the transportation infrastructures can also be a significant source of kinetic energy, which can be harvested to power transportation system components, such as sensors, street lights, signals, etc., thereby reducing some dependence on fossil fuel-derived energy.
This research aims to develop an innovative approach for energy harvesting from transportation infrastructures and demonstrate the feasibility of the approach through laboratory testing and field demonstration. The proposed innovative approach of energy harvesting, termed as electromagnetic energy harvesting system (EMEHSs), can be used to power wireless sensors commonly used for health monitoring of bridges. This EMEHS has expected to be simple, but effective in harvesting kinetic energy and converting it to electric power for wireless sensors. Practical and economic feasibility and field implementation of the device on a bridge will also be investigated in this work. Based on detailed numerical simulations and modeling, a larger-scale device will be first tested in the laboratory and then will be installed on a bridge to demonstrate the technology and its effectiveness in powering typical health monitoring sensors.