Low-power energy harvesting has been demonstrated as a feasible alternative for the power supply of next-generation smart sensors and IoT end devices. In many cases, the output of kinetic energy harvesters is an alternating current (AC) requiring rectification in order to supply the electronic load. The rectifier design and selection can have a considerable influence on the energy harvesting system performance in terms of extracted output power and conversion losses. This paper presents a quantitative comparison of three passive rectifiers in a low-power, low-voltage electromagnetic energy harvesting sub-system, namely the full-wave bridge rectifier (FWR), the voltage doubler (VD), and the negative voltage converter rectifier (NVC). Based on a variable reluctance energy harvesting system, we investigate each of the rectifiers with respect to their performance and their effect on the overall energy extraction. We conduct experiments under the conditions of a low-speed rotational energy harvesting application with rotational speeds of 5 rpm to 20 rpm, and verify the experiments in an end-to-end energy harvesting evaluation. Two performance metrics—power conversion efficiency (PCE) and power extraction efficiency (PEE)—are obtained from the measurements to evaluate the performance of the system implementation adopting each of the rectifiers. The results show that the FWR with PEEs of 20% at 5 rpm to 40% at 20 rpm has a low performance in comparison to the VD (40–60%) and NVC (20–70%) rectifiers. The VD-based interface circuit demonstrates the best performance under low rotational speeds, whereas the NVC outperforms the VD at higher speeds (>18 rpm). Finally, the end-to-end system evaluation is conducted with a self-powered rpm sensing system, which demonstrates an improved performance with the VD rectifier implementation reaching the system’s maximum sampling rate (40 Hz) at a rotational speed of approximately 15.5 rpm.
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