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Special Issue "Energy Harvesting Sensor Systems"

A special issue of Sensors (ISSN 1424-8220). This special issue belongs to the section "Sensor Networks".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 April 2019

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Sebastian Bader

Department of Electronics Design, Mid Sweden University, 85170 Sundsvall, Sweden
Website | E-Mail
Interests: energy harvesting; low-power embedded systems; sensor systems; sensor networks; autonomous systems; system modeling
Guest Editor
Dr. Alex Weddell

School of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton, Southampton, SO17 1BJ, United Kingdom
Website | E-Mail
Interests: energy harvesting; intermittent computing; condition monitoring; sensor systems; system design; system modeling

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Autonomous sensor systems and networks are predicted to become integral technologies in a wide area of applications, ranging from industrial automation to structural monitoring and smart cities. In many of these applications, the system needs to operate for long periods of time without access to a fixed power supply. With considerable maintenance, a high strain on the environment and strict limitations on operating conditions, existing battery technologies are not a desirable option in the long term.

Energy harvesting has become a competitive alternative for the supply of low-power electronic systems, utilizing ambient energy sources in the form of kinetic movements, thermal gradients or electromagnetic radiation. A number of commercial products are now available, but significant challenges still exist throughout the field: from more efficient or robust energy harvesters, through to the effective design and integration of systems, to the functionality of energy harvesting-powered applications.

In this Special Issue, we invite you to submit contributions covering any area of energy harvesting for sensor systems. This includes transducer design and optimization; system design, modeling and integration; as well as experimental verifications, case studies and field tests. Contributions supported by experimental results are particularly welcomed.

Dr. Sebastian Bader
Dr. Alex Weddell
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sensors is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Energy harvesting transducers (e.g., photovoltaic, electromagnetic, piezoelectric, thermoelectric, triboelectric)
  • Novel energy storage technologies 
  • Lifetime considerations for energy harvesting sensor systems 
  • Reliable and robust energy harvesting system design 
  • System integration, sizing of energy harvesting and storage devices, automated design tools 
  • Surveys or evaluations of feasibility of energy harvesting in real applications 
  • Comparison and standardized evaluation of energy harvester performance 
  • Self-powered systems and autonomous sensors 
  • Sensor systems and networks, including wake-up radios and low-power communications 
  • Energy-neutral or power-neutral systems 
  • Transient or intermittent computing 
  • Energy harvesting for the Internet of Things

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Small-Area Radiofrequency-Energy-Harvesting Integrated Circuits for Powering Wireless Sensor Networks
Sensors 2019, 19(8), 1754; https://doi.org/10.3390/s19081754
Received: 23 February 2019 / Revised: 6 April 2019 / Accepted: 9 April 2019 / Published: 12 April 2019
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Abstract
This study presents a radiofrequency (RF)-energy-harvesting integrated circuit (IC) for powering wireless sensor networks with a wireless transmitter with an industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) of 915 MHz. The proposed IC comprises an RF-direct current (DC) rectifier, an over-voltage protection circuit, a low-power [...] Read more.
This study presents a radiofrequency (RF)-energy-harvesting integrated circuit (IC) for powering wireless sensor networks with a wireless transmitter with an industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) of 915 MHz. The proposed IC comprises an RF-direct current (DC) rectifier, an over-voltage protection circuit, a low-power low-dropout (LDO) voltage regulator, and a charger control circuit. In the RF-DC rectifier circuit, a six-stage Dickson voltage multiplier circuit is used to improve the received RF signal to a DC voltage by using native MOS with a small threshold voltage. The over-voltage protection circuit is used to prevent a high-voltage breakdown phenomenon from the RF front-end circuit, particularly for near-field communication. A low-power LDO regulator is designed to provide stable voltage by using zero frequency compensation and a voltage-trimming feedback. Charging current is amplified N times by using a current mirror to rapidly and stably charge a battery in the proposed charger control circuit. The obtained results revealed that the maximum power conversion efficiency of the proposed RF-energy-harvesting IC was 40.56% at an input power of −6 dBm, an output voltage of 1.5 V, and a load of 30 kΩ. A chip area of the RF-energy-harvesting IC was 0.58 × 0.49 mm2, including input/output pads, and power consumption was 42 μW. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Harvesting Sensor Systems)
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Open AccessArticle Enhancing Output Power of a Cantilever-Based Flapping Airflow Energy Harvester Using External Mechanical Interventions
Sensors 2019, 19(7), 1499; https://doi.org/10.3390/s19071499
Received: 8 February 2019 / Revised: 15 March 2019 / Accepted: 21 March 2019 / Published: 28 March 2019
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Abstract
This paper presents a flapping airflow energy harvester based on oscillations of a horizontal cantilever beam facing the direction of airflow. A wing is attached to the free end of a cantilever beam and a bluff body is placed in front of the [...] Read more.
This paper presents a flapping airflow energy harvester based on oscillations of a horizontal cantilever beam facing the direction of airflow. A wing is attached to the free end of a cantilever beam and a bluff body is placed in front of the wing from where vortex falls off, producing vortices under the wing and driving it to oscillate. An electromagnetic transducer is integrated to convert the flow induced vibration into electrical energy. This flapping energy harvester, however, may stop oscillating or vibrate in the second mode under high electrical damping, and thus may be unable to achieve its optimum performance. Simple yet effective mechanical interventions can be applied to the harvester to enhance its power output, i.e., to increase flow velocity and to apply external magnetic interaction. The effect of airflow velocities on output power was investigated experimentally and the results show that the energy harvester scavenges more power in airflow at higher Reynolds numbers (higher flow velocity at R e < 24,000). The external magnetic excitation is achieved though placing one magnet to the wing and another one above the wing to induce a repelling force, aiding the beam to oscillate in high electrical damping. Experimental results show that the power output can be enhanced by 30% when the magnet interaction is properly integrated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Harvesting Sensor Systems)
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Open AccessArticle Plant Microbial Fuel Cells–Based Energy Harvester System for Self-powered IoT Applications
Sensors 2019, 19(6), 1378; https://doi.org/10.3390/s19061378
Received: 12 February 2019 / Revised: 8 March 2019 / Accepted: 11 March 2019 / Published: 20 March 2019
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Abstract
The emergence of modern technologies, such as Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs), the Internet-of-Things (IoT), and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications, involves the use of batteries, which pose a serious environmental risk, with billions of batteries disposed of every year. However, the combination of sensors and [...] Read more.
The emergence of modern technologies, such as Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs), the Internet-of-Things (IoT), and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications, involves the use of batteries, which pose a serious environmental risk, with billions of batteries disposed of every year. However, the combination of sensors and wireless communication devices is extremely power-hungry. Energy Harvesting (EH) is fundamental in enabling the use of low-power electronic devices that derive their energy from external sources, such as Microbial Fuel Cells (MFC), solar power, thermal and kinetic energy, among others. Plant Microbial Fuel Cell (PMFC) is a prominent clean energy source and a step towards the development of self-powered systems in indoor and outdoor environments. One of the main challenges with PMFCs is the dynamic power supply, dynamic charging rates and low-energy supply. In this paper, a PMFC-based energy harvester system is proposed for the implementation of autonomous self-powered sensor nodes with IoT and cloud-based service communication protocols. The PMFC design is specifically adapted with the proposed EH circuit for the implementation of IoT-WSN based applications. The PMFC-EH system has a maximum power point at 0.71 V, a current density of 5 mA cm 2 , and a power density of 3.5 mW cm 2 with a single plant. Considering a sensor node with a current consumption of 0.35 mA, the PMFC-EH green energy system allows a power autonomy for real-time data processing of IoT-based low-power WSN systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Harvesting Sensor Systems)
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Open AccessArticle Analyzing Power Beacon Assisted Transmission with Imperfect CSI in Wireless Powered Sensor Networks
Sensors 2019, 19(4), 882; https://doi.org/10.3390/s19040882
Received: 6 December 2018 / Revised: 15 February 2019 / Accepted: 18 February 2019 / Published: 20 February 2019
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Abstract
This paper proposes the maximal ratio transmission (MRT) and maximal ratio combining (MRC) protocols for the power beacon (PB) assisted wireless powered sensor networks and analyzes the impact of the imperfect channel state information (CSI) on the performance using the Markov chain theory. [...] Read more.
This paper proposes the maximal ratio transmission (MRT) and maximal ratio combining (MRC) protocols for the power beacon (PB) assisted wireless powered sensor networks and analyzes the impact of the imperfect channel state information (CSI) on the performance using the Markov chain theory. The wireless powered sensor chooses to transmit information to the destination or harvest energy from the PB when its energy can or cannot supply a transmission, respectively. The energy arrival and departure of the sensor is characterized, and the analytical expressions of the network transmit probability, and effective and overall ergodic capacities are formulated and derived. We also optimize the sensor transmit power to maximize the overall ergodic capacity. Our results reveal that the transmit probability and the effective ergodic capacity can be greatly improved with increasing the number of antennas at the PB and the destination, and can also be significantly degraded by decreasing the channel correlation factors. We also demonstrate the effectiveness of the sensor transmit power optimization in improving the overall ergodic capacity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Harvesting Sensor Systems)
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Open AccessArticle Efficient Location Service for a Mobile Sink in Solar-Powered Wireless Sensor Networks
Sensors 2019, 19(2), 272; https://doi.org/10.3390/s19020272
Received: 9 December 2018 / Revised: 5 January 2019 / Accepted: 8 January 2019 / Published: 11 January 2019
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Abstract
By utilizing mobile sinks in wireless sensor networks (WSNs), WSNs can be deployed in more challenging environments that cannot connect with the Internet, such as those that are isolated or dangerous, and can also achieve a balanced energy consumption among sensors which leads [...] Read more.
By utilizing mobile sinks in wireless sensor networks (WSNs), WSNs can be deployed in more challenging environments that cannot connect with the Internet, such as those that are isolated or dangerous, and can also achieve a balanced energy consumption among sensors which leads to prolonging the network lifetime. However, an additional overhead is required to check the current location of the sink in order for a node to transmit data to the mobile sink, and the size of the overhead is proportional to that of the network. Meanwhile, WSNs composed of solar-powered nodes have recently been actively studied for the perpetual operation of a network. This study addresses both of these research topics simultaneously, and proposes a method to support an efficient location service for a mobile sink utilizing the surplus energy of a solar-powered WSN. In this scheme, nodes that have a sufficient energy budget can constitute rings, and the nodes belonging to these rings (which are called ring nodes) maintain up-to-date location information on the mobile sink node and serve this information to the other sensor nodes. Because each ring node only uses surplus energy to serve location information, this does not affect the performance of a node’s general operations (e.g., sensing, processing, and data delivery). Moreover, because multiple rings can exist simultaneously in the proposed scheme, the overhead for acquiring the position information of the sink can be significantly reduced, and also hardly increases even if the network size becomes larger. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Harvesting Sensor Systems)
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Open AccessArticle Distributed Optimal Random Access Scheme for Energy Harvesting Devices in Satellite Communication Networks
Sensors 2019, 19(1), 99; https://doi.org/10.3390/s19010099
Received: 13 September 2018 / Revised: 14 December 2018 / Accepted: 22 December 2018 / Published: 28 December 2018
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Abstract
This paper considers satellite communication networks where each satellite terminal is equipped with energy harvesting (EH) devices to supply energy continuously, and randomly transmits bursty packets to a geostationary satellite over a shared wireless channel. Packet replicas combined with a successive iteration cancellation [...] Read more.
This paper considers satellite communication networks where each satellite terminal is equipped with energy harvesting (EH) devices to supply energy continuously, and randomly transmits bursty packets to a geostationary satellite over a shared wireless channel. Packet replicas combined with a successive iteration cancellation scheme can reduce the negative impact of packet collisions but consume more energy. Hence, appropriate energy management policies are required to mitigate the adverse effect of energy outages. Although centralized access schemes can provide better performance on the networks’ throughput, they expend extra signallings to allocate the resources, which leads to non-negligible communication latencies, especially for the satellite communication networks. In order to reduce the communication overhead and delay, a distributed random access (RA) scheme considering the energy constraints is studied. Each EH satellite terminal (EH-ST) decides whether to transmit the packet and how many replicas are transmitted according to its local energy and EH rates to maximize the average long-term network throughput. Owing to the nonconvexity of this problem, we adopted a game theoretic method to approximate the optimal solution. By forcing all the EH-STs to employ the same policy, we characterized and proved the existence and uniqueness of the symmetric Nash equilibrium (NE) of the game. Moreover, an efficient algorithm is proposed to calculate the symmetric NE by combining a policy iteration algorithm and the bisection method. The performance of the proposed RA scheme was investigated via numerous simulations. Simulation results showed that the proposed RA scheme is applicable to the EH devices in the future low-cost interactive satellite communication system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Harvesting Sensor Systems)
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Review

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Open AccessReview Energy Harvesting Technologies for Achieving Self-Powered Wireless Sensor Networks in Machine Condition Monitoring: A Review
Sensors 2018, 18(12), 4113; https://doi.org/10.3390/s18124113
Received: 3 October 2018 / Revised: 17 November 2018 / Accepted: 19 November 2018 / Published: 23 November 2018
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Abstract
Condition monitoring can reduce machine breakdown losses, increase productivity and operation safety, and therefore deliver significant benefits to many industries. The emergence of wireless sensor networks (WSNs) with smart processing ability play an ever-growing role in online condition monitoring of machines. WSNs are [...] Read more.
Condition monitoring can reduce machine breakdown losses, increase productivity and operation safety, and therefore deliver significant benefits to many industries. The emergence of wireless sensor networks (WSNs) with smart processing ability play an ever-growing role in online condition monitoring of machines. WSNs are cost-effective networking systems for machine condition monitoring. It avoids cable usage and eases system deployment in industry, which leads to significant savings. Powering the nodes is one of the major challenges for a true WSN system, especially when positioned at inaccessible or dangerous locations and in harsh environments. Promising energy harvesting technologies have attracted the attention of engineers because they convert microwatt or milliwatt level power from the environment to implement maintenance-free machine condition monitoring systems with WSNs. The motivation of this review is to investigate the energy sources, stimulate the application of energy harvesting based WSNs, and evaluate the improvement of energy harvesting systems for mechanical condition monitoring. This paper overviews the principles of a number of energy harvesting technologies applicable to industrial machines by investigating the power consumption of WSNs and the potential energy sources in mechanical systems. Many models or prototypes with different features are reviewed, especially in the mechanical field. Energy harvesting technologies are evaluated for further development according to the comparison of their advantages and disadvantages. Finally, a discussion of the challenges and potential future research of energy harvesting systems powering WSNs for machine condition monitoring is made. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Harvesting Sensor Systems)
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