An Experimental Strategy for Characterizing Inductive Elesctromagnetic Energy Harvesters

Sensors (Basel). 2020 Jan 23;20(3):647. doi: 10.3390/s20030647.


Condition monitoring of high voltage power lines through self-powered sensor systems has become a priority for utilities with the aim of detecting potential problems, enhancing reliability of the power transmission and distribution networks and mitigating the adverse impact of faults. Energy harvesting from the magnetic field generated by the alternating current flowing through high voltage lines can supply the monitoring systems with the required power to operate without relying on hard-wiring or battery-based approaches. However, developing an energy harvester, which scavenges the power from such a limited source of energy, requires detailed design considerations, which may not result in a technically and economically optimal solution. This paper presents an innovative simulation-based strategy to characterize an inductive electromagnetic energy harvester and the power conditioning system. Performance requirements in terms of the harvested power and output voltage range, or level of magnetic core saturation can be imposed. Different harvester configurations, which satisfy the requirements, have been produced by the simulation models. The accuracy and efficiency of this approach is verified with an experimental setup based on an energy harvester, which consists of a Si-steel magnetic core and a power conditioning unit. For the worst-case scenario with a primary current of 5 A, the maximum power extracted by the harvester can be as close as 165 mW, resulting in a power density of 2.79 mW/cm3.

Keywords: condition monitoring; energy harvesting; inductive harvesting.