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Fluid and Structural Dynamics Group – ESM Department, Virginia Tech


Virginia Tech
Piezoaeroelastic Energy Harvesting
Muhammad Hajj

December 2015


Aeroelastic vibrations are a common occurrence in aeronautical applications, civil structures and mechanical systems. In general, these vibrations are undesirable. On the other hand, they have been proposed as a means to harvest energy that can be used to operate low-power consumption devices, such as microelectromechanical systems, health monitoring sensors, wireless sensors, actuators or replace small batteries that have a finite life span or would require hard and expensive maintenance. Of the different options, which include electromagnetic, electrostatic, and piezoelectric transduction, the piezoelectric one has received the widest consideration because of its capability to harvest energy over a wide range of frequencies, its ease of application, and required volume. There are many challenges in designing efficient harvesters in terms of relevant power levels and high power and energy densities. These challenges are related to the nonlinearities associated with aeroelastic phenomena and the electro-mechanical coupling. In our work, we have developed modelling and analysis capabilities of piezoelectric energy harvesting systems that can be used in their design and the optimization of their performance.


Our group has considered different aeroelastic systems as possible candidates for energy harvesting. These include a wing undergoing limit cycle oscillations, vortex-induced vibrations of a circular cylinder and galloping structures. The approach in all of these applications has been to experimentally demonstrate the capability of energy harvesting, use the experimental results to validate a model representing the piezoaeroelastic energy harvester and use modern methods of nonlinear dynamics to analyze the system. This analysis is then used to optimize the performance of the system by varying its parameters.  


 The eccentricity and linear and nonlinear
stiffness are important factors in determining
the level of harvested power from wing-based
piezoaerelastic systems. The effects of
variations in the electrical load resistance on
the flutter speed and pitch and plunge
motions are negligible. On the other hand,
these variations affect the output voltage and
 When harvesting energy from vortex-induced
vibrations, the load resistance influences the
onset of the synchronization region and its
characteristics. The nonlinearity associated
with the vortex-induced oscillations results in
a hardening behavior and hysteresis. The
highest levels of harvested energy are
associated with minimum displacement of the
cylinder; a result that shows the need for the
coupled analysis as performed in our
 The galloping phenomenon of prismatic
structures offers the capability to harvest
energy over a wide range of operating
parameters (speed). The load resistance
affects the onset speed of galloping. Also,
analysis of the coupled electro-mechanical
problem shows that the highest power levels
are accompanied by minimal structural
displacement. This is due to the fact that the
kinetic energy of the structure is transferred
to electrical power. 

Selected Publications

1. A. Abdelkefi, Z. Yan, M.R. Hajj "Modeling and
nonlinear analysis of piezoelectric energy
harvesting from transverse galloping," Journal
of Smart Materials and Structures, 2013
2. A. Abdelkefi, M.R. Hajj, A.H. Nayfeh
"Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting from
Transverse Galloping Oscillations of Bluff
Bodies," Smart Materials and Structures 2013
3. A. Abdelkefi, M.R. Hajj, A.H. Nayfeh "Power
Harvesting from Transverse Galloping of
Square Cylinder," Nonlinear Dynamics, 2012,
70, 1355-1363, doi: 10.1007/s11071-012-
4. A. Abdelkefi, M.R. Hajj and A.H. Nayfeh
"Phenomena and Modeling of Piezoelectric
Energy Harvesting from Freely Oscillating
Cylinders," Nonlinear Dynamics, 2012, 70,
1377-1388, doi: 10.1007/s11071-012-0540-x
5. A. Abdelkefi, A.H. Nayfeh, and M.R. Hajj
"Enhancement of Power Harvesting from
Piezoaeroelastic Systems," Nonlinear Dynamics,
2012, 68 (4), 531-540. doi: 10.1007/s11071-
6. A. Abdelkefi, A.H. Nayfeh, and M.R. Hajj "Design
of Piezoaeroelastic Energy Harvesters,"
Nonlinear Dynamics, 2012, 68 (4), 519-530. doi:
7. A. Abdelkefi, A.H. Nayfeh, and M.R. Hajj
"Modeling and Analysis of Piezoaeroelastic
Energy Harvesters," Nonlinear Dynamics, 2012,
67(2), 925

Core Competencies

  • Aeroelastic Systems
  • Modern Methods of Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Experimental Measurements
  • Numerical Simulations of Fluid Structure Interactions - Different Levels of Fidelity

Schematic of proposed setup for piezoaeroelastic energy harvesting, numerical simulations, and experimental measurements

Current Research Team Members:
 Muhammad R. Hajj (PI)
 Abdessattar Abdelkefi (Postdoc)
 Arshad Mehmood (Ph.D. Candidate)
 Zhimiao Yan (Ph.D. Candidate)
 Samah Ben Ayed* (Ph.D. Candidate)
 Haithem Taha* (Ph.D. Candidate)
 Youssef Bichiou* (Ph.D. Candidate)
 Abdelmohsen Alothman* (Ph.D. Candidate)
 Nilma Barsallo Pacheco (MS Candidate)
 Ayesha Al-Awadhi* (MS Candidate)
*Indirectly involved in this effort.