With the ubiquity of low-powered technologies and devices in the urban environment operating in every area of human activity, the development and integration of a low-energy harvester suitable for smart cities applications is indispensable. The multitude of low-energy applications extend from wireless sensors, data loggers, transmitters and other small-scale electronics. These devices function in the microWatt-milliWatt power range and will play a significant role in the future of smart cities providing power for extended operation with little or no battery dependence. This study thus aims to investigate the potential built environment integration and energy harvesting capabilities of the Wind-Induced Flutter Energy Harvester (WIFEH) – a microgenerator aimed to provide energy for low-powered applications. Low-energy harvesters such as the WIFEH are suitable for integration with wireless sensors and other small-scale electronic devices; however, there is a lack in study on this type of technology's building integration capabilities. Hence, there is a need for investigating its potential and optimal installation conditions. This work presents the experimental investigation of the WIFEH inside a wind tunnel and a case study using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modelling of a building integrated with a WIFEH system. The experiments tested the WIFEH under various wind tunnel airflow speeds ranging from 2.3 to 10 m/s to evaluate the induced electromotive force generation capability of the device. The simulation used a gable-roof type building model with a 27° pitch obtained from the literature. The atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) flow was used for the simulation of the approach wind. The work investigates the effect of various wind speeds and WIFEH locations on the performance of the device giving insight on the potential for integration of the harvester into the built environment. The WIFEH was able to generate an RMS voltage of 3 V, peak-to-peak voltage of 8.72 V and short-circuit current of 1 mA when subjected to airflow of 2.3 m/s. With an increase of wind velocity to 5 m/s and subsequent membrane retensioning, the RMS and peak-to-peak voltages and short-circuit current also increase to 4.88 V, 18.2 V, and 3.75 mA, respectively. For the CFD modelling integrating the WIFEH into a building, the apex of the roof of the building yielded the highest power output for the device due to flow speed-up maximisation in this region. This location produced the largest power output under the 45° angle of approach, generating an estimated 62.4 mW of power under accelerated wind in device position of up to 6.2 m/s. For wind velocity (UH) of 10 m/s, wind in this position accelerated up to approximately 14.4 m/s which is a 37.5% speed-up at the particular height. This occurred for an oncoming wind 30° relative to the building facade. For UH equal to 4.7 m/s under 0° wind direction, airflows in facade edges were the fastest at 5.4 m/s indicating a 15% speed-up along the edges of the building.
- aero-elastic flutter
- computational fluid dynamics (CFD)
- energy harvesting
- wind tunnel