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Berlin TV Tower (Fernsehturm), 368m: this new research will focus on energy supply to motion sensors in tall buildings and structures.

Berlin TV Tower (Fernsehturm), 368m: this new research will focus on energy supply to motion sensors in tall buildings and structures.

Researchers at Swansea University are developing an innovative approach to the design of smart buildings. A new environmentally sustainable, safer and cost-efficient model, designed at the Institute for Innovative Materials, Processing and Numerical Technologies (IMPACT), will offer an improved system for energy supply distribution to sensors in smart structures. 

Sensors are commonly used to monitor and control a building’s temperature, humidity, motion detection, air quality and electrical current. 

Currently sensors in smart buildings are powered by mains or batteries. This new project will offer an alternative that further reduces the environmental impact and costs associated with sensor installation and maintenance – as battery replacement/disposal and excessive cabling will no longer be required.

This new research, entitled SMART-UP, will focus on energy supply to motion sensors in tall buildings and structures.

These sensors can detect earthquakes and assist with building maintenance, for example, pinpointing any cracks or damage in wind turbines after strong winds. This form of ‘structural health monitoring’ offers a new level of building safety and reliability.

A unique building model, using Piezoelectricity, will be designed to demonstrate the possibilities of harnessing power induced by a building’s vibrations.

Piezoelectricity is a form of electricity that accumulates in certain solid materials in response to applied mechanical stress. This source of energy will be used in the design of tall buildings and will be stored in strategically distributed self-charging batteries, bringing a new level to self-sufficiency through self-powered monitoring.

Professor Sondipon Adhikari of the College of Engineering at Swansea University, leading this IMPACT project, comments:

“This new self-powered system will offer a reliable source of energy so that if, for example, an earthquake caused power failure in a building, it would continue to be powered through the use of Piezoelectricity.”

Our team will initiate new innovative devices called piezoelectric-dampers (PiDs) to be embedded in modern tall buildings for simultaneous structural elements connection and energy harvesting.

PiDs are novel devices which reduce vibration of a host structure and at the same time generate energy from the vibration it absorbs. They are composite elements made of piezoelectric and polymer located in the connections between buildings’ structural members and engaged by wind induced oscillations to transform the kinetic energy of the oscillating structure into electricity.

This new research will ultimately lead to safer structures and buildings, without the environmental impact, in a reliable manner.”

SMART-UP is funded through a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Individual Fellowship (via Horizon2020). The IMPACT operation is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government and Swansea University.

Sustainable futures, energy and the environment - more about Swansea University research



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