Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical Engineering

Committee Member

Dr. Mohammed F. Daqaq, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Gang Li

Committee Member

Dr. Paul Joseph


Energy harvesters are scalable devices that generate microwatt to milliwatt power levels by scavenging energy from their ambient natural environment. Applications of such devices are numerous, ranging from wireless sensing to biomedical implants. A particular type of energy harvester is a device which converts the momentum of an incident fluid flow into electrical output by using flow-induced instabilities such as galloping, flutter, vortex shedding and wake galloping. Galloping flow energy harvesters (GFEHs), which represent the core of this thesis, consist of a prismatic tip body mounted on a long, thin cantilever beam fixed on a rigid base. When the bluff body is placed such that its leading edge faces a moving fluid, the flow separates at the edges of the leading face causing shear layers to develop behind the bluff face. The shear layer interacts with the surface area of the afterbody. An asymmetric condition in the shear layers causes a net lift which incites motion. This causes the beam to oscillate periodically at or near the natural frequency of the system. The periodic strain developed near the base of the oscillating beam is then transformed into electricity by attaching a piezoelectric layer to either side of the beam surface. This thesis focuses on characterizing the influence of the rotation of the beam tip on the response and output power of GFEHs. Previous modeling efforts of GFEHs usually adopt two simplifying assumptions. First, it is assumed that the tip rotation of the beam is arbitrarily small and hence can be neglected. Second, it is assumed that the quasi-steady assumption of the aerodynamic force can be adopted even in the presence of tip rotation. Although the validity of these two assumptions becomes debatable in the presence of finite tip rotations, which are common to occur in GFEHs, none the previous research studies have systematically addressed the influence of finite tip rotations on the validity of the quasi-steady assumption and the response of cantilevered flow energy harvesters. To this end, the first objective of this thesis is to investigate the influence of the tip rotation on the output power of energy harvesters under the quasi-steady assumption. It is shown that neglecting the tip rotation will cause significant over-prediction of the output power even for small tip rotations. This thesis further assesses the validity of the quasi-steady assumption of the aerodynamic force in the presence of tip rotations using extensive experiments. It is shown that the quasi-steady model fails to accurately predict the behavior of square and trapezoidal prisms mounted on a cantilever beam and undergoing galloping oscillations. In particular, it is shown that the quasi-steady model under-predicts the amplitude of oscillation because it fails to consider the effect of body rotation. Careful analysis of the experimental data indicates that, unlike the quasi-steady aerodynamic lift force which depends only on the angle of attack, the effective aerodynamic curve is a function of both the angle of attack and the upstream flow velocity when the effects of body rotation are included. Nonetheless, although the quasi-steady assumption fails, the remarkable result is that the overall structure of the aerodynamic model remains intact, permitting the use of aerodynamic force surfaces to capture the influence of tip rotation. The second objective of this thesis is to present an approach to optimize the geometry of the bluff body to improve the performance of flow energy harvesters. It is shown that attaching a splitter plate to the afterbody of the prism can improve the output power of the device by as much as 60\% for some cases. By increasing the reattachment angle of the shear layer and producing additional flow recirculation bubbles, the extension of the body using the splitter plate increases the useful range of the galloping instability for energy harvesting.



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