Evaluating Vehicular-Induced Vibrations of Typical Highway Bridges for Energy Harvesting Applications

Reichenbach, Matthew Craig


Highway bridges are vital links in any transportation network. Identifying the possible safety problems in the approximately 600,000 bridges across the U.S. is generally accomplished through labor-intensive, visual inspections. Wireless monitoring technology seeks to improve current practices by supplementing the visual inspections with real-time evaluation of bridges. To be economically feasible, wireless sensor networks should be able to (a) operate independent of the power grid, and (b) achieve a service life of at least ten years. Novel energy harvesting approaches have been investigated to fulfill these two criteria. In particular, the feasibility of a vibration energy harvester as a long-term power source was assessed. The goal of the research was to process measured acceleration data and analyze the vibrational response of typical highway bridges under truck loads. The effects of ambient temperature, truck traffic patterns, and harvester position on the power content of the vibrations were explored, as well as the effects of linear and nonlinear harvesters. This thesis presents the results of evaluating the response of five steel bridges in Texas and Oregon for energy harvesting applications.

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