Modeling and field-test of a compact electromagnetic energy harvester for railroad transportation

Yu Pan, Teng Lin, Feng Qian, Cheng Liu, Jie Yu, Jianyong Zuo, Lei Zuo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


To enable the smart technologies and safe operation of transit and rail transportation, such as hot box detector, track health monitoring and wireless communication on the railroad side, a cost-effective energy source is in need. This paper presents the design, modeling, in-lab experiment and field-test results of a compact ball-screw based electromagnetic energy harvester with a mechanical motion rectifier (MMR) mechanism for smart railway transportation. The MMR mechanism is realized by the embedded one-way clutches in the bevel gears, which converts the bi-directional track vibration into the unidirectional rotation of the generator. Compared to previous designs, the proposed harvester has reduced backlash and thus can harvest energy from a small input of the track deflection induced by the moving train. Two prototypes with different key design parameters were built and tested. A comprehensive model considering the train-rail-harvester interaction was developed to analyze the dynamic characteristics of the coupled system and predict the energy harvesting performance of the harvesters at different train speeds. Both in-lab and field tests were carried out to examine the energy harvesting performance of the harvesters and validate the model. Field test results illustrated that an average power of 1.12 W and 2.24 W were achieved for two prototypes respectively when a Type A rapid transit passed by with a 30 km/h vehicle speed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-321
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Energy
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • General Energy
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Building and Construction
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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