Date of Award

Spring 2009

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Mathematics, Engineering & Computer Science

Abstract

The future and success of our country and economy are contingent on energy independence. This has sparked an interest in research concerning new and innovative forms of alternative energy production. With this new wave of modernization in the power industry come opportunities for creativity in the utilization of reliable and inexhaustible sources in order to provide usable energy. One of these new forms of alternative energy is the use of the piezoelectric effect in man-made materials in the form of ceramics. This study describes the exploration and testing of the use of mechanical energy to produce functional electricity. In my research, I investigate the efficacy of piezoceramic materials, particularly lead zirconate titanate, installed in a flooring system to create a voltage provided from the mechanical stress supplied by human footsteps- a procurable and costless mechanical application. These materials, when subjected to a force in the form of an impulse, generate an electric field, and thus a voltage. Throughout this exploration, I examine the effectiveness of a new form of alternative energy production through the use of these materials utilizing a variety of different positioning techniques, wiring schemes, force applications, electrical harvesting methods and accompanying materials.

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