Energy Harvesting Using AC Machines with High Effective Pole Count

Open Access
Geiger, Richard T.
Graduate Program:
Electrical Engineering
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
November 20, 2009
Committee Members:
  • Heath Hofmann, Dissertation Advisor
  • Heath Hofmann, Committee Chair
  • George A Lesieutre, Committee Member
  • John Douglas Mitchell, Committee Member
  • Mary I Frecker, Committee Member
  • James Kenneth Breakall, Committee Member
  • energy harvesting
  • stepper motor
  • high pole count
In this thesis, ways to improve the power conversion of rotating generators at low rotor speeds in energy harvesting applications were investigated. One method is to increase the pole count, which increases the generator back-emf without also increasing the I2R losses, thereby increasing both torque density and conversion efficiency. One machine topology that has a high effective pole count is a hybrid “stepper” machine. However, the large self inductance of these machines decreases their power factor and hence the maximum power that can be delivered to a load. This effect can be cancelled by the addition of capacitors in series with the stepper windings. A circuit was designed and implemented to automatically vary the series capacitance over the entire speed range investigated. The addition of the series capacitors improved the power output of the stepper machine by up to 700%. At low rotor speeds, with the addition of series capacitance, the power output of the hybrid “stepper” was more than 200% that of a similarly sized PMDC brushed motor. Finally, in this thesis a hybrid lumped parameter / finite element model was used to investigate the impact of number, shape and size of the rotor and stator teeth on machine performance. A typical off-the-shelf hybrid stepper machine has significant cogging torque by design. This cogging torque is a major problem in most small energy harvesting applications. In this thesis it was shown that the cogging and ripple torque can be dramatically reduced. These findings confirm that high-pole-count topologies, and specifically the hybrid stepper configuration, are an attractive choice for energy harvesting applications.