Piezoelectric energy harvesting from morphing wing motions for micro air vehicles

Abdessattar Abdelkefi, Mehdi Ghommem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Wing flapping and morphing can be very beneficial to managing the weight of micro air vehicles through coupling the aerodynamic forces with stability and control. In this letter, harvesting energy from the wing morphing is studied to power cameras, sensors, or communication devices of micro air vehicles and to aid in the management of their power. The aerodynamic loads on flapping wings are simulated using a three-dimensional unsteady vortex lattice method. Active wing shape morphing is considered to enhance the performance of the flapping motion. A gradient-based optimization algorithm is used to pinpoint the optimal kinematics maximizing the propellent efficiency. To benefit from the wing deformation, we place piezoelectric layers near the wing roots. Gauss law is used to estimate the electrical harvested power. We demonstrate that enough power can be generated to operate a camera. Numerical analysis shows the feasibility of exploiting wing morphing to harvest energy and improving the design and performance of micro air vehicles.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)052004
JournalTheoretical and Applied Mechanics Letters
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 4 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Computational Mechanics
  • Mechanical Engineering


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