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The team designed an underground energy harvesting sensor that utilizes the ambient energy from its surroundings to provide low power telecommunications to a remote host. The scope of this project is to analyze the feasibility of such system and explore the capabilities of available energy harvesting techniques that utilize the environment, feasibility of operation, and creating a design. Some of the most common methods that have been proven to function on certain environments are thermoelectric and solar energy. Thermoelectricity uses a temperature gradient and solar uses the energy of the sun. To provide a remote vibration signal an accelerometer was suggested. Based on the requirements the Monnit wireless accelerometer was selected. The wireless accelerometer is a (1.775x1.040x0.785”) high frequency device that collects readings of motion vibrations from nearby objects from underground requiring at max 0.126W of power at 3.6V that is countered by 2-4 (1.580x1.760x0.139”) RC12-8-01LS thermoelectric coolers. These coolers utilize the temperature difference between the underground earth and the surface to generate 0.156W of power at 0.5V to continuously recharge a lithium ion battery. The accelerometer takes the readings and sends them to the Gateway aboveground. The (5.004x3.800x1.510”) Monnit 3G International gateway takes the readings from the sensor and sends it to the host through cellular data using 13.75W of power at 5.5V countered by one 6W (13.100x14.000x0.500”) solar panal to continuously recharge the lithium ion battery. A max 36W 12V (5.710x3.350x1.100”) lithium ion battery is used because it surpasses all competitors in rechargeability, lifetime, and strength. Upon completion the concept of energy generation for low power telecommunications is feasible.

Publication Date



Engineering | Mechanical Engineering | Nuclear Engineering

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Karla Mossi

VCU Capstone Design Expo Posters


© The Author(s)

Date of Submission

May 2018

Unattended Underground Energy Harvesting Sensor