Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Constantine Tarawneh

Second Advisor

Dr. Heinrich Foltz

Third Advisor

Dr. Arturo Fuentes


An energy harvesting system is being developed to power a wireless bearing health monitoring device. In contrast to other monitoring systems, this wireless monitoring device is a low-powered onboard solution. Powered by a 3.7-Volt lithium-ion battery, the device can continuously function for several months on a single charge. By implementing an energy harvesting system, the life of the battery can be increased reducing the overall maintenance, electronic waste, and time needed to replace the batteries. The harvesting system uses thermoelectric generators to convert the heat generated in the bearings into electricity. The system is composed of aluminum heat sinks, a switching boost converter, and a battery management chip. The harvesting system’s performance was validated using dynamic bearing test rigs which closely replicate the conditions seen on the field. A set of test plans were devised using common freight routes to replicate the amount of heat generated in the bearings throughout different speeds and railcar loads. In optimal conditions, the thermoelectric generators can produce upwards of 60 mW before losses, providing enough energy to properly operate most low-powered electronic devices.


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