Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Electrical Engineering

Advisor's Name

Stavros V. Georgakopoulos

Advisor's Title

Committee Chair

Advisor's Name

Osama A. Mohammed

Advisor's Name

Jean H. Andrian

Advisor's Name

Berrin Tansel

Keywords

power transmission, power harvesting, wireless sensors, concrete, rectenna design, reinforced bars

Date of Defense

11-3-2011

Abstract

Various nondestructive testing (NDT) technologies for construction and performance monitoring have been studied for decades. Recently, the rapid evolution of wireless sensor network (WSN) technologies has enabled the development of sensors that can be embedded in concrete to monitor the structural health of infrastructure. Such sensors can be buried inside concrete and they can collect and report valuable volumetric data related to the health of a structure during and/or after construction. Wireless embedded sensors monitoring system is also a promising solution for decreasing the high installation and maintenance cost of the conventional wire based monitoring systems. Wireless monitoring sensors need to operate for long time. However, sensor batteries have finite life-time. Therefore, in order to enable long operational life of wireless sensors, novel wireless powering methods, which can charge the sensors’ rechargeable batteries wirelessly, need to be developed.

The optimization of RF wireless powering of sensors embedded in concrete is studied here. First, our analytical results focus on calculating the transmission loss and propagation loss of electromagnetic waves penetrating into plain concrete at different humidity conditions for various frequencies. This analysis specifically leads to the identification of an optimum frequency range within 20-80 MHz that is validated through full-wave electromagnetic simulations. Second, the effects of various reinforced bar configurations on the efficiency of wireless powering are investigated. Specifically, effects of the following factors are studied: rebar types, rebar period, rebar radius, depth inside concrete, and offset placement. This analysis leads to the identification of the 902-928 MHz ISM band as the optimum power transmission frequency range for sensors embedded in reinforced concrete, since antennas working in this band are less sensitive to the effects of varying humidity as well as rebar configurations. Finally, optimized rectennas are designed for receiving and/or harvesting power in order to charge the rechargeable batteries of the embedded sensors. Such optimized wireless powering systems exhibit significantly larger efficiencies than the efficiencies of conventional RF wireless powering systems for sensors embedded in plain or reinforced concrete.

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