Turbulent flows carry mechanical energy distributed over a range of temporal and spatial scales and their interaction with a thin immersed piezoelectric beam results in a strain field which generates electrical charge. This energy harvesting method can be used for developing self-powered electronic devices such as flow sensors. In the present experimental work, various energy harvesters were placed in a turbulent boundary layer or inside a decaying flow field of homogeneous and isotropic turbulence. The role of large instantaneous turbulent structures in this rather complex fluid-structure interaction is discussed in interpreting the electrical output results. The forces acting on the vibrating beams have been measured dynamically and a theory has been developed which incorporates the effects of mean local velocity, turbulence intensity, the relative size of the beam’s length to the integral length scale of turbulence, the structural properties of the beam and the electrical properties of the active piezoelectric layer to provide reasonable estimates of the mean electrical power output. Experiments have been carried out in which these fluidic harvesters are immersed first in inhomogeneous turbulence like that encountered in boundary layers developing over solid walls and homogeneous and isotopic turbulence for which a simplified analytical description exists. It was found that there is a non-linear effect of turbulence length scales on the power output of the fluidic harvesters.

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