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A hybrid microbial dielectric elastomer generator for autonomous robots

A hybrid microbial dielectric elastomer generator for autonomous robots
A hybrid microbial dielectric elastomer generator for autonomous robots

We are developing a hybrid Dielectric Elastomer Generator (DEG)-Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) energy harvester . The system is for EcoBot, an Autonomous Robot (AR) that currently uses its MFCs to extract electrical energy from biomass, in the form of flies. MFCs, though reliable are slow to store charge. Thus, EcoBot operations are characterized by active periods followed by dormant periods when energy stores recover. Providing an alternate energy harvester such as a DEG, driven by wind or water, could therefore increase active time and also provide high voltage energy for direct use by on-board systems employing dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs). Energy can be harvested from a DEG when work is done on its elastomer membrane.. However, the DEG requires an initial charge and additional charge to compensate for losses due to leakage. The starting charge can be supplied by the EcoBot MFC capacitor. We have developed a self-primer circuit that uses some of the harvested charge to prime the membrane at each cycle. The low voltage MFC initial priming charge was boosted using a voltage converter that was then electrically disconnected. The DEG membrane was cyclically stretched producing charge that replenished leakage losses and energy that could potentially be stored. A further study demonstrated that the DEG with self-primer circuit can boost voltage from very low values without the need for a voltage converter, thus reducing circuit complexity and improving efficiency.
Electroactive polymers, Microbial fuel cells, Generators, Energy harvesting, Actuators
Anderson, Iain A.
1839d707-2895-43af-8fd5-fd2f70ce3dc1
Ieropoulos, Ioannis
6c580270-3e08-430a-9f49-7fbe869daf13
McKay, Thomas
37a76efd-03ae-492f-99f0-d02d568daabf
O'Brien, Benjamin
43fd7820-59f7-4c10-b2bb-28b2896a8ec2
Melhuish, Chris
c52dcc8b-1e36-425e-80df-9d05d2b21893
Anderson, Iain A.
1839d707-2895-43af-8fd5-fd2f70ce3dc1
Ieropoulos, Ioannis
6c580270-3e08-430a-9f49-7fbe869daf13
McKay, Thomas
37a76efd-03ae-492f-99f0-d02d568daabf
O'Brien, Benjamin
43fd7820-59f7-4c10-b2bb-28b2896a8ec2
Melhuish, Chris
c52dcc8b-1e36-425e-80df-9d05d2b21893

Anderson, Iain A., Ieropoulos, Ioannis, McKay, Thomas, O'Brien, Benjamin and Melhuish, Chris (2010) A hybrid microbial dielectric elastomer generator for autonomous robots. SPIE Smart Structures and Materials + Nondestructive Evaluation and<br/>Health Monitoring, 2010, San Diego, California, United States, San Diego, United States. 09 - 12 Apr 2010. 12 pp . (doi:10.1117/12.847379).

Record type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Abstract


We are developing a hybrid Dielectric Elastomer Generator (DEG)-Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) energy harvester . The system is for EcoBot, an Autonomous Robot (AR) that currently uses its MFCs to extract electrical energy from biomass, in the form of flies. MFCs, though reliable are slow to store charge. Thus, EcoBot operations are characterized by active periods followed by dormant periods when energy stores recover. Providing an alternate energy harvester such as a DEG, driven by wind or water, could therefore increase active time and also provide high voltage energy for direct use by on-board systems employing dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs). Energy can be harvested from a DEG when work is done on its elastomer membrane.. However, the DEG requires an initial charge and additional charge to compensate for losses due to leakage. The starting charge can be supplied by the EcoBot MFC capacitor. We have developed a self-primer circuit that uses some of the harvested charge to prime the membrane at each cycle. The low voltage MFC initial priming charge was boosted using a voltage converter that was then electrically disconnected. The DEG membrane was cyclically stretched producing charge that replenished leakage losses and energy that could potentially be stored. A further study demonstrated that the DEG with self-primer circuit can boost voltage from very low values without the need for a voltage converter, thus reducing circuit complexity and improving efficiency.

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Published date: 9 April 2010
Venue - Dates: SPIE Smart Structures and Materials + Nondestructive Evaluation and<br/>Health Monitoring, 2010, San Diego, California, United States, San Diego, United States, 2010-04-09 - 2010-04-12
Keywords: Electroactive polymers, Microbial fuel cells, Generators, Energy harvesting, Actuators

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 454656
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/454656
PURE UUID: d4067b89-dd60-436b-9a7e-95a583897c49
ORCID for Ioannis Ieropoulos: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-9641-5504

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Date deposited: 18 Feb 2022 17:33
Last modified: 19 Feb 2022 02:58

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Contributors

Author: Iain A. Anderson
Author: Thomas McKay
Author: Benjamin O'Brien
Author: Chris Melhuish

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