Portable Pneumatic Battery for Chemical Power Generation of Fluidic Elastomer Actuators

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Portable Pneumatic Battery for Fluidic Elastomer Actuators
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Inventors
Professor Daniela Rus
Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, MIT
External Link (www.csail.mit.edu)
Professor George Whitesides
Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University
External Link (gmwgroup.harvard.edu)
Dagdas Denizel Onal
Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, MIT
Xin Chen
Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University
Managed By
Christopher Noble
MIT Technology Licensing Officer - Clean and Renewable Energy
Patent Protection

Self-regulating pressure source

US Patent 9,027,336

Applications

Soft actuators fabricated from elastomer films with embedded fluidic channels offer a higher level of safety and adaptability in devices that rely upon high-performance actuators. Using a chemically-induced pressure source for power generation in fluidic elastomer actuators can be beneficial in applications including robotics, wearable tactile interfaces, and active orthoses or prostheses.

Problem Addressed

In general, fluidic actuators require a pressure source, which is a convenient actuation source as it induces local deformation in a soft substrate. Pressure-induced actuators bypass the need for electrical energy and give a large actuation range limited only by the mechanical strength of the material. However, the need of a pressure source limits the mobility and mainstream usage of fluidic actuators. The current need to develop devices that rely upon new high-performance soft actuators while being low in stiffness and high in adaptability make chemically powered fluidic actuators favorable. 

Technology

This invention uses a mechanical feedback loop to control the chemical decomposition of hydrogen peroxide to self-regulate the actuation pressure. Moreover, this technology uses a chemical approach to achieve portable and silent pressure generation. It specifically focuses on on-demand pressure generation by mechanical self-regulation of decomposition of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) into oxygen (O2). With a unique mechanical self-regulation mechanism, this chemical reaction is controlled to keep the pressure constant at a predefined value. The invention includes an elastomeric structure with embedded fluidic channels and a chamber enclosing a chemical monopropellant that acts as a pressure source. As the monopropellant is broken down by a catalyst to produce gas, the pressure will increase within the chamber causing air in the chamber to compress and pull a movable boss into the retracted position to cover the catalyst, thereby regulating the pressure within the chamber. Another key feature is its rotation-invariant usage, which allows the battery to operate in any orientation.

Advantages

  • Portable and silent pressure generation
  • No emissions or harmful byproducts
  • High energy density
  • No Need for high pressure tanks