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