ERJ staff report (DS)
Linz, Austria -- Prof. Siegfried Bauer and his team at the JKU Linz have won EU funding of euro 2.5 million over 5 years to develop a generator based on the electrical properties of rubber. It is well known that a thin sheet of rubber will deform when an electrical charge is applied. Prof Bauer wants to reverse this effect using the energy in waves to distort the rubber sheets. He hopes this will lead to a low-cost electrical generator for use in the developing world.
The project is titled "Stretching Soft Matter Performance: From Conformable Electronics and Soft Machines to Renewable Energy". The funding is supplied under the EU's ERC Advanced Grant.
"Our research is based on three columns", Prof. Bauer explained. "The first is stretchable electronics - an area we are on the threshold of - and the other is soft actuators. The latter area is more advanced and although the first products are already on the market, there are still unanswered questions." The third core area focuses on "converting mechanical energy into electrical energy." In the future, artificial polymer muscles will generate electricity from ocean waves.
"Ocean tides will stretch a polymer muscle and generate power. Changing the capacitor's electric capacity through stretching and relaxing generates charges, that could come from a solar panel, from a lower to a higher charge." explained Prof. Bauer.
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Press release from JKU Linz