Pressure Tolerant Energy Converter for Deep Sea Applications
Aim of this project is the development of a soft material energy converter or actuator that is used as a pump in high pressure environment of deep sea. Deep-sea applications put high demands on hardware in terms of robustness and simplicity. Existing underwater systems require pressure compensation and therefore result in complex and often heavyweight designs. From this perspective, soft materials possess many advantageous properties as they allow designs of integral structures that can contain an actuator unit inside an elastic matrix serving also as hinges for the actuator movement. Moreover, soft material can serve as supporting structure by using of buoyancy in underwater applications. Such a pressure-tolerant system is independent of pressure compensation by additional hulls as used today.
As a first step existing and possible actuation principles for deep-sea applications will be considered, where existing biological principles of locomotion serve as a model. A focus will be put on the general topology of the system its material composition, as well as modelling and simulation of some preselected designs. The trade-off between model fidelity and feasibility of the simulation is one of the challenges. The objective is the development and iteration up to the optimization of the design synthesis. In cooperation with the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence GmbH Robotics Innovation Center (DFKI RIC) the final system will be made and verified within the underwater facility of DFKI RIC Bremen, allowing for further optimizations, specifically on the actuators' controller.