Research Papers

Dielectric Elastomer Fluid Pump of High Pressure and Large Volume Via Synergistic Snap-Through

[+] Author and Article Information
Yingxi Wang

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
National University of Singapore,
9 Engineering Drive 1,
Singapore 117575
e-mail: mpewyxi@nus.edu.sg

Zhe Li

Department of Biomedical Engineering,
National University of Singapore,
7 Engineering drive 1,
Singapore 117574
e-mail: bielzhe@nus.edu.sg

Lei Qin

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
National University of Singapore,
9 Engineering Drive 1,
Singapore 117575
e-mail: qinlei@u.nus.edu

George Caddy

Department of Engineering Science,
University of Oxford,
Parks Road,
Oxford OX1 3PJ, UK
e-mail: George.caddy@mansfield.ox.ac.uk

Choon Hwai Yap

Department of Biomedical Engineering,
National University of Singapore,
7 Engineering drive 1,
Singapore 117574
e-mail: bieyapc@nus.edu.sg

Jian Zhu

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
National University of Singapore,
9 Engineering Drive 1,
Singapore 117575
e-mail: mpezhuj@nus.edu.sg

1Corresponding authors.

Contributed by the Applied Mechanics Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF APPLIED MECHANICS. Manuscript received April 17, 2018; final manuscript received June 1, 2018; published online June 27, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Pedro Reis.

J. Appl. Mech 85(10), 101003 (Jun 27, 2018) (6 pages) Paper No: JAM-18-1221; doi: 10.1115/1.4040478 History: Received April 17, 2018; Revised June 01, 2018

Harnessing reversible snap-through of a dielectric elastomer (DE), which is a mechanism for large deformation provided by an electromechanical instability, for large-volume pumping has proven to be feasible. However, the output volume of snap-through pumping is drastically reduced by adverse pressure gradient, and large-volume pumping under high adverse pressure gradient by a DE pump has not been realized. In this paper, we propose a new mechanism of DE fluid pumping that can address this shortcoming by connecting DE pumps of different membrane stiffnesses serially in a pumping circuit and by harnessing synergistic interactions between neighboring pump units. We build a simple serial DE pump to verify the concept, which consists of two DE membranes. By adjusting the membrane stiffness appropriately, a synergistic effect is observed, where the snap-through of membrane 1 triggers the snap-through of membrane 2, ensuring that a large volume (over 70 ml/cycle) can be achieved over a wide range of large adverse pressure gradients. In comparison, the conventional single DE pump's pumping volume rapidly decreased beyond a low adverse pressure gradient of 0.196 kPa. At the pressure difference of 0.98 kPa, the serial DE pump's pumping volume is 4185.1% larger than that of the conventional DE pump. This pumping mechanism is customizable for various pressure ranges and enables a new approach to design DE-based soft pumping devices such as a DE total artificial heart, which requires large-volume pumping over a wide range of pressure difference.

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Fig. 1

(a) A schematic of the operation principle of the conventional single DE pump, (b) a schematic of the DE serial pumping system, and (c) a schematic of the P-V curves for two consecutive pumps (pump i and pump i + 1) in the serial pumping system

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Fig. 2

(a) A schematic of the dual-unit serial DE pump and (b) photograph of the dual-unit serial DE pump prototype

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Fig. 3

(a) Experimental result of the P–V curve for two membranes on the dual-unit serial DE pump and (b) three states of a complete serial pumping cycle of the dual-unit serial DE pump

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Fig. 7

The comparison of the pumping volume results between the dual-unit serial DE pump and the conventional single DE pump made of membrane 1 and membrane 2, respectively. All the results are obtained with an average of three repetitions.

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Fig. 6

The dynamic P–V results of a typical actuation cycle when Pin = 3.92 kPa and Pout = 4.12 kPa

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Fig. 5

The dynamic P–V results of a typical actuation cycle when Pin = 3.92 kPa and Pout = 4.51 kPa

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Fig. 4

(a) The dynamic P–V results of a typical actuation cycle when Pin = 3.92 kPa and Pout = 4.90 kPa and (b) the dynamic volume-time and pressure-time results of two actuation cycles (80 s) and the actuation photograph of two membranes at different time instants



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