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TitleCircuit design considerations for regulating energy generated by Dielectric Elastomer Generators
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsLo, H.C., McKay T., O'Brien B.M., Calius E.P., and Anderson I.
Conference NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
Date Published2011
KeywordsAC generator motors, Actuators, Artificial muscle, Charge pump circuits, Charging (batteries), Conducting polymers, DC power transmission, DC-DC converters, Deg, Design, Dielectric elastomer, Dielectric Elastomer Generator, Elastomers, Electric network analysis, Electro-active polymers, Energy harvesting, Energy scavenging, Integrated circuit manufacture, Plastics, Pumps, Regulation circuit
AbstractDielectric Elastomer Generator(s) (DEG) have many unique properties that give them advantages over conventional electromagnetic generators. These include the ability to effectively generate power from slow and irregular motions, low cost, relatively large energy density, and a soft and flexible nature. For DEG to generate usable electrical energy circuits for charging (or priming) the stretched DEG and regulating the generated energy when relaxed are required. Most prior art has focused on the priming challenge, and there is currently very little work into developing circuits that address design issues for extracting the electrical energy and converting it into a usable form such as low DC voltages (∼10 V) for small batteries or AC mains voltage (∼100 V). This paper provides a brief introduction to the problems of regulating the energy generated by DEG. A buck converter and a charge pump are common DC-DC step-down circuits and are used as case studies to explore the design issues inherent in converting the high voltage energy into a form suitable for charging a battery. Buck converters are efficient and reliable but also heavy and bulky, making them suitable for large scale power generation. The smaller and simpler charge pump, though a less effective energy harvester, is better for small and discrete power generation. Future development in miniature DE fabrication is expected to reduce the high operational voltages, simplifying the design of these circuits. © 2011 SPIE.

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