Dielectric Elastomers (DEs) are a very promising technology for the development of energy harvesting devices based on the variable-capacitance electrostatic generator principle. As compared to other technologies, DE Generators (DEGs) are solid-state energy conversion systems which potentially feature: 1) large energy densities, 2) good energy conversion efficiency that is rather independent of cycle frequency, 3) easiness of manufacturing and assembling, 4) high shock resistance, 5) silent operation, 6) low cost. Envisioned applications for DEGs are in devices that convert ocean wave energy into usable electricity.
This paper introduces the Lozenge-Shaped DEG (LS-DEG) that is a specific type of planar DE transducer with one degree of freedom. A LS-DEG consists of a planar DE membrane that is connected along its perimeter to the links of a parallelogram four-bar mechanism. As the mechanism is put into reciprocal motion, the DE membrane varies its capacitance that is then employed as a charge pump to convert external mechanical work into usable electricity.
Specifically, this paper describes the functioning principle of LS-DEGs, and provides a comparison between different hyper-elastic models that can be used to predict the energy harvesting performances of realistic prototypes. Case studies are presented which address the constrained optimization of LS-DEGs subjected to failure criteria and practical design constraints.