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Proceedings Paper

Feasibility studies for a bionic propulsion system of a blimp based on dielectric elastomers
Author(s): Silvain Michel; Alex Bormann; Christa Jordi; Erick Fink
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Paper Abstract

After having successfully integrated Dielectric Elastomers (DE) in a cross tail for flight control, a novel biologically inspired propulsion system based on DE is envisaged. The basic idea is to mimic a fish body motion by deforming a) the envelope of the rear lifting body and b) flapping an aft-tail. In both cases, planar DEs are used, either fully integrated in the envelope (for a) and/or arranged as an active hinge (for b). In a theoretical study the specifications of a steady-state horizontal indoor flight of 1 m/s were defined. In an experimental work the concept of an active hull element, which consists of a balloon hull material and several layers of DE actuators was verified. The specific boundary conditions of a slightly pressurized elliptical membrane body were simulated in a biaxial test. It could be shown, that the necessary active strains to reach the specified body deformations were reached. In a second study an aero-elastic fin was designed. Based on fluid-dynamic similarity principles the size, shape and stiffness of the fin were determined and tested in preliminary flight test with a three meter long blimp. The main goal of 1 m/s flight velocity could be shown.

Paper Details

Date Published: 10 April 2008
PDF: 15 pages
Proc. SPIE 6927, Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) 2008, 69270S (10 April 2008); doi: 10.1117/12.777588
Show Author Affiliations
Silvain Michel, Swiss Federal Labs. for Materials Testing and Research (Switzerland)
Alex Bormann, AeroiX (Germany)
Christa Jordi, Swiss Federal Labs. for Materials Testing and Research (Switzerland)
Erick Fink, Technical Univ. Berlin (Germany)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6927:
Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) 2008
Yoseph Bar-Cohen, Editor(s)

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