Design methods for novel, energy-efficient, closed phase change actuators with high action of force

The aim of this project is to facilitate the economical production of actuators. In this context, phase-change-material actuators are being developed.


Phase change actuators transform the increase in volume of the phase change material into a directed movement or force. The project focuses on qualifying rigid paraffin actuators with high achievable forces and developing design methods for the actuator design and combined forming and joining manufacturing processes.

The design approach to be followed provides for phase change actuators whose housings completely enclose the phase change material (Figure [1]). Paraffin wax is used as a phase change material. During the conversion from the solid to the liquid phase, paraffin undergoes a volume increase of 15 percent and more. Due to the high volume expansion and low compressibility, paraffin can generate a high pressure in sealed housings. This is used for a reversible deflection of the actuator housing. The work described here is intended to create the basis for a new product architecture of low-cost actuators with high realizable forces. Demonstrator actuators, for example, could minimize the numerous positioning tasks in autonomous production systems (Figure [2]). The first phase of the four-year overall project focuses on the function verification of the actuator principle. This requires the development and production of the actuator housing.

The Institute for Production Engineering and Forming Machines would like to thank the German Research Foundation (DFG) for their support in this project (GR 1818/65-1).