rexresearch.com



Benjamin FILARDO
Traveling Wave Propulsion




https://www.pliantenergy.com/
Pliant Energy Systems

Pliant Energy Systems conceptualizes, patents and develops highly novel technologies in the fields of Robotics & Marine Propulsion / Energy Harnessing / Passive Irrigation Pumping



https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-UhN9_oZWzIM3JFffuDfkA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVq0adTn0_w
Ice-skating Robot Also Swims
[ MP4 ]



TRAVELING WAVE PROPELLER, PUMP AND GENERATOR APPARATUSES, METHODS AND SYSTEMS
US2019055917
[ PDF ]

Inventor: FILARDO BENJAMIN PIETRO / Applicant: PLIANT ENERGY SYSTEMs

The TRAVELING WAVE PROPELLER, PUMP AND GENERATOR APPARATUSES, METHODS AND SYSTEMS include force or forces applied to an arc-like flexible sheet-like material to create a deformed crenated strip fin with strained-deformations. The strained-deformations take on a sinusoid-like form that express the internal energy state of the flexible sheet-like material after it has been configured into a crenated strip fin. After being incorporated into a mechanism with couplings that prevent the crenated strip fin from returning to its un-strained state, the strained-deformations persist. Actuators may be used to sequentially rotate vertebrae attached to the fins causing the travel of sinusoid-like deformations along the fins. In a fluid medium, the traveling waves of sinusoidal deformations may exert force on the fluid causing the fluid to move and/or creating thrust. Arched blades affixed to the fins facilitate propulsion on hard surfaces such as ice.

[0001] This application is a Continuation-in-Part of and claims priority to co-pending Non-Provisional application Ser. No. 15/294,635 filed Oct. 14, 2016 entitled, “Traveling Wave Propeller, Pump and Generator Apparatuses, Methods and Systems” (attorney docket no. 162669-0037 (P009)), which in turn claims priority under 35 U.S.C. § 119 to prior U.S. provisional application Ser. No. 62/357,318 filed Jun. 30, 2016 entitled, “Traveling Wave Propeller, Pump and Generator Apparatuses, Methods and Systems” (attorney docket no. 162669-0033 (P009Z)). The entire contents of the aforementioned applications are incorporated in their entirety herein by reference.

[0002] This application for letters patent disclosure document describes inventive aspects that include various novel innovations (hereinafter “disclosure”) and contains material that is subject to copyright, mask work, and/or other intellectual property protection. The respective owners of such intellectual property have no objection to the facsimile reproduction of the disclosure by anyone as it appears in published Patent Office file/records, but otherwise reserve all rights.
FIELD

[0003] The present innovations generally address energy conversion, and more particularly, include TRAVELING WAVE PROPELLER, PUMP AND GENERATOR APPARATUSES, METHODS AND SYSTEMS.
BACKGROUND

[0004] Mechanical devices actuated to perform prescribed motions for a variety of purposes are ubiquitous. Such devices may be configured to effectuate automated movements in or on a variety of media, such as on land, underwater, or in the air. In some cases, sensors may be employed to provide data about device motion, device orientation, environmental factors, and the like. Sensor data may then be used to control actuation of motors to produce the prescribed motions for a particular device configuration or environment,
SUMMARY

[0005] Aspects of the disclosed apparatuses, methods and systems include devices which create repetitive or undulating motion, or effect, to produce useful work, such as for a propulsion system or other system, including energy-harnessing systems.

[0006] In one embodiment force or forces are applied to an arc-like flexible sheet-like material to create a deformed crenated strip fin with strained-deformations. The strained-deformations take on a sinusoid-like form that express the internal energy state of the flexible sheet-like material after it has been configured into a crenated strip fin. After being incorporated into a mechanism with couplings that prevent the crenated strip fin from returning to its un-strained state, the strained-deformations persist. Actuators may be used to sequentially rotate vertebrae attached to the fins causing the travel of sinusoid-like deformations along the fins. In a fluid medium, the traveling waves of sinusoidal deformations may exert force on the fluid causing the fluid to move and/or creating thrust. In some land-based embodiments, the fins may be configured and the actuators operated to create a crawling action. Some examples of applications in various embodiments include propulsion systems for sub-sea vessels, personal propulsion systems attachable to the body of a swimmer or diver, surface vessels, amphibious vehicles, lighter-than-air craft, and the pumping, mixing and transportation of fluids, powders, and aggregates. Components and assemblies are described.

[0007] Where the actuators are of a type that are capable of harnessing energy, such as electromagnetic motors or dielectric elastomers, the mechanisms may also harness energy when fixed in an environment with moving fluid.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0008] The accompanying appendices and/or drawings illustrate various non-limiting, example, innovative aspects in accordance with the present descriptions:

[0009] FIG. 1 shows the formation of a crenated strip fin in one embodiment;
[0010] FIG. 2 shows a configuration of a crenated strip fin assembled into a mechanism in one embodiment;
[0011] FIG. 3 shows details of a transmission assembly in one embodiment;
[0012] FIG. 4 shows details of a transmission assembly in one embodiment;
[0013] FIG. 5 shows details of a transmission assembly in one embodiment;
[0014] FIG. 6 shows an embodiment attached to a vessel and mode of operation in one embodiment;
[0015] FIG. 7 shows an embodiment of a free-swimming vessel in one embodiment;
[0016] FIG. 8 shows an embodiment of a vessel or vehicle capable of moving on land in one embodiment;
[0017] FIG. 9 shows and embodiment attached to an immovable object or substrate and mode of operation in one embodiment;
[0018] FIG. 10 shows another implementation of one embodiment;
[0019] FIG. 11 shows details of a transmission assembly in one embodiment;
[0020] FIG. 12 shows an implementation attached to a vessel in one embodiment;
[0021] FIG. 13 shows an implementation attached to an immovable object or substrate in one embodiment;
[0022] FIG. 14 shows another implementation of one embodiment;
[0023] FIG. 15 shows details of a transmission assembly of one embodiment;
[0024] FIG. 16 shows an implementation with two fins sharing common actuators in one embodiment;
[0025] FIG. 17 shows an implementation with two fins on two sets of actuators in one embodiment;
[0026] FIG. 18 shows an implementation with two pairs of fins on two sets of actuators in one embodiment;
[0027] FIG. 19 is a diagram of an implementation with two fins sharing common actuators in one embodiment;
[0028] FIG. 20 is a diagram of an implementation with two fins on two sets of actuators in one embodiment;
[0029] FIG. 21 is a diagram of an implementation with two pairs of fins on two sets of actuators in one embodiment;
[0030] FIG. 22 shows an implementation having a cam in one embodiment; and
[0031] FIG. 23 shows details of a transmission assembly of an implementation having a cam in one embodiment;
[0032] FIG. 24 shows details of a transmission assembly of another implementation having a cam in one embodiment;
[0033] FIG. 25 shows an implementation with two pairs of fins sharing cam driven actuators in one embodiment;
[0034] FIG. 26 shows an implementation with two pairs of fins sharing cam driven actuators in another embodiment;
[0035] FIG. 27 shows a generator implementation in one embodiment;
[0036] FIGS. 28-29 show an arched blade added to one edge of the arc-like flexible sheet-like material in one embodiment;
[0037] FIG. 30 shows a cross section through the edge of the flexible sheet-like material in one embodiment;
[0038] FIG. 31 shows a cross section of an implementation in which the arched blade has a thickening or flange along the edge in one embodiment;
[0039] FIG. 32 shows an implementation of the arched blade wherein the outer radius edge of the arched blade forms a continuous arc but its inner edge is comprised of a series of narrow tabs in one embodiment;
[0040] FIG. 33 shows an implementation of two or more composite fin, each coupled to two or more transmission assemblies in one embodiment; and
[0041] FIG. 34 shows an implementation of a shaft with conjugate cams for each composite fin in one embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0042] Force or forces 1 are applied to an arc-like flexible sheet-like material 2 to create a deformed crenated strip fin 3 with strained-deformations, FIG. 1. The strained-deformations take on a sinusoid-like form that express the internal energy state of the flexible sheet-like material 2 after it has been configured into a crenated strip fin 3 . After being incorporated into a mechanism with couplings 5 , 6 , 7 , 10 , FIG. 2 for example, that prevent the crenated strip fin 3 from returning to its un-strained state, the strained-deformations persist.

[0043] In one embodiment, in its strained state the crenated strip fin 3 is prevented from returning to its relaxed state by being fixed in at least two locations along an inner edge 4 to a first coupling 5 that is fixed to a vertebra plate 7 , for example, via a rotation-enabling component 6 which may be a bearing 6 a, FIG. 3, or other component that allows the transmission of force from the first coupling 5 and vertebra plate 7 while allowing partial rotation between the first coupling 5 and the vertebra plate 7 , such as a flexible planar plate 6 b, FIG. 4, torsion spring, rubber bushing and/or the like. The vertebra plate 7 is fixed to the shaft 8 of an actuator 9 such as an electromagnetic motor, hydraulic motor, servo etc., FIG. 2. The actuators may be fixed to a common member 10 and are powered by a battery 11 or other power source. In one embodiment the rotational positions of the actuators 9 may be controlled by a central controller 12 .

[0044] In one embodiment the first coupling 5 , rotation-enabling component 6 , vertebra plate 7 and shaft 8 comprise a transmission assembly 13 , FIG. 3.

[0045] In one embodiment the point of attachment of the crenated strip fin 3 to the transmission assembly 13 , 13 a , 13 b has three degrees of freedom of movement. The actuator 9 induces rotation 14 of the vertebra plate 7 about the axis of the shaft 8 . Since in one embodiment the vertebra plate 7 is flexible in the direction 15 parallel to the axis of the shaft 8 , the end of the vertebra plate 7 where it is fixed to the rotation-enabling component 6 is able to shift 15 in a direction parallel to the axis of the shaft 8 . The rotation-enabling component 6 allows the first coupling 5 to at least partially rotate 16 about an axis 17 perpendicular to the shaft 8 , FIG. 4.

[0046] In one embodiment, the vertebra plate 7 may be rigid and motion of the transmission assembly 13 , 13 b in a direction 15 parallel to the direction of the axis of the shaft 8 may be facilitated by a bearing track, sleeve bearings 17 a and/or the like, FIG. 5. The 8 transmission assembly 13 , 13 b may be coupled to the common member 10 via mounting fixtures 17 b.

[0047] The central controller 12 induces the actuators 9 to rotate the vertebra plates 7 clockwise and counterclockwise in a sequence that causes a traveling wave to move along the crenated strip fin 3 . When the mechanism in placed in a fluid medium, FIG. 6, fluid is primarily moved 18 in the direction of the traveling wave 19 , causing the mechanism as well as a body 20 that may be attached to it via a harnessing fixture 22 , to travel in a direction 21 opposite to that of the traveling wave 19 . Some examples of applications include surface craft or sub-sea marine propulsion, propulsion for lighter-than-air vehicles and/or the like.

[0048] The central controller 12 and battery 11 or other power source may be placed, e.g., inside the common member 10 which in some implementations may be water tight or air tight. One fin, or two fins FIG. 7, or more than two fins may, in one implementation, be attached to the common member 10 via transmission assemblies 13 , 13 a , 13 b , to create a free-swimming vessel or vehicle which is able to move through fluid by imparting forces to the fluid, such as described above. For a craft utilizing such an embodiment, thrust vectoring may be facilitated to control the vessel's pitch, yaw, roll, direction, turning, and other controlled movements which may be executed via the central controller 12 . Sensors such as accelerometers, gyroscopes, inertial measurement units, compass, optic flow sensors, sonar, lidar, and fluid motion sensors such as pressure and velocity sensors, and/or the like, may feed into the central controller 12 to achieve desired behavior of the vessel, vehicle or mechanism.

[0049] The mechanism illustrated in FIG. 7 may also be configured, in some embodiments, to move itself on land or other substrate 23 , e.g., by adjusting the position of the fins 3 to make contact with the land or other substrate 23 , and by configuring the transmission assemblies 13 , 13 a , 13 b , via the central controller 12 , yielding a crawling or “slithering” action, to move the vessel or vehicle in a desired direction, FIG. 8.

[0050] In another implementation, the mechanism described above and illustrated in FIG. 6, instead of being fixed to a body 20 via a harnessing fixture 22 , may be fixed to an immovable object or substrate 23 via a harnessing fixture 22 . The traveling-wave 19 along the crenated strip fin 3 induced by transmission assemblies 13 , 13 a , 13 b may cause fluid such as air or water to primarily move 18 in the direction of the traveling wave 19 , FIG. 9. Applications include fluid-moving devices such as fans or pumps; fluid transportation or mixing, e.g. for industrial and chemical applications; aggregate, particle or powder mixing or transportation, e.g. for industrial and chemical applications, and/or the like.

[0051] In another embodiment, the vertebra plate 7 has two or more lobes that may be evenly-spaced and may be rotationally symmetrical about the axis of the shaft 8 . A three-lobed vertebra plate 24 is shown for example in FIG. 10. The common member 10 described above in this embodiment may be a chassis-like structure 10 , 25 consisting of at least mainly longitudinal elements 10 , 25 , 26 and at least mainly transverse elements 10 , 25 , 27 to which at least one actuator 9 is fixed. The actuator 9 or actuators 9 are fixed to the chassis 25 which provides reaction torque for the actuator 9 or actuators 9 . A crenated strip fin 3 is fixed to at least one lobed vertebra plate 24 via the first coupling 5 . In one embodiment at least one actuator 9 is employed to actuate at least one lobed vertebra plate 24 . In one embodiment a central controller 12 controls the actuator 9 or actuators 9 and a battery 11 or other power source powers the central controller 12 and actuator 9 or actuators 9 .

[0052] The transmission assembly 13 , 28 , FIG. 11, for the embodiment shown in FIG. 10 may in one embodiment be comprised of a first coupling 5 , rotation-enabling component 6 , lobed vertebra plate 24 and shaft 8 powered by an actuator 9 and allow three degrees of freedom of motion.

[0053] In another embodiment, one or more harnessing fixtures 22 may be added at a location or locations on the chassis 10 , 25 , so that the mechanism may be fixed to another body or to an immovable object or substrate 23 . In embodiments where the other body 20 is a vessel, such as a boat, submersible or lighter-than-air craft, FIG. 12, the mechanism under operation may provide propulsive thrust in the manner shown in FIG. 6. In embodiments where the other body is an immovable object or substrate 23 , FIG. 13, the mechanism under operation may move ambient fluid in a desired direction or desired directions for the purposes of fluid transport or for the purposes of fluid, particle and aggregate mixing, in a similar manner as shown in FIG. 9.

[0054] In another embodiment, the actuators 9 are electromagnetic and/or other transducers capable of energy harnessing. In such an embodiment, when the harnessing fixture 22 is attached to an immovable object or substrate 23 , ambient fluid with directional motion may cause the deformations of the crenated strips 3 to move in a traveling wave in the direction of fluid motion. Kinetic energy from the moving fluid is transferred to the crenated strip 3 and may be converted into electrical energy via the actuators 9 . In one embodiment the energy may be stored in a battery 11 , FIGS. 9, 13, 14.

[0055] In another embodiment the common member 10 is a chassis-like structure 29 to which the actuators 9 are fixed, FIG. 14. In one implementation the chassis-like structure 29 passes contiguously through slots 30 in vertebra plates 7 , 24 to make them slotted vertebra plates 31 allowing the actuators 9 to rotate the slotted vertebra plates 31 without colliding with the chassis-like structure 29 .

[0056] In one implementation the transmission assembly 33 , FIG. 15 for this embodiment accommodates three degrees of freedom and may consist of a shaft 8 powered by an actuator 9 , first couplings 5 , rotation-enabling component 6 and slotted vertebra plate 31 . In one implementation the inner area 34 of the slotted vertebra plate 31 is thicker or stiffer or wider than the regions 35 nearer the point of attachment to the bearing component, to allow torque transmission from the shaft 8 while also allowing the portion 35 of the slotted vertebra plate 31 near the rotation-enabling component 6 to bend and shift along an axis 15 parallel to that of the shaft 8 .

[0057] In one embodiment, FIG. 16 and FIG. 19, two or more transmission assemblies 13 powered by actuators 9 , fixed to a common member 10 , powered by a battery 11 or other power source, and controlled by a central controller 12 , may be shared by two or more crenated strip fins 3 , FIG. 19. The common member 10 is fixed to a harnessing fixture 22 which is fixed to an immovable object or substrate 23 or the body of a vessel 20 in a similar manner as described in the embodiments above. Clockwise and counter-clockwise rotation of the transmission assemblies 13 may cause the sinusoidal deformations of both crenated strip fins 3 to travel in the same direction as each other along the axis of the shafts 8 .

[0058] In another embodiment with two crenated strip fins 3 , FIG. 17 and FIG. 20, one crenated strip fin 3 , 36 is attached to one set of transmission assemblies 13 , 37 and the other crenated strip fin 3 , 38 is connected to a second set of transmission assemblies 13 , 39 , FIG. 20. This allows one crenated strip fin 3 , 36 to operate independently of the other crenated strip fin 3 , 38 under control of the central controller 12 . This in turn allows in one implementation the deformations of one crenated strip fin 3 , 36 to travel in the opposite direction to the other crenated strip fin 3 , 38 . The degree of transmission assembly 13 rotation may vary between sets of transmission assemblies as well as within a set of transmission assemblies. For a craft utilizing such an embodiment, thrust vectoring is therefore facilitated to control the vessel's pitch, yaw, roll, direction, turning, and other controlled movements which may be executed via the central controller 12 . (FIGS. 19-21, for example). Sensors such as accelerometers, gyroscopes, inertial measurement units, compass, optic flow sensors, sonar, lidar, and fluid motion sensors such as pressure and velocity sensors, and/or the like, may feed into the central controller 12 to achieve desired behavior of the vessel, vehicle or mechanism.

[0059] Another implementation utilizes two pairs of crenated strip fins 3 , FIG. 18 and FIG. 21. A first pair 40 is connected to one set of transmission assemblies 13 , 37 and a second pair 42 is connected to a second set of transmission assemblies 13 , 39 , FIG. 21 which may allow the implementation to exert more thrust without adding actuators 9 . For a craft utilizing such an embodiment, thrust vectoring may be facilitated to control the vessel's pitch, yaw, roll, direction, turning, and other controlled movements which may be executed via the central controller 12 , such as described above.

[0060] In another embodiment FIGS. 22-23, a single actuator 43 may be used to drive more than one transmission assembly 13 , 44 simultaneously through the use of a crank shaft, Scotch Yoke, cam shaft and/or the like. An example is shown in FIG. 22 using a shaft with conjugate cams, and where a battery or other power source 11 powers at least one actuator 43 attached to a common member 10 . Two or more transmission assemblies 13 , 44 , FIG. 23, are mounted to the common member 10 with transmission assembly mounts 46 . Rotation 46 a of the cam shaft 47 causes the vertebra plates 7 , 48 of two or more transmission assemblies 13 , 44 to rotate clockwise and counterclockwise 14 in a similar manner as described in embodiments above. The transmission assemblies 13 , 44 are coupled to the crenated strip fin 3 in a similar manner as described in embodiments above. The common member 10 may be attached to an immovable object or substrate 23 or the body of a vessel 20 , FIG. 22, in a similar manner and for similar purposes as described in embodiments and implementations above.

[0061] In another embodiment, the transmission assembly 13 , 44 may be coupled to two or more crenated strip fins 3 via a lobed vertebra plate 49 with more than one crenated strip fin 3 attachment to the same lobed vertebra plate 49 , to create a lobed transmission assembly 50 with more than one fin attached, FIG. 24. At least one lobed transmission assembly 50 mounted to a common member 10 may be actuated via an actuator 43 such as an electric motor and a central controller 12 , and powered by a battery 11 or other power source to create a mechanism that may be free-swimming, and which may have a gear box 51 between the actuator and cam shaft 47 , FIG. 25.

[0062] In another embodiment, the mechanism may be attached via one or more harnessing fixtures 22 to a body 20 , to provide thrust to the body 20 . The body may be a sub-sea vessel, surface craft, or the body part of a person swimming or diving in water, or the body 20 may be attached to equipment worn by a person swimming or diving, FIG. 26.

[0063] In one generator implementation, the common member 10 , 25 may be fixed to a harnessing fixture 22 which is fixed to an immovable object or substrate 23 , FIG. 27. Moving fluid 52 may exert loads on the fins 3 which may induce the strained deformations in the fins 3 to travel 54 in the direction of the moving fluid 52 to induce rotation of the shaft 47 via transmission assemblies 13 , 44 , 50 . The shaft 47 may be rotationally coupled to a gear box 51 coupled to an electromagnetic generator 53 or other transducer capable of turning rotational action into electrical energy. Electricity from the electromagnetic generator 53 or other transducer may be sent to a battery 11 or an electrical grid.

[0064] It is to be understood that the implementations described herein facilitate significant flexibility and that many changes, modifications, variations and other uses and applications of the described implementations are possible. All such changes, modifications, variations and other uses and applications which do not depart from the spirit and scope of the invention are deemed to be covered by the implementations described herein and variants thereof.

[0065] In another embodiment, an arched blade 55 is added to one edge of the arc-like flexible sheet-like material 2 , FIG. 28. The arched blade 55 may, for example, be made from a hard, flexible material having high resilience such as stainless steel, a hard polymer, and/or the like. The arched blade 55 may, e.g., be attached to the side of one edge of the flexible sheet-like material 2 , or it may be inserted into a slot 56 in one edge of the flexible sheet-like material 2 , FIGS. 28-29. FIG. 30 shows a cross section through the edge of the flexible sheet-like material 2 in which the arched blade 55 is inserted into a slot 56 and fixed via a rivet, bolt, grommet, or similar coupling component 57 that passes through a hole in the flexible sheet-like material and the arched blade 55 . FIG. 31 shows a cross section of an implementation in which the arched blade 55 has a thickening or flange along the edge that is inserted into the slot 56 , and where the slot 56 has a widening that accommodates the cross-sectional profile of the arched blade 55 to mechanically hold the arched blade 55 in the slot 56 . In addition to or instead of these mechanical means of fixing the arched blade 55 to the flexible sheet-like material 2 , glue, or another bonding agent may be applied to secure the arched blade 55 to the flexible sheet-like material 2 .

[0066] In another implementation of the arched blade 55 , the outer radius edge of the arched blade 55 forms a continuous arc but its inner edge is comprised of a series of narrow tabs 58 to reduce in-plane bending loads on the arced blade 55 , and a series of eyelets 59 contiguous with the arched blade 55 , FIG. 32. In examples of this implementation, the coupling components 57 that pass through the flexible sheet-like material may pass through the eyelets.

[0067] Once the arched blade 55 has been installed in the flexible sheet-like material 2 , force or forces 1 are applied to the flexible sheet-like material 2 to which the arched blade 55 has been fixed to create a deformed crenated strip composite fin 60 with strained-deformations. In one propulsion embodiment, two or more composite fins 60 are each coupled to two or more transmission assemblies 13 , 13 a , 13 b powered by motors that are coupled to a common member 10 , to create a vehicle capable of “skating” over ice, FIG. 33. A central controller 12 and battery or other power source to power the transmission assemblies 13 a , 13 b and may be located inside the common member 10 .

[0068] In another embodiment, two or more composite fins 60 are each coupled to two or more transmission assemblies 13 , 44 that are coupled to a common member 10 , 25 to yield a vehicle that can skate over ice. The transmission assemblies 13 , 44 of each fin may be actuated by a motor 43 that operates a crank shaft, Scotch Yoke, cam shaft and/or the like. An example is shown in FIG. 34 using a shaft 47 with conjugate cams for each composite fin 60 whereby a central controller 12 and battery 11 or other power source power a motor for each composite fin 60 , allowing independent control of the speed and direction of undulation-travel for each composite fin 60 . Independent control of each composite fin 60 allows for direction change and maneuverability of the vehicle over the ice. In alternative implementations, a single motor and/or coupled control for both composite fins may be provided.



Traveling wave propeller, pump and generator apparatuses, methods and systems
US10190570
[ PDF ]

[0001] This application is a Non-Provisional of and claims priority under 35 U.S.C. § to prior U.S. provisional application Ser. No. 62/357,318 filed Jun. 30, 2016 entitled, “Traveling Wave Propeller, Pump and Generator Apparatuses, Methods and Systems”. The entire contents of the aforementioned application are incorporated in their entirety herein by reference.

[0002] This application for letters patent disclosure document describes inventive aspects that include various novel innovations (hereinafter “disclosure”) and contains material that is subject to copyright, mask work, and/or other intellectual property protection. The respective owners of such intellectual property have no objection to the facsimile reproduction of the disclosure by anyone as it appears in published Patent Office file/records, but otherwise reserve all rights.

FIELD

[0003] The present innovations generally address energy conversion, and more particularly, include TRAVELING WAVE PROPELLER, PUMP AND GENERATOR APPARATUSES, METHODS AND SYSTEMS.

BACKGROUND

[0004] Mechanical devices actuated to perform prescribed motions for a variety of purposes are ubiquitous. Such devices may be configured to effectuate automated movements in or on a variety of media, such as on land, underwater, or in the air. In some cases, sensors may be employed to provide data about device motion, device orientation, environmental factors, and the like. Sensor data may then be used to control actuation of motors to produce the prescribed motions for a particular device configuration or environment,

SUMMARY

[0005] Aspects of the disclosed apparatuses, methods and systems include devices which create repetitive or undulating motion, or effect, to produce useful work, such as for a propulsion system or other system, including energy-harnessing systems.

[0006] In one embodiment force or forces are applied to an arc-like flexible sheet-like material to create a deformed crenated strip fin with strained-deformations. The strained-deformations take on a sinusoid-like form that express the internal energy state of the flexible sheet-like material after it has been configured into a crenated strip fin. After being incorporated into a mechanism with couplings that prevent the crenated strip fin from returning to its un-strained state, the strained-deformations persist. Actuators may be used to sequentially rotate vertebrae attached to the fins causing the travel of sinusoid-like deformations along the fins. In a fluid medium, the traveling waves of sinusoidal deformations may exert force on the fluid causing the fluid to move and/or creating thrust. In some land-based embodiments, the fins may be configured and the actuators operated to create a crawling action. Some examples of applications in various embodiments include propulsion systems for sub-sea vessels, personal propulsion systems attachable to the body of a swimmer or diver, surface vessels, amphibious vehicles, lighter-than-air craft, and the pumping, mixing and transportation of fluids, powders, and aggregates. Components and assemblies are described.

[0007] Where the actuators are of a type that are capable of harnessing energy, such as electromagnetic motors or dielectric elastomers, the mechanisms may also harness energy when fixed in an environment with moving fluid.



Efficient power conversion apparatuses, methods and systems
US9257917
[ PDF ]

The EFFICIENT POWER CONVERSION APPARATUSES, METHODS AND SYSTEMS include circuits for efficiently converting electrical energy to mechanical energy and vice-versa, such as within a multitude of ElectroActive Polymer (EAP) transducers. Embodiment may support a multitude of EAP transducers while also being capable of directing the movement of energy between electrical and mechanical forms in either direction. In another aspect, an efficient mode of transferring mechanical energy is discussed, via one or more strained and paired elastic transducers coupled to a potential energy reservoir.

[0001] This application is a Non-Provisional of, and claims priority under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) to, prior U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/583,488, filed Jan. 5, 2012, entitled, “EFFICIENT POWER CONVERSION APPARATUSES, METHODS AND SYSTEMS”. The entire contents of the aforementioned application are expressly incorporated herein by reference.

[0002] This application for letters patent disclosure document describes inventive aspects that include various novel innovations (hereinafter “disclosure”) and contains material that is subject to copyright, mask work, and/or other intellectual property protection. The respective owners of such intellectual property have no objection to the facsimile reproduction of the disclosure by anyone as it appears in published Patent Office file/records, but otherwise reserve all rights.

FIELD

[0003] Embodiments of the present innovations pertain to circuits for efficiently converting electrical energy to mechanical energy and vice-versa, such as within a multitude of ElectroActive Polymer (EAP) transducers, or paired EAP transducers, and more particularly include EFFICIENT POWER CONVERSION APPARATUSES, METHODS AND SYSTEMS (“EPC”).

BACKGROUND

[0004] Devices that transfer electrical and/or mechanical energy to perform work or to harness energy have been developed. Transducers are commonly used to convert electrical energy into mechanical energy for actuator devices and to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy for generator devices.

SUMMARY

[0005] In one aspect, the present invention comprises electronic topologies for energy conversion between an electrical energy within a storage device such as a battery or a capacitor and electromechanical energy within a multitude of electroactive polymer transducers. The transducers may store electrical energy, such as in a capacitance that varies with elastic deformation, and store mechanical energy, such as in elastic deformations that alter electrical capacitance. The transducers are, in various implementations, capable as both mechanical actuators and electrical generators.

[0006] In some embodiments, the electronic topologies may be configured with an electronic inductive element to accommodate efficient energy conversion. The topologies may further be configured to transfer energy efficiently in either direction between transducer and storage device.

[0007] In some embodiments, the topologies may further be configured to employ only one inductive element in servicing energy transfer between the storage device and a multitude of transducers. The topologies may further be configured to allow controlled energy transfer timing, for example such that actuation and/or generation waveforms may be created.

[0008] In another aspect, the EPC may be configured for efficient transferring of mechanical energy via one or more strained and paired elastic transducers coupled to a potential energy reservoir. The system may be configured so that increased strain in one transducer of the pair will be proportional or near proportional to decreased strain in the other transducer of the pair.

[0009] In actuation mode, the paired transducers may convert electrical energy into mechanical energy. In generator mode, the paired transducers may convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. In one implementation, the potential energy reservoir comprises an elastically deformed member which imparts some of its potential energy onto the paired transducers during assembly, such as may cause them to become of unequal length. In generator mode, changes to the configuration of the deformed member, or potential energy reservoir, may translate into changes (e.g., of the length) of the paired transducers, strain increasing in one as it decreases in the other. In actuation mode, the timed application of electrical energy may cause a first transducer of the pair to lengthen, decreasing its “pulling power” and so giving a “pulling advantage” to the second, uncharged transducer of the pair...



Ribbon Transducer and Pump Apparatuses, Methods and Systems
US2015369227 / WO2014043276
[ PDF ]

The RIBBON TRANSDUCER AND PUMP APPARATUSES, METHODS AND SYSTEMS include, in various embodiments, a variety of mechanisms comprised of components that include flexible elements with persistently strained deformations. Under operation, the deformations may be reconfigured via actuation to produce useful work, or may be reconfigured when subjected to external forces, such as from flowing fluid. The external energy input used to reconfigure these deformations may be harnessed and converted into electrical energy or may be converted into useful mechanical work, such as pumping.



Pliant Mechanisms for Extracting Power from Moving Fluid
US7839007 [ US2010084871 ]
[ PDF ]

[0001] This application claims benefit of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/150,910, filed on May 1, 2008, now abandoned, which claims benefit of Provisional Application No. 60/926,984, filed on May1, 2007.

[0002] The present application relates generally to extracting power from a moving current of fluid with flexible mechanisms, and more specifically provides a power generator for converting the kinetic energy of fluid motion into useable mechanical energy and/or electrical energy.

BACKGROUND

[0003] The kinetic energy of moving water has been utilized by man for thousands of years, and has been harnessed to generate electricity since the 19th century. Today hydroelectric power supplies 20% of global electricity demand and is by far the largest source of renewable energy. Electricity from a typical hydroelectric mechanism is generated by harnessing the forces of moving water via kinetic-energy-receiving turbine-blades, which transfer these forces into the rotational movement of a shaft, which turns an electro-magnetic dynamo.

[0004] Progress in the field of materials science is seeing the emergence of novel materials capable of converting mechanical strain within a material into electrical energy without a rotating mechanism, and therefore, without a turbine and electro-magnetic dynamo. The potential advantages of turbine-free power generation include simplicity of design with fewer or no articulated moving parts and potentially greater efficiency. This invention embodies a range of mechanisms that share common principles for the creation of scalable hydro-electric generators, employing these novel materials and designed to anticipate the utilization of novel materials yet to be discovered or invented.

[0005] One important but not exclusive application of this invention is in the field of so-called “free-flow” or “run-of-the-river” hydroelectric power generation, where the kinetic energy of rivers, streams or tidal currents is harnessed without the need for dams. A dam built in the path of flowing water creates a high energy potential differential above and below the dam, allowing water to pass through turbines at high speed and pressure. However, dams are expensive to construct and have a high environmental impact.

[0006] Efforts to harness the low-speed-high-volume flow of naturally-occurring water-ways have not yet proven viable largely due to the following: (1.) the high-cost of the energy-harnessing mechanisms relative to the low quantity of energy harnessed; and (2.) the physical vulnerability of existing energy-harnessing mechanisms. With this invention, problem 1 is solved with the utilization of large “capture” surface-areas that collectively harness a significant quantity of energy using a potentially cheap mass-produced material. Problem 2 is solved because the mechanism primarily includes flexible and elastic components which are more capable of deflecting or absorbing shocks such as an impacting log or tree branch. A further and related advantage is a more gentle physical interaction with fish and other aquatic animals.

[0007] The advantages of this invention for free-flow hydropower generation notwithstanding, the mechanisms of this invention are also applicable as an alternative to conventional turbines in dammed hydropower installations, and certain embodiments of this invention are designed to power a conventional electromagnetic dynamo, or other power output device such as a pump.

OVERVIEW

[0008] Embodiments of the present invention utilize a sheet-like elastic material which may be comprised of a single layer, multiple layers, a woven mesh or other composite sheet-like elastic material, and where said sheet-like material has been deformed and therefore stressed, with an applied first force. The material may accommodate this applied first force through a combination of deflection, compression and stretching of the material. If the material is appropriately restrained prior to the removal of this applied first force, the energy of this applied force will remain as potential energy within the material.

[0009] The shape of this material in its relaxed state prior to the application the first force is defined by the spatial arrangement of molecules within the material. After the application of this first force and the restraining of the material so that this first force is maintained as potential energy within the material, the shape of the material is defined by the spatial arrangement of its molecules but also by its internal energy state, which, with the introduction of a second force, can take on a virtually infinite number of configurations.

[0010] The mechanisms of this invention utilize a plurality of undulations in said material, where these undulations result from a first force applied to the material, and where these undulations are maintained in existence but not in position, by at least one restraining component. When a length of this material prepared in this way is then secured in a stream of fluid, and arranged so that the longitudinal axis of the length of material is parallel to the direction of the moving fluid, the upstream-sides of the material's undulations will obliquely face the direction of the movement of the fluid, and be subjected to the vector forces of the moving fluid. Therefore, higher water pressures will result on the upstream-facing surfaces of the undulations in the material. Conversely, the downstream surfaces of the undulations will experience lower water pressures. The pressure differential between the upstream and downstream surfaces of the undulations causes the positions of the undulations within the material to move in the direction of the moving fluid.

[0011] The presence of undulations in the material is an expression of internal forces held as potential energy within the material by a restraining component. Therefore, when an undulation being moved along the length of material moves off the end of this length of material, a new undulation must take its place at the upstream end of this length of material, because the internal energy state of this length of material has not changed, and the undulations are an expression of restrained forces within the material.

[0012] The various embodiments of the present invention can be divided into two categories, or “groups”. The embodiments in the first group all utilize a single ribbon or a plurality of ribbons, said ribbons being made of a flexible or elastic sheet of material as described above. During operation of the mechanisms, this ribbon maintains a uniform or substantially uniform width. Said ribbon of material as defined in this way is referred to hereafter as a “frond”.

[0013] The embodiments of this first group all incorporate fronds, and are further categorized for convenience by their visual appearance when viewed from a plane perpendicular to the direction of fluid movement. Said first group is comprised of: A parallel array, an asterisk, a polygonal ring, a dodecahedral honeycomb and an octagonal honeycomb.

[0014] The embodiments of the second group all lack the fronds common to each embodiment of the first group. The embodiments of this second group are comprised of a tube of the same material described above, but do not incorporate fronds into their structure. The embodiments of this second group are further categorized for convenience by their visual appearance when viewed from a plane perpendicular to the direction of fluid movement. Said second group is comprised of a first hexagonal honeycomb, second hexagonal honeycomb and concentric rings.

[0015] Embodiments of the first group contain single fronds or fronds connected to each other along their longitudinal axes in various ways, including in a manner which forms tubes, and in a manners whereby said tubes connect laterally to one another to create honeycomb-like patterns.

[0016] It should be noted that tubes from the first group, being comprised of fronds, are distinct in form and action from tubes that comprise the second group. The tubes of the second group are comprised either of circular tubes of different diameters arranged concentrically one within another, or of polygonal tubes connected to each other laterally to create honey-comb like patterns. The polygonal tubes of this second group are distinct from the polygonal tubes in the first group because the sides of the tubes in this second group vary in width during operation, whereas the widths of fronds, comprising the sides of tubes in the first group, remain constant or substantially constant during operation.

[0017] A further distinction can be made between embodiments of the first group with tubes comprised of fronds, and embodiments of the second group with no fronds. Specifically, the overall diameter of tubes without fronds periodically increase and decrease under operation, whereas the overall diameters of tubes of the first group comprised of fronds, remain constant or substantially constant under operation.

[0018] The deformations in material described above will remain so long as the material is prevented from returning to its relaxed state by at least one restraining component. Since most of the embodiments of this invention utilize a plurality of deformations along a single length of material, another principal element of the mechanisms is a method for preventing the wave undulations in said length of material from combining into one single, larger deformation. Various methods and configurations are described in the detailed description as to how this summing together of multiple deformations into a single deformation is prevented, thereby maintaining a series of wave undulations along the longitudinal axis of the material.

[0019] Power is harnessed by the mechanisms embodied in the present invention in two different ways. In the first way, as the forces of the moving water cause the wave undulations to move along the fronds, stresses are created within the sheet-like material or composite sheet-like material that comprise the fronds or tubes. This sheet-like material consists in whole or in part of a material which exhibits an electrical response to strains exerted within the material. As the wave undulations move along the material in the direction of the moving fluid, stresses also move through the material in the direction of the moving fluid, and electrical energy is generated from these stresses in the material. Existing examples of such materials include electroactive polymers (EAPs), which may exhibit electrostrostrictive, electrostatic, piezoelectric, and/or pyroelectric responses to electrical or mechanical fields, as well as ionic EAPs, shape memory alloys, and nano-wires. At least two electrodes are utilized for embodiments extracting power in this first way.

[0020] The second way that energy is harnessed by the mechanisms embodied in the present invention is by coupling the mechanical action of the traveling undulating motions of the material as described above to a shaft or axle. This axel turns an electromagnetic dynamo or other output device, such as for example, a pump.

[0021] This invention does not rely on vortex currents to force the energy harnessing components of the embodiments into a morphology that is able to harness energy, distinguishing the present invention from the “Piezoelectric Eel” U.S. Pat. No. 7,034,432 B1. When subject to the forces of moving fluid, the morphologies of the energy-harnessing components of the mechanisms of the present invention fluctuate in a periodic manner between states that lie within a range of possible morphology configurations. When not subject to the forces of moving fluid, the morphologies of the energy harnessing components of these mechanisms remain fixed in just one morphology configuration within that range. The mechanisms of the present invention are capable of receiving the forces of moving fluid regardless of whether the flow is laminar or turbulent, and the mechanisms are capable of receiving much higher loads. An additional advantage that the present invention has over the Piezoelectric Eel, with its reliance on vortices in the moving fluid, is scalability because there, are in principle, no upward limits on the dimensions to which embodiments of the present invention can be built...



Mechanisms for creating undulating motion, such as for propulsion, and for harnessing the energy of moving fluid
US8610304
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Mechanisms are described which receive and transfer forces via transducers having one or more persistent deformations in changeable locations. Actuator or propulsion embodiments are powered by elastic or variable length transducers that exert forces on the deformed members which in turn exert forces onto ambient fluid such as air or water. Generator embodiments receive forces from ambient moving fluid via deformed members which transfer those forces to elastic or variable length transducers which convert those forces into electrical energy.

[0001] This application is a Non-Provisional of and claims priority under 35 U.S.C. §119 to prior U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 61/431,412 entitled, “MECHANISMS FOR CREATING UNDULATING MOTION, SUCH AS PROPULSION, AND FOR HARNESSING THE ENERGY OF MOVING FLUID,” filed Jan. 10, 2011 (Attorney Docket no. 19861-005PV).

[0002] This application is also a Continuation-In-Part of and claims priority under 35 U.S.C. §120 to co-pending U.S. non-provisional patent application Ser. No. 12/617,618 entitled, “Pliant or Compliant Elements for Harnessing the Forces of Moving Fluid to Transport Fluid or Generate Electricity,” filed Nov. 12, 2009 (Attorney Docket no. 19861-003CM which in turn claims priority under 35 U.S.C. §120 to prior non-provisional patent application Ser. No. 12/242,144 entitled, “PLIANT MECHANISMS FOR EXTRACTING POWER FROM MOVING FLUID,” filed Sep. 30, 2008 (Attorney Docket no. 19861-003), which in turn claims priority under 35 U.S.C. §120 to U.S. non-provisional patent application Ser. No. 12/150,910 entitled, “Power generator for extracting power from fluid motion,” filed May 1, 2008 (Attorney Docket no. FILARDO 202-KFM), which in turn claims priority under U.S.C. §119 to U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/926,984 filed May 1, 2007.

[0003] All of the aforementioned applications are expressly incorporated herein by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0004] Disclosed are apparatuses, methods and systems which, in various embodiments, facilitate the conversion of mechanical energy into electrical energy and/or facilitate the conversion of electrical energy into mechanical energy.

BACKGROUND

[0005] Mechanical devices actuated to perform prescribed motions for a variety of purposes are ubiquitous. Less common are actuated devices that create a prescribed, repetitive undulating motion, or effect. A variety of mechanical and/or electrical devices have come about to either harness the kinetic energy of moving fluids, or to create the movement of the fluids themselves. For example, seafaring vessels may employ a propeller, powered by a mechanical engine, to move through the water. There are also devices developed to harness the power of moving fluid, whereby an electromagnetic generator is coupled to the fluid, such as by a turbine wheel, to produce electrical energy for distribution and consumption by all manner of electrical-energy-powered devices.

SUMMARY

[0006] Embodiments of the disclosed apparatuses, methods and systems may be directed to devices which create repetitive and/or undulating motion, or effect, to produce useful work, such as for a propulsion system or other system. These and alternative embodiments may further be directed to devices which exhibit this same undulating motion when external forces are applied, and where this undulating motion is coupled to electricity generating components. Such uses are a consequence of a functional symmetry between actuation and energy harnessing, as between an electromagnetic motor and an electromagnetic generator.

[0007] In some embodiments, flexible sheet-like members are deformed with applied force and the resulting deformation or deformations are maintained through restraining components.

[0008] In one embodiment the restraining components are vertebra plates to which the deformed, flexible sheet-like members are attached in such a manner that they are unable to return to their relaxed state. In some implementations, the vertebrae plates may be elastically or variably-coupled to a central rigid tube or member. The elastic or variable coupled components may, in various implementations, be comprised of electroactive polymer material, a magnetostrictive material, a metal coil passing through a magnetic field, hydraulic pistons, pneumatic pistons, shape memory alloy elements, and/or the like.

[0009] For propulsion embodiments, when the elastic or variable coupling components are actuated with an input of energy, such as an excitation, they will change length and impart forces onto the deformed, flexible sheet-like members, causing their deformations to shift position. In this manner the elastic or variably-coupled actuators create undulation motion along the flexible sheet-like members which may impart force onto ambient fluid to create thrust.

[0010] For generator embodiments secured in the directional flow of fluid, the kinetic energy of the fluid imparts force onto the flexible sheet-like member, causing the positions of the deformations to shift in the direction of the fluid flow. Back and forth fluid flow may cause the deformations to move back and forth. Unidirectional fluid flow may cause the deformations to travel in one direction until they move off the downstream end of the flexible sheet-like member.

[0011] Because these deformations result from the internal energy state of the flexible sheet-like member created during fabrication, these deformations cannot be eliminated so long as the restraints remain. Therefore, when a deformation moves off the downstream end of the flexible sheet-like member, another one must come into existence at the upstream end. When the mechanism is anchored in a fluid stream, a series of undulating deformations may travel continuously along the flexible sheet-like member in the direction of the fluid stream. In one generator embodiment, the flexible sheet-like members may be coupled to vertebra plates so that movement of the deformations of the flexible sheet-like members powers the movement of the vertebra plates. The movement of the vertebra plates imparts force onto the elastic or variable coupling components. The elastic or variable coupling component may incorporate transducing components which convert this force into electrical energy. The elastic coupling components may, in some implementations, be constructed of and/or incorporate an electroactive polymer or other electroactive material able to convert mechanical strain into electrical energy. The elastic coupling component may also, in some implementations, be constructed of a magnetostrictive material, a metal coil passing through a magnetic field, hydraulic pistons, pneumatic pistons, shape memory alloy elements, and/or the like.

[0012] The architecture of the system may be the same or similar for certain propulsion and pump embodiments. For example, the difference between some pump and propulsion embodiments is that the elastic or variable coupling components of the propulsion and pump embodiments are actuators rather than generators. In other words, in propulsion embodiments the elastic or variable coupling components convert electrical energy into mechanical action FIG. 1 whereas in the generator embodiments the elastic or variable coupling components convert mechanical action into electrical energy, FIG. 2.

[0013] The mechanisms, including apparatuses, methods and systems, discussed herein are not dependent on any particular actuator technology nor on any particular generator technology...



APPARATUSES, METHODS AND SYSTEMS FOR HARNESSING FLUID FLOW WITH FLEXIBLE MECHANICAL TRANSDUCERS
WO2017015147
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The apparatuses, methods and systems for harnessing fluid flow with flexible mechanical transducers include mechanisms that include flexible elements with strained deformations. In some implementations, oscillations of strained deformations in fins are excited by a moving fluid. By coupling the fin structure to an electrical generator and/or pump, energy from the moving fluid can be converted into electrical energy or used to perform useful mechanical work. In some implementations, the fin may be coupled to a motor or other actuator which causes the strained deformations to move, thereby imparting force onto the fluid to move or mix fluid or perform other useful work.



Pliant or Compliant Elements for Harnessing the Forces of Moving Fluid to Transport Fluid or Generate Electricity
US8432057
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