The overall objective is to develop sustainable hydrogels (HGs) as candidates for dielectric elastomers (DEs) for sustainable energy generation from waves or other moving objects such as e.g. vibrations in large production facilities. Hydrogels have not previously been investigated as candidates for DEs. This may be due to several reasons; most obviously that there are several issues of constructing a feasible design allowing for the utilization of HGs, and this is what the proposed research team of scientists within the field of chemistry, physics and mechanical engineering is to solve.


Polymers present a promising alternative to the conventional actuator and generator technologies. Two types of electroactive polymers (EAPs) have developed simultaneously, namely ionic EAPs and dielectric EAPs (i.e. DEs). DEs consist of a thin elastomeric film with compliant electrodes. When a voltage is applied DEs behave as compliant capacitors, shrinking in thickness and expanding in area due to volume conservation. Reversibly, DEs generate an electrical field when they are strained in an initially charged state. This is utilized in energy harvesting applications.

The project

The HGs should be designed to outperform the performance of the current state-of-art materials, namely silicone elastomers, with respect to energy densities, i.e. how much energy it can store. Silicone has several shortcomings for energy generation (e.g. low energy densities and relatively low tear strength) and in this respect HGs seem superior candidates. In order to develop future DE materials one needs to consider requirements to the performance of the elastomer, namely that the dielectric elastomer should be designed to possess (amongst many other properties): high energy density such that large amounts of energies can be generated and life-time exceeding several million cycles such that the materials will last several years.

The project involves scientists from McMaster University, Canada, and University of Potsdam, Germany as well as two companies, namely SBM Offshore, France, and LEAP Technology, Denmark. The project is funded by FTP and will be running in the period of 2017-2020.


Anne Ladegaard Skov
DTU Kemiteknik
45 25 28 25