Dielectric electroactive polymer applications in buildings by ProQuest


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Dielectric electroactive polymer
applications in buildings
Umberto Berardi*
Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, Section of Applied Physics, Polytechnic University
of Bari, via Orabona 4, / 70125, Bari, Italy

The use of smart materials in buildings is investigated. In particular, a new category of smart materials,
called dielectric electroactive polymers (DEAPs), is discussed. DEAPs are materials whose shape and
stiffness can be changed by electric stimulus. These properties led the author to investigate the potential
application of DEAPs in buildings. DEAPs are produced by covering a soft polymer with dielectrics on
both sides. The properties of DEAPs are described to illustrate the differences between these and other
smart materials. A description of the electric behaviour of the material is also presented. Applications
of DEAPs in heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, to control air or water motion, are
additionally considered. Applications in large flexible structures such as building envelopes are
described. As DEAPs can be laminated easily and they have great power density, they can be used in
the management systems of facades, to control transparency or ventilation of the building envelopes.
Finally, vibration isolation possibilities and building monitoring purposes are discussed. The state-of-
the-art of DEAP science is reviewed and possible applications in buildings are described.

Keywords: building technologies; electroactive polymers; smart materials

INTRODUCTION                                                    electrodes. This property can be used to couple
Smart materials have been defined as ‘highly                    mechanical and electrical aspects, i.e. stimulation
engineered materials which respond intelligently                by an electric field causes deformation and,
to their environment’ (Addington and Schodek,                   conversely, a deformation results in an electrical
2005). They are considered the ‘go-to’ answer                   effect.
for 21st-century technological architecture. This                   DEAPs were invented in the 1990s but
article aims to investigate the behaviour of new                have attracted interest only in the past few
smart materials, known as dielectric electroactive              years. There are many applications of DEAPs
polymers (DEAPs), focusing on their applications                in areas such as robotics, bioengineering and
in buildings.                                                   automation. This article investigates their
    These smart materials are piezoceramic;                     possible use in the building industry. It describes
they are manufactured by conjugating metal                      some applications of DEAP devices in building
electrodes on both surfaces of a polymer                        control and management systems to improve
core. DEAPs have the ability to change shape                    the performance of the building in terms of
when voltage is applied to the surface of the                   functionality, indoor comfort, sound insulation,

*E-mail: u.berardi@virgilio.it

Intelligent Buildings International 2 (2010), 167–178, doi:10.3763/inbi.2010.0043
© 2010 Earthscan ISSN: 1750–8975 (print), 1756–6932 (online) www.earthscan.co.uk/journals/inbi
168 Berardi

energy saving and lifespan. From the results                          and the third column indicates the material
of studies in robotics (Pelrine et al., 1998),                        effect (output). Smart materials are classified
biomimetics (Carpi et al., 2008a) and vibration                       into three types:
isolators (Sarban et al., 2009a), building solutions
using DEAPs are suggested. The next section                           ● property changing;
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