Nafion simultaneous humidification and actuation feasibility
The Ionic Polymer Nafion has existed since the 1960’s when DuPont developed it and found that it worked for the fuel cell industry. Ionic Polymer Metal Composites (IPMC’s), such as platinum coated Nafion, have been known to actuate when electrically stimulated since the 1990’s.
The IPMC investigated needed to be hydrated to actuate and was reported to transmit moisture or humidity across the coated surfaces. The purpose of this research was to investigate the feasibility of a single IPMC material producing the forces needed to pump air by actuation and humidify the air being pumped as one material at the same time. The experiments simulated all the different aspects of a likely future device design where each item was isolated and investigated. Hydration was investigated without considering the effect on humidification as well as the opposite consideration. Simulation of air flow was undertaken with computer modeling to determine shapes that might allow real transmission if a pumping device were to be produced.
Determining if combining both functions was possible and, if possible, if it would bebeneficial for human air respiration was the final goal of this research. Quantifying the achievable values for each task and then making comparisons of cost, efficiency and design utility against existing technology were the final metrics to draw the conclusions of this work. The study indicated that it might be possible to produce a combined effects device, but current technology would render the device expensive and inefficient compared to current solutions.