Fuel-Powered Artificial Muscles

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Science  17 Mar 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5767, pp. 1580-1583
DOI: 10.1126/science.1120182

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Artificial muscles and electric motors found in autonomous robots and prosthetic limbs are typically battery-powered, which severely restricts the duration of their performance and can necessitate long inactivity during battery recharge. To help solve these problems, we demonstrated two types of artificial muscles that convert the chemical energy of high–energy-density fuels to mechanical energy. The first type stores electrical charge and uses changes in stored charge for mechanical actuation. In contrast with electrically powered electrochemical muscles, only half of the actuator cycle is electrochemical. The second type of fuel-powered muscle provides a demonstrated actuator stroke and power density comparable to those of natural skeletal muscle and generated stresses that are over a hundred times higher.

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