Applications in Engineering Science (Mar 2024)

Mechanical response of tensegrity-origami solar modules

  • Fernando Fraternali,
  • Julia de Castro Motta,
  • Giovanni Germano,
  • Enrico Babilio,
  • Ada Amendola

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 17
p. 100174


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This work studies the mechanics of novel origami solar modules with tensegrity architecture for integration in the dynamic solar façades of energy-efficient buildings. The analyzed modules are deployed by adjusting the rest lengths of cables attached to given nodes, so as to form a tensegrity origami. Their stiffness is tuned by adjusting the pretension of the actuation cables, when the deployment motion is locked. The insertion of solar thermal or photovoltaic panels into the rigid elements of the module makes it possible to form positive-energy solar systems. The work studies the kinematics and the mechanics of the investigated structures through analytic and numerical methods. Two folding motions are examined: to open and close the modules and to track sun rays. The rapid prototyping of a physical mock-up permits an experimental validation of the force–displacement response in a given configuration of the sun-tracking motion. A procedure for the computation of the fundamental vibration modes and vibration frequencies of a quadrangular solar module is also given, and the expected response of the system under wind loading is outlined.