Fraunhofer Adaptronics Alliance

Intelligent walling with shape memory effect

© Wilm Ihlenfeld/ retouching facade element: Jessica Rietze
Image 1: smart clouding
© design: BáraFinnsdóttir, Weißensee art academy Berlin
Image 2: facade element detail

Nearly 40 percent of the total energy consumption in Germany is caused by the housing sector. Heating, cooling and ventilation of houses, office buildings and public buildings is expensive. True energy squanderer are office buildings with large-area glass facades. In summertime they turn into greenhouses. In winter, the heating demand is growing rapidly due to insufficient insulation of glass surfaces.

To reduce energy consumption, researchers of the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU in Dresden are developing in cooperation with the Depart­ment of Textile and Surface of the Berlin Weissensee School of Art wall components that react autonomously to sunlight and the heat thereof.

The demonstrator, which is based on a draft of the design student Bara Finnsdottir, consists of a matrix of 72 individual textile components that look like blossoms. Integrated into the fabric modules are shape memory actuators. These thin, 80 mm long wires do remember when heated to its original shape. If the facade heats up by sunshine, these wires from a nickel-titanium alloy can be activated; they contract and therefore open noiselessly the textile components. The open area of the facade element is get­ting closed and the sunlight cannot penetra­te into the room. When the sun disappears behind the clouds again, the elements close and the façade is transparent again.