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TESSOL - solar powered fabric

Nowadays, the generation of solar energy by private individuals is still a marginal activity. In an urban scenario, it is almost unthinkable. In our project, daily routines were reconsidered and linked to solar energy collection.

TESSOL is a versatile and flexible fabric that can adapt to different contexts and moments in everyday urban life, thanks to its aesthetics and possible scales. The particular texture is achieved by tessellating the solar cells according to the Voronoi principle, which creates a mathematically describable division of a plane into polygons. The fabric collects solar energy that can be used on the spot or used to charge a portable battery. Thanks to the batteries, the accumulated energy can be used at another time during the day. The batteries themselves vary in size and are adjusted to fit the textile size so that they can be charged in a reasonable amount of time.

Inspiration

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Inspired by the irregular geometries in nature we wanted to make solar panels in different shapes and sizes to create a new aesthetic for solar power.

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Aesthetics has been a central element in our project from the beginning, since we noticed almost immediately that solar collectors already available are unaesthetic and therefore also poorly integrated into urban scenarios.

First Sketches

We tried out different ideas on how to design a solar device. It should be a personal portable device that harvests solar power and looks appealing. 

We found a good solution with an idea inspired by a blanket. It has a larger surface to collect more energy and it is flexible enough to be rolled up or folded together.

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Prototypes

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Achieving good flexibility was an important aspect for us, to keep the fabric as versatile as possible, for transportation or for storing it. To test the flexibility we tried out different patterns in cardboard.

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Through our prototypes we found out that using only triangles was best to achieve good flexibility. We also decided to have an irregular pattern, which looks more organic and inspired by nature. Also a larger space between the pieces allowed a smoother movement.

Grasshopper

Patterns can quickly be generated and changed using Grasshopper. Here all the parameters can easily be changed, such as distance between pieces, proportions, scale, sizes and the overall look of the pattern. An infinite amount of patterns can be created, which makes TESSOL very versatile.

We decided to use a pattern with a gradient for our final prototype. This way we can show smaller and larger pieces.

Wiring

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To conduct the energy created by the solar panels to the battery there needs to be wiring. Panels are divided into sections that all produce the same amount of energy and are connected by wires. To calculate which solar panels have to be connected the surface is calculated by using grasshopper. Here we can also find the quickest pathway to connect the panels to the battery

Battery

We soon decided TESSOL should have a battery to collect the energy generated. In our first sketches we placed the battery in the middle of the fabric. At the end we found out that it is more convenient to have the battery on the edge of the fabric to make the charging process easier.

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We also wanted to integrate the battery in the aesthetic of the fabric. Still playing with triangles, but also using the third dimension, since it needs to be thicker than the solar panels.

Moreover we believe the battery must be portable, to allow the user to use it in different moments of the day as well as to carry it in different situations. So we made it easily removable. This way it can be used separately.

Customization

With TESSOL we wanted to move away from the usual look of solar panels. Instead of using the common dark blue color for the solar panels we decided to use a different one. With new solar technology dark colors will no longer be the only option. We tried out different colors and transparencies. Tessol should have many color options so you can chose one that fits your personal taste or that fits to the product you want to use it for. Through experimentation we found out that gluing is a more convenient way to attach the solar panels to the fabric than sewing it. Gluing also has a cleaner aesthetic.

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The color can be changed to fit your taste. This makes Tessol very personal and adaptable.

The pattern, color and size can be changed to fit a handbag for example. Here the pattern would have to have smaller triangles at the sides to create the shape of the bag. For a curtain instead, Tessol can have a bigger overall size and a pattern that makes opening and closing the curtain easier.

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All in all Tessol is a versatile fabric that creates many possibilities to implement solar power into daily routines and introduces a new aesthetic to solar energy.

Fachgruppe

Produkt-Design

Art des Projekts

Studienarbeit im Hauptstudium

Betreuung

foto: Prof. carola zwick foto: Prof. Judith Glaser foto: Felix Groll foto: Hans Illiger

Zugehöriger Workspace

Heliobolici : kleine solare Selbstversorger

Entstehungszeitraum

Sommersemester 2022