This week I have worked with Dr Ben Bridgens examining the potential of heat activated pistons which can be used to mechanically move objects. Wax within the piston responds to changes in temperature – as the temperature increases, the wax expands opening the piston. As the temperature decreases, the wax contracts and the piston closes. This push/pull action has many potential applications. Requiring no electricity to work, it is an appealing method of achieving thermal control. The wax piston is available commercially and is used to open windows and vents when temperatures rise. As an artist with an interest in kinetic and responsive structures, I am excited by the possible application of this simple technology.
Imagine a reflective screen that moves and opens on warm days, creating changing light patterns and extended views. The pistons can be set to respond at varying temperature levels so the individual panels could move at different times. Great potential for beautiful structures that respond to changes in the weather, reminiscent of a bird fluffing up its feathers!