3DSunTrack – Development of three-dimensional deformable fiber-reinforced composites aiming for the application of a tracking solar module

Functionalization of adaptive fiber-reinforced façade modules with photovoltaics and maximizing the energy harvest via tracking in accordance with the position of the sun

FlectoSol - Demonstrator of the 3DSunTrack project
FlectoSol - Demonstrator of the 3DSunTrack project

The aim of the "3DSunTrack" study is to analyze the possible three-dimensional deformation of fiber-reinforced composites (FRPs) with the aim of using them in moving systems based on compliant mechanisms. At the same time, solar tracking of photovoltaics (PV) is to be used to identify opportunities for higher energy harvesting or new ideas for optimizing energy harvesting. An application example is the façade surface, which has not been used for energy harvesting so far.

Through simulations in the project it could be shown that the solar harvest of a façade can be significantly increased by a biaxial tracking compared to a static module or the uniaxial tracking. However, the work done in this study is only the beginning of a comprehensive research on solar tracking systems for energy harvesting in architecture. The results serve as a basis for future research in this field, as, for example, further tests need to be carried out, especially with regard to PV performance in different scenarios over a longer period of time, in order to compare real PV performance with simulation results.

The 1.5-year study also demonstrated that fiber-reinforced composites are suitable for the technical implementation of compliant mechanisms with the potential for three-dimensional deformation. Within test series, in which different material structures and arrangement of the actuators were realized and the bending angle was measured during two-dimensional deformation, it could be proven that the consumption of pneumatic air pressure can be reduced by the mentioned factors and thus the energy efficiency of adaptive FRP systems can be increased. In this context, a new arrangement of the actuators was also established, which allows deformation of the elements in both directions by up to 80°, correspondingly a rotational movement by 160°.

Project Duration
September 2021 – March 2023

Project Team
DITF German Institutes of Textile and Fiber Research Denkendorf
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Markus Milwich, Patrick Kaiser

ITFT Institute for Textile and Fiber Technologies
University of Stuttgart
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Götz T. Gresser, Dr.-Ing. Larissa Born

ITKE Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design
University of Stuttgart
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jan Knippers, Edith Anahi González, Axel Körner

Publications within the scope of this project
Born L, González San Martín EA, Ridder M, Körner AH, Knippers J, Gresser GT (2024) FlectoSol – A pneumatically activable PV-functionalized façade shading module with bending motion in two directions for solar tracking. DIBE 18:100372. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dibe.2024.100372

This research was funded by the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (German Federal Foundation for the Environment) as part of the study "3DSunTrack – Study on the development of three-dimensional preformable fiber-reinforced composites with the application goal of a solar tracking module" [grant number 37732/01 24/2].


This image shows Larissa  Born

Larissa Born


Deputy Director

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