Development of a magneto-rheological fluid based hybrid actuation system
A hybrid hydraulic actuation system is proposed as an active pitch link for rotorcraft applications. Such an active pitch link can be used to implement Individual Blade Control (IBC) techniques for vibration and noise reduction, in addition to providing primary control for the helicopter. Conventional technologies like electric motors and hydraulic actuators have major disadvantages when it come to applications on a rotating environment. Centralized hydraulic system require the use of mechanically complex hydraulic slip rings and electric motors have high precision mechanical moving parts that make them unattractive in application with high centrifugal load. The high energy density of smart materials can be used to design hydraulic actuators in a compact package. MagnetoRheological (MR) fluids can be used as the working fluid in such a hybrid hydraulic actuation system to implement a valving system with no moving parts. Thus, such an actuation system can be theoretically well-suited for application in a rotating environment.
To develop an actuation system based on an active material stack and MR fluidic valves, a fundamental understanding of the hydraulic circuit is essential. In order to address this issue, a theoretical model was developed to understand the effect of pumping chamber geometry on the pressure losses in the pumping chamber. Three dimensional analytical models were developed for steady and unsteady flow and the results were correlated to results obtained from Computation Fluid Dynamic simulation of fluid flow inside the pumping chamber. Fundamental understanding regarding the pressure losses in a pumping chamber are obtained from the modeling process. Vortices that form in the pumping chamber (during intake) and the discharge tube (during discharge) are identified as a major cause of pressure loss in the chamber. The role of vortices during dynamic operation is also captured through a frequency domain model.
Extensive experimental studies were conducted on a hybrid hydraulic system driven by a pump (actuated by a 2" long and 1/4" diameter Terfenol-D rod) and a Wheatstone bridge network of MR fluidic valves. The Wheatstone bridge network is used to provide bi-directionality to the load. Through a variety of experimental studies, the main performance metrics of the actuation system, like output power, blocked force, maximum no-load velocity and efficiency, are obtained. The actuation system exhibits a blocked force of 30 N and a maximum no-load velocity of 50 mm/s. Extensive bi-directional tests were also done for cases of no-load, inertial load and spring load to establish the frequency bandwidth of the actuator. The actuation system can output a stroke of 9 mm at an output actuator frequency of 4 Hz. An analytical model was developed to predict the performance of the hybrid hydraulic actuation system. A state space representation of the system was derived using equations derived from the control volume considerations. The results of the analytical model show that the model predicts the frequency peak of the system to within 20 Hz of the actual resonance frequency.
In the third part of this dissertation, the effectiveness of the hybrid hydraulic actuation system is evaluated in a rotating environment. A piezoelectric stack that is driven by three PI-804.10 stacks was attached at the end of a spin bar. After balancing the spin bar using a counterweight, the spin bar is spun to an RPM of 300. This simulates a centrifugal loading of 400 g, which is slightly higher than the full-scale centrifugal loads experienced by a pitch link on a UH-60. The performance of the actuator was measured in terms of velocity of an output cylinder shaft. Since some deterioration of performance was expected at 300 RPM, the output cylinder was redesigned to include roller bearings to support the excess force. Through no load and load tests, the effectiveness of the current hybrid actuation system design was shown as the performance of the system did not deteriorate in performance with greater centrifugal acceleration.