November 29, 2005

Magnetorheological fluids set to revolutionise dynamic vehicle suspension systems

Magnetorheological (MR) fluids are smart materials whose flow/viscosity properties can be modified by applying an electric field. These changes in viscosity occur within a fraction of a millisecond "“ far faster than conventional mechanical means "“ and can be used to effectively control vibrations in applications dealing with actuation, damping, robotics and mechatronics.

In this study published in AZojomo*, researchers Jorge A. Cort©s R., Leopoldo S. Villarreal-González and Manuel Martínez M. from The Instituto Technologico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM) used dynamic simulations software to analyze the behavior and performance of systems consisting of rigid or flexible parts undergoing large displacement motions. A prime example of an application that meets these conditions is in vibration control in automotive suspension systems.

Initial experimentation was done using a prototype damper. The displacement of the damper was measured in stages while known compression forces are applied under the influence of different magnetic fields. This data was then used to develop simulations and models for damper response catering to different road surfaces.

The researchers found that reconfigurable suspension systems were technologically feasible using magnetorheological fluids. Future work is required to develop the software algorithms to control the damping action. The resultant mechatronic system would respond not only to the road conditions but also comfort levels required by the vehicle occupants.

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