Modeling, Control, and Design Study of Balanced Pneumatic Suspension for Improved Roll Stability in Heavy Trucks
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This research investigates a novel arrangement to pneumatic suspensions that are commonly used in heavy trucks, toward providing a dynamically balanced system that resists body roll and provides added roll stability to the vehicle. The new suspension, referred to as "balanced suspension," is implemented by retrofitting a conventional pneumatic suspension with two leveling valves and a symmetric plumbing arrangement to provide a balanced airflow and air pressure in the airsprings. This new design contributes to a balanced force distribution among the axles, which enables the suspension to maintain the body in a leveled position both statically and dynamically. This is in contrast to conventional heavy truck pneumatic suspensions that are mainly adjusted quasi-statically to level the body in response to load variations. The main objectives of the research are to discover and analyze the effects of various pneumatic components on the suspension dynamic response and numerically study the benefits of the pneumatically balanced suspension system. A pneumatic suspension model is established to capture the details of airsprings, leveling valves, check valves, pipes, and air tank based on the laws of fluid mechanics and thermodynamics. Experiments are designed and conducted to help determine and verify the modeling parameters and components. Co-simulation technique is applied to establish a multi-domain model that couples highly non-linear fluid dynamics of the pneumatic suspension with complex multi-body dynamics of an articulated vehicle. The model is used to extensively study effects of pneumatic balanced control of the suspensions on the tractor and trailer combination dynamics. The simulations indicate that the dual leveling valve arrangement of the balanced suspension provides better adjustments to the body roll by charging the airsprings on the jounce side, while purging air from the rebound side. Such an adjustment allows maintaining a larger difference in suspension force from side to side, which resists the vehicle sway and levels the truck body during cornering. Additionally, the balanced suspension better equalizes the front and rear drive axle air pressures, for a better dynamic load sharing and pitch control. It is evident from the simulation results that the balanced suspension increases roll stiffness without affecting vertical stiffness, and thereby it can serve as an anti-roll bar that results in a more stable body roll during steering maneuvers. Moreover, the Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) study suggests that when one side of the balanced suspension fails, the other side acts to compensate for the failure. On the other hand, if the trailer is also equipped with dual leveling valves, such an arrangement will bring an additional stabilizing effect to the vehicle in case of the tractor suspension failure. The overall research results presented show that significant improvements on vehicle roll dynamics and suspension dynamic responsiveness can be achieved from the balanced suspension system.
- Doctoral Dissertations