Physics-based Modeling Techniques for Analysis and Design of Advanced Suspension Systems with Experimental Validation

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Virginia Tech

This research undertakes the problem of vibration control of vehicular and structural systems using intelligent materials and controllable devices. Advanced modeling tools validated with experimental test data are developed to help with understanding the fundamentals as well as advanced and novel applications of smart and conventional suspension systems.

The project can be divided into two major parts. The first part is focused on development of novel smart suspensions using Magneto-Rheological (MR) fluids in unique configurations in order to improve efficiency, controllability, and safety of today's vehicles. In this part of the research, attention is paid to fundamentals as well as advanced applications of MR technology. Extensive rheological studies, both theoretical and experimental, are performed to understand the basic behaviors of MR fluids as complex non-Newtonian fluids in novel applications. Using the knowledge obtained from fundamental studies of MR fluids, unique application concepts are investigated that lead to design, development, and experimental testing of two new classes of smart devices: MR Hybrid Dampers and MR Squeeze Mounts. Multiple generations of these devices are built and tested as proof of concept prototypes. Advanced physics-based mathematical models are developed for these devices. Experimental test data are used to validate the models and great agreement is obtained. The models are used as design tools at preliminary as well as detailed design stages of device development. The significant finding in this part of the research is that MR fluids can deliver a much larger window of controllable force in squeeze mode compared to shear and valve modes which can be used in various applications.

The second part of the research is devoted to the development of innovative design tools for suspension design and tuning. Various components of suspension systems are studied and modeled using a new physics-based modeling approach. The component of main interest is the shim stack assembly in hydraulic dampers which is modeled using energy and variational methods. A major finding is that the shims should be modeled individually in order to represent the sliding effects properly when the shim stack is deflected. Next, the individual component models are integrated into a full suspension model. This model is then used as a tool for suspension design, synthesis, and tuning. Using this design tool, suspension engineers in manufacturing companies and other industrial sections can easily perform parametric studies without the need to carry out time consuming and expensive field and laboratory tests.

Magneto-Rheological (MR) Fluids, Rheology of non-Newtonian Fluids, Smart Materials and Intelligent Systems, Experimental Testing and Validation, Vehicle Systems and Suspension Modeling