Browsing Mechanical Engineering by Journal
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An Analytical and Numerical Study of Magnetic Spring Suspension with Energy Recovery CapabilitiesAs the automotive paradigm shifts towards electric, limited range remains a key challenge. Increasing the battery size adds weight, which yields diminishing returns in range per kilowatt-hour. Therefore, energy recovery systems, such as regenerative braking and photovoltaic cells, are desirable to recharge the onboard batteries in between hub charge cycles. While some reports of regenerative suspension do exist, they all harvest energy in a parasitic manner, and the predicted power output is extremely low, since the majority of the energy is still dissipated to the environment by the suspension. This paper proposes a fundamental suspension redesign using a magnetically-levitated spring mechanism and aims to increase the recoverable energy significantly by directly coupling an electromagnetic transducer as the main damper. Furthermore, the highly nonlinear magnetic restoring force can also potentially enhance rider comfort. Analytical and numerical models have been constructed. Road roughness data from an Australian road were used to numerically simulate a representative environment response. Simulation suggests that 10’s of kW to >100 kW can theoretically be generated by a medium-sized car travelling on a typical paved road (about 2–3 orders of magnitude higher than literature reports on parasitic regenerative suspension schemes), while still maintaining well below the discomfort threshold for passengers (<0.315 m/s2 on average).
A Numerical Feasibility Study of Kinetic Energy Harvesting from Lower Limb ProstheticsWith the advancement trend of lower limb prosthetics headed towards bionics (active ankle and knee) and smart prosthetics (gait and condition monitoring), there is an increasing integration of various sensors (micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers, strain gauges, pressure sensors, etc.), microcontrollers and wireless systems, and power drives including motors and actuators. All of these active elements require electrical power. However, inclusion of a heavy and bulky battery risks to undo the lightweight advancements achieved by the strong and flexible composite materials in the past decades. Kinetic energy harvesting holds the promise to recharge a small on-board battery in order to sustain the active systems without sacrificing weight and size. However, careful design is required in order not to over-burden the user from parasitic effects. This paper presents a feasibility study using measured gait data and numerical simulation in order to predict the available recoverable power. The numerical simulations suggest that, depending on the axis, up to 10s mW average electrical power is recoverable for a walking gait and up to 100s mW average electrical power is achievable during a running gait. This takes into account parasitic losses and only capturing a fraction of the gait cycle to not adversely burden the user. The predicted recoverable power levels are ample to self-sustain wireless communication and smart sensing functionalities to support smart prosthetics, as well as extend the battery life for active actuators in bionic systems. The results here serve as a theoretical foundation to design and develop towards regenerative smart bionic prosthetics.
Optimisation and management of energy generated by a multifunctional MFC-integrated composite chassis for rail vehiclesWith the advancing trend towards lighter and faster rail transport, there is an increasing interest in integrating composite and advanced multifunctional materials in order to infuse smart sensing and monitoring, energy harvesting and wireless capabilities within the otherwise purely mechanical rail structures and the infrastructure. This paper presents a holistic multiphysics numerical study, across both mechanical and electrical domains, that describes an innovative technique of harvesting energy from a piezoelectric micro fiber composites (MFC) built-in composite rail chassis structure. Representative environmental vibration data measured from a rail cabin have been critically leveraged here to help predict the actual vibratory and power output behaviour under service. Time domain mean stress distribution data from the Finite Element simulation were used to predict the raw AC voltage output of the MFCs. Conditioned power output was then calculated using circuit simulation of several state-of-the-art power conditioning circuits. A peak instantaneous rectified power of 181.9 mW was obtained when eight-stage Synchronised Switch Harvesting Capacitors (SSHC) from eight embedded MFCs were located. The results showed that the harvested energy could be sufficient to sustain a self-powered structural health monitoring system with wireless communication capabilities. This study serves as a theoretical foundation of scavenging for vibrational power from the ambient state in a rail environment as well as to pointing to design principles to develop regenerative and power neutral smart vehicles.