Browsing Mechanical Engineering by Subjects
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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.