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Mechatronic Design of a Shape Memory Alloy Actuator for Automotive Tumble Flaps: A Case Study

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3 Author(s)
Alberto Bellini ; Dept. of Sci. & Methods of Eng., Univ. of Modena & Reggio Emilia, Reggio Emilia ; Marcello Colli ; Eugenio Dragoni

The continuous advance in mechatronics has long attracted researchers toward the development of new highly integrated actuators for automotive applications where reduced space and low weight are common constraints. In this context, Shape Memory Alloys (SMAs) offer many peculiar characteristics that make this technology very attractive for the construction of miniature mechatronic actuators. This paper presents the design, the prototype fabrication, and the functional testing of a case study, where an SMA binary actuator is used for automotive tumble flaps. The innovative solid-state actuation system is proposed as an alternative to electromagnetic and pneumatic effectors, traditionally used to drive the tumble shaft of an air intake manifold for internal combustion engines. Original features of the linear actuator involve the mechanical architecture and the control structure. On the mechanical side, two contrasting sets of SMA springs are used to actively generate the net actuating force during both out-stroke and in-stroke. On the control side, a current feedback is exploited for sensorless real-time monitoring of the working temperature of the SMA springs during electrical supply. Major shortcomings of the proposed solution are a low response time and a power consumption higher than pneumatic and electromagnetic counterparts.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics  (Volume:56 ,  Issue: 7 )