Projects & Experiments

This page presents brief descriptions of experiments, demonstrations, and projects that were developed by the CRCD team for use in various classes. In some cases, the actual experimental procedures are provided.


SMA Reconfigurable Wing

This project has been adapted to become a class demonstration for ENGR 111 or 112. The purpose of adapting this wing for freshmen is to show the basics of SMA actuation in addition to one of the possibilities of implementation. Also, this could be used in AERO 301 and 303 as a project.

Fig. 1 – Reconfigurable Wing

Piezoelectric Beam / SMA Actuated Beam

The piezoelectric beam/SMA beam has been implemented as a project for 211 or 214 students. The focus of the project is to learn about different types of actuation as well as basic vibration and damping. Another aspect of the project could be to measure energy in the system in addition to relating input energy to work done by the system.

Fig. 2 -- SMA Beam

A dual beam experiment has been developed that demonstrates the use of intelligent systems in structural control. Three sets of PZT devices have been mounted on two identical flexible beams.

Each PZT device is capable of acting as a sensor and/or control actuator. Each beam is also capable of being driven at one of its first 3 modes through PZT actuation, or of sensing and suppressing the first 3 modes when externally forced.

Together, the two beams are intended to behave as internal structural members of a wing-like structure -- in-phase, the pair drives bending motion, out-of-phase, the pair drives torsion motion.

Control has been implemented by use of classical direct feedback control using the PZT as both sensor and actuator. In addition, control via neural networks has been used, and neural training for several applications has been successful.

Hardware consists of the 2 beams, 6 PZT pairs, electromechanical shaker with power supply, control boards, and support equipment (amplifiers, power supplies, signal conditioners). Experiments demonstrate beam mechanics and vibrations, PZT devices, and control.

SMA Spring Heat Engine

Shape Memory Alloys are novel materials that can revert to their original shape after they have been deformed. This happens by heating them above a certain temperature. In the first part of the project, shape memory structural elements are designed to return to predetermined shapes. For example, springs and beam elements are considered. Similarities and differences with existing SMA devices, like glass frames and orthodontic devices, are also examined.

In a second stage of the project, the conservation of energy is applied to a SMA device to measure the supply of thermal energy. Also, the thermodynamic cycle is analyzed when the SMA is considered as an actuator (thermal engine). Its efficiency is compared to the Carnot efficiency. Students will build simple wire actuators with hanging weights. Using this, they will measure temperatures and displacements and try to estimate the efficiency of the SMA actuator during the elevation of a predetermined weight in a heating cycle.

Spring Heat Engine Experimental Procedure

Torque Tube

This experiment is designed and applied in the same manner as the spring heat engine described above. The difference here is in the components involved. Instead of using a linear spring, this system uses a torque tube for actuation. This project is designed for higher level classes because torsion is not studied until later in the curriculum (ie. 214,304 or similar).

Torque Tube Experimental Procedure

Fig 3. – Torque Tube Setup

SMA Strip Actuator

Originally designed by Dr. Kinra, this experiment has been modified as a project for upper level classes. The students are given data on the response of their SMA strip. Based on this, they select the type and amount of cooling required to perform some actuation. Alternatively, this can be a demonstration for lower level classes to show the properties of this type of actuator.

Fig. 4 -- SMA Actuator Setup