Development of Magnetic Shape Memory Alloy Actuators for a Swashplateless Helicopter Rotor
Couch, Ronald Newton
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Actuator concepts utilizing NiMnGa, ferromagnetic shape memory alloy are investigated for potential use on a smart rotor for trailing edge flap actuation. With their high energy density, large dynamic stroke, and wide operating bandwidth, ferromagnetic shape memory alloys (FSMA) like NiMnGa, seem like attractive candidates for smart rotor actuators, potentially able to fulfill the requirements for both primary rotor control and vibration suppression. However, because of the recent discovery of the material, current experimental data and analytical tools are limited. To rectify these shortcomings, an extensive set of detailed experiments were conducted on samples of NiMnGa to characterize the response of the alloy for a wide variety of mechanical and magnetic loading conditions. Measurements of the material performance parameters such as power density, damping properties, magneto-mechanical coupling, and transduction efficiency were included. Once characterized, the experimental data were used to develop a series of analytical tools to predict the behavior of the material. A model, developed in parallel to thermal shape memory alloy models is proposed to predict the quasi-static stress-strain behavior. A simple, low frequency, parameter based model was also developed to predict the alloy's dynamic strain response. A method for developing conceptual actuators utilizing NiMnGa as the actuation element was proposed. This approach incorporates experimental data into a process that down-selects a series of possible actuator configurations to obtain a single configuration optimized for volumetric and weight considerations. The proposed actuator was designed to deliver 2 mm of stroke and 60 N of force at an actuation frequency of 50 Hz. However, to generate the 1.0 T magnetic field, the actuator mass was determined to be 2.8 kg and required a minimum of 320 Watts of power for operation. The mass of the NiMnGa element was only 18.3 g. It was concluded that although the NiMnGa alloy was capable of meeting the trailing edge flap actuation requirements, the material is not suitable in its present form for this application because of weight and power consumption issues. The magnetic field requirements must be reduced to improve the utility of the material for rotorcraft applications.