Analysis of oscillating flow cooled SMA actuator
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Shape Memory Alloys (SMA) are a group of metallic alloys that have the ability to return to some previously defined shape or size when subjected to an appropriate thermal cycling procedure. In recent years there has been a lot of research on the development of small, light and, yet, powerful actuators for use in areas like robotics, prosthetics, biomimetics, shape control and grippers. Many of the miniaturized conventional actuators do not have sufficient power output to be useful and SMAs can be used advantageously here. The widespread use of SMAs in actuators is limited by their low bandwidth. Use of SMAs in two-way actuators requires that they undergo thermal cycling (heating and cooling). While SMAs can be heated quickly by resistive heating, conventional convection cooling mechanisms are much slower as the exothermic austenitic to martensitic phase transformation is accompanied by the release of significant amount of latent heat. While a number of cooling mechanisms have been studied in SMA actuator literature, most of the cooling mechanisms involve unidirectional forced convection. This may not be the most effective method. Oscillating flow in a channel can sometimes enhance heat transfer over a unidirectional flow. One possible explanation for this heat transfer enhancement is that the oscillatory flow creates a very thin Stokes viscous boundary-layer and hence a large time-dependent transverse temperature gradient at the heated wall. Therefore heat transfer takes place at a large temperature difference, thereby enhancing the heat transfer. In this work, the heat transfer from an SMA actuator under an oscillating channel is investigated and is compared to steady, unidirectional flow heat transfer. Oscillating flow is simulated using a finite volume based method. The resulting velocity field is made use of in solving the heat transfer problem using a finite difference scheme. A parametric study is undertaken to identify the optimal flow conditions required to produce the maximum output for a given geometry of the SMA actuator. The latent heat of transformation of the SMA is accounted for by means of a temperature dependent specific heat.
Pachalla Seshadri, Rajagopal (2004). Analysis of oscillating flow cooled SMA actuator. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from