Thermal Modeling of Shape Memory Alloy Wire Actuators for Automotive Applications
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Shape Memory Alloy is an amazing material, which can “remember” and return to its original shape when heated due to its temperature dependent phase transformation. Shape Memory Alloy wire has significant potential for application in the automobile industry due to its high ratio of energy / weight and silent actuation. However, a dependable method to measure the operating temperature of SMA wire and a reliable heat transfer model to characterize the dynamics of the SMA wire limit its widespread use in the automobile industry. This thesis presents a detailed description of the work performed to develop a reliable method for determining surface temperature of current carrying SMA wires and the development of a heat transfer correlation for natural convection cooling of heated SMA wires. The major findings of the research are as follows: When a spot welded thermocouple measures the temperature of a current carrying SMA wire, there is a “spurious voltage” ΔV added to the thermo electro-motive force (EMF) of the thermocouple as a result of a voltage drop across the two points of contact that the thermocouple wires make with the SMA wire. This leads to an erroneous temperature reading that can be higher or lower than the actual temperature depending on the direction of current flow. When the carrying current is reversed in direction, the “spurious voltage” becomes –ΔV allowing a correct temperature reading to be obtained by averaging the readings based on opposed current flow. A two-step spot welding procedure for attaching thermocouples to SMA wire can eliminate the influence of the “spurious voltage” in the temperature reading. By spot welding the thermocouple wires onto the SMA wire one by one, the thermocouple lead offset is eliminated and the thermocouple provides an accurate point source reading. Infrared thermal imaging can be a good supplement in the experiment to monitor errors in temperature readings from thermocouples. Due to the curvature of the SMA wire, the temperatures of the locations on the SMA wire that are the closest to the infrared camera represent the temperature of the SMA wire. So a line analysis across the SMA wire on the software “ThermaCAM” is required to determine the temperature of the SMA wire by infrared thermal imaging and the highest temperature on the line is the temperature of the SMA wire. A new natural convective heat transfer correlation comprising the inclination angle φ is developed based on experimental results, which can be used to predict the temperature of a SMA wire given its diameter and inclination angle. The comparisons show that the new correlation agrees with existing correlations in a vertical orientation and for small Rayleigh numbers (0.001 < RaD < 0.05) in the horizontal orientation. The correlation developed in this work for horizontal orientation tends to overestimate values of Nusselt numbers as predicted in other correlations when the Rayleigh number is high (0.05 < RaD < 0.6). It is speculated that this overestimation can be attributed to a temperature distortion associated with thermocouple measurement at or near ambient pressure conditions.