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Smart actuators for turbulence research

As a partner in the DFG funded research group FOR 1779 "Active Drag Reduction via Wavy Surface Oscillations" the Central Institute of Engineering, Electronics and Analytics (ZEA-2) works on a device that is intended for manipulation of turbulent airflow in subsonic wind tunnel experiments. The research group investigates turbulent drag reduction by producing a running surface wave transversal to an incoming airflow over the surface. This phenomenon can be observed in nature, e.g. the dolphin and can be reproduced in numerical simulations. Based on these findings wind tunnel experiments are to be conducted.

For these experiments a system of actuators connected to a suitable surface producing the transversal surface waves is needed. This system is build and optimized by the ZEA-2. It is working similar to a loudspeaker moving the surface by sending current through coils inside a magnetic field. My task specifically is to control this setup using a digital controller, (audio) amplifiers and analog light barriers (for micrometer position detection) in such a way that we get the wave we want. This is far from trivial since the latest iteration of the actuator system has a large amount of actuators (20) in close proximity of each other, which are all coupled strongly via the surface they actuate. The issue of precisely controlling them is further compounded by nonlinear dynamics like friction and nonlinear reset forces playing a more or less significant role depending on the operating parameters.

For the rapid control prototyping phase the system is connected to a powerful computer with sufficient A/D in- and outputs as its controller. It runs Matlab Simulink Real Time for its flexibility and ease of use which are most important for this kind of work. Other state of the art software and hardware tools are used to enable building, optimizing and controlling the system. Such as some mechanical parts which have been quickly developed with Inventor and professional 3D printers available at the ZEA-2.

ModelCopyright: Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH

Once the prototyping is complete the goal of my work will be, based on the research of my former colleague Marcel Dück, to investigate the possibility of creating a so called cyber-physical system, a network in which a large number of sensors, actuators and controllers can be connected and used in a smart way. This might after further development eventually be built into a passenger plane to make it more eco-friendly or maybe less noisy.

SystemCopyright: Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH

For 1779Copyright: Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH