A team at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in the Netherlands is developing a new, active electromagnetic suspension system. Built in cooperation with SKF of Sweden, this suspension system is fitted in cars, making them safer because they no longer roll on turns.
The conventional shock absorber is replaced with this newer system, which is around the same size. A strong electromagnetic actuator, a control unit, a passive spring and batteries are part of the package. The researchers say the system’s design is based on safety. Both the springing and shock absorbers will still be operational if an electrical power failure ensues. The system’s passive spring supplies the spring, and the magnets give passive, magnetic shock absorption.
The team installed the system in a BMW test car that was exhibited at the AutoRAI show in Amsterdam. According to the researchers, the wheels of the car can rise and fall very quickly, which is one of the special features of the system. While active suspension systems are already in place, they are hydraulic and are not as quick to negate the quick vibrations triggered by the road surface’s irregularities.
The system was evaluated on a testbed in 2010, where road-surface vibrations were stimulated on one single wheel. The team found a 60% jump in the quality of the ride.
Manufacturing more comfortable and safer cars is possible due to improved roadholding. Cars equipped with this suspension system will have a much harder time flipping over, triggered by abrupt steering manoeuvres.
If you install this suspension system on all four wheels, the peak consumption is 500 watt - half of what an air-conditioning system uses. Hydraulic suspension systems use four times as much power. And the consumption of our system can probably be reduced still further by optimization. This is only the first version.—Bart Gysen, TU/e doctoral student and team member
The team notes that the road surface-generated vibrations could produce power, which is then fed back into the battery.