Design Innovation

Design and Development of a Sun Tracking Mechanism Using the Direct SMA Actuation

[+] Author and Article Information
N. Jeya Ganesh, S. Maniprakash, L. Chandrasekaran, S. M. Srinivasan

 Department of Applied Mechanics, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai-600 036, India

A. R. Srinivasa

 Department of Mechanical Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843

J. Mech. Des 133(7), 075001 (Jul 18, 2011) (8 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4004380 History: Received August 12, 2010; Accepted May 15, 2011; Published July 18, 2011; Online July 18, 2011

An attempt has been made in this work to develop a simple yet efficient sun tracking mechanism (SSTM) using smart shape memory alloy (SMA). This mechanism is directly activated by the sun dispensing with the requirement of an additional external source to power it. The SMA element incorporated in the SSTM device performs the dual functions of sensing and actuating in such a way as to position the solar receptor tilted appropriately to face the sun directly at all times during the day. The mechanism has been designed such that the thermal stimulus needed to activate the SMA element is provided by the concentration and direct focusing of the incident sun rays on to the SMA element. This paper presents, in detail, the design and construction adopted to develop the functional model that was fabricated and tested for performance.

Copyright © 2011 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

Working elements of a typical currently existing sun tracking mechanism

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Figure 2

Working elements of the proposed smart sun tracking mechanism (SSTM)

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Figure 3

Functional model of the proposed smart sun tracking mechanism (SSTM) working elements are: 1. SMA spring; 2. Fixed frame X; 3. Pulley A&B; 4. Wheel C,D&E; 5. Pawl and Ratchet; 6. The main shaft; 7. Stopper arrangement; 8. Driving bevel gear; 9. Driven bevel gear; 10. The mechanism dead weight; 11. Solar receptor shaft; 12. Lens; 13. The actuator dead weight and 14. Solar receptor.

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Figure 4

(A) Idealized SMA spring force vs. deflection behavior for standard SMA spring design, (B) configurations of the SMA spring under hot, hot with load and cold with load condition shapes [17]

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Figure 5

(a) Load vs deflection chart of SMA spring obtained from experiments (cases 1 and 2) and the theoretical design calculation. (b) Load vs stroke (difference in displacements of the austenitic and the martensitic state) chart of SMA spring-experiments (cases 1 and 2) and the theoretical design calculation.




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