Power Characterization of THUNDER™ Actuators as Underwater Propulsors


Davis, L. P.


Piezoelectric actuators have been used for active vibration control, noise suppression, health monitoring, etc. The large appeal in using smart material actuators stems from their high mechanical energy density. A relatively new actuator (THUNDER) has overcome the displacement hurdles that have plagued traditional piezoelectric based actuators. It is capable of providing a displacement on order of 0.5 cm. This allows the actuator to be used in some underwater applications, such as propulsion. To date the electrical power consumption and electromechanical efficiency of these actuators has not been quantified; specifically, applied as underwater propulsors. Some of the challenges in obtaining this information stems from the actuator's non traditional actuating architecture, high voltage requirements, and its electrical non-linearity. The work presented experimentally determines the electrical power consumption and mechanical displacement of THUNDER actuators used as underwater propulsors. It is found that the electrical power consumption of the clamshell actuator investigated is significantly less than that consumed by other autonomous under water vehicles. The potential thrust generated by such a device remains to be quantified.

Meeting Name

Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering (2001, Newport Beach, CA)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


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© 2001 SPIE -- The International Society for Optical Engineering, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2001