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Journal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures http://jim.sagepub.


Modeling Magnetorheological Dampers with Application of Nonparametric Approach

Xubin Song, Mehdi Ahmadian and Steve C. Southward Journal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures 2005 16: 421 DOI: 10.1177/1045389X05051071 The online version of this article can be found at: http://jim.sagepub.com/content/16/5/421

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Modeling Magnetorheological Dampers with Application of Nonparametric Approach

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Eaton Corporation, 26201 Northwestern Highway, Southfield, MI 48076, USA Advanced Vehicle Dynamics Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA 3 Lord Corporation, 100 Lord Drive, Cary, NC, USA ABSTRACT: This article studies the application of nonparametric modeling approach to model magnetorheological (MR) dampers. For comparison purposes, another typical parametric modeling method for electrorheological (ER) and MR dampers is reviewed. The existing parametric MR damper model includes a stiff BoucWen model that is not friendly for simulation study and real time implementation of model-based advanced control algorithms. In order to avoid the difficulties by using the existing parametric model, the test data from a commercialized MR damper is employed to develop nonparametric models, which can consist of a series of numerically efficient mathematic functions. In addition, the selected functions are required to be continuous and differentiable for potential model-based control algorithms. The results of the nonparametric models show that such different models are comparable. Furthermore, one nonparametric model is selected to be compared with a parametric model and the test data to illustrate the accuracy of the model. The comparison shows that the proposed nonparametric models are able to accurately predict the damper force characteristics, damper bilinear behavior, hysteresis, and electromagnetic saturation. It is further shown that the nonparametric models can be numerically solved with an integration step size of the order of 102 s, much faster than the parametric models of the order of 105 s, which clearly shows that the proposed nonparametric models are feasible even for real time model-based control algorithms. Key Words: magnetorheological (MR), damper, nonparametric, model, hysteresis


(MR) fluids are manufactured by suspending ferromagnetic particles in a carrier fluid. A wide range of carrier fluids such as silicone oil, kerosene, and synthetic oil can be used for MR fluids. MR fluids exhibit rheological properties that are controllable by a magnetic field. This property is used to provide different damping forces according to the magnetic field that is created within the damper. Prototypes of commercialized MR dampers were introduced nearly a decade ago by Lord Corporation (Carlson and Chrzan, 1994). The MR damper used for this study is shown in Figure 1. This MR damper is similar in size and shape to the existing passive hydraulic dampers. The magnetic field is controlled by the electrical current supplied to the coil of the MR valve, which is commonly used to restrict the fluid flow as the damper piston moves relative to the damper body.

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.

The accumulator is a pressurized volume of gas that is physically separated from the MR fluid by a floating piston or bladder. The accumulator serves two purposes. The first is to provide a volume for the MR fluid to occupy when the shaft is inserted into the damper cylinder. The second is to provide a pressure offset so that the low-pressure side of the MR valve is not reduced enough to cause cavitations of the MR fluid. Figure 2 graphically presents the MR damper performance. Compared to the mechanically adjustable hydraulic dampers, controllable-fluid devices, such as MR (and ER) dampers are often simpler, quieter, and have a quicker dynamic response (Carlson et al., 1995). The transition from one damping level to another can happen in milliseconds, which is significantly faster than the mechanical switches usually used in mechanically adjustable hydraulic dampers. Furthermore, MR dampers are relatively insensitive to temperature extremes and contaminants, due to lack of mechanically driven adjustable valves. Because of these reasons, as well as the ease of use of MR devices, they have been applied to several commercialized semiactive vehicle





STRUCTURES, Vol. 16May 2005


1045-389X/05/05 042112 $10.00/0 DOI: 10.1177/1045389X05051071 2005 Sage Publications

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Figure 1. Assembly of a magnetorheological (MR) damper.


Max current

No current Velocity

Figure 2. Forcevelocity characteristic of MR dampers.

suspension systems, for example, MR seat suspension developed by Lord and MagneRideTM by Delphi. Both production systems are based on model-independent skyhook control, which is effective for improving ride performance in the low frequency range but can induce certain adverse dynamic issues (Song and Ahmadian, 2004). For better dynamic performance in the wide frequency range, one potential solution is to apply more complicated model-dependent advanced control algorithms to semiactive MR suspension systems, because this method can take advantage of the MR damper capability fully. However, one of the significant obstacles is to build a high-fidelity MR damper model with high numerical efficiency. In this article, we try to offer feasible MR damper models to serve the purpose.

BACKGROUND There exist two general methods for modeling devices, such as MR and electrorheological (ER) dampers. One is the parametric modeling technique that characterizes the device as a collection of (linear and/or nonlinear) springs, dampers, and other physical elements. The second method, called nonparametric modeling, employs analytical expressions to describe the characteristics of the modeled devices based on both testing data analysis and device working principles. In this section, we summarize some of the significant parametric and

nonparametric modeling results, developed for ER and MR dampers. Both ER and MR devices have similar nonlinearities, such as hysteresis and saturation. Thus, their modeling techniques are similar. A group of earlier studies used the nonparametric models to describe ER fluid and devices. Ehrgott and Masri (1992) used the Tchebycheff function to model ER fluids. Their model is quite complicated, as it requires a large number of higher terms in order to maintain sufficient accuracy. McClamroch and Gavin (1995) and Hsu and Meyer (1968) used the trigonometric functions to describe hysteresis but their models could not be used to capture the saturation of the damping force in the high velocity region for MR or ER devices. A number of other studies have addressed the parametric modeling of MR and ER dampers. Parametric models refer to those models in which the characteristics of the dampers are represented by a series of linear and nonlinear elements with defined parameters, such as springs and dampers. The Bingham viscoelastic-plastic model, described by Shames and Cozzarelli (1997), was used in the modeling studies on ER fluids and devices, such as Kamath et al. (1996). In another study by Kamath and Wereley (1997a), they used different linear shear flow mechanisms to describe preyield and postyield regions of ER devices. A model was built as a nonlinear combination of both the regional models. The parameters were optimized for each field strength, and polynomial functions were used to approximate the curve for each parameter to achieve a comprehensive analytical model. In another study, Spencer et al. (1996a,b) provide a parametric model for MR dampers, as shown in Figure 3, based on the extension of the Boucwen model (Wen and Asce, 1976). The BoucWen model is derived from a Markov-vector formulation to model nonlinear hysteretic systems. From the model in Figure 3, the MR damper force can be predicted according to 8 > z jx yjzjzjn1 x yjzjn Ax y _ _ _ _ _ _ >_ > < 1 1 _ _ z c0 x k0 x y y > c0 c1 > > : _ Fmr c1 y k1 x x0 The parameters , , and A in the BoucWen model are used to control the linearity in the unloading and the smoothness of the transition from the preyield to the postyield region. The accumulator stiffness is represented by k1 and the viscous damping observed at larger velocities is represented by c0. A dashpot, represented by c1, is included in the model to produce the roll-off at low velocities, k0 is used to control the stiffness at larger velocities, and x0 is the initial displacement of spring k1 associated with the nominal

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Modeling MR Dampers with Nonparametric Approach



experimental test data for an MR damper and the parametric model suggested by Spencer et al. (1996a,b).


k0 c0 k1



In order to build an easy-for-implementation MR damper model for both simulation and real-time control systems, our approach involves:
. evaluating the experimental force characteristics of MR dampers, . combining a series of continuous and differentiable equations that can capture various trends of the experimental data, and . using an optimization routine to fit the selected equations to the data through selecting various coefficients in the equations.

Figure 3. Configuration of the parametric MR damper model suggested by Spencer et al. (1996a,b).

damper due to the accumulator. In addition, z is a revolutionary variable, and Fmr is the predicted damping force. The damping constants c0 and c1 depend on the electrical current applied to the MR damper, and in the Spencer model they are formulated as 8 > u u v >_ < u a b u 2 > c1 cu c1a c1b u > : c0 cu c0a c0b u The variable u is the current applied to the damper through a voltage-to-current converter with a time constant . The variable v is the voltage applied to the converter. Although the parametric models mentioned earlier effectively characterize MR dampers in terms of the BoucWen model, they are often difficult to solve numerically. This is mainly due to the sharp transition nonlinearity that commonly exists in such models in order to represent the nonlinear behavior of the dampers. Our experience shows that such models cannot be included in the real-time controllers without making special provisions for dealing with the stiff differential equations, such as using very fast microcontrollers. Needless to say, application of adaptive control, for example, usually requires a known gradient of control authority with respect to the control signal, a current for this case. Furthermore, parametric models often do not include the magnetic field saturation that is inherent in MR dampers. The representation of the magnetic field saturation is often crucial in accurately using the MR damper model for design analysis and control purposes. Therefore, alternative models are necessary to better represent the characteristics of MR dampers with quick numerical solution. This study will discuss a nonparametric model for MR dampers and devices that behave similar to them, as an alternative to the parametric models that currently exist. The development of the model, along with the logic that is used in configuring it, is presented first. Next, the results of the models are compared with the

Each aspect of this approach is described in detail in the following sections. Experimental Data Analysis The data that were used for identifying the characteristics of the dampers and calibrating our models included the force trace (i.e., force vs. time), force velocity, and forcedisplacement characteristics of a damper that was designed for a seat suspension. As shown in Figure 4, each plot includes six curves that correspond to the damper behavior for various electrical currents supplied to the damper. For 0 A, the MR damper exhibits a nearly Newtonian behavior, i.e., linear viscoelastic relationship between the damping force and the velocity (Figure 4(b)) and an elliptic curve in the damping force against displacement as shown in Figure 4(c). At the higher current settings, the MR damper appears to exhibit a non-Newtonian or quasi-viscous behavior. In order to build a relatively accurate model for MR dampers, we determined that it is necessary to evaluate different aspects of damper behaviors separately and use appropriate functions to describe each aspect. For instance, Figure 4(a) shows that the period of damping force directly corresponds to the excitation frequency and the curves resemble sine or square waves. Therefore, we can conclude that the damper force is directly dependent on the excitation frequency. As such, the model must be a function that preserves the velocity period in the time domain. The hyperbolic function (tanh) can readily show such a trend if the exponent is a function of velocity. This function has been used to derive fast transitions for the solutions to boundary layer problems (Nayfeh, 1993). Similarly, the use of this function is advocated here to describe the transition characteristics of MR dampers from preyield to postyield rheological domain, which

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Figure 4. Experimental data for a MR damper: (a) damper force time trace; (b) forcevelocity; and (c) forcedisplacement.

exists in ER fluids and their devices (Kamath and Wereley, 1997b; Gavin, 2001). Additionally, as shown in Figure 4(b), the forcevelocity curves exhibit a short bend that corresponds to the transition of the MR fluid from the preyield to the postyield region. The transition commonly occurs at the same velocity but different force values, depending on different currents applied to the damper. The function tanh can mimic the transition if the parameters are properly chosen. Therefore, it can be concluded that tanh or its derivatives could be used as a backbone shape function to not only preserve the frequency but also to create the transitions shown in Figure 4(a) and (b). Another simple function for describing these characteristics can be a combination of sign function and exponential functions dependent on the velocity as is shown later. Figure 5 shows the relationship between peak damping force and electrical current to the damper. For MR dampers, the damping force directly depends on the strength of the applied magnetic field, prior to occurrence of magnetic saturation at higher electrical

currents. The saturation of the damper force is indicated by the slope of the curve in Figure 5. The slope of the curve flattens at larger currents, indicating the occurrence of damping force saturation. In order to capture such a trend, a polynomial function is used to depict the relationship between damping force and current. Further, it is observed in Figure 4(b) and (c) that hysteresis loops exist in the MR damper. Usually hysteresis means that there exists a phase lag between the concerned variables; in this case, the damping force and velocity. A convenient way to model the phase-lag relationship between damping force and velocity is to use a first-order filter. The coefficients of the firstorder filter must be functions of the current, since the hysteresis width in Figure 4(b) depends on the applied current. From the previous discussion on the experimental data, nonparametric models are developed in the following to capture the complicated nonlinearities inherent in MR dampers.

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Modeling MR Dampers with Nonparametric Approach


In Equation (4c), b0 > 1, b1 > 0, and b2 > 0 are constants, and V is the velocity across the MR damper, and V0 is a constant. Since tanh is an exponential based function, it has been observed that Equation (4a) is too flat to describe the FV bending curve at the large velocity region. Thus, Equation (4a) is modified as Equation (4c) to avoid such modeling discrepancy. Combining Equations (3) and (4) yields the damper force as a function of damper current and relative velocity, i.e., Fs Amr ISb V
Figure 5. Maximum damping force vs applied current for a MR damper (experimental data).

Nonparametric Model Development Based on the discussion in the previous section, four mathematical functions are proposed to capture the dominant aspects of MR dampers. The model can be composed of the following functions: 1. A Polynomial Function: A function such as n X Amr I ai I i

However, other proper functions can also be used to capture the transition change of bilinear characteristics. But based on our modeling experience, the previous equations can work well even out of the testing range for dynamic system study. Equation (4c) is further developed from Equation (4a) to better capture the MR damper dynamics. 3. A Delay Function: A first-order filter is used to create the hysteresis loop. In its state space form, this filter is formulated as _ x h0 h1 I h2 I 2 x h3 Fs Fh h0 h1 I h2 I x h4 Fs

6a 6b

is used to describe the maximum damping force as a function of the applied current. In Equation (3), Amr is the maximum damping force, ai is the polynomial coefficients with appropriate units, n is the order of the polynomial, and I is the current applied to MR dampers. However, if such differentiation is not required for application, this function can be replaced by spline functions, linear (or nonlinear) interpolation, and even lookup tables, though not further discussed in this article. 2. A Shape Function: Several functions proposed in Equation (4) are used to preserve the resulted wave-shape correlation between the damper force and relative velocity across the damper, and also represent the bilinear behavior of the forcevelocity curve. Sb V tanh b1 I b0 V  Sb V sgn V 1 exp b0 jVj V0 ! 4b 4a

where, x is a state variable of the filter, hi, i 02, are constants and hi, i 34 are constants or functions of current, and I is the current applied to the MR damper, as defined earlier in Equation (3). Fh combines the damping force Fs shown earlier in Equation (5) and the hysteresis function. It is worth noting that the condition h0 h1 I h2 I 2 > 0 must be satisfied in order for Equation (6) to be stable (i.e., have a decaying solution). 4. Offset Function: In some cases, the damping force is not centered at zero because of the effect of the gascharged accumulator in the damper. Therefore, it is necessary to include a force bias in the model, such as Fmr Fh Fbias 7

Sb V

b0 b1 jV V0 jb2 VV0 b0 b1 jV V0 jb2 VV0 bb2 VV0 bb2 VV0 0 0 4c

where, Fbias represents the nonzero centered damping force mainly resulting from the accumulator, and Fmr is the MR damping force. But usually the bias force is removed from the collected damping force data for modeling study, because dynamic system study focuses on the dynamics around the equilibriums. The combination of the four functions mentioned above provides the nonparametric model, as presented in Equation (7). Next, we will discuss the selection of the model parameters and evaluate the model accuracy by comparing the model results with experimental data.

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The parameters in the proposed nonparametric model are estimated by using the data shown in Figure 4 for electrical currents of 02 A. An optimization process is used to minimize the error between the measured damping force and the force predicted by the model, according to the objective function J
N X k1

fFmr k Fex kg2

where, Fex is the experimentally measured force, Fmr is the force calculated from the model, and N is the total number of the experimental data from 0 to 2 A. A constrained optimization routine is used to select the model parameters that minimize the objective function in Equation (8) and satisfy the constraints that specify the selection region for the model parameters, according to the flow chart in Figure 6. Because of the limits on the feasible region for the parameters, the optimizer can make well-informed decisions regarding directions of search and step length. Furthermore, appropriate initial values for optimal selection of the model parameters are necessary to ensure that the optimization process converges quickly and properly, because nonlinear optimization problems are highly sensitive to the initial values of the parameters. First, the initial values of the parameters of Equations (3)(7) were determined with the dissected data sets by trial and error. For example, the polynomial coefficients ai, i 04, were determined initially by using

the least mean square method according to the maximum forcecurrent data. Next, we ran the program a few more times to decide the initial values of the other parameters. Finally, the complete model represented by Equations (3)(7) was optimized according to the optimization process as shown in Figure 6. Our experience showed that such a procedure provides effective initial values for the constrained optimization routine CONSTR in Matlab, which was used for this purpose. All parameters were constrained within a range that was equal to / two times the initial values of the parameters. For instance, a parameter with an initial value of 1 was constrained to a range of 1 to 3. We determined this range empirically, as our experience showed that it is large enough to allow convergence to acceptable solutions, and yet small enough to avoid numerical instability. For some models, we ran the optimization routine multiple times to check the effect of different parameter constraints on the solution. According to the shape function of Equation (4), three nonparametric models can be derived. The models are named as NP Model SF(a), NP Model SF(b), and NP Model SF(c), respectively. First, NP Model SF(c) is optimized, and the selected values of the parameters of this model are shown in Table 1. Then all the optimal parameter values are preserved for optimizing NP Model SF(a) and NP Model SF(b) except for the parameters of the shape functions that are different among these three models. It is worth noting that if a different damper, a different set of data (for example, from different testing conditions), or a different optimization routine are chosen, the parameters in Table 1 may significantly change. Optimized shape functions of Equations (4a) and (4b) are as follows: Sb V tanh 0:2I 1V  ! jVj Sb V sgn V 1 exp 0:62 9a 9b

Initial values of NP MR Model

Testing data of velocity and force Fex

Revise model parameter values

Calculate FMR from NP MR model



Use CONSTR to minimize (FMR Fex )

The effect of shape functions is presented in this section. From Figures 7 to 9, it can be observed that
Table 1. Optimal values of the magnetorheological (MR) damper model.
Parameter A0 A1 A2 A3 A4 Value 164.8 1316.5 1407.8 1562.8 388.8 Parameter b0 b1 b2 h0 h1 Value 5.8646 0.0060 0.2536 299.7733 210.320 Parameter h2 h3 h4 V0 Fbias Value 566.0 1 0 0.6248 0


Optimization converges subject to constraints ? Yes END

Figure 6. Flow chart for selecting the MR damper model parameters.

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Modeling MR Dampers with Nonparametric Approach


Figure 7. Effect of shape functions on representing the damping force of nonparametric MR damper models.

these three nonparametric models can have very similar damping force predictions. Figure 7 shows that NP Model SF (a) has slower transition slope for the lower currents, while three models have almost the same transition trends if the current goes higher. Furthermore, from this figure, it can be observed that at the higher currents NP Model SF(a) and NP Model SF(b) are closer to a square wave than NP Model SF(c). Compared to the experimental data in Figure 4(a), we can conclude that NP Model SF(c) is better than the other two models from this point of view. In Figure 8, it is clearly shown that NP Model SF(b) and NP Model SF(c) have similar hysteresis characteristics from low to high currents. Figure 9 shows that all the three models have similar damping capability for both Newtonian and non-Newtonian regions, which corresponds to low and high currents, respectively. Overall, the most complicated model, NP Model SF(c), has the best potential to match the experimental

data so that it can better represent the MR damper studied. In the following section, we use this model to further compare with the parametric model as well as the testing data. Based on such comparison, the numeric efficiency and model accuracy are discussed.

COMPARISON WITH PARAMETRIC MODEL In order to evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed nonparametric models, we compared the selected NP Model SF(c) with the experimental data and a parametric model that was developed in Spencer et al. (1996a,b) for nearly the same MR damper as the one we tested. Therefore, a comparison between these two models is justified. The parameters selected for the nonparametric model are according to Table 1, whereas the parameters for the parametric model are as documented in Spencer et al. (1996a,b).

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Figure 8. Effect of shape functions on representing forcevelocity characteristics of nonparametric MR damper models.

When comparing the nonparametric model to the mentioned parametric model, some of the immediate observations that we made were: 1. increased numerical efficiency, 2. better representation of force saturation, and 3. more accuracy in a broader operating range. Another apparent point is that the proposed nonparametric model uses not only continuous but also differentiable functions so that it can be easily contained in model-dependent advanced control algorithms. Numerical Efficiency Our experience with the parametric and nonparametric models proved that one is able to solve the nonparametric model described by Equations (3)(8), much faster than Equations (1) and (2) for a parametric model in Figure 3. This may be apparent to the naked eye, as one set of equations involves stiff differential equations and the other does not. As such one is able to

integrate the nonparametric models with much larger step sizes than the parametric model. In our case, we chose a step size of 105 s for the parametric model and 102 s for the nonparametric model, a difference of 1000 times. Force Saturation Representation Figure 10 shows that the nonparametric model can better capture the magnetic saturation phenomenon inherent in MR dampers. The nonparametric model follows the experimental data much more closely than the parametric model (Spencer et al., 1996a,b) that exhibits a linear curve for maximum force versus electrical current. This is mainly due to the fact that the nonparametric model explicitly accounts for the damper force saturation, whereas the parametric model lacks such a mechanism. Accuracy in the Operating Range Figures 1113 show the force trace (i.e. force vs. time), forcevelocity, and forcedisplacement characteristics

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Modeling MR Dampers with Nonparametric Approach


Figure 9. Effect of shape functions on representing forcedisplacement characteristics of nonparametric MR damper models.

Figure 10. Prediction of damper force saturation by parametric and nonparametric MR damper models.

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Figure 11. Damping force time trace for different electrical currents.

Figure 12. Damping forcevelocity characteristics for different electrical currents.

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Modeling MR Dampers with Nonparametric Approach


Figure 13. Damping forcedisplacement characteristics for different electrical currents.

of the dampers for six different electrical currents. Each plot demonstrates that the nonparametric model is able to more closely predict the experimental data than the parametric model, for all current levels. Two factors mainly contribute to this phenomenon. First, the parameters for the nonparametric models are selected such that the model fits the experimental data. Although the same is true for the parametric model, it is configured such that the data fit is specific to a single current, and for other currents the model may not predict the experimental data with the same degree of accuracy. Second, as mentioned earlier, the parametric model does not account for the damper force saturation, and as such it deviates from the experimental data when saturation occurs, for example at higher currents.

saturation phenomenon, and a modified hyperbolic tanh was used to capture the sharp bend in the force velocity curve of the damper. Furthermore, a nonlinear first-order filter was used to represent the hysteresis behavior of the damper force. The model results were compared with experimental data and results of a parametric model. The comparison showed that the proposed models could capture the main aspects of the MR damper better than the existing parametric model in addition to greatly improved numerical efficiency. Nonetheless, some other mathematical functions can also be used to replace the proposed modeling equations. Further, it can be predicted that the proposed nonlinear nonparametric models can be used to develop a real-time advanced control algorithm due to its fast numerical speed and differentiability.

CONCLUSIONS The nonparametric approach has been applied to model the MR dampers. The model adopts a series of continuous and differentiable mathematical functions to represent the physical damper characteristics, such as hysteresis and force saturation, in correspondence to those properly dissected data sets from the testing data. A polynomial function was used to describe the force

ACKNOWLEDGMENT This work was sponsored by Lord Corporation.

Carlson, J.D. and Chrzan, M.J. 1994. Magnetorheological Fluid Dampers, Patent No. 5,277,281, Jan 11.

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