Author: Singh, Yadvinder
Piezoelectric actuators are increasingly used for the electronic control of fuel injector opening valves. Hydrogen is considered an attractive clean alternative fuel for automobile and power generation applications. Current understanding of the performance of piezoelectric actuators in a hydrogen environment is very limited. This work is aimed at experimentally investigating the performance of hydrogen-exposed piezoelectric actuators under conditions directly relevant to a hydrogen-based fuel injector. The performance is assessed with both quasi-static and dynamic electric loads. It is found that up to 12 weeks of continuous exposure to hydrogen at 100°C and 10 MPa has a negligible effect on the actuator stroke when testing is conducted at temperatures of 5-80°C. Cyclic exposure and exposure done on fatigue cycled actuators also yields similar results. Microstructure and dielectric investigations confirm this behavior. The reason for a negligible effect of hydrogen is attributed to the presence of a protective ceramic insulation around the lateral surface of actuators which deactivates the hydrogen diffusion mechanism. A fully-coupled 3-D FEM-based numerical model of a Thermo-Electro-Mechanical continuum in hydrogen environment is developed using the ‘Equation Based Modeling’ feature of COMSOL Multiphysics. The model provides a useful tool for understanding the localized responses of the actuators in hydrogen environment and to predict their durability and applicability under different conditions.
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Thesis advisor: Rajapakse, Nimal
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