Problem Definition

There are over 5 million Mountain Bikes (MTBs) sold each year in this country alone.  The suspension system is a significant driver of overall performance and unit cost.  Any improvements that enhance performance or reduce cost would have a huge market potential.  Of particular interest is the use of magneto rheological damper technology as part of a MTB suspension system.  Magneto rheological (MR) fluid is a magnetic fluid that changes viscosity in the presence of a magnetic field.  An electromagnet is used to change the viscosity of MR fluid.  MR fluid is used as a damper in shock absorbers.  When MR fluid is brought into a magnetic field, the metal particles in the fluid are aligned according to the magnetic field lines.  The stronger the magnetic field, the higher the viscosity of the MR fluid.  

The primary objective of this project is to determine the suitability and feasibility of using
magneto rheological damper technology as part of an actively controlled bicycle suspension system.  The goal of this investigation is to create a laboratory system that demonstrates the ability to influence damping characteristics from external computer controls and to create a conceptual design of the hardware/software/algorithms that would be needed for prototyping.
An electromagnet is used to control the viscosity of MR fluid. MR fluids adapt accordingly to sensors monitoring ground conditions. An accelerometer could be used to detect various ground conditions. The MR damper would respond according to information from the accelerometer. Algorithms could be used to interpret the accelerometer data. The algorithms would determine how much current to send through the electromagnet. The electromagnet would then attenuate the viscosity of the MR fluid.