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Piezoelectric Brake Actuators


PIBRAC complies with the strategic objective ‘Open Upstream Research for strengthening the competitiveness of the aeronautical industry in the global market’, responding to the challenge of delivering more economical, higher performing and better quality products and services. It addresses the strategic objective "of reducing the operating costs by 20% and 50% in the short and long term" through reduction in weight, peak energy demand for braking at landing and of maintenance costs of brakes.

PIBRAC will develop two approaches, with a medium-term perspective for rotational actuator design and a long-term one for linear design.

Project objectives

Emerging high-power, piezoelectric vibration motor technology, thanks to its high torque/force – low-speed characteristic, high-power density and very low inertia, could lead to overcoming the drawbacks (peak power demand, mass) of EMA fitted with electromagnetic motors.

The aim of PIBRAC is to run specific research, on the basis of existing research results on high-power piezoelectric motors, and to carry-out specific research and validation that will allow the use of this promising technology in aircraft brake actuators. The general PIBRAC objective is to demonstrate the feasibility of a piezoelectric brake actuator, including power electronics and the control system. Two different actuator configurations will be considered: for the rotational configuration, two prototypes will be built and tested, while work for the linear configuration will be limited to paper study and modelling. A final technical and economic evaluation of these piezoelectric brake actuators will be provided.

Rotational motor
Rotational motor

Description of the work

The PIBRAC’s objective is to study, design and test an innovative type of piezoelectric brake actuator and its control electronics. PIBRAC is a three-year project divided into five Work Packages that include specifications and assessment criteria, research on different functions, technology integration, technology evaluation and results dissemination. They will address both configurations of actuators, which will be studied in parallel, with a final assessment presenting conclusions on each technology and on the comparison of both. The reason for this approach is that partners are convinced that there is a high chance of success for the rotational actuator, while the linear actuator may require complementary work with higher risk because nothing exists in this domain at the required power level.

The main topics to be addressed are:

  • architecture of brake actuator with piezoelectric motor
  • wear of the friction surfaces of piezoelectric elements inside the motor
  • elimination of mechanical jamming of internal parts in case of motor failure
  • electrical power management
  • high-frequency control of piezoelectric motor
  • test of validation models.

The PIBRAC consortium gathers all the skills needed from research establishments to components manufacturers and an aircraft manufacturer. It is led by SAGEM, a worldwide equipment company. It includes Airbus, the world’s leading aircraft manufacturer, Messier Bugatti, a worldwide aeronautic equipment provider, BAM, a renowned material research centre, NOLIAC, a competitive piezoelectric component manufacturer (SME), two specialised SMEs in modelling, electronics and testing, and two technical universities specialised in control electronics and R&D result dissemination. The necessary critical mass of competencies is reached within this relatively compact grouping of skilled partners. This is rather unique, considering the number of new technologies and testing facilities required.

Expected results

PIBRAC work will help to overcome the critical issues of a new technology and will demonstrate the ability of this emerging, high-power, piezoelectric motor technology to be applied to brake actuation. The expectation is to demonstrate, when compared to an EMA, a great improvement as regards compactness and power delivered: a weight, including the power electronics, reduced by a factor of two and a peak energy power demand reduced by at least a factor of three and hopefully five