Micromega Dynamics: active damping in vibration control
The use of active damping in structures for noise and vibration control has been analysed and shown to be very powerful over the past few years.
Demonstrations have shown that the application of active damping can reduce bridge vibration and thereby minimise substantially the risk for critical damage.
Many people remember the Tacoma Narrows Bridge destruction of 19 November 1940. One of the theories was that the wind blowing on the bridge resulted in some flutter phenomenon leading to the destabilisation of the structure torsion modes. Active damping is now being researched as a possible solution to similar situations because increasing the structural damping allows withstanding larger maximum wind velocities. The active damping of bridges is also a solution to vibration problems occurring during the construction, when the various parts are not yet finished.
Micromega Dynamics is a young Belgium SME company studying and applying this technique both in space and other applications. The possible use of active damping to reduce vibration has been studied and known theoretically for many years, but the actual methods of applying this to structures still has to be defined. Research and technology development still has to be completed before this technique can be used as a standard feature in construction.
Micromega Dynamics is a spin-off company of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics of the Free University of Brussels (ULB), which has a worldwide reputation in active vibration control.
Mr. Nicolas Loix, General Manager of Micromega Dynamics, emphasises the unique situation of his company Micromega Dynamics works closely with ULB and Professor André Preumont from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics at ULB. This combines industrial research and application development with theoretical research in more advanced techniques performed in the university labs to refine the algorithms for active damping control. "We in Micromega can keep up to date with the latest research results in this new technique even if we are a small company with very limited human resources. We can then concentrate on the industrial application with our customers".
Micromega Dynamics intends to play a major role in the research and development (R&D) of these new application areas over the coming years. Nicolas Loix continues "we are very happy with the ESA SME Initiative, which supports us in developing our business and lets us have a chance to work with ESA on the more advanced technologies and applications used in space".
Currently, Micromega Dynamics mainly offers services helping customers to integrate active damping technologies in their products. In parallel, Micromega Dynamics is also making a survey, with the help of the Walloon Government, to identify the most promising market for their technology in order to focus their R&D efforts on the development of a commercial product.
At the moment, its biggest customer for active damping is the space industry, which represents a large part of Micromega Dynamics turnover. The interest of ESA in this technology, through the Technology Research Programme (TRP), the General Support and Technology Programme (GSTP) and the SME Initiative, allows Micromega Dynamics to investigate and develop active control schemes that could find their way to non-space industries.