Belt drive systems are an effective means for power transmission which offer the advantages of light weight, low cost, quietness, and efficiency. Recently in automotive applications there has been a trend to power several accessories with a single drive belt in order to reduce overall vehicle size and weight. Since these belts are typically longer than conventional belts, a tensioner component is added to maintain acceptable belt tension levels. In this paper we describe several potential instability mechanisms for belt-tensioner systems, and present a design methodology to ensure good dynamic performance of such systems. A mathematical model of the belt-tensioner system, and numerical solution methods, are utilized to develop a computer-aided design procedure. Numerical results, and confirming experimental data, are presented for a particular automotive belt-tensioner system.

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