We began with a Stirling thermocompressor engine prototype that was to have an electric generator attached for power extraction. This was to be my main project for the summer. I began by analyzing power and efficiency data in order to precisely measure an important parameter for selecting the motion profile of this generator.
Upon completing this, I utilized this information in addition to the specs of the linear electric generator and wire port to be used in order to create a detailed SolidWorks model of a housing unit for this generator. It required me to make several drafts of this model, but the final one included everything necessary for the engine and generator, it was lightweight and relatively easy for a machine shop to create. This design was sent to a local machine shop.
Next, I found and selected more necessary accessories to be used for the generator and subsequent additions to the project such as O-rings, valves, and sensors. Once all parts were ordered, we began concept work for a new engine prototype. For the remaining two weeks, Anna and I worked one creating Simulink models of possible new prototypes and analyzing output data of these models. The parts for the housing and accessories for the generator came on the final day of my REU, Friday August 14th.
The next steps in this project include attaching the generator with the housing unit and analyzing experimental data from running the engine prototype. Furthermore, work on future prototypes will continue.
Below is a snapshot of a presentation describing my overall lab work this summer:
While I didn't actually complete the project that was intended for me, I accomplished a great deal and learned so very much. As I've understood over the past ten weeks, graduate research includes plenty of interesting yet difficult to understand moments as well as incredibly dull times. All in all, the experience I've gained from this summer helped guide me tremendously with respect to my academic and professional futures.
Thank you to Anna and Dr. Barth for guiding me through this experience and mentoring me as I navigated my way into a fascinating new field. And thank you to the CCEFP for giving me the opportunity to experience fluid power research and engineering graduate life.