My research objectives for the summer were to (1) test and evaluate the latest prototype hydraulic pressure energy harvester (HPEH), (2) design an improved prototype, (3) test and evaluate the new prototype.
Objective (1) proved to be a difficult and time consuming task due to the latest prototype not working as expected. Many tests were done making modifications to see if prototype performance would increase, however performance remained sub-par. This testing process was highly frustrating as we could not figure out what was going wrong. It really gave me an initial negative feeling towards research in general. Objective (2) was completed toward mid July. Design efforts were focused on simplifying functionality of the previous prototype, to see if it could be determined more easily what was going wrong with the old prototype. I really enjoyed the design aspect, from brainstorming to CAD and applying basic engineering design principles for failure prevention I have been exposed to previously in classes. There was a week and a half waiting period for the new design to be manufactured in the machine shop. Objective (3) was completed just in time: the last three days of the REU. Overall the new design was a large success, as we were able to better pinpoint what was wrong with the old device. With the new design, we were able to harvest a power of 4 times what any previous prototype produced (all milli Watt level). For the scope of the project, the new design was a considerable success as it opened the door for future testing and prototypes which could use a similar concept to harvest even more power. My final deliverable for the REU is a paper. Below is a picture of the new design HPEH, screwed into a mounting block, inline with hosing.
Overall I had an extremely positive research experience and enjoyed living in Atlanta for the summer. I found myself always busy with research and I didn't go out as much as I had wanted to. To name a few things, I did go to the CNN headquarters building, walked around downtown where there was a very nice park area, and enjoyed going to a local brewery for a taste and tour as a social event with the lab group. I am very thankful to the CCEFP for the research opportunity, and being able to work with Dr. C and Ellen (grad student) along with some other undergrads at Georgia Tech for this research project.