Recent Projects: Industrial
Automated Cable-Making Device for Heliostats
Our group worked with Solaflect Energy to develop and construct a semi-automated cable-making device that manufactures high accuracy cables for use on Solaflect's Suspension Heliostat™. We designed, fabricated, and tested all the modules needed to manufacture cables. Testing showed the cables made by our machine exceed strength specifications by 200 lbs. and meet an absolute length tolerance 90% of the time. The machine also improves production time by 70%, improves process accuracy tenfold, and will play a key role in Solaflect's move from prototyping to mass production of their Suspension Heliostat™.
DC Link Capacitor Redesign and Assembly Process Improvement
SBE Inc. manufactures thin film power ring capacitors. SBE asked the engineering team to focus on two concurrent projects for the 700D-349 capacitor: to improve the manufacturing process and to reduce the 349 bill of materials. The team designed a "twist-fixture" to improve the manufacturing process, and reengineered the 349 capacitor, dubbed model 700D-545. The team constructed working twist-fixture and 545 capacitor prototypes. The new twist-fixture decreases fixture assembly time by 70% and decreases total labor and overhead per capacitor by more than 30%. The materials used in the 545 capacitor cost 22.5% less than the 349 model.
Hydrokinetic Turbine Diffuser Optimization
Diffuser Augmented Hydrokinetic Turbines could lower the threshold for usable flow speeds in waterways worldwide, if optimized. However, current methods for diffuser design and optimization are not suited to iterative, small-scale testing. Both physical and computational test methods were created for diffusers at a 1/36 scale, from which power output could be simply measured. Ten parameters of interest were identified for potential optimization, and 27 diffuser shapes were built. The power output trends of both physical and computational models matched well. A flange around the outlet provides the highest power output increase and material efficiency to deliver lowest energy costs.
This team received the 2012 John C. Woodhouse Environmental Engineering Prize.
PipeDefender is a self-contained mechanical device intended to mitigate excavation damage to underground pipelines. The PipeDefender is a 2.5' section of electrical conduit with a smoke grenade inside. When a backhoe or other digging machine hits the PipeDefender, the device will snap in half, causing a smoke grenade to deploy and warn the excavation crew that a pipe is in the area. We have extensively tested the device in the field as well as in a laboratory environment. The device is economically feasible compared to similar technologies, and future steps have been outlined to bring it to market.
Range Extension of Quadrotor Micro-Aerial Vehicles Through Multi-Agent Networking
Our group worked with Physical Sciences Inc., an engineering firm actively developing quadrotor micro-aerial vehicles, or MAVs, for use in small-scale military surveillance. The small size of the vehicles requires use of low-power radios that have poor penetration in non-line-of-sight settings, making RF communications between the MAV and the handheld base station susceptible to failure in such environments. We developed methods for relaying communications through one or more MAVs that maintain mutual line-of-sight, thus improving the range and flexibility of the quadrocopters and increasing the breadth of scenarios in which they provide useful aid to troops on the ground.
Throttle Control for Turbochargers
Team: Amine Abouzaid '11, Alejandro Luperon '12
Sponsor: Concepts NREC
Advisor: Terry Priestley
Concepts NREC tests the performance of turbochargers under different loads. During these tests, the rotational speed of the turbochargers must remain constant. Currently, this speed is set and maintained manually. To automate this process, a controller has been developed that can operate in both manual and automatic modes. The automatic mode allows the speed to be maintained within 0.3% of the desired speed without user intervention. A user interface has been developed to allow for adjusting various system and controller parameters, including set point and gain. Several safety features necessary in such a controller have been included.
Water Recovery From Diesel Generators
Team: Conor Galligan '11, Merritt Jenkins '11, Eric Packer '12
Sponsor: Logos Technologies
Advisor: Mark Laser
Safely and reliably providing water to soldiers in the field is a significant logistical challenge for the U.S. military. We have designed a novel solution to this problem by recapturing water vapor from the exhaust stream of diesel generators. Water is condensed using a combination of absorption refrigeration and ambient air heat exchange and is subsequently filtered in preparation for use. This system could potentially serve as an on-site water source that reduces the need for water delivery via convoy, saving the military millions of dollars each year and improving the safety of the men and women serving our country.
This team received the 2012 Dartmouth Society of Engineers Prize.