Archives—September 2011

Various research topics on Combustion/Propulsion/Energy Systems

Thursday September 29, 2011 4:00-5:00 p.m.
ME-EM building, Room 112

Professor Jong Guen Lee
Ohio Research Scholar in the School of Aerospace Systems at the University of Cincinnati.

The seminar will give a brief summary on various research topics in combustion/propulsion/energy areas which include the combustion dynamics in advanced gas turbine engines, the combustion of nano-energetics and the development of advanced propulsion/energy systems.

Combustion instabilities pose significant operational problems for gas turbine engines. Most of these instabilities involve a resonant coupling between the combustion-generated heat release rate and acoustic waves in combustor. One important factor required to understand combustion instabilities is to know how the flame responses to acoustic perturbations. This, so-called flame transfer function, has been determined for various nozzles. Some of the results will be presented and the phenomenology of flame response to inlet velocity and fuel modulation will be discussed.

Thermite reactions with nanoscale particles have attracted much study due to their high flame temperatures and combustion velocities. However, the mechanism by which the reaction propagates is not well understood. The fuel and oxidizer particle sizes of Al/CuO and Al/Mo03 thermites were varied between the nanometer and micrometer scale, are presented to gain further insight into the factors governing their rate of propagation. Critical properties, including linear propagation rates, dynamic pressure, spectral emission and burning temperature, were measured and compared to address the flame propagation mechanism.

Currently, there is a high demand for smaller satellites and thus smaller load areas, which in turn require better onboard power sources. SOFCs (Solid Oxide Fuel Cells) can incorporate an electric generator into a system that will run off of the gases created during combustion from the onboard thrusters of satellite systems. The SOFC can generate power from the exhaust gases created by the thrusters and store the electric output into a super capacitor to use at a later time. This eliminates the need for an onboard battery or other types of electric storage units, lowering the overall weight and size. A unique concept developed to achieve this and its feasibility will be discussed.


ME-EM Has Alumni That Are Top Executives in Each of the Three Major US Car Industries

The ME-EM Department at Michigan Tech has an alumnus that is one of the top executives in each of the three major US car industries. They are Dr. Terry Woychowsk, Vice President, Global Vehicle Program Management at General Motors, new Governor appointee to the Michigan Tech Board of Control, ME&EM Academy member, and College of Engineering External Advisory Committee member. Dan Kapp, Director, Powertrain Research and Advanced Engineering at Ford, just voted for induction into the ME&EM Academy, College of Engineering External Advisory Committee chair, and former MEEM External Advisory Board member. Steve Williams, Vice President, Vehicle Architecture and Advanced Engineering at Chrysler.

Read more Alumni News Items at the MEEM eNewsbrief


The Olin College Curriculum: An Engineering Education by Design

Thursday September 22, 2011 4:00-5:00 p.m.
DOW building, Room 641

Associate Professor Jessica Townsend
Mechanical Engineering at the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering

Olin College was founded in 1999 to address emerging needs in engineering education, including business and entrepreneurship skills, design, creativity, and an understanding of the social and economic contexts of engineering. The curriculum development process first focused on the skills, knowledge and attitudes that were desired in Olin College graduates, and in identifying the kinds of experiences that would best engage the students to develop these skills. Because Olin College has no departments and offers only engineering degrees, we were able to incorporate many of the desired experiences into first year introductory classes and in other engineering requirements to serve all majors. The mechanical engineering curriculum was developed within this framework to provide mechanical engineering majors with much of the specific content they would need to move on to industry or graduate school. This talk will provide an overview of the Olin curriculum, and will highlight some of the unusual and unique offerings that became possible in a curriculum designed from scratch.



Subzero Startup and Shutdown of Automotive Fuel Cell Systems

Thursday September 8, 2011 4:00-5:00 p.m.
ME-EM building, Room 112

Assistant Professor Kazuya Tajiri
Department of Mechanical Engineering—Engineering Mechanics
Michigan Technological University

Polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs) for transportation must be able to start unassisted from temperatures below -20°C and produce 50% of their rated power within 30 s using less than 5 MJ of fuel energy for startup and shutdown. At subfreezing temperatures, the water produced from the electrochemical reaction coats the cathode catalyst with ice that reduces the effective electrochemically active surface area and may terminate the reaction. A proper understanding of water transport during startup (and the previous shutdown) is essential to determining the conditions under which the stack can be started rapidly from subfreezing temperatures, even if some ice may be formed initially at startup.


Powerpoint Presentation Guidelines

Thursday September 1, 2011 4:00-5:00 p.m.
ME-EM building, Room 112

Professor Gregory Odegard
Department of Mechanical Engineering—Engineering Mechanics
Michigan Technological University

An overview of presentation guidelines will be given. This will cover suggested presentation content, formatting, organization, and style. Examples will be given of poor presentation slides.