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Mechanical Engineering Department Student Projects

Compression Set Performance

Student Team: Off in the Woods

Sponsor: Hamilton Sundstrand

This experiment is to evaluate the long-term compression-set performance of several silicone elastomer compounds, so that Hamilton Sundstrand can compare and predict which o-ring compound performs to desired expectations. With this test, Hamilton Sundstrand will be able to determine which compound should be used in important aerospace applications. If Hamilton Sundstrand uses an o-ring compound that cannot withstand high temperatures for long durations, then the o-ring might lose its integrity.

The parameter being evaluated is the compression set, a measurement that calculates the ratio of elastic to viscous material components and the elastomer's response to a given deformation. The longer the o-ring molecular polymer chains, the better its set resistance, meaning the elastomer has an improved ability to store energy and return to its original shape. Ten different o-ring compounds from different manufactures were tested to determine which ring maintains its integrity through 70, 500, 1000, and 1500 hours at temperatures of 300°F, 400°F, 450°F, and 500°F, respectively.

Pin On Disc Tribometer

Student Team: Team TBA

Becker, Mike
Iervolino, Tonny
Tolhurst, George

Sponsor: Pratt & Whitney

This project, sponsored by Pratt & Whitney, developed a tribometer to test the friction coefficient of carbon seals used in turbine engines. A tribometer testing device consists of a spinning disk and a pin made of the test material that is pressed against the disk. Spinning the disk wears away the pin over time, and thus the friction coefficient and wear characteristics of the test material can be determined.
After collaborating with a team that had worked on this project during a previous senior design class, a test machine design was developed that would meet these specifications. To control the axial forces generated on the disk by the pin pressure, the disk is supported by axial ball bearings located behind the disk at the point of pin contact. To measure forces acting on the pin, a load cell is positioned to measure tangential forces applied to the pin, and thus determine the friction coefficient.

The tribometer is fully enclosed in an environmentally controlled test area, which allows the operator to set conditions to better replicate the environment inside a turbine engine. The prototype enclosure consists of a test area enclosed by two walls of quarter-inch-thick steel, an insulation layer, and a layer of Kevlar fabric. Thermocouples in different locations of the test chamber ensure even heating of the test chamber. The machine also can run a lubricated test using an oil injection system. For fine control of the contact pressure and a more accurate test, a pneumatic cylinder applies pressure to the pin. This prototype tribometer will provide Pratt and Whitney with a very accurate way to test and measure carbon seals.

Tube Cutting Apparatus

Student Team: Boosted

Belmonte, Joseph
Brown, Aaron, R.
Maxwell, Lewis

Sponsor: Westinghouse

The objective of this project, sponsored by Westinghouse, was to design an automated machine to cut two different types of metal piping to different lengths (146.85 to 167.00 inches). This piping is a part of a fuel cell that Westinghouse manufactures and upon completion is installed into a nuclear reactor and used to create nuclear energy. The two different species of metal piping are Inconel® and zirconium, the only materials that remain neutral in a nuclear environment.

tube cut apparatus

However, Inconel® and zirconium are difficult to cut using conventional cutting methods. Inconel® can only be cut with another extremely hard material, usually diamond-reinforced heads in cutting blades. If too much surface area of the cutting mechanism comes into contact with zirconium, the material can spontaneously combust. The zirconium must be cut at a slow speed or if a faster speed is used then coolant must be applied.

The project requirements are: Cycle time (operator loads the tube into the machine to the time the tube is extracted from the machine) must be less than 8 minutes. The footprint of the machine must be less than 4 ft x 18 ft. The objective is significant because the current cutting process is very time consuming and can complete only about 25 pipes in one work day, which in turn slows down the production of each fuel cell. If Westinghouse cannot produce the fuel cells at the rate of the client's request, the result may be loss of clientele. This design will cut pipes at a projected rate of 80-90 per day. The projected cutting speed can at least triple the current method and allow the rest of the plant to operate at a higher rate of speed. This can increase productivity, resulting in more clientele and more profit.

Grinding Machine for Amaranth

Student Team: Kenya

Carr, Ryan
Hamilton, Dave

Sponsor: Engineers Without Borders

This project of developing a grinding machine for amaranth grains is part of a larger project that includes planting, harvesting, and milling amaranth grain. Amaranth is a highly nutritious grain that can grow in almost any climate. It is ideally suited for the climates and growing seasons native to Africa. In this project a mill was designed that uses locally accessible materials and can also be manufactured within Kenya. The mill should be easy to operate, affordable, durable, and reliable. Mills also either must be small enough to be individually owned or readily available so that the distance needed to travel for its use is minimal. Wind, water, or animal powered designs are possible, but a hand-powered design is preferable. The final design includes preferred materials, grinding patterns, and options for adjusting grinding for different conditions.

Senior Projects

Red Impact Bar