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Sensing and Control Electronics for a Benchtop Hybrid Powertrain

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session II

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Eric Constans Rowan University

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Eric Constans is an Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering at Rowan University. His research interests include engineering education, mechanical design and acoustics and vibration.

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Karl Dyer Rowan University

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Karl Dyer is a Mechanical Engineering Technician at Rowan University. He received his B.S. in mechanical engineering and M.S. in electrical engineering from Rowan University.

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Concept retention between courses is a recurring problem for engineering educators – a problem exacerbated by the disjointed nature of the engineering curriculum. One possible solution to the problem, a multi-year design/build/test project, is currently being studied by the authors. The project, a bench-scale hybrid powertrain, is completed by our students over the course of five semesters. The focus of this paper is the set of electronic circuitry needed to sense and control the powertrain. This is the latest installment in a series of papers discussing the project; see [1-5] for a full description.

The “prime mover” in the benchtop hybrid is a small engine powered by compressed air, which is designed and fabricated by students during their Junior year. The goal of the powertrain is to convert as much of the energy stored in the compressed air to driving power at the “wheels”; that is, at the output shaft of the powertrain. In order to accomplish this, the students need a means of sensing the speeds of each of the shafts in the powertrain, as well as the amount of compressed air being sent to the engine and the electrical power sent to/from the battery pack. In addition, the faculty need to measure compressed air use and to provide a controlled load at the output of the powertrain. Some parts of the sensing/control circuitry (e.g. the tachometer) are built by the students, while other parts are fabricated by the faculty as part of the set of benchtop “workstations” used by the students. This paper will present and discuss each of the electronic circuits in the sensing/control/loading system.

The circuits described in the paper (e.g. tachometer, motor driver, electrical load) have wide application in automotive engineering and robotics. It is hoped that by presenting an explicit description of each circuit, instructors at other institutions can benefit from our experience (and mistakes) and adopt individual modules from the hybrid powertrain into their own laboratory instruction.

An extensive website describing the hybrid powertrain and its necessary components has been developed by the authors, and is freely available to instructors at other institutions. This website and the results of conducting this project on three cohorts will be discussed in the final paper.

[1] E. Constans, S. Ranganathan, W. Xue 2015 “Design and Fabrication of a Planetary Gearset as Part of a Hybrid Powertrain”, ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, 2015

[2] M. Acosta, K. Bhatia, E. Constans, J. Kadlowec, T. Merrill, H. Zhang, B. Angelone 2014 “Integrating the Curriculum using a Bench-Scale Hybrid Power Train”, SAE 2014 World Congress & Exhibition

[3] M. Acosta, K. Bhatia, H. Zhang, J. Kadlowec 2014 “Development and Implementation of a Control Strategy for a Hybrid Power Train System in a Classroom Setting”, ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, 2014

[4] E. Constans, J. Kadlowec, H. Zhang and B. Angelone 2012 “Integrating the Mechanical Engineering Curriculum Using a Long-Term Green Design Project”, ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition – NSF Grantees Poster Session, 2012

[5] E. Constans, J. Kadlowec, K. Bhatia, H. Zhang, T. Merrill, B. Angelone 2012 “Integrating the Mechanical Engineering Curriculum Using a Long-term Green Design Project Part 1: The Hybrid Powertrain”, ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, 2012

Constans, E., & Dyer, K. (2016, June), Sensing and Control Electronics for a Benchtop Hybrid Powertrain Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26165

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