Salt Lake City, Utah
June 20, 2004
June 20, 2004
June 23, 2004
9.1307.1 - 9.1307.11
Three Thermal Systems Design-Build-Test Projects
Gregg W. Dixon U.S. Coast Guard Academy
Abstract: In an effort to improve Mechanical Engineering (ME) students’ ability to design and realize thermal systems, three hands-on design projects have been developed for a junior level thermal systems design course. The three projects involve giving small student teams the tasks of: 1. Heating water in a large coffee can using a natural circulation solar collector that the students design and construct. 2. Producing distilled water with a solar distillation device. 3. Heating water in a natural circulation loop using combustion of candle wax.
In all of the projects, the teams are given a limited set of materials and specifications that constrain their design options while giving them plenty of opportunity for creativity. The materials required are inexpensive (insulating foam, plywood, tubes, tape, reflective tape, hoses and hose clamps, etc.). The teams are required to develop conceptual designs and analyze their design in three successive levels of complexity before they are allowed to begin construction. Teams are required to evaluate alternatives and base design decisions on their analyses. The culmination of the projects is a test in which the students’ systems are tested against their predictions and in which they compete to see which team’s design performs the best.
These projects require students to develop their ability to integrate their knowledge of heat transfer, fluid dynamics and thermodynamics to develop models of their systems, which allow them to optimize their designs. Significant student-faculty interaction is generated through this exercise, and course evaluations indicate that students consider this to be a valuable experience, which increases their confidence in their ability to apply basic principles to the design of an actual thermal system.
Background: In the current undergraduate ME program at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, students have more opportunity to design and construct mechanical systems than they do thermal systems. The ABET program criteria for Mechanical Engineering1 require students to demonstrate an ability to design and realize both types of systems. The development of three different projects has allowed annual rotation of project assignments which are designed to achieve common objectives consistent with ABET criteria. The stages of analysis required before students can begin construction involve: • “Back of the envelope” calculation of maximum possible system performance. • Steady-state performance analysis assuming nominal system characteristics.
Dixon, G. (2004, June), Three Thermal Systems Design Build Test Projects Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/13792
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