Design and fabrication of a meso-scale stirling engine and combustor.

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Power sources capable of supplying tens of watts are needed for a wide variety of applications including portable electronics, sensors, micro aerial vehicles, and mini-robotics systems. The utility of these devices is often limited by the energy and power density capabilities of batteries. A small combustion engine using liquid hydrocarbon fuel could potentially increase both power and energy density by an order of magnitude or more. This report describes initial development work on a meso-scale external combustion engine based on the Stirling cycle. Although other engine designs perform better at macro-scales, we believe the Stirling engine cycle is better suited ... continued below

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84 p.

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Echekki, Tarek (Sandia National Laboratories, Livermore, CA); Haroldsen, Brent L. (Sandia National Laboratories, Livermore, CA); Krafcik, Karen L. (Sandia National Laboratories, Livermore, CA); Morales, Alfredo Martin (Sandia National Laboratories, Livermore, CA); Mills, Bernice E. (Sandia National Laboratories, Livermore, CA); Liu, Shiling (Sandia National Laboratories, Livermore, CA) et al. May 1, 2005.

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Description

Power sources capable of supplying tens of watts are needed for a wide variety of applications including portable electronics, sensors, micro aerial vehicles, and mini-robotics systems. The utility of these devices is often limited by the energy and power density capabilities of batteries. A small combustion engine using liquid hydrocarbon fuel could potentially increase both power and energy density by an order of magnitude or more. This report describes initial development work on a meso-scale external combustion engine based on the Stirling cycle. Although other engine designs perform better at macro-scales, we believe the Stirling engine cycle is better suited to small-scale applications. The ideal Stirling cycle requires efficient heat transfer. Consequently, unlike other thermodynamic cycles, the high heat transfer rates that are inherent with miniature devices are an advantage for the Stirling cycle. Furthermore, since the Stirling engine uses external combustion, the combustor and engine can be scaled and optimized semi-independently. Continuous combustion minimizes issues with flame initiation and propagation. It also allows consideration of a variety of techniques to promote combustion that would be difficult in a miniature internal combustion engine. The project included design and fabrication of both the engine and the combustor. Two engine designs were developed. The first used a cylindrical piston design fabricated with conventional machining processes. The second design, based on the Wankel rotor geometry, was fabricated by through-mold electroforming of nickel in SU8 and LIGA micromolds. These technologies provided the requisite precision and tight tolerances needed for efficient micro-engine operation. Electroformed nickel is ideal for micro-engine applications because of its high strength and ductility. A rotary geometry was chosen because its planar geometry was more compatible with the fabrication process. SU8 lithography provided rapid prototypes to verify the design. A final high precision engine was created via LIGA. The micro-combustor was based on an excess enthalpy concept. Development of a micro-combustor included both modeling and experiments. We developed a suite of simulation tools both in support of the design of the prototype combustors, and to investigate more fundamental aspects of combustion at small scales. Issues of heat management and integration with the micro-scale Stirling engine were pursued using CFD simulations. We found that by choice of the operating conditions and channel dimensions energy conversion occurs by catalysis-dominated or catalysis-then-homogeneous phase combustion. The purpose of the experimental effort in micro-combustion was to study the feasibility and explore the design parameters of excess enthalpy combustors. The efforts were guided by the necessity for a practical device that could be implemented in a miniature power generator, or as a stand-alone device used for heat generation. Several devices were fabricated and successfully tested using methane as the fuel.

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84 p.

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  • Report No.: SAND2005-2340
  • Grant Number: AC04-94AL85000
  • DOI: 10.2172/876337 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 876337
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc873407

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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Creation Date

  • May 1, 2005

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 21, 2016, 2:29 a.m.

Description Last Updated

  • Nov. 23, 2016, 2:41 p.m.

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Echekki, Tarek (Sandia National Laboratories, Livermore, CA); Haroldsen, Brent L. (Sandia National Laboratories, Livermore, CA); Krafcik, Karen L. (Sandia National Laboratories, Livermore, CA); Morales, Alfredo Martin (Sandia National Laboratories, Livermore, CA); Mills, Bernice E. (Sandia National Laboratories, Livermore, CA); Liu, Shiling (Sandia National Laboratories, Livermore, CA) et al. Design and fabrication of a meso-scale stirling engine and combustor., report, May 1, 2005; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc873407/: accessed December 12, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.