One goal of the MSU Mechanical Engineering Program is to educate engineers who are prepared to lead, create, and innovate as their professional or graduate careers evolve. The Mechanical Engineering Design Program is the key element of the curriculum that supports this goal. There are five required design courses in the program which provide our students with eight hands-on, team-based, ‘design, test and build’ projects, and numerous opportunities to practice and refine their written, oral, poster, and video presentation skills. The Design Program in Mechanical Engineering has attracted national recognition on many occasions and helps to distinguish the ME program as one of the best in the country.
For information on becoming a project sponsor, please contact Mike Colucci.
The following are the project sponsors and projects for Fall 2013:
Marathon Petroleum Corporation: Portable Oil Pipeline Inspection Gage
Marathon Petroleum is a major oil company that operates rigs, refineries, and supply pipelines in the Gulf of Mexico and throughout the US. The efficient operation of a pipeline network requires that it undergoes periodic inspection and maintenance, and one such inspection tool is the Pipeline Inspection Gauge or PIG. PIGs are remotely operated, and are inserted into and removed from pipelines at ‘traps,’ upstream and downstream of which are ‘trap valves.’ After insertion into a pipeline, PIGs perform routine cleaning, check for protrusions from pipe walls and are often used in conjunction with other in-line inspection tools to perform rigorous inspections of the pipe-wall structure such as detecting cracks and measuring wall thicknesses. When operating PIGs, it is essential to know where the PIG is with respect to the trap valves, so that these valves can be safely opened or closed at the right time, without damaging the PIG, so a device that signals the location of each PIG is desirable.
Marathon Petroleum Corporation has assigned the ME481 design team the task of designing and manufacturing a portable and reliable PIG Signaler that can be adapted to pipelines of different diameters. Existing Signalers are unreliable, can be difficult to install, and can be damaged if damage expensive PIGs. A successful PIG Signaler design will facilitate PIG insertions, provide pipeline technicians with accurate data on PIG locations relative to trap valves, and provide the same benefits if installed in other in-line inspection tools.
Ingersoll Rand: Improved Packaging for HVAC Units
Ingersoll Rand, a global industrial company, has been enhancing and designing heating and air conditioning systems for domestic and commercial use for over 140 years. One focus of this company is to provide products and services that offer high customer satisfaction. A recent addition to the Ingersoll Rand product line is a wide range of HVAC (heating ventilation and air conditioning) systems. The current packaging and delivery process for these products appears to need troubleshooting and improvement, as approximately 10% of some system components show signs of damage upon installation.
The goal of this project is to reduce the incidence of damaged HVAC systems to 5% or less under specified cost constraints. To do so, the MSU team will attempt to identify the most likely points and modes of damage to these HVAC components during the current packaging, loading, delivery, unloading, and storage processes, design an improved system for shipping these components, and perform tests to evaluate whether improvement is achieved in one or more of these specified areas. When an optimal solution has been identified, further testing will be carried out at Ingersoll Rand.
General Motors Foundation: Design of a Carbon-fiber Vehicle Hood
General Motors is one of the Big Three automakers and produces millions of vehicles each year for the domestic and global auto markets. Their production fleet comprises a wide variety of vehicles that includes various passenger vehicles, electric cars, sports cars, SUV’s and pickup trucks. GM is interested in the potential use of composite materials like carbon fiber for vehicle body panels, and their strength, weight, and cost relative to steel ones. This ME 481 team has been assigned the task of exploring the feasibility of manufacturing carbon fiber hoods for these vehicles and analyzing whether or not such hoods can be designed and manufactured in a cost effective manner.
The ME 481 team plans to carry out a series of finite element analyses on representative hood geometries to explore the potential benefits of carbon fiber relative to steel. These computational analyses will be used to determine the feasibility of this lightweight material for future GM products.
DENSO North American Foundation: Pre-chamber Igniter for Lean Combustion
DENSO is a leading supplier of advanced automotive technology, systems and components to all the world’s major automobile manufacturers. DENSO produces many different advanced factory-installed components for vehicle powertrains including fuel injection, exhaust gas treatment, and ignition systems. This corporation is currently interested in developing ignition systems for engines of the future, which can provide greater thermal efficiency and reduced NOx emissions by operating at air-fuel mixtures that are much leaner than those of today’s engines.
The goal of this senior design team is to use the findings of current advanced ignition research to design a complete pre-chamber ignition system, with a unique geometry and a high-energy sparkplug ignition system. The long-term goals of this project are to refine the ignition system so that it produces optimal lean flammability limits, burn rates and pressure-rise rates during the combustion in an internal combustion engine.
Consumer’s Energy: Heating System for a Pressure Regulator
Consumers Energy is one of the largest energy suppliers in the State of Michigan and provides electricity and natural gas to over 6 million customers. As a natural gas supplier, Consumers Energy provides methane fuel to a wide range of customers in the southeast and middle parts of the state. Natural gas enters Michigan through transmission pipelines at a high pressure which must be reduced before delivery to cities and neighborhoods. As the pressure is decreased through city gate and regulator stations, the gas expands and cools. This cooling effect, known as the Joule-Thompson effect, can cause the gas temperature to decrease below freezing, which can potentially cause damage to pipes and other equipment. Consumers Energy is interested in design concepts that allow for the safe heating of the natural gas to avoid sub-freezing gas temperatures.
The goal of this project is to design and evaluate a set of heat exchangers for installation at regulator station sites that satisfies Consumers’ constraints. An optimal design will be selected and then modified to meet a range of local site characteristics. A model of the selected design will then be created and delivered to Consumers Energy for further evaluation.
Chrysler Group, LLC: Waste Heat Recovery with Thermoelectrics
Chrysler Group, LLC, is one of the leading manufacturers of automobiles, selling 2.2 million vehicles a year. Along with its global strategic alliance partner Fiat, Chrysler embraces next-generation technology. Driven by consumer demands, government mandates, and environmental responsibility, Chrysler would like to maintain a competitive edge in the fuel economy of its vehicles, and one particular opportunity for doing so lies in using thermoelectric materials to recover otherwise wasted heat energy in, for example, the exhaust system, and convert it into electricity for use in the vehicle. In current automotive engines, approximately two-thirds of the chemical energy released during gasoline combustion is lost in the form of heat in the radiator and the exhaust. With ever increasing fuel economy demands, the ability to harness this waste heat in internal combustion engines could help automobiles improve their efficiency.
Thermoelectric materials, or TEMs, are a developing material-science technology that uses a temperature difference to produce an electrical voltage. The objective of the project is to study an automotive system to determine the feasibility of using TEMs and to determine the optimal location for their placement in a vehicle. The team will analyze how this additional power output could be utilized to reduce vehicle weight and improve fuel economy. The results will be quantified with both a computational model and a physical prototype.
ArcelorMittal: Improved Dust Removal from Arc Furnaces
ArcelorMittal is a world leader in mining and the production of quality steel products. A common machine used in the modern day steel industry is the electric arc furnace (EAF), which uses a high-powered electric arc to heat and melt steel. An EAF is ideal for recycling scrap steel. Unfortunately, it also results in large amounts of dust being created during the melting process. Since this dust is a hazardous waste, laws require that it be collected in a way that minimizes its escape. After filtration, EAF dust is collected for recycling and disposal by loading onto truck beds. ArcelorMittal is interested in design recommendations to update their existing system to better prevent the release of fugitive dust, and to recapture the dust that escapes in the loading dock.
The MSU engineering team has been tasked with finding and recommending solutions that eliminate the fugitive dust during the EAF dust load-out. An optimum design will require little or no routine cleanup, little maintenance, and be easy to use. A successful solution will be a design that minimizes dust leakage, and provides a method to re-capture any dust that does escape. The solution will be demonstrated with a scale model.
Meritor: Optimized Transfer-case-housing Design
Meritor is a leading global supplier of axle, brake, and suspension solutions to original equipment manufacturers and to the aftermarket for the transportation and industrial sectors. One of the driveline products that Meritor provides to the commercial truck and industrial sector is its line of transfer cases, which take power from an engine’s transmission and distribute it to one or more (i.e., front and back) axles, in a wide range of customized assembly configurations. Meritor is interested in adding another transfer case to its product line to meet the needs of the 33 k-lb. gross vehicle weight segment of the commercial four-wheel drive truck market, and has asked the MSU team to evaluate a design for this transfer-case housing.
The main objective of this project is to design a transfer-case housing that is optimized for weight and cost. The optimized housing must meet specific requirements for deflection, stress, and fatigue life. It must be of a bolted-joint design with internal lubrication channels and must also provide satisfactory heat dissipation. The team’s optimized design will be evaluated by Meritor.
Robert Bosch, LLC: Installation/Removal Tool for Accelerometers
Robert Bosch, LLC is a leading global supplier of technology and services in the areas of automotive technology, consumer goods, industrial technology, and energy and building technology. The Diesel Fuel Systems group tests all diesel components manufactured in North America, from fuel injectors to particulate filters and oxidation catalysts. One important aspect of testing is the susceptibility of components to vibration during vehicle operation, which is tested by mounting accelerometers to locations of interest on the component and comparing the observed levels to pre-determined vibrational limits found from shaker-table testing. Many of the locations of the accelerometers within the engine bay, including the fuel pump, are difficult to reach by hand and require an engine teardown. Due to the time-consuming manner of setting up these tests, a faster method is needed to attach accelerometers to the engine components.
The MSU design team will assess different possible tool concepts before deciding on possible designs, which will then be manufactured as one or more prototypes. The prototypes will be evaluated for functionality and an optimal tool will be created. This tool will then be delivered to Bosch for further vibration tests and should improve the ease of accelerometer application and removal, while decreasing the overall duration of its vibration tests.
Union Pacific Railroad: Efficient Use of Carboline Paint Container
Union Pacific operates the country’s largest railroad network, providing transportation services for over 32,000 miles of track in 23 states. The exposure to the elements and are sent to the repair facility in Desoto, MO for operational refurbishing. One of the major reconditioning programs there involves repainting the inside of the food-grade covered hopper railcars to protect their contents from contamination during travel. The paint used is a two-part epoxy that arrives in industry-standard totes that cannot be fully emptied because of the tote’s design. Because of its chemical properties, the unused paint is considered hazardous waste and must be disposed of at a significant cost to the company. Union Pacific is interested in a new method to remove all the paint from the totes that will make them a nonhazardous commodity and allow the company to recycle them or dispose of them as regular waste.
The MSU team will assess multiple design options that satisfy Union Pacific’s and the tote’s constraints. An optimal design will be selected and tested based on performance, ease of installation into the refurbishing process, and cost reduction of the current tote disposal system. The team will travel to the Desoto facility to present the final prototype and test its effectiveness.
United States Steel Corporation: Redesigned Scraper for Steel Galvanizing
United States Steel Corporation is one of the leading manufacturers of galvanized sheet steel in the United States for the domestic automotive industry. The process of steel galvanizing takes place in a pot rig comprising three rolls that guide a strip of steel into a bath containing a metallic mixture of zinc, iron, and aluminum. The iron in the steel strip that moves through the zinc pot reacts with the metallic mixture to form a compound known as dross. When dross collects on the rolls and makes contact with the steel strip, the quality of the galvanized finish may be compromised. Currently, an automatic scraper removes dross from the main roll, but the life span of the scraper is limited. Manual removal of the dross is still necessary for all three rolls, which is dangerous. In addition, it is necessary to replace rolls that build up excessive amounts of dross, which is costly. US Steel is interested in exploring and implementing design concepts for a new scraper system with a longer operating life that reduces the amount of manual scraping of the main roll. In addition, US Steel would like to incorporate automatic scraping of one of the secondary rolls.
The MSU team will evaluate several new scraper designs that satisfy US Steel’s objectives and meet their constraints. An optimal design solution will be proposed based upon mathematical and 3D modeling as well as cost. A functioning proof-of-concept prototype will then be built and evaluated as a possible prototype for a full-scale model, which would be tested for functionality and reliability.
Whirlpool Corporation: Washing-machine Brake Mechanism
Whirlpool Corporation is one of the largest appliance-manufacturing companies in the United States and sells its products throughout the world. One product line in which Whirlpool has identified an opportunity for redesign is its washing machines, of which it manufactures many different models. According to Whirlpool’s safety standards, a washing machine cannot be opened until For safety reasons, a door lock prevents the lid from being opened until the machine reaches a complete stop. In some cases, it can take up to three minutes for the tub to come to rest after the completion of the washing cycle, after which the customer can open the door to the washer.
Whirlpool would like to add a braking system to these washers to stop the rotating tub in less than 7 seconds. The braking system must be cost-effective and quiet, and must not degrade either the function or safety of the washing machine. The MSU design team is considering several conceptual braking-system designs and will build and test a prototype of the optimal design for Whirlpool to evaluate.
Whirlpool Corporation: Food-processor Extruder
KitchenAid, a division of Whirlpool, was founded in 1919 when its first product was the stand mixer. Today, KitchenAid produces and sells worldwide a diverse selection of appliances to meet almost all food preparation needs. Today’s large food processors are typically capable of a wide variety of functions while smaller, less expensive processors tend to have limited but specialized uses. However, consumer surveys have shown that customers want to quickly and easily process single-batch ingredients in small processors, while still maintaining the ability to process a wide variety of foods such as whole fruits, vegetables, meats, and cheeses. They wish to do so without having to use the larger, more expensive food processing machines. Consumers have also expressed the desire for a small processor that can extrude processed food in a ‘hands-free’ manner to achieve gourmet-like results.
The aim of this project is to create a food of a large food processor with the footprint of a small, specialized processor. The ME481 team will design, build, and test a prototype to meet these criteria, for evaluation by KitchenAid.
ZF Chasis Components: Torque Calibrator for Ball Joints
The ZF Group is one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers, and develops and produces transmissions, steering systems, axles and chassis components. ZF Lemforder is the subsidiary of this group that specializes in steering and suspension technology and, in particular, ball-joint and suspension-linkage testing systems. Ball joints are utilized in several parts of a vehicle’s suspension, where multi-axis rotation is needed, and undergo extensive testing for their friction, torque, elasticity, wear and fatigue characteristics. ZF is interested in improving the accuracy with which the frictional force can be measured in a ball joint undergoing rotation, as friction levels within a certain range can correlate with ball joint service life.
The objective of this project is to design a torque calibration device that can be used with ZF’s existing torque-application machines to measure friction in ball joints. The torque calibration device will simulate a “perfect” ball joint, giving a torque reading of a constant, known value with a specified degree of precision. The design team plans to do so by using a feedback loop to monitor and adjust the torque provided by a servo motor as a surrogate for a ball joint undergoing rotation. The MSU team will design, build, and test a prototype which will be used to evaluate this measurement concept.