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 Spring 2014:
Denso: Design of a Lean-Fuel Ignition System
Denso is a Tier I Japanese automotive supplier that specializes in a variety of products, from powertrain components to vehicle electronic systems. As automotive fuel efficiency grows in importance, the Denso North American Foundation has increased its research into lean-fuel ignition systems. A lean fuel mixture is one that has a higher air-fuel ratio than its standard stoichiometric ratio. Many industry specialists have begun investigating the use of jet-ignition systems, comprising a small pre-chamber and a nozzle to guide the propagation of the flame front throughout the primary combustion chamber. By developing a deeper understanding of the effects of the pre-chamber and nozzle geometries on the jet-ignition system, Denso hopes to be able to provide more fuel-efficient ignition options to its customers in the future.
The goal of the MSU Senior Design team is to improve the design of pre-chamber and nozzle geometries, by using a high-speed camera with UV-light filters to image OH radical formation during combustion. The team will do this by designing a new pre-chamber and nozzle and testing them in a rapid compression machine. The images of combustion processes will be analyzed comparatively to determine which geometric configurations result in better lean-fuel ignition and combustion.
General Motors: Design of Vehicle Hoods from Composite Materials
General Motors is a global automotive company that employs 212,000 people, produces vehicles in 35 countries, and has a vehicle portfolio of 11 different brands. GM is committed to providing exceptional vehicles for its customers around the world and, in order to do so, strives to develop innovative technologies in its quest to design, build, and sell the world’s best vehicles. GM has recently intensified its emphasis on developing more fuel-efficient vehicles due to federal regulation and a growing customer demand for environmental sustainability. One approach for accomplishing this goal is to reduce vehicle mass. Therefore, GM is researching non-traditional manufacturing materials and methods, such as composites, to produce lighter vehicles. In this study, a new hood design was created using a carbon- fiber-reinforced polymer to replace the current steel hood used on the 7th Generation (2008-2012) Chevrolet Malibu. Using an Altair HyperMesh finite element analysis, the design will be optimized to decrease component weight, but retain the equivalent structural performance of a steel hood. The design utilizes a sandwich structure consisting of carbon fiber plies surrounding an internal core. This composite hood design will assist GM in the future with its goal of developing lightweight, fuel-efficient vehicles.
Eaton: Improved Electro-Mechanical Actuator Reliability
Eaton Corporation is a global leader and innovator in the aerospace industry, designing, manufacturing, and integrating some of the world’s most advanced technologies. Eaton Aerospace in Grand Rapids, MI manufactures an actuator that works within an environmental system that controls the temperature inside the cabin of a Boeing 777. When the actuator fails in service, the airline must quickly replace the actuator so that the airplane stays on schedule and delivers its paying customers to their destination. Since the rate of warranty returns for this actuator is unacceptably high, Eaton is interested in improving the overall reliability of this device.
The goal of this project is to perform a root cause analysis to pinpoint the main cause(s) of failure and recommend potential solutions. After all possible causes have been identified the team will create a Pareto chart to identify the largest portion of failure causes. From this chart, the team will create qualification test procedures to verify or disqualify various proposed cause(s) of failure. Finally, the team will propose solutions for the cause(s) of failure.
DTE: System to Analyze Electrostatic Precipitator Rapper Performance
DTE Energy is one of the nation’s most diversified energy companies, with its headquarters located in Detroit, Michigan. DTE Energy provides electricity to 2.1 million customers in Southeast Michigan. One of its power plants is the Trenton Channel facility that burns coal, as a result of which significant amounts of ash and other particulates are produced. In order to reduce the emissions produced from the coal burning process, an electrostatic precipitator is used to collect the particulate matter. This matter is periodically removed from the precipitator by mechanical shaking or “rapping.” Currently, DTE Energy has no baseline data to quantify the effectiveness of rapping the precipitator and no standard for a clean electrode tube in their Unit 9 precipitator at the Trenton Channel facility. An online monitoring system will allow DTE Energy to identify the difference between clean and dirty electrodes, which are currently not visible from outside the precipitator system. Such a system will help identify rappers in need of maintenance, which is important since effective rapping is essential to improved particulate collection efficiency.
The goal of the project is to design an online measuring system to quantify rapping effectiveness that utilizes MATLAB to rank particular rapper sections. This will be done by building a pilot scale model of the Unit 9 precipitator, from which the team will simulate the rapping process and collect vibration responses for dirty and clean electrodes. The data collected will then be used to write a MATLAB script which will inform DTE Energy of specific rappers in need of maintenance.
Consumers Energy: New Design for Deploying Pipeline Inspection Gauges
Consumers Energy is a Michigan-based utility company that provides gas and electrical services throughout the state to domestic and industrial consumers. As a part of its pipeline maintenance program, Consumers Energy inserts Pipeline Inspection Gauges (PIGs) into and runs them along pipelines to carry out routine inspections of pipeline integrity. PIGs are currently placed in a launcher/receiver pipe, connected to the main pipeline, and “launched” by the “push method,” using a backhoe loader. This operation can be time-consuming and unreliable, especially when there is limited space behind the launcher/receiver pipe. Several PIGs have been reported as broken during launching and their repair costs can be as much as $500,000.
The objective of this project is to redesign the launcher/ receiver pipe to allow PIGs to be loaded by “pulling” the PIGs in for launch. The structure of the redesigned pipe must not be weakened as it is subjected to high pressurize during “launching.” The new design must be reliable, simple, inexpensive, able to withstand ambient Michigan temperatures, and must not create sparks. The team is developing, as an optimal design, one which utilizes pulleys to pull the PIG into the launching position with a reduced amount of applied force, and potentially eliminates the need for a backhoe loader.
Chrysler Group, LLC: Aerodynamic Drag Reduction of Automobiles
Chrysler Group, LLC is a global automobile manufacturer with headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Recently, Chrysler teamed with Fiat Group to design and manufacture some of the most technologically advanced vehicles on the road today. Consumer demands and government regulations require Chrysler to improve the fuel economy of its fleet, which can be achieved in various ways, including reducing the aerodynamic drag, the rolling resistance, and overall weight of the vehicle. Chrysler wishes to focus on reducing aerodynamic drag by altering surface texture. In this project, the texture of an exterior mirror will be optimized to induce a turbulent boundary layer which will delay the separation point of the flow. Delaying the point of flow separation will lead to a decrease in the overall drag force on both the mirror and the vehicle.
The goal of this project is to design a prototype surface texture that satisfies Chrysler’s constraints. An optimal design will be selected by iteration on different mirror textures and shapes. Wind tunnel testing and computational fluid dynamics results will be used to confirm the validity of the proposed solution. Chrysler will be able to apply the results and techniques developed in this project to other components of the vehicle to further reduce aerodynamic drag.
Robert Bosch, LLC: Test System for a Diesel Particulate Sensor
Robert Bosch, LLC is an engineering company with headquarters in Gerlingen, Germany that manufactures a wide range of products, from automotive components to dishwashers and hand-held power tools. Recent changes in federal regulations have lowered the exhaust gas emission standards for Diesel engines and, as a result, Bosch has developed several application-specific sensors to monitor the exhaust gas from Diesels. One such sensor detects the concentration of particulate matter (PM) in the exhaust stream, downstream of the Diesel particulate filter (DPF). Currently, the only way for the Bosch design team to test a PM sensor is to install it in a Diesel engine on a dynamometer, which is both time- consuming and expensive.
The MSU team will design, build, and test a bench-top Diesel particulate generator that can simulate Diesel particulate emissions without the need for running a Diesel engine. This generator must meet technical specifications defined by Bosch that include: particle size, particle concentration, and exhaust flow velocity.
Robert Bosch, LLC: Removal Tool for the Circuit Board in a Throttle Body Sensor
As one of the world’s largest automotive components suppliers, Bosch provides a wide array of products to the automotive sector. This particular design project is concerned with Bosch’s direct gasoline injection and gasoline port fuel injection engines, and specifically, the Electronic Throttle Body (ETB) component of these engines in the North American market. The ETB controls inflow of air into the engine and so is critical to engine combustion and emissions, and to vehicle fuel economy. Therefore it is important to be able to check its functionality. The inspection process involves the removal of the Printed Circuit Board (PCB), which is a part of the position sensor within the ETB and housed by a plastic cover. The current process requires clamping the plastic cover inside a cavity and using a set of prototype tools to pry the PCB from the plastic cover. This process can be both destructive and potentially damaging to the PCB.
Given the shortcomings of the current inspection process, Bosch has requested that the MSU team design a removal tool that can ensure the safe removal of the PCB from its housing. A prototype of the best design will then be manufactured and tested on various applications for the micro-strain it induces, and submitted to Bosch for approval.
Union Pacific Corporation: Particle Filtering in Railcar Refurbishment
Union Pacific Railroad owns the nation’s largest railroad network and has provided freight services to customers since its establishment in 1862. In order to maintain the quality of these services, it regularly refurbishes railcars, using shot-blasting to remove old paint and debris. The refurbishment takes place in its De Soto, Missouri facility, where a bag-house system is used to filter particles and airborne pollutants from cleaning, shot- blasting, and other railcar repair processes. The current bag-house system is nearing obsolescence and requires excessive maintenance, costing many hours of labor and annual capital expenditures of over $140,000. Improvements to the current system will enhance productivity in the facility and enable the company to continue refurbishing rail cars to a high quality, while maintaining the highest standard of air purification.
The team has identified five design solutions that will be researched and analyzed to assist Union Pacific in deciding on the most efficient and cost- effective solution that satisfies safety and performance constraints.
ArcelorMittal: Redesign of a Steering Roll Bellows
ArcelorMittal is one of the world’s leading steel and mining companies. Much of the steel produced in the Burns Harbor, IN facility is in the form of sheet metal which is annealed and galvanized on a Hot Dipped Galvanizing Line (HDGL). In this process, the sheet metal is guided and steered along the line on a series of pairs of rollers, several of which are critical to the alignment of the sheet metal inside the annealing furnace. These rollers steer using a hydraulic driveshaft that passes through the furnace wall via a flexible bellows that permits free movement of the roller and shielding from the furnace environment. These bellows are exposed to high temperatures and a wide range of motion, which often results in failure.
The MSU team will evaluate and improve the current bellows design in order to maximize longevity and minimize maintenance down-time. The best design will be chosen and adapted to ArcelorMittal’s current driveshaft apparatus. A prototype will be designed and modeled, then presented to ArcelorMittal for further testing.
Ingersoll Rand: Vibration-Isolation Design for a Plenum Fan
A subsidiary of Ingersoll Rand, Trane is a global provider of heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems, building management systems and controls. As the “most recognized, most preferred and most highly rated brand of residential heating, cooling and ventilation,” Trane prides itself on its ability to provide reliability while delivering maximum energy efficiency. One aspect of maintaining reliable products involves designing systems that require little maintenance over long lifetimes and, in many of Trane’s products, involves designing products for vibration isolation, to reduce the transfer of damaging forces to the product’s frame. Although Trane currently has vibration isolation and damping systems in place, the costs incurred to implement such devices are higher than the company desires.
The MSU design team’s objective is to propose an alternative design for isolating the vibrations of a direct- drive plenum fan and motor assembly. Trane’s desired solution will provide a similar reduction and isolation of vibrations as the current design, but at a lower total cost.
Whirlpool Corporation: A Low-Cost Steam-Cooking Appliance
The Whirlpool Corporation, headquartered in Benton Harbor, Michigan is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of household appliances. Whirlpool has kept at the forefront of a competitive industry by creating new appliance concepts and maintaining high quality products. It has recently added a steam cooking capability within the ovens of its home cooking appliances. The ability to cook with steam, in addition to traditional convective heating, is advantageous in many kinds of food preparation and is desirable to many homeowners. Currently, the price of ovens with this feature is too high for the average consumer. Therefore Whirlpool is interested in a design solution that incorporates steam cooking into its line of freestanding ranges, at an affordable price.
The objective of this project is to determine the optimal method of generating steam and the best location for the water reservoir in a freestanding range. The location of the water reservoir must not interfere with the current range design and must allow the consumer to empty and fill the reservoir when needed. In the course of this project, the team will also develop a method to quantify the improvement in taste of foods cooked with steam.
U.S. Steel Corporation: Ladle-Weighing System for a Continuous Caster
The United States Steel Corporation is an integrated steel producer with production plants throughout the world. Great Lakes Works (the U.S. Steel facility in Ecorse, Michigan) is a steelmaking and finishing facility with the capabilities to produce hot-rolled, cold-rolled, and coated-sheet steels. Great Lakes Works utilizes a continuous casting process in which molten steel is held in ladles that are continuously emptied into a mold, where it solidifies into slabs. These slabs of solidified steel are then rolled and finished in a finishing mill. There are two ladles, weighing approximately 250 tons when full, that sit on rotating arms to replace an empty ladle with a full ladle. U.S. Steel is interested in a process to measure the ladle weight as the molten steel is emptying. The ladle weight gives an indication of the small amount of residual steel that has either overcooled or contains undesirable impurities. This information can then be used to maximize the yield by exchanging ladles at the optimal time to consistently produce high-quality steel.
A range of sensors and sensor systems will be analyzed to design a durable solution that can withstand the extreme temperatures and hazards of the steel- making environment. Potential sensor solutions will be tested on the caster at the facility to determine the optimal choice for accurate and easily accessible data.
U.S. Steel Corporation: Redesigned Automatic Scraper for Steel Galvanizing
United States Steel Corporation is one of the leading manufacturers of galvanized sheet steel in the United States and has a long-standing commitment to safety that has become one of its core values. Ensuring a safe workplace also improves productivity, quality, reliability and financial performance. In order to meet everyday high quality demands, U.S. Steel utilizes a high-performance continuous galvanizing line. 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 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, dross is removed manually, which can be dangerous. It is also necessary to replace rolls that build up excessive amounts of dross, which is costly. U.S. Steel is interested in exploring and implementing design concepts for a new scraper system with a longer operating life that replaces manual scraping of the stabilizer roll (which keeps the sheet from bowing or bending) by an automated process.
The MSU team will evaluate several new scraper designs that satisfy U.S. Steel’s requirements, objectives and constraints. An optimal design solution will be developed using 3D modeling. The best design will be chosen based on precision, functionality, and reliability and a prototype will be built and evaluated as a possible future full-scale model.
Halliburton: Design Optimization Protocol for Oil and Gas Wells
Halliburton is one of the world’s largest providers of products, services, and solutions for oil and gas exploration, development, and production. The company frequently designs wells and their installations, in situations in which technical factors must be complemented with considerations of safety, environmental effects, and sustainability. When designing wells, it is important for the company to avoid safety incidents, have minimum down-hole tool failures, drill 100% in-zone, and keep a reasonable rate of penetration. Halliburton is therefore interested in creating oil and gas well designs, bottom-hole assemblies, and hydraulics for a particular area within specified constraints.
The MSU team will create an optimized well- design protocol for drilling to completion, accompanied by well planning, drilling execution, post-well analysis, and future optimization plans. The team’s goal is to meet these expectations and, in addition, include durability and functional performances of design for each project.
Meritor: Optimized Design of a Transfer Case Housing
Meritor is a leading manufacturer of automotive components for heavyweight vehicles such as trucks, buses, and trailers. Their headquarters is located in Troy, Michigan, they have facilities worldwide and their products include axles, brake systems, drivelines, and suspensions. Meritor manufactures transfer cases–gearboxes that allow a driver to select between two-wheel and all-wheel drive–for the 30,000-40,000 lb gross-vehicle-weight all-wheel drive market. Many transfer cases also allow the driver to select between a high torque/low rpm and a low torque/high rpm configuration. Many of Meritor’s transfer cases that are in use today have been on the market for 10-15 years and are exceptionably reliable. However, as computational optimization software has become available in recent years, there are opportunities to improve existing designs without sacrificing durability.
The MSU team’s objective is to optimize the design of a transfer case housing and idler gear shaft using optimization software. The goal is to achieve as large a component mass reduction as possible without degrading performance or changing the locations of transfer-case interface points to the vehicle. This exercise should reduce the cost of manufacturing, improve cooling of the transfer case components, and improve fuel economy while maintaining support for vehicles using Meritor’s current production models. Several designs for the transfer case and idler gear shaft will be developed using HEEDS optimization software and ANSYS Finite Element Analysis (FEA). The optimal design will then be chosen on the basis of least weight, best durability, and greatest ease of manufacturing.
Lansing School District: Optimization of Wind Turbine Arrays
Consumers Energy, TechSmith, Union Pacific and Whirlpool regularly sponsor projects that advance and encourage education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and, in partnership with Lansing School District, are interested in alternative energy systems such a wind turbines. Horizontal-axis wind turbines are currently used as the main source of wind power for wind farms across the country. However, their large size has led to high unit cost, maintenance difficulties, and limited power output when placed close together. Therefore, there is much interest in alternative approaches to harvesting wind energy such as using vertical-axis wind turbines. These turbines can be significantly smaller and of lower overall complexity and cost, but also have the ability to produce large amounts of power when in close proximity to each other.
The team will develop models and designs of vertical-axis wind turbine arrays using patterns found in nature and patterns determined through computer-aided optimization. After evaluating the power output and turbine efficiency for each array, the best array will be optimized by varying the number and spacing of the wind turbines to maximize both power density and turbine efficiency.