Setting up the engine laboratories in the New School of Engineering

Engine lab control room for the Free-Piston Engine

It’s only 12 weeks until we move into our new building. On the ground floor are some of our experimental laboratories, in particular our engine test cells. The cells each have an associated control centre separated by safety materials, from where experiments can be conducted remotely.

Pictured is the control centre for the Lotus Free-Piston Engine when it was under development in the Test Cells at the University of Loughborough, with the actual engine cell visible in the background through double safety glass.

The task I’ve got now is to move our experimental engines into the new build, and get them all running, commissioned and most challenging of all, correctly wired up into the data acquisition and control systems.

A fully working and commissioned Lotus Free-Piston Engine

The picture of the Lotus engine gives an indication of the amount of sensor and actuator cabling associated with each engine.

Engines are generally under computer control via either LabView, or running Matlab and Simulink developed control algorithms under DSpace. It’s quite rare for me to hand write code these days, DSpace compiles control structures from simulink into C, and downloads it onto ta converters.he host control microprocessor and associated A-D and D-A converters.

A lot of our engine laboratory equipment has been stored at the ThinkTank until the move, so we’re just starting the process of going through it all and allocating space.

A haulage company delivering some of our dynamometer equipment to the ThinkTank prior to our move.

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