Lincoln:Engineering at ICMAT 2011 in Singapore

ICMAT – The International Conference on Materials for Advanced Technologies will be held at Suntec in Singapore from 26th June to the 1st July 2011.

The conference attracts more than 2000 delegates, including plenary lectures from many Nobel Prizewinners. It is organised by the Materials Research Society of Singapore, and is affiliated to the International Union of Materials Research Societies (IUMRS)

Lincoln University will be represented by members of the School of Engineering, and will feature some of the Interdisciplinary work on BioInformatics currently being performed by Prof Paul Stewart in collaboration with Prof Dave Fernig of the University of Liverpool.

Also representing Lincoln will be Dr Colin Dowding of the School of Engineering who will be presenting on Laser Materials Processing for BioMimetics.

Profs Stewart and Fernig will be presenting in:

Symposium: Frontiers in Optical Bio-imaging and Microscopy

The symposium includes cutting edge methodologies in optical, spectroscopic and kinetic imaging microscopy. The methodologies include novel probe techniques as well as novel microscopies. The imaging and spectroscopic methods that will be showcased will be already or could very soon be applied to biological imaging. Imaging methods include: refractive index change, interferometry, tomography (OCT), lifetime imaging, spectral imaging, TERS, SERS, photothermal imaging, STED, PALM, STORM and FIONA, fluorescence plus others.

  • Fernig D.G. and Stewart P.“Heparan sulfate determines the modes of diffusion of fibroblast growth factor 2 within the pericellular matrix”
  • Stewart P. and Fernig D.G. ‘Bio:Eng, Bridging the gaps between engineering and biology’

Dr Dowding and Prof Stewart will be presenting in:

Symposium: Nanoscale Patterning, Assembly, and Surface Modification

More information on the conference can be found at:

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.

Free-Piston experimental engine returns to Lincoln:Engineering labs

Free-Piston engine cambelt drive transfer box

After a successful meeting with Lotus Powertrain and a representative from Toyota Research Laboratories, I loaded the van up with the free piston engine, and brought it back to Lincoln, where it will be installed in one of the experimental test cells when we move into the new building.

The next stage in the development will be for Control Techniques to recommission the electrical drive and position controller for the rotary machine.

The free-piston engine in the laboratory ready for re-commissioning

This engine is absolutely unique, as it is able to function as a conventional single cylinder research engine, or as a free-piston engine by disconnecting the connecting rod from the crankshaft.

Presently the engine is set up in conventional operating mode, as a single cylinder research engine. It is novel in this operating mode, as the crankshaft is connected to a low inertia, high torque electrical servo-motor, which allows us to not only apply dynamic loads to the engine, but also control the shape and phase of piston trajectories, particularly through top-dead-centre.

This has allowed us to achieve the first dynamic examination of Quasi-Constant-Volume-Combustion, by reducing the piston velocity through the combustion phase of the cycle through top-dead-centre. This activity resulted in the paper

Chen, Rui and Winward, Edward and Stewart, Paul and Taylor, Ben and Gladwin, Dan (2009) Quasi-constant volume (QCV) spark ignition combustion. In: 2009 SAE World Congress, 20-23 April, 2009, Cobo Centre, Detroit, MI, USA.

The next research steps over the forthcoming year will be the investigation of the thermodynamic cycle using advanced control techniques, none of which are achievable on any currently produced engine configurations. We will be reporting on the research outputs in due course.

Prof Stewart at Lotus Headquarters in Hethel, hoping they'll let him take the Evora around the test track

Many thanks must go to the Lotus team for fitting the new linear motor/generator which we designed and built. In particular to Jim Young, who has been responsible for most of the modifications to this engine, which have been in many cases outlandish and seemingly impossible. Well done Jim!

Working the Bank Holiday

Thrifty Hire's biggest van parked up in Norwich

Staying over in Norwich tonight before the big event tomorrow, picking up the Free Piston Engine from Lotus Cars after its most recent modifications, fitting the new linear motor/generator.

I’m also meeting a representative from Toyota in Japan with Jamie Turner, Chief Engineer from Lotus, to discuss our free piston work.

I’m going to take the engine over to the ThinkTank in Lincoln tomorrow, where it will be stored in the interim until the move into an engine test cell in August.

Control Techniques, who supplied the electrical drives, will be re-commissioning the experimental rig.

DeVere Dunston Hall Norwich

The Lotus Free Piston Engine project story – people2

Simon Wilson setting up the motor control system in the engine test cells

Simon Wilson was in one of my 4th year MEng project groups at Sheffield Uni, and stayed on to read for a PhD with me on Temperature Estimation for Permanent Magnet AC Motors. Simon received an Industrial CASE award from Rolls-Royce Derby for the duration of his study. He can be seen here setting up the DSpace controller which supervises data acquisition and control for the engine.

Simon has subsequently joined EA Technology at Capenhurst as a consultant on new renewables technology.

Ed Winward setting up the control desk Labview front end

Next up is Ed Winward, who was working for Professor Rui Chen at Loughborough University. Ed designed and implemented the entire front-end for the free piston project in Labview (see picture left) which allowed us to start experimentation in earnest.

The best tribute to his part in this project is a YouTube video he made which documents an early run of the Free-Piston Engine

Youtube Free-Piston Video