Department of Mechanical Engineering


Thermofluids research

We undertake fundamental and applied studies into thermal and fluid dynamic systems from conventional scales down to micro scales at our brand new Thermofluids laboratory located at the Newmarket campus.

Areas of interest and support


Current research utilising experimental testing and numerical-computational fluid dynamics methods is being pursued in the following main areas of interest:

  • Thermal management (down to micro scales)
  • Energy production and conversion (conventional IC engines, vehicles, fuels, and at micro scale)
  • Renewable energy systems
  • Energy conservation and efficiency
  • Refrigeration, air conditioning, and ventilation
  • Industrial thermofluid dynamics

 

Our work is supported through:

  • Experimental facilities: including brand new environmental chambers, heat transfer and fluids labs, a PIV system, a thermometry calibration lab, petrol and diesel engine test cells, emissions analysers, engine and chassis dynamometers, an instrumented road vehicle, and a range of rigs, instrumentation, and measurement systems.
  • Mechanical, electronics, and instrumentation workshops and a number of technical staff.
  • Computational resources: that include local a parallel computing system, access to a national high performance computing (HPC NeSI) facility, and a range of licensed, in-house, and other software codes (Ansys, Creo, Matlab, FDS-SMV, Open Foam, Others).
  • Industrial collaborators and clients (HERA, Fisher and Paykel, Lincoln Agritech Ltd, and many others).

To view a list of projects on offer, click here.

Examples of Current Projects


Specific projects currently underway in these areas through student research (PhD, Masters and undergraduate final year projects) and industry collaboration include:

  • Ultra micro gas turbine (UMGT): The UMGT is proposed to replace battery technology as an alternative high energy density power source for small scale (10 W – 1 kW) applications (portable electronics, devices, instrumentation, and UAV’s). To realise the UMGT technology, our research is currently focussing on the development of a regenerative micro combustor, micro turbo-machinery, and its other components.
  • Micro scale thermal management: Modern day microcomputers, electronic devices and gadgets (smart phones, tablets, cameras, laptops, parallel computing, data centres) demand reliable high speed performance which requires thermal management solutions. We are studying a range of state-of-the-art micro scale technologies and current research projects are focused on jet impingement processes, heat pipes, and oscillating reeds.
  • Tidal turbines: Tidal turbines operate in unsteady (turbulent) water flows arising from mechanical shearing at the seabed and wave action at the sea surface. Our current research in this area aims to understand the unsteady fluid dynamics processes and the characteristics of the unsteady hydrodynamic loads produced on tidal turbine blades from the tidal stream unsteadiness. This will help in the improved design of future tidal turbine.
  • Solar energy: solar thermal wall; solar refrigeration systems.
  • Performance of and emissions from internal combustion engines / road vehicles with alternative fuels: Current projects are focussing on the use of fuel options such as hydrogen supplementation of petrol, biodiesel, ethanol-petrol blends, and LPG; and on varying road conditions. The Formula SAE-Australia programme has been running for many years now and engine related projects are conducted each year.
  • The Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC): The ORC allows heat recovery from lower temperature sources such as biomass combustion, industrial waste heat, geothermal heat, solar ponds etc. We are collaborating with HERA on the development of turbine and heat transfer / heat exchanger technology for the ORC. A model scale ORC plant is planned for our Thermofluids lab that will help with ongoing research and development in this area.
  • Refrigeration: Acoustic refrigeration, cascade and CO2 based refrigeration systems.
  • Development of a thermal pump powered by alternative energy sources (biomass, solar) for agricultural applications
  • Mitigation of pesticide spray drift: Funded and supported by Lincoln Agritech Ltd, this project is aimed at the development of novel high-velocity, droplet-laden, vortex based air flow systems for the precise delivery (and with minimal drift) of liquid droplets onto targets over distances of several metres up to 20 m.
  • Road tunnel ventilation and fixed fire suppression systems (FFSS): This is a new project started in 2015 that considers the unknown interactions been ventilation and FFSS systems through scale model and computational methods. With input from ‘Well Connected’ and ‘Beca’, a 1:25 scale model of a section of the new Waterview Tunnel has been created for this study.

Courses


Undergraduate

MECHENG 211 Thermofluids
MECHENG 311 Thermal Engineering
MECHENG 325 Dynamics of Fluids and Structures
MECHENG 334 Engineering Design 3M
MECHENG 712 Aerohydrodynamics
MECHENG 713 Energy Technology
MECHENG 715 Building Services
MECHENG 731 Engineering Design 4M

 

Postgraduate

Department of Mechanical Engineering


MECHENG 711 Computational Fluid Dynamics
MECHENG 714 Wind Engineering
MECHENG 717 Advanced Thermal Systems
MECHENG 731 Engineering Design 4M

Services


We have the expertise and capability to undertake research, development, testing, modelling, analysis, and optimisation based projects in the areas outlined above and beyond. Contact details are given below.

For testing services related to energy and appliances, engines, fuels, and vehicles, further details will be found at the Energy and Fuels Testing Services (EFTS) site.

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