Energy Research Center

Research Facilities

Fluids and Heat

JD 1608A contains most of the equipment used to support ME 491. The equipment includes a centrifugal fan test bed, a centrifugal pump test bed, a pipe flow rack, a refrigeration cycle, a Rankine steam cycle, a process control demonstration unit, and a pneumatics actuator system. A major upgrade to this laboratory took place recently with the addition of several modern equipment.

JD 1132 is a “wet” laboratory space used to support special projects in the thermal-fluids area. It is also available to support senior design activities. In recent years, senior projects which have been developed in this lab include the BattleBot and Human Powered Vehicle. This lab includes a computing facility which has the same software as the DASL laboratory.

Environmental Chamber

This facility supports development and test activities for environmental testing, senior design projects, and graduate research. This 3000 square foot laboratory contains 4 functional areas: (1) an environmental test chamber, (2) aerospace senior design projects, (3) graduate student projects, and (4) a flight simulator.

Key features include an environmental test chamber with its bi-directional chassis dynamometer, an eddy-current engine dynamometer test stand, and a 7500 lb hydraulic vehicle lift to support vehicle assembly/disassembly. The environmental chamber has been designed for testing in a temperature/humidity-controlled environment from -20°F to 120°F. The computerized control station provides computer controlled dynamometer operation, environmental control operation, test article control, data acquisition, and both voice and visual communications between the chamber and the control station.

Rocket Engine Test Cell

The Test Cell houses a small, alcohol burning rocket engine. Seniors and graduates use this facility to become familiar with liquid rocket engine fundamentals and rocket engine testing.

The Control Room houses the gas cylinders and the data acquisition/control system required for operation of the rocket. Two small windows are provided for visual inspection of the rocket or other test articles during operation.

Wind Tunnel

The Wind Tunnel Laboratory houses a closed circuit subsonic wind tunnel with a 4 square foot, atmospheric pressure test section, capable of speeds from 50 to 200 miles per hour. The tunnel includes a force balance and data acquisition unit to measure lift, drag, and pitching moment on various models. This tunnel is used by students in ME 491, as well as students studying special topics related to senior design and Masters projects.

A simple open loop tunnel capable of generating low Reynolds number flows is also available for instructional use in ME 491. The test area cross section has a 14" diameter, and a mechanical force balance is used for determination of the lift and drag coefficients of small airfoils. A multi-tube manometer system is also available for measuring external pressure distributions over cylinder and wing models.