Research Papers

The High Inertance Free Piston Engine Compressor—Part II: Design and Experimental Evaluation

[+] Author and Article Information
Eric J. Barth

e-mail: eric.j.barth@vanderbilt.edu
Department of Mechanical Engineering Vanderbilt University
Nashville, TN 37235

Contributed by the Dynamic Systems Division of ASME for publication in the Journal of Dynamic Systems, Measurement, and Control. Manuscript received March 18, 2011; final manuscript received January 17, 2013; published online April 25, 2013. Assoc. Editor: Nabil Chalhoub.

J. Dyn. Sys., Meas., Control 135(4), 041002 (Apr 25, 2013) (9 pages) Paper No: DS-11-1079; doi: 10.1115/1.4023760 History: Received March 18, 2011; Revised January 17, 2013

Pneumatically actuated robotic systems are attractive alternatives to traditional electromechanical systems due to the power density advantage of pneumatic actuators. This assumes that a power source is available to provide the pneumatic supply at a sufficient energy density to compete with batteries. To this end, a high inertance free liquid piston compressor (HIFLPC) was developed as a portable, efficient, compact power supply for pneumatically actuated systems. This paper presents the model-based design and operation of the HIFLPC, as well as the fabrication and evaluation of an experimental prototype of the device. Efficiency, power output, and other operational characteristics of the prototype are experimentally assessed. A validation of the dynamic model developed for the HIFLPC is conducted, and model-based studies are performed to investigate the influence on system performance by varying liquid piston dynamics.

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Fig. 1

Comparison of energy transductions from storage to mechanical output power for batteries/dc motors and for a free piston compressor

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Fig. 2

(a) Schematic of HIFLPC at effective TDC. (b) Schematic of HIFLPC at effective BDC.

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Fig. 3

Assembled HIFLPC prototype

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Fig. 4

(a) Top view of combustion head. (b) Interior view of combustion head with exhaust valve open. (c) Interior view showing check valves for injectors.

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Fig. 5

(a) Compressor section. (b) Interior view of compressor section.

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Fig. 6

Liquid piston housing

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Fig. 7

HIFLPC test configuration

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Fig. 8

Fuel injection circuit

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Fig. 9

Signal timing for prototype operation

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Fig. 10

Measured pressures for HIFLPC operation at 4 Hz for the (a) combustion chamber, (b) compression chamber, and (c) reservoir

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Fig. 11

Single cycle reservoir pressure gain

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Fig. 12

Fuel circuit buffer tank pressure for one cycle

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Fig. 13

Modeled and experimentally measured pressure data for two reservoir loads: (a) combustion chamber pressure, (b) compression chamber pressure, and (c) reservoir pressure

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Fig. 14

Power density and efficiency versus inertance by varying liquid piston cross-sectional area A2

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Fig. 15

Power density and efficiency versus inertance by varying liquid piston inertance tube length

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Fig. 16

Power density and efficiency versus diaphragm stiffness



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