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Journal Article

Sensitivity Analysis and Control Methodology for Linear Engine Alternator

Linear engine alternator (LEA) design optimization traditionally has been difficult because each independent variable alters the motion with respect to time, and therefore alters the engine and alternator response to other governing variables. An analogy is drawn to a conventional engine with a very light flywheel, where the rotational speed effectively is not constant. However, when springs are used in conjunction with an LEA, the motion becomes more consistent and more sinusoidal with increasing spring stiffness. This avoids some attractive features, such as variable compression ratio HCCI operation, but aids in reducing cycle-to-cycle variation for conventional combustion modes. To understand the cycle-to-cycle variations, we have developed a comprehensive model of an LEA with a 1kW target power in MATLAB®/Simulink, and an LEA corresponding to that model has been operated in the laboratory.
Technical Paper

Feasibility of Multiple Piston Motion Control Approaches in a Free Piston Engine Generator

The design optimization and control of Free Piston Linear Engine (FPLE) has been found to be difficult as each independent variable changes the dynamics with respect to time. These dynamics, in turn, alters the alternator and engine response to other governing variables. As a result, the FPLE system necessitates an energy balance control algorithm with high-speed dynamic response for stable operation and perhaps optimized system efficiency. The main objective of this control algorithm is to match the power generated by the engine to the power demanded by the alternator. This energy balance control is similar to the use of a governor to control the crankshaft rotational speed in a conventional crankshaft driven engine. In addition to that, when stiff springs are added to the FPLE system, the dynamics becomes more sinusoidal and more consistent with increasing spring stiffness.
Technical Paper

Thermodynamic implications of the Stiller-Smith Mechanism

The Stiller-Smith mechanism is a new mechanism for the translation of linear motion into rotary motion, and has been considered as an alternative to the conventional slider-crank mechanism in the design of internal combustion engines and piston compressors. Piston motion differs between the two mechanisms, being perfectly sinusoidal for the Stiller-Smith case. Plots of dimensionless volume and volume rate-change are presented for one engine cycle. It is argued that the different motion is important when considering rate-based processes such as heat transfer to a cylinder wall and chemical kinetics during combustion. This paper also addresses the fact that a Stiller-Smith engine will be easier to configure for adiabatic operation, with many attendant benefits.
Journal Article

Fundamental Analysis of Spring-Varied, Free Piston, Otto Engine Device

Conventional crank-based engines are limited by mechanical, thermal, and combustion inefficiencies. The free piston of a linear engine generator reduces frictional losses by avoiding the rotational motion and crankshaft linkages. Instead, electrical power is generated by the oscillation of a translator through a linear stator. Because the free piston is not geometrically constrained, dead center positions are not specifically known. This results in a struggle against adverse events like misfire, stall, over-fueling, or rapid load changes. It is the belief that incorporating springs will have the dual benefit of increasing frequency and providing a restoring force to aid in greater cycle to cycle stability. For dual free piston linear engines the addition of springs has not been fully explored, despite growing interest and literature.