Masters's in Mechanical Engineering
University of Stellenbosch
Reason for project:
Most quadcopters are currently powered by LiPo batteries. In many applications this results in limited flight time. Fuel cells have been proven to increase the flight time two- to threefold. This hasn’t been done yet in the southern hemisphere. There is, therefore, a desire to develop fuel cell powered propulsion systems for quadcopters.
Deliverable of project:
A fuel cell has a higher energy density than a LiPo battery. However, it has a lower power density and more complex characteristics. The design process of a fuel cell propulsion system, is therefore more complex. Also, propulsion systems are generally custom designed for specific missions/applications. There is, therefore, a need to develop a computer simulation design tool that could simplify the design process of fuel cell propulsion systems. The aim of this project is to develop, validate and demonstrate the usefulness of such a design tool.
Competencies developed during this project:
- Theoretically modelling a fuel cell, LiPo battery, ESC, BLDC, propeller and other components using Matlab/Simulink/Simscape
- Liaising with manufacture to procure a custom-designed multirotor
- Designing experiments, procuring test equipment, doing experiments and analysing data
[Refer to references 1 & 2.]
Solar Thermal Energy Systems: learnt how to simulate and design Concentrated Solar Powered (CSP) systems.
Advanced Design: Learnt how to program optimization algorithms and how to solve optimization problems.
Industrial Heat exchangers: Learnt how to analyze and design heat exchanger systems, focusing on cooling towers for power stations.
Advanced Control Systems: learnt about implementing multi-input-multi-output control.
Numerical Methods: Learnt how to efficiently solve large matrix problems.
At our university, for each subject, a handful of postgraduate students help the undergraduate students with their tutorials and practicals. I was the head tutor, which meant I coordinated the efforts of the tutors. This subject comprises of thermodynamics, fluid dynamics and heat transfer. I gained a more in-depth understanding of these fields by teaching it.