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Father, Son Collaborate on Research Paper Featuring RankineCycler™

Posted in: General News, Steam Turbine Lab

Paper to be Presented at Upcoming 2005 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition

The father-son team of Philip and Andrew Gerhart are nearing completion of their critical research paper entitled "Laboratory-Scale Steam Power Plant Study - RankineCycler Effectiveness as a Learning Tool and its Component Losses" to be presented at the upcoming 2005 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition hosted in Portland, Oregon, June 12th through the 15th. The paper reflects the Gerhart's experience utilizing the RankineCycler in their respective junior and senior level thermodynamics lab classes.

Despite being separated by hundreds of miles, Philip, the Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Evansville in Evansville, Indiana and Andrew, an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, MI and director of the school's Thermal Science Laboratory, have proven the advantages of mutual collaboration in the teaching usage of their RankineCyclers.

Having taken delivery of their individual laboratory units just months apart, the two have been able to develop and refine their academic curriculums in conjunction with one another, building upon each other's unique experiences and curriculum requirements. The first part of the paper is dedicated to measuring their success at utilizing the RankineCycler for undergraduate thermodynamic teaching. To do this, a student survey was developed and distributed at both schools to gain feedback on the RankineCycler and its use in the thermodynamics laboratories. A quantitative analysis of the survey as well as comments from the students showed that the RankineCycler contributed positively to student success in their required thermodynamic classes.

To further enhance the students' experience with the RankineCycler, the Gerharts next set out to better understand the RankineCycler's performance and to identify those areas that could potentially complicate student analysis of the Rankine cycle. A detailed parametric study of the RankineCycler was conducted. Utilizing the temperature and pressure values measured by the RankineCycler data acquisition system, the Gerharts examined the performance characteristics specific to the RankineCycler while performing problems typical of student required analysis such as efficiency calculations.

Their research included areas for additional analysis and detailed study of the RankineCycler. Specific component analysis, the determination of an optimum operating point and the development of a method to measure actual steam flow are all areas scheduled for further work.

The Gerharts recently visited Turbine Technologies, LTD factory to observe RankineCycler manufacture and to obtain some additional design information for the completion of their paper. They also had the opportunity to evaluate other laboratory equipment for potential inclusion in their current labs. 

The paper is scheduled for presentation at the ASEE Conference on Wednesday, June 15th during session "3133: Energy Projects and Laboratory Ideas" from 7:00 - 8:15 am in the Oregon Convention Center room D137.