Areas of Research Expertise: Household Energy and Village Power
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Background: Engines & Energy Conversion Laboratory
The Engines & Energy Conversion Laboratory (EECL) is a unique research/education program housed in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. The laboratory was established in the Old Fort Collins Power Plant in June 1992. In the years since then the laboratory has grown to become one of the largest and most influential engines research programs in the United States. The EECL is widely recognized as an international leader in the fields of large gas engines for power generation and compression, small 2-stroke cycle engines for use in developing countries, alternative fuels for automobiles, computational fluid dynamic (CFD) modeling of engines, and optical combustion diagnostics. The Department has invested in the laboratory through the recent hires of two new faculty members who have established new EECL programs in diesel engines, laser diagnostics, and plasma applications in engines.
Stoves - back to top
The Advanced Cookstoves Laboratory at the Engines & Energy Conversion Laboratory has partnered Envirofit International to design high efficiency biomass cook stoves. More than half the worlds population still cooks everyday with biomass and the resulting poor indoor air quality has been found to have life threatening consequences. The Global Innovation Center at the EECL and Envirofit are designing stoves Which, while using the same fuels as traditional stoves, are more efficient and release a fraction of the toxic emissions typically seen in traditional stoves. The team is working to understand what causes these toxic gases and smoke to form and what can be done through stove material selection and combustion flow to create clean stoves. We are working on a highly engineered yet simple cookstove. The performance of the stoves are characterized by looking at fuel consumption, thermal efficiency, and gas and smoke production. The stoves being sold by Envirofit and designed by the Global Innovation Center research team have cut the fuel use in half and reduced the emissions to a small fraction of their previous amounts.
One of the most important capabilities of the stoves workspace is the ability to measure gaseous emissions from hydrocarbon combustion. For this, the lab uses a Fourier Transform Infrared (FT-IR) spectrometer configured to measure the primary components of stoves emissions (carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, water, and various speciated low molecular weight hydrocarbons) as well as minor components (formaldehyde, butadiene, and hydrogen cyanide). In addition to the FT-IR, a flame ionization analyzer can also be used to measure major gaseous emissions from hydrocarbon combustion while a chemiluminescence analyzer is used to measure oxides of nitrogen.
Particulate emissions from the stoves are measured using a gravimetric method (involving isokinetic sampling of exhaust) for the most accurate measurements. Isokinetic sampling is done using a vacuum pump and mass flow controller. Particulate samples are then quantified in a controlled environment using a microbalance. For more qualitative measurements, a nephelometer is used.
The lab currently has two separate emissions collection hoods outfitted with auxiliary sensors for stoves research. These sensors support a wide range of emissions data collection and can be adjusted for specialized measurement, and can be fully automated through a combination of hardware and programming strategies.
The stoves workspace also includes facilities for durability testing (which can run 24 hours a day), kiln drying, machining, and fabrication.