Proposed Project: Generic Discrete Simulation of Thermo-mechanical Components and Systems

This project will develop new methods of characterising and simulating components, machines, plant or systems that involve heat transfer, mechanical operations, energy conversion, cycles or flow processes (i.e. thermo-mechanical components, systems or machines) through discrete characterisation, topological network models, lumped elements and the characterisation of interaction interfaces.

In effect, what is proposed is the engineering equivalent of object oriented programming. Generic models will be developed for common, or uncommon, components, systems and assemblies that capture the essence of those things in the simplest and most compact form and also define how the represented item can interact with generic models of other items that might be introduced to it, brought into contact with it or connected to it.

Highly detailed computer simulation models are used in the power industry to design steam turbine, gas turbine and combined cycle power plants. The main simulation programs that are used are commercial products and access to their inner workings tends to be restricted. In many cases, access to the fundamental data used within the programs is also restricted.

Simulation models are also used for non-steady-flow applied thermodynamics systems such as engines, e.g. diesel engines, in order to better understand them and to be able to optimise their design. These simulators are often developed by university-based researchers, while some are developed by companies in the engine development sector. These simulators can be very complex, yet when all the input parameters are set they simulate just one physical machine. In many cases a much more compact simulator, based on stored discrete data could be of more practical use than the fully-featured simulator.

Traditionally, manufacturers and suppliers characterise components and machines by providing ‘performance characteristics’ in digital or graphical form. In some cases suppliers of components like pumps have provided simple simulators to characterise their products, although these are usually proprietary and not intended for direct linking with simulations of other components or machines.

By working with manufacturers and suppliers of actual thermo-mechanical components, machines and systems, this project will develop new generic ways of characterising and representing the items through the use of stored discrete numerical data. The project will also investigate ways of using the discrete numerical simulators in systems made up from components and machines.

It is believed that this will be a fertile area for research. The generic discrete simulators will be developed by using industry-standard software applications: the Microsoft Office Suite or Open Office and will employ Mathematica for data processing, model development and testing.

Whereas this project will reach out to industry and should be of benefit to manufacturers and suppliers it is considered vital that the project should be based within a non-commercial environment where the ethos is the advancement of knowledge through sharing and collaboration. In this way it is hoped that the project will lead to a new open-standard basis for the discrete simulation and representation of thermo-mechanical components, machines and systems.

This entry was written on 15 January 2008 at 11:26 a.m. as a private blog