Thermofluids

Fundamental and applied studies into thermal and fluid dynamics systems from conventional to micro-scales.

Our research

We use experimental testing and numerical-computational fluid dynamics methods in the following main areas of interest:

  • Thermal management (down to micro scales)
  • Energy production and conversion (conventional IC engines, vehicles, fuels, and at micro scale)
  • Renewable energy systems
  • Energy conservation and efficiency
  • Refrigeration, air conditioning, and ventilation
  • Industrial thermofluid dynamics

Our work is supported through:

  • Experimental facilities: including brand new environmental chambers, heat transfer and fluids labs, a PIV system, a thermometry calibration lab, petrol and diesel engine test cells, emissions analysers, engine and chassis dynamometers, an instrumented road vehicle, and a range of rigs, instrumentation, and measurement systems
  • Mechanical, electronics, and instrumentation workshops and a number of technical staff
  • Computational resources: that include local a parallel computing system, access to a national high performance computing (HPC NeSI) facility, and a range of licensed, in-house, and other software codes (Ansys, Creo, Matlab, FDS-SMV, Open Foam, Others)
  • Industrial collaborators and clients (HERA, Fisher and Paykel, Lincoln Agritech Ltd, and many others)

Beyond teaching and academic research, we also possess the expertise and capability to undertake research, development, testing, modelling, analysis, and optimisation based projects for commercial projects.

Thermofluids laboratory

Heat transfer and project labs

The heat transfer and projects labs are located with the Thermofluids Laboratory, across two environmentally controlled spaces and an open project space. There are three separate areas:

  • Heat Transfer 1 (HT1)
    • Micro fluids and heat transfer rigs
    • Traversing rigs
    • Instrumentation and data acquisition systems
  • Heat Transfer 2 (HT2)
    • PIV system (TSI, Class 4 Laser)
    • Instrumentation and data acquisition systems
  • Project space
    • A large open wet lab space with benches
    • Extractor systems and multiple services
    • A range of experimental test rigs, storage areas, workspaces

Capabilities

  • The heat transfer labs accommodate smaller and micro scale thermodynamics/heat transfer/fluids research work and those that require stable environmental conditions to be maintained
  • Specialist PIV facility enables mapping of complex flow fields
  • The open project space allows rigs of all sizes to be set up and is suitable for wet work 
  • Thermofluidic systems that can be studied span across the areas of thermodynamics, heat and mass transfer; refrigeration, air conditioning and ventilation; industrial thermal fluid dynamics; energy production and conversion; combustion; turbomachinery; and much more

Examples of projects

  • Fundamental boiling and condensation heat transfer of CO2 at low temperatures
  • Synthetic jet impingement heat transfer
  • Micro oscillating heat pipes
  • Oscillating reeds for heat transfer enhancement at micro scale
  • An acoustic refrigerator with bent tube resonators
  • The physics of oscillatory flows through orifice type restrictions
  • Interaction of tunnel ventilation performance with fixed fire suppression
  • Regenerative micro combustor for a UMGT
  • Ultra micro turbomachinery for a UMGT
  • Investigation of a novel thermal water pump
  • Unsteady hydrodynamics of tidal turbines arising from seabed and wave generated turbulence

Environmental chambers

The environmental chamber test facility is available for commercial contract research work, in addition to serving student and staff research projects. Each chamber enables control of ambient temperature and humidity for research, product testing, development and evaluation. MEPS testing for energy labelling is a speciality. We have two environmental chambers:

  • Environment chamber 1 (A)
    • Max temperature 50 deg C
    • Min temperature -10 deg C
    • Max RH 95%
    • Min RH 35%
    • Max load in space 10 kW (heating or cooling)
  • Environment chamber 2 (B)
    • Max temperature 30 deg C
    • Min temperature -15 deg C
    • Max RH 95%
    • Min RH 35%
    • Max load in space 10 kW (heating or cooling)

Applications

  • Energy labelling testing to requirements of MEPS per AS/NZS 4474.2
  • Testing and development of refrigeration products and systems
  • Testing and development of humidity control devices
  • Testing of electronic components
  • Any application where controlled environmental conditions are required

Examples of Projects

  • Refrigerator and freezer efficiency testing to a variety of international test standards
  • Evaluation of alternative refrigerants and refrigeration components
  • Efficiency test standards correlation and harmonisation
  • Effect of ambient conditions, door opening and food load variation on refrigeration power consumption and efficiency

Engines research facility

The engine (and rotating machinery) research facility is located across three fully instrumented and serviced test cells within the lab. It is well equipped to conduct a wide range of engine and fuels research and development. Emissions and performance characterisation, management system mapping, fundamental research and component and engine (and rotating machinery) testing are just some applications. Key pieces of equipment include:

  • Ricardo E6 Research Engine (Test cell 1)
    • Variable compression ratio
    • Spark ignition or diesel
  • Borghi and Saveri FA200/30SPV eddy current dynamometer (Test cell 2)
    • Max power 150 kW, max torque 620 Nm, max speed 10000 rpm.
  • Borghi and Saveri FA100/30SL eddy current dynamometer [with Mazda 1600cc engine] (Test cell 2)
    • Max power 75 kW, max speed 12000 rpm
  • Dyne Systems 100 AC dynamometer (Test cell 3)
    • Max power 75 kW, max torque 240 Nm, max speed 8500 rpm

The dynamometers can operate with any of the following equipment:

  • Fuel consumption
    • Liquid fuels (petrol, diesel, alcohols) ± 0.5 % accuracy
    • Gaseous fuels (CNG, LPG) ± 0.5 % accuracy
  • Exhaust Emissions
    • CO, CO2, CH4 NDIR, O2 paramagnetic, THC heated FID
    • NO/NOx heated chemiluminescent
  • Air flow measurement
    • Laminar flow elements (50, 100, 400 & 1000 cfm)
    • Combustion Pressure: Piezo electric transducer system and high speed data acquisition

Capabilities

  • Engine performance and emissions mapping
  • Fuel testing
  • Engine development
  • Rotating machinery performance testing

Vehicle Research Facility (VRF)

The University of Auckland’s Vehicle Research Facility (VRF) is equipped to undertake a wide range of vehicle related research. Exhaust emission measurement is a speciality, being the only such laboratory in New Zealand. The key pieces of equipment include:

  • Schenck chassis dynamometer
    • 200 kph, 230 kW, with fully programmable road load and inertia simulation
  • Beckman constant volume sample system (CVS)
    • For certification type emission testing
  • Laboratory grade exhaust gas analysers
    • For carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane, total hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen
  • Two stage particulate dilution tunnel
    • For diesel vehicle particulate emission measurement
  • Computerised drivers aid
    • For transient cycle testing, and computer based data acquisition
  • Sealed housing for evaporative determination (SHED)

Capabilities

  • Certification vehicle emission testing to various international standards for petrol and diesel light duty vehicles; eg. US FTP75, Australian ADR37/01, European NEDC, Japanese 10.15 mode
  • Development of drive cycles representative of “real world” driving conditions
  • Fuel consumption and exhaust emissions testing for petrol, diesel, alcohol and gaseous fuels
  • Emissions control device assessment and development
  • Performance optimisation of gaseous fuelled vehicles

Thermometry Calibration Lab

The TCL specialises in high accuracy calibration of temperature measurement systems (with IANZ Accreditation) for the range –80°C to 450°C using stirred liquid baths, cryogenic and high temperature dry block calibrators.

Our people