Mechanical Engineering

Life cycle analysis of an expander

Supervisor

Dr Alison Subiantoro

Faculty of Engineering

Project code: ENG001

Refrigeration systems are integral for modern life. They are used for human comfort, food preservation, medical applications, thermal control of manufacturing processes, etc. Among others, the vapour compression refrigeration (VCR) system is still the most commonly used alternative due to its simplicity. However, such system experiences significant energy waste during expansion at the throttling device. This can be reduced, or even eliminated, by using an expander. An expander can be seen as a compressor that is operating in a reversed cycle. It expands high-pressure fluid to a low-pressure condition. At the same time, power can be produced to offset the overall energy use of the refrigeration system. Literature has shown that the energy efficiency improvement is around 10% for typical refrigeration systems. However, expanders are more complex to manufacture as compared to conventional expansion valves.

It is the purpose of this study to analyse and compare the overall environmental impacts of producing an expander and an expansion valve using life cycle analysis (LCA) methods. The focus will be on the overall energy usage and/or carbon footprint. The work will include, but not limited to, literature review, modelling, calculation and data analysis. The student will learn about the basics of refrigeration systems, expansion valves, expanders and life cycle analysis (LCA). He/she will then carry out LCA for expansion valve and expanders. The results will then be compared. The findings will give a better direction to the future of expander developments. Nature of work: theoretical.

Experimental validation of ‘smart’ wearables

Supervisor

Dr Andrew McDaid

Faculty of Engineering

Project code: ENG002

This project involves experimental testing and analysis of a new era of ‘smart’ wearable medical devices developed in our labs here at University of Auckland. Research will involve motion capture experiments (as used in the movies), field testing and data analytics using advanced data processing techniques. 

Experimental testing of robotics for people with disabilities

Supervisor

Dr Andrew McDaid

Faculty of Engineering

Project code: ENG003

This project will involve testing and improving the design of robots developed for children with CP or other disabilities as well as adults with stroke. This may include testing in lab (motion capture) and also in the field testing.

Aerodynamic Optimisation of a Free-Fall Aircraft for Skydiver Tracking

Supervisor

Dr Karl Stol

Faculty of Engineering

Project code: ENG004

The objective of the project is to optimise the body and vane design of a skydiver tracking drone. Elements of the project will include CFD model building and MATLAB simulation. Suitable for a 3rd or 4th year mechanical or mechatronics engineering student (or equivalent) with an interest in aerodynamics and aircraft design.

Mechanism Development for Drone Perching

Supervisor

Dr Karl Stol

Faculty of Engineering

Project code: ENG005

The project aim is to improve the design of a landing mechanism for a multirotor drone, capable of perching on vertical posts. Tasks will include design, manufacture, assembly, and flight testing. Suitable for a 3rd or 4th year mechanical or mechatronics engineering student (or equivalent) with good mechanical problem solving skills.

Electronics Interface for Flexible Stretch Sensor

Supervisor

Assoc. Prof. Kean Aw

Faculty of Engineering

Project code: ENG006

We have developed a wearable flexible stretch sensor using printed carbon black on silicone elastomer.  This sensor is based on the piezoresistive property of printed carbon black traces embedded in the elastomer.  However, to deploy this sensor in real life applications, there is a need to integrate this sensor with electronics circuit that can transduce the change in resistance to the appropriate digital signal that can be processed to determine the amount of mechanical strain.  Skills required for this project are:- electronics circuit design, embedded digital system and programming.

Spatial quasi-periodicity as a means to improve dynamic performances of an elastic structure

Supervisor

Dr Vladislav Sorokin

Faculty of Engineering

Project code: ENG007

Periodic structures are used for vibration mitigation purposes in various applications, from composite materials and microstructures to building frames and bridge trusses. An important feature of such structures is the presence of frequency band-gaps that are frequency ranges in which traveling waves attenuate, with the result that vibration is suppressed. Although, introducing spatial periodicity is an effective and widely used approach for mitigating sound and vibration, advanced applications, particularly in building industry, demand developing novel structures and materials with enhanced dynamic properties that can outperform conventional periodic structures and materials. Specifically, for practical applications, it is often relevant to suppress structural oscillations in a relatively low frequency range when damping is less effective. For conventional periodic structures, however, frequency ranges in which wave attenuation can occur strongly depend on the size of their periodic cells, and the smaller the size, the higher the frequency ranges. This considerably limits the range of practical application of conventional periodic structures.  

The aim of the present project is to study the possibility to overcome these limitations by introducing combined spatial modulations of structural parameters with different aliquant periods, i.e. by exploiting quasi-periodicity, instead of pure periodicity, of structures. It is intended to study experimentally and theoretically a model elastic quasi-periodic structure, e.g. a beam with a varying cross-section on multiple supports. Dynamic performances of the structure will be tested using conventional vibration experimental techniques, e.g. by measuring its impact responses. Its frequency response functions will thus be determined and frequency bandgaps identified.

The project requires basic knowledge of the dynamics and vibration theory and some experience with the corresponding vibration measurement techniques.

Gamification of Robotic Assembly Tasks

Supervisor

Dr Minas Liarokapis

Faculty of Engineering

Project code: ENG008

Grasping and dexterous manipulation allow robots to interact with their environment and execute meaningful tasks (e.g., robotic assembly tasks). Grasping and manipulation synthesis and planning are difficult to model processes that rely on analytical models, constrained optimization schemes or on the use of advanced machine learning techniques.

In this project, we will focus on simplifying robotic grasping and manipulation by attempting their gamification. In particular, we will transform the specifications of the tasks to be executed by the robotic platform to certain gameplay goals, allowing non-expert users to seamlessly execute robotic assembly tasks while playing their favourite game (without even witnessing the task execution). The motivation is to use the vast amount of time that the gamers community spends in online games to improve the organizational productivity and flow of industrial automation (industry 4.0) systems.More information can be found in the website of the New Dexterity research group.

N-dimensional presentation model for RFID Big Data from smart factory

Supervisor

Dr Ray Zhong

Faculty of Engineering

Project code: ENG009

Smart factoring is one of key components under Industry 4.0 era which is our next industry generation. Radio frequency identification (RFID) has been widely used in manufacturing industry for creating a smart environment where large number of real-time data could be captured and collected. RFID Big Data are thus generated. How to make full use of this data for further decision-makings in smart factory is investigated in this project.

Students may focus on an N-dimensional presentation model for RFID Big Data. They are expected to have basic knowledge on RFID, manufacturing systems, and SQL database.

Porting of an OPC UA implementation to the Arduino platform

Supervisor

Prof. Xun Xu

Faculty of Engineering

Project code: ENG010

OPC UA (Open Platform Communications - Unified Architecture) is the emerging machine-to-machine communication protocol used in Industrie 4.0. This project looks at how OPC UA implementation can be realised in association with the Arduino platform, which has the benefit of easy setup and development. Recent sensing technologies will be used in conjunction with wireless communication, i.e. compact sensors connected directly to the internet using an industrial standard.

More specifically, the aim of the project is to bring open62541, a lightweight and open-source C/C++ implementation of OPC UA, to a WiFi-enabled Arduino-compatible board/chip (e.g. MKR1000, Espressif). The outcome of the project is a platform ready to be deployed in industry or used by other researchers.

Applicants should be conversant with software programming and development (ideally C/C++). Previous experience with Arduino or other embedded programming is beneficial but not necessary. You will be working with a PhD student.

Cyber-Physical System based on Augmented Reality

Supervisor

Prof. Xun Xu

Faculty of Engineering

Project code: ENG011

This research aims to transform a mechanical system or device (e.g. CNC machine tool) into a smart Cyber-Physical System (CPS). In this CPS, a cyber-twin of the physical system will be developed and closely integrated with the physical system.  Augmented Reality (AR) will be used to, (a) visualise the operation of the system, (b) report misuse of the system through real-time diagnosis and (c) assist assembly, disassembly or maintenance work over of the system. This project requires basic knowledge about sensors, embedded system programming (stm32, Arduino, etc.) and web service development.