Automatic Temperature Control for Formula SAE Engine Dynamometer

Photo of Alex Duncan, James Durand, Mike Vu Students: Alex Duncan, James Durand, Mike Vu

Sponsor: The University of Texas Society of Automotive Engineers

Date: Spring 2010

Requirements:
The primary requirement is maintaining an engine temperature of 90°C ± 2°C. The system must also have an adjustable operating temperature of 90°C ± 15O°C. System response time should be less than 60 seconds, and have a maximum temperature overshoot of 10°C. The final solution must withstand water contact, a temperature range of 0-50°C, and a humidity range of 0-100%. The control unit must not exceed 8"x8"x8" in size and must operate without an external PC. Finally, the project must be completed with a budget of $300.

Problem:
To design, implement, and test an integrated mechatronic system to regulate fluid flow through a heat exchanger in order to maintain a desired engine coolant temperature.

Solution:
The final design solution comprises two main components: a motorized valve and a control box. The motorized valve consists of a gear motor that rotates a ball valve based on commands sent from the control box. Within the control box is an Arduino microcontroller. The microcontroller reads the temperature of the coolant with a sensor and compares that value with the desired engine coolant temperature set by the user. Based on that temperature difference, the valve is rotated to either increase or decrease the flow of cold water through the heat exchanger, thereby cooling the engine.

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