Project Abstract

This project summarizes the progress completed by the Senior Design Team on a miniature turbine that is currently being developed at the Rochester Institute of Technology. The goal of this project is to design, fabricate, and test the casing and electrical components of a miniature turbine built to power small vehicles such as a micro air vehicle (MAV). MAV's are vehicles with a maximum dimension of less then six inches and are used for surveillance and scouting. Due to the small size of MAV's, weight is a key design parameter. The batteries alone can account for more than 50% of the weight of the entire vehicle. A miniature turbine driven by compressed gas and coupled to a DC generator has been proposed as a replacement for batteries on these and other small vehicles.   The turbine would not only produce power for the electrical systems, but mechanical power for propulsion systems as well. This would eliminate the need for a motor. By decreasing the weight of power systems, MAV's will be able to carry more instrumentation, fly longer, and be better able to complete their mission.
When fabricated, the turbine should spin at a minimum speed of 50,000 rpm and produce at least 5 watts of electrical power, but analysis shows that the turbine may reach speeds up to 100,000 rpm and produce up to 15 watts of power. Testing has begun to find the efficiency of the turbine as well as to compare the power to weight ratio to that of batteries.

The multidisciplinary team consisted of:

DAN HOLT (Mechanical Engineering, Project Leader)

CARL CRAWFORD (Electrical Engineering)

ROB LATOUR (Mechanical Engineering)

ARMAN ALTINCATAL (Mechanical Engineering)

SRUJAN BEHURIA (Industrial Engineering)