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MUSE Research: Effect of Inlet Flow Conditions on Flow Uniformity Within a Fuel Cell Manifold

Mechanical Engineering students Manthan Kothari ’13, and Andrew Specian ’14, collaborated this summer with Associate Professor Dr. Lisa Grega to study inlet flow conditions inside of a fuel cell manifold. They were part of TCNJ’s MUSE research program and worked alongside seven other projects within the School of Engineering.

This research was based on a real world instillation and use of a fuel cell manifold, with a focus on how fuel both enters the manifold and is dispersed over each of the power generating cells. Longer lasting, more efficient and greener systems can be created in the future with an increased knowledge in this field. To study the flow, the group used a model of a fuel cell fitted with special inlet pipes, a powerful laser and specialized hardware and software to record data of the flow distribution within the manifold. The students learned to use a technique called Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) to obtain data and produce images that revealed the flow symmetry for three different inlet pipe types; straight, 90 degree bend, and 180 degree bend. These inlet types were chosen based on possible real world configurations. Dr. Grega plans to combine data acquired this year with that of previous years to publish an article to ASME.
Both students were grateful to the MUSE program and Dr. Grega for allowing them a chance to see what graduate school research would be like. Additionally, the students said the program provided them with, as Manthan put it, “a wealth of new knowledge as well as an opportunity to further enhance our skills.” Information about applying to the MUSE program and a list of other MUSE projects can be found here and http://fscollab.pages.tcnj.edu/ .

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