Test Cell 1

This testing area is primarily configured to establish the overall performance of a heat-powered engine, including its efficiency, power output, and reliability. To date, research has been conducted both on externally heated Stirling, organic Rankine, and steam Rankine engines and on the devices that generate the thermal input to these engines.

The capabilities of Test Cell 1 include a fuel/air combustion skid for energy input; cooling systems for heat removal; 130 kW eddy-current dynamometer for precision power measurements; and instrumentation, system protection, and power control channels.For measuring the thermal output of fuel-fired thermal energy systems, such as a gas-fired liquid-metal evaporator for Stirling engines, Test Cell 1 offers a gas-gap calorimeter, which simulates the engine by allowing the liquid metal to condense at operating temperatures.

Test Cell 2

Test Cell 2 is currently set up to test bench-scale solar receivers, which are devices that absorb the concentrated solar energy from the sun and transfer it to a heat engine. In the testing area, the solar input is simulated by quartz lamp banks and their associated power control systems. Power is absorbed using gas-gap calorimeters.

This test cell also supports bakeout and fills operations on liquid-metal heat-transfer devices. For these operations, portable heat trace and heat-trace control systems are available, as are portable vacuum systems and residual gas analyzers.

Data/Control Room

The Engine Test Facility offers a well-equipped control room for personnel to monitor tests. The data acquisition system (DAS) measures, displays, and stores the data from each data channel in the system. The HP3852 DAS is controlled by a personal computer with LabView software. Additional personal computers are also available for data reduction and other applications.

Color video cameras are provided to capture the tests on film. The video lines are routed into the control room, are displayed on high-resolution monitors, and can be stored on 8-mm tape.

Maintenance/Assembly Bay

A maintenance and assembly bay is situated next to the test cells for test preparations. This bay includes the following conveniences:

  • 14-ft ceiling
  • 10-ft doors
  • Overhead crane
  • Electrical power
  • Compressed air
  • Workbenches
  • Parts Cleaner