By Leah Murphy ’17, Staff Writer
Project Title: High Speed Video of Direct Fuel Injection for Small Diesel Engines
Student: Diego Aldana ’18, mechanical engineering
Mentor: Professor Indranil Brahma, mechanical engineering
With climate change and pollution garnering increasingly more public attention, research pertaining to efficient and clean fuel-burning processes is extremely important. Mechanical engineering student Diego Aldana ’18 spent his summer using high-speed imaging to measure the angle and length of the fuel injected into the combustion chamber of a single-cylinder diesel engine, with the goal of singling out agents of nanoparticle creation, soot and other harmful carcinogens. The project involved designing a model combustion chamber out of high strength clear polycarbonate (PC) that could be pressurized to achieve desired densities and used to record fuel injection with high intensity lights and high-speed cameras.
As Aldana notes, “with the world’s current position on climate change and pollution, it is inevitable that power plants, cars, engines and other fuel burning processes will have to account for the carbon-footprint they leave behind.” It is for this reason that, though Aldana’s research has not continued into the fall, he plans to take-up similar studies no matter what industry he enters post-graduation.
Deeply interested in the concepts of thermodynamics, mechanics, and aerodynamics that automotive engineering brings together, Aldana’s research has introduced him to a network of wonderful mentors, including technicians Daniel Johnson, Aaron Clark and Tim Baker, all of who have had an immense impact upon his research. This summer, Johnson helped Aldana design the model combustion chamber for his research by providing guidance on the appropriate material, PC and safety measures needed for his project. Additionally, Baker and Clark helped Aldana manufacture important parts including the model chamber plates and timing belt gears. Aldana is extremely grateful for being able to participate in the design process early on in his college career, since such an opportunity is often not available to engineers until they are seniors. He identifies his work with the technicians as a highlight of his summer research.
Aldana’s research adviser, Professor Indranil Brahma, also had a positive impact upon his research by helping Aldana better understand the problems posed by single cylinder engines and the harmful pollutants that they produce. He also helped Aldana learn important engine parameters related to the combustion process that could be the source behind pollutant causing agents. Having been funded by both Bucknell’s Program for Undergraduate Research and the Chi Phi Fraternity Alumni Network, Diego is grateful for the opportunity to pursue research in his field of interest and work with so many wonderful mentors. He encourages others to pursue research opportunities at Bucknell because of the many benefits they can provide both professionally and personally.