Looking for research topics or ideas related to combustion engines (to help a 9th grader)

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meli317
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Looking for research topics or ideas related to combustion engines
Hi All,
I am helping a student (9th grader) develop a research topic related to his interests in physics for an independent study program he is applying for at our school. My background is Geology, so I am not too knowledgeable regarding topics in physics. This student is interested in combustion engines, specifically for cars and planes. Would anyone have advice on where I could direct this student to search for research topics related to engine combustion? He's extremely motivated, and is interested in exploring topics or problems related to this area.

Thanks!
 
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  • #2
berkeman
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Welcome to the PF. :smile:

Does the student have an interest in the thermodynamics behind the combustion cycles, or is their interest more in how the engines work mechanically?

The evolution of the commercial jet engine is pretty interesting, especially with the recent work on high-efficiency jet engines for passenger aircraft. The economy gained from the high-efficiency engines goes right to the bottom line for fuel expenses, etc.

There have been some very interesting uses of 3-D printed assemblies in jet aircraft design and fabrication -- I'll see if I can find an article on some of those innovations...
 
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Lnewqban
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meli317
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Thank you, Berkeman and Lnewqban, for these resources! So far, these look great and I'll go over them with him, I reached out to verify his preference for topics related to the chemical aspects of combustion, or the mechanical aspects. He's 100% interested in the mechanical aspects of engines, specifically for cars and planes, so these are perfect.
 
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Lnewqban
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You are welcome :smile:
For airplanes, you have several types besides the piston type: jet, turbofan, turbine, etc.
The piston's distribution also created types like radial, in line, V and opposite.
Wikipedia is a good place for simple descriptions.
There are many videos in YouTube with animations, pieces of museums, prototypes, etc.
 
  • #7
meli317
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You are welcome :smile:
For airplanes, you have several types besides the piston type: jet, turbofan, turbine, etc.
The piston's distribution also created types like radial, in line, V and opposite.
Wikipedia is a good place for simple descriptions.
There are many videos in YouTube with animations, pieces of museums, prototypes, etc.

Thank you! I have sent this along and he wanted me to share that he is grateful for your collective ideas!
 
  • #8
Dr.D
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l suggest going to the SAE website (www.sae.com, I think). SAE does a lot to promote student interest, and they have lots of resources available.
 
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berkeman
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SAE does a lot to promote student interest, and they have lots of resources available.
Good point. @meli317 -- does your student have an auto shop or metal shop at his/her school? If so, those are very practical classes to take to get some hands-on experience with engines and fabrication equipment.

And the SAE especially is active at the university level with ME students and competitions to stimulate creative solutions. Your student is obviously not in university yet, but perhaps if there is a university nearby, they could see if they could attend some of their meetings to observe...

https://www.sae.org/attend/student-events

1586213575635.png
 
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meli317
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l suggest going to the SAE website (www.sae.com, I think). SAE does a lot to promote student interest, and they have lots of resources available.

Thank you, this organization lead us down a great path! He found a few associated websites, even scholarship information for the future. And he found a college that has a chapter, although it’s several hours away. But he will be reaching out. Thanks! This was not a resource I was familiar with.
 
  • #11
meli317
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Good point. @meli317 -- does your student have an auto shop or metal shop at his/her school? If so, those are very practical classes to take to get some hands-on experience with engines and fabrication equipment.

And the SAE especially is active at the university level with ME students and competitions to stimulate creative solutions. Your student is obviously not in university yet, but perhaps if there is a university nearby, they could see if they could attend some of their meetings to observe...

https://www.sae.org/attend/student-events

View attachment 260148
Yes, SAE proved to be a great resource! He located a university chapter, and although it’s far, he’s reaching out to pick their brains a bit about some of his ideas. We are thankful for this suggestion, as I was completely unfamiliar with this organization.

Our school does not have a shop or any type of mechanical engineering class, unfortunately and sadly. I run a robotics club for 5th-10th grade students that creates submersible ROV’s, which attracts many of the kids who are into engineering, and tinkering with tools, taking things apart, and figuring out solutions to our building problems. Personally, I have very little engineering background, with just some mild experience with electrical engineering, so I’m often learning along with my students. Thank you all again for these leads and ideas!
 
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  • #12
berkeman
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I run a robotics club for 5th-10th grade students that creates submersible ROV’s, which attracts many of the kids who are into engineering, and tinkering with tools, taking things apart, and figuring out solutions to our building problems.
That's awesome, good for you! :smile:

You and the student could look into inexpensive 3-D printers and the associated 3-D CAD software (free/inexpensive versions) -- I think they are great resources for budding ME students. Also look for your local Maker Faire (after the pandemic passes) and other Maker resources, to help with creative building ideas. Have fun! :smile:

https://makezine.com/
 
  • #13
hutchphd
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The best collection of bizarre and innovative early engines can be found at the USAF Museum in Dayton (Fairborn) Ohio. They have a good online tour capability:
https://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Visit/Museum-Exhibits/Early-Years-Gallery/
Might be of interest.
I grew of age not far from there and it was (is?) free to visit. An amazing collection. Fabulous vacation destination too.
 
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  • #14
meli317
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The best collection of bizarre and innovative early engines can be found at the USAF Museum in Dayton (Fairborn) Ohio. They have a good online tour capability:
https://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Visit/Museum-Exhibits/Early-Years-Gallery/
Might be of interest.
I grew of age not far from there and it was (is?) free to visit. An amazing collection. Fabulous vacation destination too.
Thank you for this resource! My student is tracking all these resources now, and he's thinking about perhaps a topic related to engine efficiency. I'm pushing him to dig a little deeper so that his question gets accepted into the independent study program at our school, which historically accepts mostly bio and eco questions. He would be one of the first physics studies in a good while, so we'e working hard to form that question. Thanks again!
 
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