Free-Piston Direct-Drive Thermal Engine for Waste Heat Applications

The research project proposed here takes a radically new approach to on-vehicle electric power generation, with the potential for developing a scalable, flexible, and conceptually very efficient method without the need for complex mechanical off-take. The new method is called the Free-Piston Direct-Drive Linear Generator, a type of Rankine Cycle expansion engine. Excess thermal energy is used to heat a fluid via a heat exchanger, and the energy in this high-pressure and high-temperature fluid is then converted into work via the free-piston expansion engine. A Free-Piston Expander (FPE) provides this approach with flexibility and a very broad dynamic range of operating points. Unlike a more familiar reciprocating piston, there is no connecting rod or crankshaft; the piston trajectory is completely unconstrained and key parameters impacting thermodynamic performance, such as expansion ratio (ER) can be varied over an enormous range in real-time. Furthermore, by optimizing the piston trajectory (position versus time) in each stroke, it is possible to smooth the power output to nearly steady conditions. The FPE embodiment of the Rankine cycle expander is likely to be optimal in the range of 10-1000kW.

Faculty Supervisor:

Luis Rodrigues;Charles Basenga Kiyanda;Chunyan Lai;Pragasen Pillay


Dimpykumari Patel;Christophe Cyusa


NovoPower International


Engineering - computer / electrical




Concordia University



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