Experimental study of the operation characteristics of an air-driven free-piston linear expander

2017-01-01T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Y Wang
In this research, an experimental test rig of a dual-piston air-driven free-piston linear expander (FPLE) is established using the FPE concept. A linear generator is used to convert the mechanical work of the pistons into electricity during the expansion process. The piston dynamics, the output voltage of the generator, and the expander operation frequency, as well as the system energy conversion efficiency are identified. It is observed that the piston displacement profile is similar with a sinusoidal wave. The piston is found to run at relative high speed during the middle stroke, and peak velocity is usually achieved when the piston approaches the middle stroke. The output voltage of the generator is sensitive with the piston velocity. With higher driven pressure, the expander frequency is higher. The energy conversion efficiency increases with higher driven pressure and can reach up to 55% with a driven pressure of 3.75 bar. This research presents a fundamental analysis of a FPLE prototype, which can be used as a guidance for the future design of this FPLE type.