RRC duo’s engine a possible vision of the future
Schuyler Hunt, CONTRIBUTOR
Two researchers from Red River College are working on a low cost way to produce sustainable power.
Sergei Broeska and Leon Fainstein made a prototype flat plat solar Stirling engine that converts solar energy into mechanical power. The team aimed to keep the build simple and inexpensive.
Broeska graduated from RRC’s mechanical engineering program in 2011 and recently graduated from the University of Manitoba with a degree in mechanical engineering. Fainstein has been a mechanical engineering instructor at RRC for 21 years.
The current prototype of the engine has features that set this design apart from similar projects. These features include the low cost of building materials and a horizontal cam design, a first for engines of this type. This mechanism allows incoming rotary motion to be converted into outgoing linear motion.
“The benefits of (a horizontal cam) is that it fits into a smaller package,” Broeska said. “This can make the cycle more efficient through changing cam timing.”
The team used inexpensive materials, including wood, glass and aluminum sheet metal, to keep the project accessible. Broeska and Fainstein chose air as the engine’s fuel, since it is abundant and easy to work with.
The engine is a mechanical prototype currently but could be used to power batteries with more time and research. The duo considers the engine a success and plans to continue improving this prototype.
Although the team has been working on this project only since 2015, Fainstein has had the idea for a while.
Broeska and Fainstein have collaborated on projects before, including their patented rapid prototype composite tooling.
Fainstein and Broeska also have several individual projects ongoing. One of Fainstein’s projects is on the bicycle of Winnipeg Paralympic athlete Chantal Givens, who used the bike during the triathlon in Rio this year. The two worked to customize her bicycle to her needs.
Fainstein said the main reason for the team’s continued success is RRC’s College Applied Research Development (CARD) Fund. This fund is granted to RRC students and staff to encourage research and development projects.
The CARD Fund “gets students involved,” Fainstein said. “It’s an excellent way to stimulate research at the school.”
Broeska and Fainstein’s Stirling engine prototype was entered into the Create the Future Design Contest 2016. This international contest showcases innovations and inventions from different fields of engineering and technology design. Contest results will be posted later in September.