Catholic University Engineering Research Program
This program supports faculty-student research activities in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at The Catholic University of American (CUA). The intent of the program is to provide university research opportunities to increase and enhance STEM knowledge among faculty and students in research areas that support the mission and goals of NASA.
In addition, the program is designed to provide faculty and students with an opportunity to understand and advance the research needs of NASA, while strengthening the talent pool of scientists and engineers. Students who are supported in this program (via a scholarship) are longitudinally tracked using an annual survey to follow their academic and career progress. The goals and objectives of the program were to support three faculty members and two scholarship students in on-campus STEM research projects. Three faculty members and three students engaged in engineering research related to energy, sustainability, environmental impacts, and global climate change. The research projects included alternative energy and working fluids.
The goal of the research was to investigate environmentally friendly working fluids for energy systems. In particular, to study the effects that working fluids have on the thermodynamic performance on energy systems and on the global environment. During this phase of research the faculty-student team investigated power cycles, in particular, ones with much lower operating temperatures than in traditional hydrocarbon-fired Rankine cycles, e.g., solar applications, fuel cell applications, waste heat applications, geothermal applications, etc.
The purpose was to develop thermophysical property models for not so well defined working fluids so that their thermodynamic performances could be estimated in refrigeration, heat pumping, and power applications, and to develop models for designing ideal working fluids for particular applications.
The students funded were able to complete Masters theses and doctoral dissertations, all related to environmental problems. The two Masters theses were related to working fluids in energy systems and their impacts on energy usage and their negative impacts on global climate change. The doctoral dissertation allowed the student to study the impacts of noise on marine life.