A chrome wall covered with valves, regulators, cords, wires and tubing.
A chrome wall covered with valves, regulators, cords, wires and tubing.
Dozens of valves and regulators support a constant volume combustion vessel in Michigan Technological University’s Advanced Internal Combustion Engines Laboratory in the Advanced Energy Research Building (AERB).

It takes all this (and more) to regulate a 1.1 liter optically accessible constant volume combustion chamber (CVCC).

Dozens of valves—and an entire facility—regulate temperature, pressure and gases for one of only two CVCCs in the nation. To carefully observe the process of combustion, a lot of safety controls are set in place and are constantly monitored.

And it's all looks and no noise. Since a pressure wave never leaves the vessel, you don't hear it. But pressure builds to almost 5,000 psi at a rate the human eye can't see. Sapphire windows, two inches thick and four inches in diameter, ensure optical accessibility. High-speed video cameras point at the windows to capture spray and combustion processes—like those inside of a car engine—on the order of ten-thousandths of a second. The images acquired are part of computational fluid dynamics research conducted by mechanical engineering students and researchers at Michigan Technological University.

Safety first through careful control.

Cords, tubes and wires come out from a chrome cylinder shown in the foreground. A man wearing safety goggles observes in the background.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.