Optimization of a Formula SAE Vehicle Intake Manifold; The Need for Nuclear Energy and Ensuring Accountability

Bilali, Dani, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Momot, Michael, EN-Mech & Aero Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Francisco, Pedro Augusto, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

My Mechanical Engineering capstone project focused on optimizing the intake system of the University of Virginia’s (UVA) 2023 Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (FSAE) vehicle intended to compete in the Formula SAE competition in Brooklyn, Michigan in May 2023. The intake system includes three main components: Restrictor, Plenum, and Runners. Goals included decreasing the weight of the system, increasing engine horsepower, and improving fuel efficiency. My capstone group went through design constraint screening and scoring over 12 potential intake designs which were completed in the first half of the Fall 2022 semester before focusing on one design. This is UVA’s FSAE team’s third year of competition and improving the functionality of the intake system can help propel the team to a higher overall ranking at the Michigan competition.

My capstone group went through extensive research and development of the intake system in the Fall 2022 semester while manufacturing components in the Spring 2023 semester. In the Fall, multiple designs of each component were created on Fusion 360 and went through numerous computation fluids dynamics (CFD) and vibrational analysis simulations to adjust each part’s designs and wall thicknesses. 3D-printers and a computer numerical control (CNC) milling machine were used to manufacture the intake components. This vehicle runs on a 600 cubic centimeter (cc) motorcycle internal combustion engine (ICE) and the UVA team is hoping to transition to an electric Formula SAE car within the next few years. It is important to consider the impact that ICE vehicles and the use of fossil fuels have on the environment. Switching to an electric vehicle will have a positive impact on the environment in addition to giving UVA students an opportunity to enter the workforce with electric vehicle experience.

My STS research discusses the need to transition away from a majority fossil fuel source of energy and to nuclear which is much cleaner and sustainable for the environment. Additionally, my research discusses the need for accountability in nuclear disasters. Actor-network-theory (ANT) is used to explore the relationships between the various people and objects involved in producing, regulating, and obtaining nuclear energy. The social construction of technology (SCOT) also explores the technology that safeguards nuclear energy. By exploring the impacts of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986, the actions of the Soviet Union can be shown to have negatively impacted residents in the area. I expect to discuss the flaws in the reaction to the disaster by the Soviets and how the entire world was needed to help impacted residents. My capstone project and STS research have similar themes of positively impacting the environment and transitioning to more sustainable energy sources: electricity for cars and nuclear for power.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Formula SAE, Intake Manifold, Nuclear Energy, Manufacturing, Design and Analysis, CNC Milling, 3D Printing, Epoxy, Optimization, Computational Fluid Dynamics

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering
Technical Advisor: Michael Momot
STS Advisor: Pedro Francisco
Technical Team Members: Pallavi Kulkarni, Brett Mihovetz, Sunniva Nyhus, Billy Robic

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