ENGINEERING AND THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT >
DEPARTMENT OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

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(Including: Blast Impact and Survivability Research Unit (BISRU), Centre for Materials Engineering (CME), Centre for Research in Computational and Applied Mechanics (CERECAM), Energy Research Centre (ERC), and the SASOL Advanced Fuels Laboratory (SAFL).

Head of Department: Professor Christiaan Redelinghuys

Department Profile

The Department of Mechanical Engineering includes the following recognized research groupings: Blast Impact and Survivability Research Unit (BISRU), the Centre for Materials Engineering (CME), the Centre for Research in Computational and Applied Mechanics (CERECAM), the Energy Research Centre (ERC) and the SASOL Advanced Fuels Laboratory (SAFL). The research activities of the department span a range of engineering disciplines. Classical mechanical engineering research areas include aerodynamics, internal combustion engines, fluid mechanics, solid mechanics, fatigue and fracture mechanics, heat transfer, refrigeration, design, vehicle dynamics and non-destructive evaluation. The research interests of BISRU cover all engineering aspects of blast and impact scenarios. This includes the impact/blast process, structural response and material characterisation of structural components, as well as human bio-mechanical response under impact conditions, with the overall objective of saving lives. Materials research, carried out in the Centre for Materials Engineering, is directed at an understanding of the relationships between the production processes, structure, properties and performance of engineering materials. This encompasses both applied and more fundamental work on metals, ceramics, polymers and composites and is concerned with the improvement in performance of materials used in engineering systems in a wide range of industries. Research carried out in CERECAM includes mathematical modelling of complex material (particularly non-linear) behaviour, simulation of processes of deformation and failure of engineering components and artefacts, development of stable and accurate computational solution techniques, and fundamental mechanical processes. A fair portion of CERECAM activities centre around computational fluid dynamics (CFD) ranging from the simulation of basic aerodynamic flows to the complex flow phenomena associated with chemical reactors. CERECAM is an interdisciplinary unit, drawing members from the Departments of Mechanical Engineering, Mathematics and Applied Mathematics, Electrical Engineering and Chemical and Civil Engineering. The Energy Research Centre carries out research in the areas of energy efficiency, energy modelling, climate change issues and sustainable energy. In Engineering Management, recent years have seen increased activity in the fields of quality management, manufacturing systems and systems practice. The Orthopaedics Research Group is concerned with all aspects of biomedical prostheses, especially their design, optimisation and manufacture, up to and including implementation. The SAFL is arguably the most sophisticated engines laboratory undertaking fuels research in the country, with full automation and data acquisition, comprehensive on-line exhaust gas analysis and instrumented single cylinder research engines. In addition a major research thrust concerns optical and cylinder pressure based combustion diagnostics and jet fuel research. Engineering education and pedagogical research is conducted through the Faculty based Centre for Research in Engineering Education (CREE) as the director is a member of the Mechanical Engineering Department. Recent research developments in the Department include increased expertise in Design and particularly Manufacturing.  The Advanced Manufacturing group is focusing on four aspects: (i) high-speed machining and grinding (ii) micro machining (iii) nano machining (including polishing and ultra-precision machining), and (iv) laser materials processing. The Robotics research group develops robots and also the software to control their autonomous behaviour. The Aeronautics research group focuses on studying the flight of autonomously guided parafoils as well as operational issues related to airliners in formation flight.

 

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