Client/Sponsor: RIT Baja SAE
Team (optional): Annika Garbers (BS/ME ISE), Colton Johnson (BS/ME ME), Erica Neese (BS ISE), Jason Liu (BS ME), Matt Santullo (BS/ME ME), Wylie McDonald (BS/ME ME)
Project Overview: Every year, Rochester Institute of Technology’s Baja SAE racing team designs, builds, and races a new off-road vehicle. A new allowance in the Baja SAE rules (Baja SAE p. 23) permits hydraulic accumulator systems (HAS) as an on-board energy storage/propulsion mechanism in addition to the engine, the implementation of which could create a significant competitive advantage.
Solution: We designed and manufactured a complete hydraulic accumulator system (HAS) which integrates with RIT’s 2019 vehicle (R19) and provides a driver-controlled “power boost” during dynamic events. The final system includes a diaphragm-style accumulator (energy storage), a custom low-pressure vessel, hydraulic manifolds and runs to direct the pressure through the system, a clutch mechanism and hydraulic motor to integrate with the R19 drivetrain, and electronics to control the system in response to driver feedback. As the vehicle’s wheels turn, the driver can choose to couple the HAS to the drivetrain with a servo-operated clutch system. When the clutch is engaged, a gerotor-style hydraulic motor converts rotational energy from the drive shaft to hydraulic pressure to “charge” the system (building pressure in the accumulator) and vice-versa for “discharge.” As the system discharges, hydraulic fluid is transferred from the accumulator through a system of hydraulic hose and manifolds to a low pressure reservoir until the system re-enters “regen” mode.