Mechanical automated coupled feeding system for solid materials

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University of New Brunswick
This report was commissioned by the Mechanical Engineering Department of the University of New Brunswick in fulfillment of the requirements for the senior design course ME4860. The project selected by the group is a Mechanical Automated Coupled Feeding System for Solid Materials. The main issue with transporting biomass via feeding system is inconsistent flow due to the blockage of particles in the screw and trough of the feeder. The methods used to solve this problem is done by automation to detect irregularities in torque of the motor and flow. Using control theory the system will be setup to run at a set rpm and make adjustments if the torque starts to fluctuate. The flow of the particles is challenging to measure because it cannot be measured using conventional flow meters. A quadrature incremental encoder is placed on the end of the shaft to measure the speed of the system. By using the encoder to measure the actual value a control system can be implemented to correct for any apparent error. The desired outcome of the project will be a screw feeder that is 50 cm in length with a hopper, motor, microcontroller, and sensors. The feeder will transport 6 - 10 kg/h of biomass and will have an adjustable speed controller. The hopper will have an agitator that will disperse particles away from the sides to eliminate excessive build up along the walls of the hopper. In this report detailed design drawings and schematics of the system have been completed in preparation for construction of the project. A detailed schedule of events has been completed with an expected completion date for the project in April 2014. The total budget for the system has been revised and costs have been identified for various parts and materials.