For ME 121 lab this week we looked at a modified Rankine cycle (pictured above) and applied some thermodynamics to find out particular things of interest about the system. In the turbomachinery lab on the first floor of Packard Lab there is a boiler system that the schematic above describes. For lab this week we disconnected the turbine and fed the steam through a throttling valve to decrease pressure. The basic idea for this lab was to take data on the state of the working fluid at each point in the cycle to determine enthalpies, changes in energy, etc. to calculate the efficiency’s of the steady-flow devices like the boiler, superheater, and condenser. It was actually pretty neat to walk around and measure the pressures, temperatures, and mass flow rates of the water and steam throughout the whole system. Last semester in ME 104 (Thermodynamics I), we did this for a few weeks when we learned about Rankine cycles, but in that class the info you needed to solve the problem were given in the problem statement. It was fun and interesting to walk around and see the pressures and temperatures fluctuating while the whole system chugged and pulsed. It made me realize just how much fluctuation there can be in real processes and that most of the work we do in class is idealized and not 100% accurate to what happens in real life. I think its important to remember that. As engineers we would like to have a perfect, exact answer but in reality we can only get so close.