Design, Analysis & Prototyping


Barber-Nichols (BN) possesses the sophisticated tools and experienced personnel to take the most technical engineering challenges from concept to reality. The design process begins by understanding each individual customer’s requirements, using them to create a project specification and define the initial technical concept. Whether we are developing a component of a larger system, such as a pump, compressor, or turbine; or the entire system itself, clean-sheet designs follow a three-staged, gated development process which includes Conceptual Design, Preliminary Design, and Critical Design phases. Each phase concludes with a detailed review of the current state to ensure it meets requirements before proceeding to the next stage.


It is during this process that BN designers create initial 2D sketches that can be used to evaluate the feasibility and manufacturability of the configuration as it matures. These 2D sketches are used to create detailed 3D models which undergo various engineering analyses to review the design and establish a level of confidence that it will perform to operational requirements. Aerodynamic analyses can help to predict if rotating equipment will meet its stated performance requirements. Stress, thermal, and vibration models can help our engineers understand how a specific component or piece of equipment will react within its operating environment. This portion of the process can be highly iterative, and it is very common for parts or all of the design to be revised several times before it can be considered ready for sign-off.

Engineering analyses involve the use of mathematical models, structural finite element analysis (FEA), aerodynamic and hydraulic computational fluid dynamics (CFD), as well as complex system-level simulation. To accomplish this, BN engineers use some of the most rigorous and trusted modeling tools the industry has to offer to establish the confidence needed prior to manufacturing.

3D Modeling & Drafting: SolidWorks
Aero & Fluid Dynamics: CFX, NASA, Barber-Nichols Proprietary
Stress, Thermal & Vibration Analysis: ANSYS
Rotordynamic & Bearing Analysis: XL-Rotor, XL- Bearing Suite
Motor Design: SPEED, MagneForce
Circuit Design: Spice, Quartus, Altium DXP
Full Physics System Modeling: Amesim, Matlab Simulink


BN develops 17 clean sheet designs annually, many of which are required to pass various MIL-STD or DO-160G qualification tests prior to being placed in service.  The detail and rigor of the design & development process ensure that the resulting equipment is of the highest quality, and able to meet the demands of each customer’s application the first time.

Supercritical CO2 Power Cycle Technology Development

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Nuclear Energy and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) theorized that replacing a traditional steam Rankine cycle in a power plant with a supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) Brayton cycle would be 7% – 12% more efficient and allow power plants to deliver more electricity from a fixed amount of fuel. To further this research, the DOE tasked Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) with investigating supercritical CO2 power cycles and advancing its technical readiness level. This resulted in the identification of several technical risk items that needed to be addressed before the technology could advance to commercialization. A sub-scale supercritical CO2 power cycle test loop would have to be built to validate the efficiency theory and the four technical risk items of greatest concern were compressor performance and stability, heat exchanger performance, system start-up, and system controllability.


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