Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Team Hot Stuff designed a thermal capacitor for Senior Design I at Utah State University. This thermal capacitor is intended for use in the food service industry as a low-cost alternative to chafers. Chafers are platters which use oil burners to keep food warm. The client for this thermal capacitor is Thermal Management Technologies (TMT), a company specializing in thermal science solutions whose mission is “to provide simple, practical thermal science solutions to a wide range of platforms including: Industry, Defense, and Space”1. The founder and president of TMT, Dr. J. Clair Batty, serves as a mentor for this project.

The project is broken down into tasks and split among the team members. Karen Nielson is team lead. As team lead, Karen’s responsibilities include overseeing and helping with all tasks, as well as ensuring that the team remains on task and on schedule. Brian Pincock is in charge of the team schedule and the thermal analysis. Brian is responsible for keeping track of task completions, updating the schedule and building and running various thermal models of the thermal capacitor. Ruby Kostur is the purchasing agent and is in charge of selection and purchasing of materials. Ruby’s responsibilities include researching, selecting, purchasing and budgeting parts and materials for the thermal capacitor. Jordan Cox is in charge of the design drawings and structural analysis. Jordan is responsible for constructing virtual models of the various parts of the thermal capacitor and analyzing the potential structural problems.

The team developed a list of requirements with the customer. These requirements are listed in Section 3 Statement of Problem. The team decided on the following design parameters:

Phase change material: Beeswax

Heat spreader: Aluminum honeycomb

Container material: Aluminum 6061

Insulation: Western Red Cedar

Bonding: Epoxy

Seal: O-ring

Fasteners: Stainless steel screws

To select these parameters the team performed thermal, structural, and materials analysis.

Brian Pincock oversaw thermal analysis. He consulted with professional engineers at TMT and professors at USU to decide on a correct modeling method.Using Star CCM to model the physics, Brian proved the final design would meet requirements. Jordan Cox performed structural analysis using FEMAP. His models confirmed that the final bolt pattern and O-ring seal would be safe and functional. Ruby Kostur used these results to select materials which maintained the budgetary constraints.


Faculty Mentor

Byard Wood