Besides eliminating the hydraulic control valves, the new system architecture as well as the control schemes are simplified with the new technology. Possibilities of reducing the required cooling power are also possible due to lower heat generation at the fluid level. Moreover, in some applications, there is a possibility for reducing the engine power, since the new technology lends itself to hybridization by capturing available kinetic or potential energy and storing it for later use.
Now that researchers have shown they can achieve fuel efficiency with the technology, the next step will be to develop control algorithms for a smarter machine. "For example, the principle of virtual sensing will be investigated such that all critical states of the machine are made available for monitoring purposes," he said. "Also, the controller will be designed to robustly deal with varying operating conditions, uncertainties, disturbances, and such. Furthermore, failsafe backup solutions will be provided to meet the standard safety requirements."
The technology is ripe for commercialization, since the required components are already in mass production. "If a balanced business case analysis is performed, the new technology should be comparable in cost" to the old technology. And even if it costs are higher initially to manufacture the system, they should balance out within a few years, and the total cost of ownership over the life of the machine should be less.
The Maha Fluid Power Research Center is part of the Engineering Research Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power, which is funded by the National Science Foundation and participating companies and universities.
An interesting idea. There would be less plumbing; fewer hoses to dry out, seals to fail and losses from the hoses flexing during actuation. I wonder if there is a weight benefit from the reduced plumbing too.
This is a nice idea. Variable speed pumping opens up possibilities rather than crashing the energy into losses across valves. As it often snows in Indiana, they might have a good opportunity to try out this modified loader in a real world application by moving the snow from the parking lots. Winter is coming!
Ah, I take it you either live in Indiana as well or somewhere in the Midwest, RogueMoon, where winter is rapidly approaching, I'm sure! That does sound like a good test. Snow is quite heavy and dense, so it would be a good way to see how the new machine performs.
I agree with you guys, TJ and Chuck--it seems like an obvious fix in some ways, so I am surprised someone didn't come up with it sooner. But now they have, and it should be a great boon for designers of these machines in terms of making them more economical and fuel efficient.
A pump for each actuator is an eay way to grow the system almost without bounds. And each pump would need to be an expensive variable displacement reversable flow type. And the plumbing would become a bit heavier as well.
The ultimate solution would be a single reversable-flow pump under software control, and a large number of on/off low pressure drop routing valves to select which function got the pressure and flow at any particular time. It would make the software a bit more complex, but it would reduce both the losses and the number of pumps. But the plus side is that it could easily contain it's own diagnostics. But it would indeed be a bit more complex than present systems, but not a lot. And the best part is that it would not really require any new hardware being created.
I appreciate all these comments about the logistics of the new solution, and whether it will in fact simplify efficiency or create more complexity. It makes for a lively discussion. I'm not an engineer myself, so I won't even try to enter this debate...I will leave that to the experts.
Elizabeth, sometimes it is a challenge to understand how some of the claims that I see can even be made. In this instance it seems that there is a trade being made that has unanticipated secondary results which have perhaps not been studied adequately. And sometimes the unanticipated secondary outcomes are hard to ffigure out without some rather deep understanding of the whole system.
You make some good points, William K. Indeed, when researchers solve one problem with a solution, another problem will arise. And of course as you point out, that problem isn't discovered until implementation of the solution, which isn't always helpful!
Elizabeth, Finding problems while a system is still only a design is what engineers are supposed to do. Worst case it should happen at a design review, or during one of those peer-to-peer discussions that should be part of every project. Of course it helps a lot to have engineers with a broad background and a great deal of experience. But those are the ones being discarded because they are a bit older and often paid a bit more, and they may not be quite as much in love with the very latest in cutting edge concepts that have not been proven to have any value. And a newly graduated engineer, no matter how incredibly brilliant they may be, is usually lacking in experience in areas outside of some very narrow field. And it is very easy to not notice what you don't see, and wouldn't reccognize if you did see it, because of never having seen one before. ( How's that for a metaphor?)
You make a good point again, William. Sometimes it really takes an experienced and seasoned engineer to get around the problems you describe. It's a shame that this isn't being valued more in the engineering field, since these cutting-edge designs you talk about probably need to go through some ups and downs and troubleshooting before being fully realized. It seems like this is where experienced engineers would really come in handy.
Elizabeth, that is my point. The best way to work out the bugs is to have enough insite to do it on paper, or the tube, before cutting metal. And it takes a lot of insight and understanding to be able to do that. And I doubt that insight can be taught.
Yes, William K., your point also can apply to a lot of things in life. Experience is invaluable. People can learn all they want from books or in school or whatever method they use, but sometimes pure experience is the most valuable thing they can contribute to a job, a problem or what have you. I am in complete agreement with you on this, especially since I feel like for my own profession, most of what I have learned has come from experience, nothing else!
Elizabeth, now it would be interesting to see if the same design team could adapt their concept to use a single variable displacement pump to provide just the needed flow for the various hydraulic circuits. That ought to provide almost as much fuel savings at a much lower total system cost, as well as being a lot lighter and simpler to build. And it would only have a slightly more complex controls program.
That sounds like a good idea, William K. That way they could use the same concept but as you point out, in a less expensive way. I suspect it is probably your experience as an engineer that allows you to see this type of modification to the system! :)
Elizabeth, you are right. For many years a part of my job was to create ways to improve system designs without giving up anything except costs. It becomes part of one's being, which sometimes bothers others.
And have you noticed that we are the only ones posting for the past 8 days? Are we here all alone? Just wondering.
More pumps and more pump controllers. Sounds like adding a bunch of complexity. And more service costs because of what will have to be repaired/replaced when something doesn't work.
Needs to be tested for 4000 hours at max load and and extreme temperatures to see how it might hold up. And then needs to be left sitting outside in extreme weather for a year. If it still works without major service it might be practical.
Sorry if I sound pessimistic, but I have used these devices and have a son who maintains this kind of equiptment.
ky2qd, I agree with the first fart of your post completely. But the second part may not be needed if all of the elements have a demonstrated reliability already. It is a new concept using existing hardware, at least that is how it looks to me. And my bet is that the first and major failures will be in the software, not the hardware.