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.
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.
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.
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