Chuck Peden wants to keep our air clean and free from nitrogen oxide (NOx) that comes from diesel engines. Peden is the principle investigator for a Pacific Northwest National Lab project that cuts NOx emissions by at least half. The project involves combining electrically charged gas with a catalyst. Peden helped develop a small reactor to house the plasma reaction. The plasma reactor portion of the device will have to use some electrical power from the automobile alternator. "The need to provide electrical power for the plasma device will reduce the fuel economy somewhat," says Peden. "Our very first engine test, conducted over a year ago, showed 50% NOx reduction with a total 5% fuel penalty from both the need for electrical energy to power the plasma device and added fuel," he adds. Peden discovered that the packing material used in the reactor affected the chemical reaction. A patent is now pending on a class of materials used. Delphi and other companies are also developing the plasma/catalyst technology for use on light-duty diesel powered vehicles. Work done to improve fuel efficiency and reduce NOx emissions is part of the United States Council for Automotive Research's Low Emissions Technology Research and Development Partnership.
In this new Design News feature, "How it Works," we’re starting off by examining the inner workings of the electronic cigarette. While e-cigarettes seemed like a gimmick just two or three years ago, they’re catching fire -- so to speak. Sales topped $1 billion last year and are set to hit $10 billion by 2017. Cigarette companies are fighting back by buying up e-cigarette manufacturers.
Microchip recently released the 3D TouchPad, the first USB PC Peripheral device that couples 2D multi-touch input with 3D air gesture technology. The company seeks the help of developers to further enhance the capabilities of the technology.
To give engineers a better idea of the range of resins and polymers available as alternatives to other materials, this Technology Roundup presents several articles on engineering plastics that can do the job.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.