Detroit—Keeping passengers cool in the 2001 PT Cruiser was a design challenge involving efficiency. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine taking up only 148.2 inch3 total volume necessitated designing a special air conditioning accumulator that would fit into a confined area.
The accumulator from Parker Hannifin Corp. (Lyon, NY) uses a patented helix design that improves oil circulation. "The helix design provides a swirling and stirring motion that helps keep the oil and refrigerant mixture consistent," says Cary Horamoto, engineering manager of Parker Hannifin's refrigeration and air conditioning division. Keeping the mixture consistent reduces the amount of oil needed for charging the system, creating a cost savings for DaimlerChrysler.
What should be the perception of a product’s real-world performance with regard to the published spec sheet? While it is easy to assume that the product will operate according to spec, what variables should be considered, and is that a designer obligation or a customer responsibility? Or both?
Biomimicry has already found its way into the development of robots and new materials, with researchers studying animals and nature to come up with new innovations. Now thanks to researchers in Boston, biomimicry could even inform the future of electrical networks for next-generation displays.
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