Gary Kurtz estimates that using water instead of petroleum fluids in hydraulic systems could save 500 million gallons of gasoline in the U.S. alone. Saving fuel is one reason the professor of agricultural engineering and his students at Purdue University built a lawn mower that is propelled and steered with a water hydraulic system. They are demonstrating that water's lower viscosity boosts the mower's energy efficiency. They also hope to show that the technology may be practical for agricultural, construction, mining, and forestry equipment. Viscosity is a measure of how fast liquids flow. Water's lower viscosity means less energy is required to push it through the system. Kurtz estimates that the cost of building a water hydraulic system for his mower is approximately twice that of a comparable petroleum-based system. However, he points out that the costs of stainless steels and ceramics needed for making water hydraulic systems are dropping, "We have a proposal in to a golf course association now," says Kurtz. "They like the idea because oil leaking from the hydraulic systems in lawnmowers kills the grass on golf course greens." Danfoss, Fairchild Manufacturing, Indianapolis Valve and Fitting, Parker-Hannifin, and Swagelok provide equipment for the project. Jacobson, a division of Textron, donated the mower retrofitted with the water hydraulic system. For more information send e-mail to Kurtz at email@example.com.
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.