Working under contract with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Bob Englar and other researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are helping reduce the aerodynamic drag on tractor-trailer truck by at least 35%. Englar's work involves a pneumatic systems called Circulation Control that creates lift on the trailer by blowing compressed air over curved surfaces on the trailer, smoothing airflow and decreasing drag. He also found that blowing air from the bottom of the truck has the opposite effect, multiplying downward force on the tires to improve traction and braking when needed. The system uses valves that respond to driver changes in a fraction of a second, augmenting force as needed. "The driver wouldn't have to think about how it works," says Englar. He estimates that, if applied to the entire U.S. fleet of tractor-trailers, the pneumatic system could save 1.2 billion gallons of fuel each year. For more information, contact Englar at (770) 528-3222 or e-mail gtri.gatech.edu.
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.