NASA engineers in Ohio were moving forward with an oil-free turbine engine, an advanced research program that replaces ball bearings and oil with foil bearings, air, and coatings. But they've been hit by a double whammy that raises questions about the technology's future. First, much of NASA's funding is being diverted to the Columbia investigation. Second, researchers were developing the technology for use as a jet engine, and arrangements with aircraft manufacturers have disappeared given that industry's gruesome finances. Researchers at the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland now face the daunting task of seeking money from a Congress distracted by Iraq or from another industry that needs a large turbine. The oil-free bearing technology has many potential benefits. Air won't burn like oil, so the turbine can run at up to 650C without cooling. There's no chance that air can leak away or get dirty like oil. Additionally, it doesn't require plumbing or pumps. A 50-passenger jet could save 8% in acquisition and fuel costs.
This year, Design News is getting a head start on the Fourth of July celebration. In honor of our country and its legacy of engineering innovation -- in all of its forms -- we are taking you on an alphabetical tour through all 50 states to showcase interesting engineering breakthroughs and historically significant events.
Earlier this year paralyzed IndyCar drive Sam Schmidt did the seemingly impossible -- opening the qualifying rounds at Indy by driving a modified Corvette C7 Stingray around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
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.