by Eric Lanke
NFPA’s Technology Roadmap for the Fluid Power Industry has identified three key challenges for future research and development—increasing energy efficiency, increasing energy storage capabilities, and reducing the size of fluid power components and systems.
The Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP) is a network of fluid power research laboratories, academic faculty and graduate students at seven U.S. universities. The CCEFP works with the fluid power industry to tackle these challenges. Its research successes include:
- High Efficiency Excavator. The use of individual pump displacement control to directly command hydraulic actuators has demonstrated 40 percent fuel savings on an excavator. Efforts are currently underway to incorporate hybridization into the system for even greater fuel savings.
- Strain Energy Accumulator. Current accumulators use either compressed gas or springs to store energy. Conversely, the CCEFP carbon nanotube elastomeric accumulator safely stores energy as strain. Energy savings greater than 25 percent have been demonstrated over existing pneumatic systems.
- Free Piston Engine/Pump. Precise piston motion control is necessary for reliable operation of a free piston engine pump that can directly convert liquid fuel combustion into hydraulic power. The demonstration of this technology merges the engine and pump into one compact assembly.
These and other facts about fluid power can be found in the 2014 Annual Report on the U.S. Fluid Power Industry published by the National Fluid Power Association. The report reviews both the size and economic impact of the industry, as well as explores the energy consumption, best practices and current R&D directions of fluid power technology. Copies of the report can be downloaded from the NFPA website at: https://www.nfpa.com/fluidpower/annual-report-on-fluidpower-industry.aspx
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