by Eric Lanke
With the National Science Foundation funding for the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP) coming to a close this year, NFPA and CCEFP have been working in active partnership to identify and pursue new sources of government funding for this important technology and workforce development program. One of those partnership activities is the CCEFP Steering Committee, a group comprised of both academic leaders and representatives from the ten companies with Gold status in the NFPA Foundation’s Pascal Society. Those ten companies are:
- Bimba Manufacturing
- Daman Products Company
- Danfoss Power Solutions
- Eaton Corporation
- Enfield Technologies
- Hydra-Power Systems
- Pall Corporation
- Parker Hannifin
The Committee is currently meeting three times a year in combination with NFPA events, and most recently came together at the NFPA Annual Conference in San Antonio. There, the Committee continued its focus on three major areas of government-funded fluid power research:
- Hydraulic powertrain research in off-highway vehicles;
- Human scale fluid power systems for assistive and collaborative robots; and
- Advancements in fluid power manufacturing.
We’ve reported separately on activities in all three of these areas in the past. For example:
- The visit to Capitol Hill to advocate for a new Department of Energy (DOE) program on off-highway vehicle research;
- The industry/academic summit at Vanderbilt to define a human scale fluid power systems research strategy, and
- The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST)-funded fluid power manufacturing roadmap project.
Each time it comes together, the Steering Committee reviews progress in all three of these areas and helps determine important milestones to be achieved in the near future. Based on the discussions at the most recent Steering Committee meeting, NFPA members should be on the lookout for more updates in all three of these areas, specifically:
- The inclusion of language favorable to the new DOE off-highway vehicle research program in the federal budget bill.
- An industry-supported response to the Department of Defense’s request for information to include fluid power in the next Manufacturing Innovation Institute (MII) on soft robotics.
- A second workshop conducted on the fluid power manufacturing roadmap and an initial draft of that important document.
The acquisition of government funding for fluid power research is a challenging objective with great potential to positively benefit the fluid power industry. I’d like to be sure to thank the members of the Steering Committee for their help and dedication to this task.