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Research Abstracts Online
January - December 2011

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
College of Science and Engineering
Department of Mechanical Engineering

PI: Perry Y. Li

CFD Analysis of Hydraulic Components

The main thrust of this research concerns the determination and optimization of the fluid flow in various novel fluid power devices. One project is a novel high-speed on/off valve for a fluid power system. Conventional fluid power control systems use throttling valves. In this approach, a valve that pulses between “fully on” and “fully off” is used to control the flow with much less loss of energy. To be efficient, the pressure drop through the on/off must be low and the compressible volume small. CFD will help optimize the design.

A second project involves novel micro-fluid power device for medical robotic applications. By leveraging the superior power density of hydraulics technology, tiny but power medical robotic tools for minimally invasive procedures can be created. The proper design, however, relies on the appropriate design of the fluid flow through the device and the fluid structure interaction within it.

The researchers are also working on an efficient air compressor/expander for a novel fluid power energy storage system. A novel fluid power energy storage system relies on compressing atmospheric air to high pressure and storing it in an accumulator. This can increase the energy storage density for fluid power system by and order of magnitude. To be efficient, however, the compressor/expander must operate as close to isothermally as possible. This requires good heat transfer. The researchers use CFD to help design such an air compressor/expander.

Group Members

Devin Berg, Graduate Student
Jonathan J. Meyer, Graduate Student
Meng Wang, Graduate Student
Chao Zhang, Undergraduate Student