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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
  • Kim A Stelson
  • (612) 625-6528
Award Date:05/17/2006
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 14,970,000
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 34,691,037
  • FY 2008=$3,500,000
  • FY 2007=$3,315,801
  • FY 2012=$4,052,000
  • FY 2010=$4,291,724
  • FY 2011=$4,039,989
  • FY 2009=$3,794,814
  • FY 2015=$2,040,589
  • FY 2013=$4,005,120
  • FY 2014=$2,681,000
  • FY 2006=$2,970,000
Start Date:06/01/2006
End Date:05/31/2017
Transaction Type: Cooperative Agreements
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.041
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Engineering Research Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power
Federal Award ID Number:0540834
DUNS ID:555917996
Parent DUNS ID:117178941
Program:ERC-Eng Research Centers
Program Officer:
  • Bruce Kramer
  • (703) 292-5348

Awardee Location

Street:200 OAK ST SE
Awardee Cong. District:05

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Street:200 OAK ST SE
Cong. District:05

Abstract at Time of Award

The vision of the ERC is to create new fluid power technology that is compact and efficient. This will cause a radical transformation of fluid power, signigicantly reducing energy consumption and soawning whole new industries. New control approaches and system configurations will be developed to replace current, inefficient valve throttling approaches. These include high performance pump control, regeneration, on-off valve PWM control and biomimetic distributed pumping and control. A new generation of pump motors and actuators with improved efficiency, enabled by actively controlled tribological surfaces, will be developed. Biologically inspired coatings will reduce drag. Phase-change energy storage will create more compact energy storage and soures. Chemofluidie actuation and free-piston engine compressors will provide order-of-magnitude better energy and power density for self-powered and mobile devices, enabling a host of new applications. Use of composite and functionally graded materials and integrating components into unfied systems will minimize the weight and volume of fluid power systems. Problems with noise, vibration, leakage, contamination and awkward interfaces will be addressed, leading to wider, more efficient and more satisfactory use of fluid power. The result will be an expansion of fluid power use, currently limited to heavy equipment, to portable and self-powered devices such as high-power wearable tools and rescue robots. Whole new industries will be created where compact and efficient fluid power can be used for underwater exploration, for rescue operations, for remotely manipulating nuclear materials, for bomb disposal, for medical and rehabilitation applications and for wearable or compact tools for home and industrial use. Improved compactness will enable fluid power to perform tasks that are not presently possible. Improved efficiently will significantly reduce petroleum consumption and pollution. For each one percent improvement in overall fuel comsumption for transportation, $2.4 billion of crude oil is saved each year. The superior power density of fluid power makes it ideal for regenerative braking with field tests showing fuel savings of 25 to 35% for trucks. The ERC will develop new, high density accumulators making the regeneration approach feasible for passenger vehicles, resulting in much larger energy savings. Significant energy savings can also be achieved in the construction, mining, agricultural and industrial sectors. Education and outreach innovations of the ERC include (1) the development of benchmark fluid power labs augmented with take-home laboratory ,odules (2) collaboration with the Science Museum of Minnesota to develop permanent and traveling exhibits, educational materials on fluid power and an extracurricular fluid power program for middle schools and high schools, (3) collaboration with Project Lead the Way to include fluid power in a high school technology curriculum, (4) the creation of industrial internship and co-op programs for both undergraduate and graduate students, and (5) the enhancement of continuing education in fluid power for industry through hands-on short courses and distance education.

Project Outcomes Report


This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content.

The Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP) is a network of researchers, educators, students and industry working together to transform the fluid power industry—how it is researched, applied and studied. CCEFP research projects are organized in three thrusts that achieve the following societal benefits: creation of new fluid power technology that, with improved efficiency, will significantly reduce petroleum consumption, energy use and pollution; creation of  new fluid power technology that, with improved effectiveness, will make fluid power clean, quiet and safe for its millions of users; and creation of  new fluid power technology that, with improved compactness, will exploit its attributes in a new generation of human scale devices and equipment. The CCEFP’s education and outreach program is designed to transfer this knowledge to diverse audiences—students of all ages, users of fluid power and the general public.

 Intellectual Merit:

CCEFP research is demonstrated on four test beds spanning four orders of magnitude of power and weight. These test beds and the classes of equipment they represent are: excavator (mobile heavy equipment, 50 kW-500 kW), hydraulic hybrid passenger vehicle (highway vehicles, 10 kW-100 kW), patient transfer device (mobile human scale equipment, 100W-1kW), and the orthosis (human assist devices, 10W-100W). Although stationary applications will also benefit from CCEFP research, the test beds are mobile applications where the advantages of fluid power are most evident. The test beds will integrate research aimed at overcoming the nine technical barriers of fluid power: efficient components, efficient systems, control and energy management, compact power supplies, compact energy storage, compact integrated systems, safe and easy to use, leak-free and quiet. Three of the barriers are transformational, efficient components, compact power supplies and compact energy storage. Through its strategic planning process, CCEFP has identified the following important goals: 1) doubling fluid power efficiency in current applications and in new transportation applications, 2) increasing fluid power energy storage density by an order of magnitude, and 3) developing new fluid power supplies that are one to two orders of magnitude smaller than anything currently available. The CCEFP fills a void in fluid power research that existed for decades. Until the Center was established, the U.S. had no major fluid power research center (compared with thirty centers in Europe and five centers in Asia). Fluid power researchers, who were previously disconnected, are now linked through the CCEFP.

Broader Impact

The CCEFP’s Education and Outreach Program is intentionally ambitious. It is designed for many audiences—pre-college and college students, fluid power industry stakeholders and customers, and the general public—in recognition that hydraulics and pneumatics is neither well-understood nor often taught. Given the scope of this challenge, the CCEFP maximizes the impact of its education and outreach projects, along with additional related initiatives, through three strategic approaches: partnering with effective and broadly distributed education and outreach networks, focusing on projects that can be replicated and/or adapted by others for audiences outside the Center’s reach, and selecting its program menu in such a way that the accomplishments of a given project will bolster the progress and chances of success for another. Informed by the CCEFP’s research, the Center’s Education and Outreach programs enrich understandings of fluid power technology. But its projects share in a broader goal: to heighten interests in technology and engineering among an increasingly diverse student population.     

The CCEFP’s 71 corporate supporters as well as a number of other sponsors and participants are key contributors to its success; the partnerships that continue to develop between industry and academia are among the most important of the CCEFP’s legacies. Industry will ensure that research results are commercialized and members’ interest in and support of the CCEFP’s education and outreach programs assure that channels for effective knowledge transfer in fluid power will continue to flourish


Last Modified: 08/04/2017
Modified by: Kim A Stelson

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