Professor Loth to begin work with the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CEFP)
Professor Eric Loth is a member of the new National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CEFP) which is based at the University of Minnesota. The CEFP will develop compact, low-cost, next-generation, fluid powered devices—systems that use pressurized liquids or gases to transmit power. Please see the CEFP Web sitefor more information.
Faculty from the University of Illinois (Professor Andrew Alleyne, Dept. of Mechanical Science and Engineering, Professor Elizabeth Hsiao-Wecksler, Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering, and Professor Eric Loth, Department of Aerospace Engineering) will be focusing on fluid power systems with biomedical applications and bio-mimetic technologies. Initially, the chief biomedical application will be the development of a dynamic adaptive ankle-foot orthosis assisted by multi-chamber air-power (conventional devices are passive or use simple mechanical springs). Such a device has the potential to provide individual control and augmentation to patients with reduced muscle control or strength. The entire team will develop prototypes; Prof. Alleyne’s involvement will focus on dynamics and control of the system; Prof. Hsiao-Wecksler’s involvement will focus on needs and constraints, as well as a rigorous assessment of the device and associated gait mechanics; and Prof. Loth’s involvement will focus on the fluid power system design and integration. One of the bio-mimetic technologies to be initially considered is nano-texturing to reduce drag of liquids used in a variety of fluid power systems (ranging from excavators to the jaws-of-life). Such texturing is employed in nature by the lotus leaf to prevent rain droplets from adhering, and herein they will investigate even smaller scale texturing to allow liquid to flow through fluid power lines with a substantially reduced drag (by providing an effective sheet of air to glide across). New research is needed in the context of flexible tubing and variable pressure to fully exploit this technology. Additional projects will be directed by Profs. Alleyne and Hsiao-Wecksler.