Tech Tuesday 3/19/19 – Sorry It’s Late Edition
TT01 – Although the work I do is properly known as Numerical Simulations, or more specifically, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), it’s also sometimes called Colorful Fluid Dynamics, and not always in jest. Although the mathematics behind CFD, the Navier-Stokes equations, has been around for a long time, the ability to use the techniques in a meaningful way is still fairly young. There are many engineers still practicing today for whom CFD was at best a novelty when they entered the profession. Back then, the computers just did not have the memory or CPU cycles to do CFD justice. Today, however, with efficient paralleling of the solution, and the relative affordability of high speed clusters, CFD and other Numerical solutions are coming into their own. Of course, as with all things computer related, the hardware moves faster than the software, and the software is both computer code, and the engineers using it. While older generations remain overly skeptical of the solutions CFD provides, younger engineers are sometimes far too trusting of the answers, because they don’t fully understand the tools, and their limitations (I am thankful I came of age at a time when the tools were still pretty raw, but the hardware was making them exciting). And non-engineers… Well, if the solution looks pretty, it must be correct!
TT03 – The SABRE engine is ready for the testing phase. Yes, saying SABRE engine is somewhat redundant. Still, we may soon actually have an engine for a rocket plane, which means sub orbital flights, AKA anywhere in the world in under an hour. And maybe the first step towards a practical surface to orbit shuttle without the infrastructure of a launch pad.
TT04 – The are actually building this. A successful hover test means it’s actually functional, if not production ready. Seems Jetpack Aviation is trying for something similar (although without the ground mode; also, not sure I want to be having my chest sitting over a four pack of turbines).
TT05 – The world’s tallest timber framed building is currently in Norway.
TT06 – Right now, this is just carrying small packages, but I could see scaling it up as a way to load and off load ships without having to bring them to dock. Especially if the ship only has a relative few containers to deliver or pickup from a given port.
TT07 – A piece of history has been successfully dismantled.
TT08 – A new theory for where our moon came from, because frankly, our moon is kinda unique (when compared to other moons in the solar system).
TT09 – Finally, a shape that gives you peace and quiet.
TT10 – The Navy is looking for a new Frigate, because there aren’t any left in the fleet. I kinda figured the Littoral Combat Ship would be filling that role, but the LCS is just not really kitted out for long, open water deployments by itself. It needs to be close to support from other, larger ships, or from land. The frigate is the smallest ship that go patrol out on it’s own, far from the bigger ships.
TT11 – I had commented here that given the difficulties with recycling consumer plastics (the stuff you take home then toss in the recycling bin), we should probably seriously consider switching to biodegradable plastics. Suffice it to say, I will be watching to see how well this performs.
TT12 – When someone says their system is 2x – 3x times more efficient that standard systems, I take notice. This system moves heat through shape memory alloy wires by loading and unloading them mechanically. Unfortunately, while it’s more efficient, it’s not as simple to implement as a common fluid heat pump.
TT13 – This is smart. There is no need for electric cars to have a single primary drive motor with mechanical connections to each drive wheel. There is also no need to have the turning wheels mechanically connected to a steering system. You can have each wheel drive, brake, and turn itself; and if you do that, then each wheel can be a fully independent unit, with nothing more than mounting connections and a wire harness. This gives automakers a much greater degree of flexibility in design, especially when it comes to wheel travel. For example, you can go from having a car with four fixed corners, to having a car where the wheel base can change shape, becoming wider for high speed stability, or narrower for greater maneuverability in tight spaces. And if the drive units are essentially COTS, you can get a greater diversity of vehicle manufacturers out there.
TT15 – I could see this being useful for windshield installation, especially on spacecraft, where the vacuum and cold of space do very bad things to most flexible seals.
TT16 – Turning sunlight into hydrogen at 15% efficiency. Doesn’t seem like much, but it’s the best going so far.
Photo by .RGB.