“How do most mechatronic industrial machines operate?”
Believe it or not, most modern day industrial mechatronic devices share a common operating principle. But how exactly does this work? Well, let’s use our engineering mindset to find out. When running through their cycles, they are in one state at a time. Whether it be an elevator changing floors or a car starting its motors. And if they want to change states, then a certain condition needs to be satisfied, such as reaching the destination floor or reaching full speed. Resultantly, this system architecture is called a Finite-State Machine and is one of the most common examples in the world.
Does Global Warming Slow Down Wind Turbines?
“How can climate change slow down our renewable energy portfolio?”
Wind Energy is one of the most fundamental renewable energy resources. However, research performed by the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California Berkeley have shown that wind in the Northern Hemisphere is actually in decline as a result of climate change. As a result, the more the climate warms, the less potential wind will have! So do your part and make sure that you live sustainably so we can have more potential for clean energy!
“How can we make an application based framework for sensing and control?”
The modern world of engineering is evolving more and more towards the internet of things. However, most appliances nowadays use proprietary means to connect with each other. This makes building a truly open internet of things nearly impossible! However, the good people for the U.S Department of Energy want to fix this, specifically in the area of energy utilization with the use of a little technology known as VOLTTRON. VOLTTRON is an application framework that software developers can use to import and manage data and actions collected by devices. This allows for greater control over their efficiency and can support real-time agent-based communications. VOLTTRON is language agnostic, meaning that it can be written in any desired programming language, making it easier for developers to get their hands on it. VOLTTRON has a wide range of appliances, from utility research to building automation systems and even to vehicle-grid integration!
Remote Terminal Units
“How can we implement a distributed control system?”
Distributed Control Systems are famous for their ability to transmit data and control the physical world over distant ranges. However, how exactly can we implement these systems in real life, without making the components too expensive? Well, let’s use our scientific mindset to find out. We know that microcontrollers can send and receive information on a rapid basis. And these microcontrollers can then connect to one another to form a greater network. So what if we were to simply use these microcontrollers as the interface for distributed control systems? Well, these special microcontrollers are called Remote Terminal Units. Remote Terminal Units can be likened to the tentacles of an octopus, each a separate part of a grander control system.
“Why do tongues work?”
One of the most fascinating facets of the human body is the tongue. Its ability to move food around in one’s mouth without any bone structure is quite marvelous. However, how exactly can it do this? Well, let’s use our scientific mindsets to find out. If we analyze our tongues further, we should see that these appendages are in fact in fact constructed of muscular material. Because of this, they have an inherent flexibility where any region of the tongue can lengthen, shorten, twist, or bend at any time, allowing for a wide arrange of movement. These Muscular Hydrostats can be found in many other animals, such as the tentacles of octopi and the Trunks of elephants. Because of their diverse applications in the animal world, engineers are researching how to implement similar materials into robotics systems
Variable Speed Drives
“How can we implement powerful yet controllable motors for industrial processes?”
Industrial motors are marvelous for being able to coordinate highly intricate processes in an efficient manner. However, sometimes we may need to adjust the speed on these machines using traditional models. So how can we use our knowledge of industrial control systems and our engineering mindset to achieve this? Well, let’s get down to the basics. We know that controllers can be used to provide feedback to electric devices, such as motors. So what if we were to simply implement a controller based motor into industrial processes? Well, this is the fundamental idea behind variable speed drives, which are commonly used as energy savers in pump and fan appliances.
Intelligent Electronic Devices
“How can we control circuit elements using microprocessors?”
Electronic circuits are the bloodlines that power modern infrastructure. However, these elements have been traditionally controlled in a non-centralized manner, hampering efforts for growth. So how can we use our engineering mindset to solve this problem? Well, what if we were to simply implement microcontrollers to take in information from sensors and actuate on commands, such as breaking a circuit? Well, this is the idea behind Intelligent Electronic Devices and are quickly becoming an important component of industrial control systems.