From off-road vehicles to medical devices, fluid power research improves energy efficiency in a safe, simple, and effective way.
Fluid power is a versatile and power-dense means for power transmission using liquid or gas under pressure. It has been shown to be useful and competitive for applications across six orders of magnitude of power levels. Small scale applications include cathetic and endoscopic robots (1W); meso-scale system include human scale and wearable assistive devices/robots (100W), medium scale systems include on/off road vehicle power-trains and construction machinery (100kW), and large scale systems include wind and wave energy capture and storage (10MW). Fluid power boasts six faculty members with substantial research activities in fluid power — the highest concentration in the U.S. Internationally, UMN is recognized as the leading fluid power research center and is credited with revitalizing U.S.-based research in fluid power. Professor Kim Stelson (Founding director of CCEFP) was awarded both the ASME Koski Medal and UK’s Bramah Medal, the highest honors in fluid power. Our distinguished faculty is involved in the leadership of the ASME Fluid Power Technology Division and the organization of the ASME/Bath Fluid Power and Motion Control Symposium — the premier fluid power conference in the U.S. and U.K. The fluid power group at UMN has also forged a strong relationship with all major players in the fluid power industry.
As the lead institution for the NSF-sponsored Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP), our department is at the forefront of this work. We are focusing on three goals: improving energy efficiency; expanding the use of fluid power in transportation; and developing portable, wearable and autonomous fluid-power devices. This work could lead to energy savings of $10 to $20 billion per year and the development of products such as such as hydraulic hybrid vehicles, un-tethered medical and rehabilitation devices, wearable high-powered tools and mobile robots.