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Fluid power team earns awards at nat’l contest

Members of the SDSU Fluid Power Club at South Dakota State University, pictured from left in the SDSU Raven Precision Agriculture Center, are Myranda Hentges, Ty Schneider, Nathaniel Post, Jake Thompson, Levi Nightingale, Cody Kramer and adviser Douglas Prairie. Not pictured is Jake Druley.
Members of the SDSU Fluid Power Club at South Dakota State University, pictured from left in the SDSU Raven Precision Agriculture Center, are Myranda Hentges, Ty Schneider, Nathaniel Post, Jake Thompson, Levi Nightingale, Cody Kramer and adviser Douglas Prairie. Not pictured is Jake Druley.

Members of the Fluid Power Club at South Dakota State University returned from the National Fluid Power Association’s Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge in Ames, Iowa, April 24-26, with a pair of awards.

For the second year in a row, the team won the judge’s choice award for workmanship. It also tied for third in the regeneration race.

Students are tasked with building a hydraulically powered, three-wheeled cycle and then performing various challenges at one of two regional competitions. SDSU was one of 11 teams competing in Ames.

The eight-member team made the bike from scratch with Jake Thompson welding the frame. All the hydraulic lines were made of steel tubing, which was bent using a hand-held pipe bender.  

Team captain Nathaniel Post said, “The pedals of our bicycle feature a chain that powers a pump, which is used to push fluid to a motor. This motor then rotates the rear axle propelling the vehicle forward. The bike incorporates an accumulator for energy storage as well as electronic controls that fire solenoids of a custom-built manifold for the various operation modes depending on the race.”

He explained, “The workmanship award goes to the team that offers a clean and appealing vehicle design. Due to our quality and cleanliness of hydraulic plumbing, electronic wiring and component mounting, we received many compliments from the judges.”

The bikes compete in four races — sprint, efficiency, endurance and regeneration. 

The regeneration race evaluates the vehicle’s ability to recapture energy through a regenerative coast down a hill. As the tires rotate in a regeneration mode, pressure is generated and stored in the accumulator with no pedaling allowed. This accumulator energy is then released. Teams are scored on the distance the bike traveled purely off  that recaptured energy.

Northern Illinois was the overall champion followed by North Carolina A&T.

 

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