0

IN THIS ISSUE


Select Articles

Mechanical Engineering. 2012;134(09):32-37. doi:10.1115/1.2012-SEP-1.
FREE TO VIEW

This article discusses benefits and challenges in engaging engineers in connecting engineering and human rights. Engineers have a vital role to play in giving visibility to human rights, particularly in matters relevant to their field or discipline. Academic instruction in ethics is increasingly viewed as integral to a rigorous educational program in science or engineering. The Science and Human Rights Coalition of the American Association for the Advancement of Science is one network of professional societies that recognize a role for scientists and engineers in human rights. An important way in which engineers can protect and promote human rights is by ensuring that the products they develop benefit people in need. Engineers have human rights that need to be respected in order for the engineering enterprise to flourish and the benefits of engineering to be broadly enjoyed. Engineers have opportunities to contribute to human rights compliance when designing and implementing projects, and to contribute to the realization of the right to benefit from scientific progress and its applications.

Topics: Engineers , Design
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2012;134(09):38-41. doi:10.1115/1.2012-SEP-2.
FREE TO VIEW

This article evaluates engine efficiency as a step towards improving fuel economy and emissions performance. Diesel engines tend to be very efficient; however, they have an emissions problem. They require complex and expensive equipment to meet pollution mandates. Spark ignition gasoline engines, on the other hand, do a much better job with emissions, but they are inherently less efficient. Thus, the research team at Argonne National Laboratory has decided to look for ways to combine the best characteristics of both. This new system is more like traditional diesel combustion than spark ignition, but uses a gasoline-like fuel and an innovative approach to combustion to minimize emissions. Diesel engines tend to run lean, meaning there is more oxygen in the mix than fuel, which reduces in-cylinder average temperatures. Research shows that gasoline spark engines have fatal efficiency flaws but comply easily and relatively inexpensively with emission requirements. Diesels are more efficient, but carry a heavy penalty for emission compliance. Different research teams’ challenge is to ensure robust, reliable operation during transient operation. The new system’s torque profile is essentially the same as that of a conventional diesel, and it provides excellent performance in the powerband where most people drive.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2012;134(09):42-45. doi:10.1115/1.2012-SEP-3.
FREE TO VIEW

This article focuses on research underway to build uncertainty into supercomputer simulations of hypersonic flight engines. A team of researchers headquartered at Stanford University is trying to quantify the uncertainty inherent in their supercomputer computations so that engineers can build appropriate tolerances into their designs. The group is investigating hypersonic aircraft, which would fly through the atmosphere at six or twelve times the speed of sound—and in particular the engine that might power such flight. The resulting simulation, scientists believe, will give a more accurate depiction of reality than a simulation that doesn’t correct for computational uncertainty. In the process of conducting their research, group members have created a new computer language that will make it easier to program and run complex simulations on the supercomputers of the future. This programming language of the future separates the computation from the coding.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2012;134(09):46-48. doi:10.1115/1.2012-SEP-4.
FREE TO VIEW

This article provides an insight into critical elements, challenges, and next steps of the ASME’s Presidential Task Force, which has been formed to examine unforeseen nuclear plant events and their implications. Within its broad charter, the ASME Task Force chose to build on the growing body of United States and international technical assessments of different events, and to examine the Fukushima Daiichi accident in the context of the broader lessons learned from a half-century of nuclear operations. This initiative could be perceived as just another layer of requirements limiting the economic viability of nuclear power. On the contrary, the intention is to support the overall viability of safe nuclear generation. The ASME Task Force is convinced that a new nuclear safety construct can be developed that addresses the safety issues from the Fukushima lessons learned with reasonable and well-defined provisions. The ASME Task Force report recommends a set of next actions in this regard, particularly using the experience, stature, and capabilities of ASME in convening workshops, to bring together worldwide stakeholders including industry, regulators, professional societies, government agencies, and industry organizations worldwide.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2012;134(09):49. doi:10.1115/1.2012-SEP-5.
FREE TO VIEW

This article lists various schemes that have been patented to deal with near-Earth asteroids. NASA surveys the solar system for near-Earth asteroids; schemes to deal with them include a spacecraft to sample their minerals, and a photon momentum plane and a laser tractor beam to deflect them. According to a patent by Gregory A. Piccionelli of Westlake Village, California, nuclear devices are detonated on the moon and propulsion devices are then attached to the resultant moon pieces. These moon pieces are then driven into the incoming meteor to alter its orbit. Another example of a scheme is a NASA patent, which has three or four spacecrafts place a Kevlar loop around an asteroid. The spacecraft then docks on the asteroid and deploys a rigidized photon momentum transfer plane. Photons from the sun strike this reflective surface and alter the position of the asteroid. A start-up by the name of Planetary Resources is also developing technology to mine asteroids.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Sorry! You do not have access to this content. For assistance or to subscribe, please contact us:

  • TELEPHONE: 1-800-843-2763 (Toll-free in the USA)
  • EMAIL: asmedigitalcollection@asme.org
Sign In