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Mechanical Engineering. 2009;131(05):24-27. doi:10.1115/1.2009-MAY-1.
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This paper describes features of finite element analysis (FEA), which has become established in nearly all engineering fields, including bioengineering, where it plays a role in studying many parts of the body, such as nasal passages. Advanced FEA programs like Abaqus help engineers evaluate the effect of loading on impeller’s natural frequencies, modelled rotating at 10,000 rpm. FEA software simulates where structures bend or twist and indicates the distribution of stresses and displacements. The everyday FEA software integrated with computer-aided design systems is user friendly and adept at analyzing most FEA engineering problems, when properly programmed by the user. The software programs meant to model complex or unusual problems are built to allow their users to configure the software—to a certain degree—to their own unique needs.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2009;131(05):28-31. doi:10.1115/1.2009-MAY-2.
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This article explores the increasing use of wind turbines for generating power. It also discusses that changing the economics of wind power can make it more practical for deep-ocean turbines to harness strong, steady offshore winds. Engineers around the globe are focusing on creating conventional motors that can improve performance of wind turbines. Companies have found that a direct-drive generator built with superconducting windings would produce twice as much power per volume as a conventional generator, with a small parasitic loss due to cryogenic cooling. The prospect of producing more power per tower, which would be the net effect of using 10 MW turbines, might enable more offshore wind projects to become economically feasible. Sinovel, a Chinese generator company, is already planning to build 5 MW machines using existing technology. Once 10 MW machines become available, it is conceivable that they would quickly adopt them for offshore installations. It would be a step toward clearing the coal-fed brown haze that envelopes much of East Asia.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2009;131(05):32-35. doi:10.1115/1.2009-MAY-3.
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This review focuses on the role of hydrogen technologies in transition from petroleum production to new fuel to power transportation system. At present, the looming crisis caused by the decline in petroleum production and the need to control greenhouse gas emissions exemplifies the need for new energy solutions. The key component of a hydrogen-powered transportation sector will be the proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell. PEM fuel cells use hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity, with water and heat as by-products of the electro-chemical reaction. The review also discusses that to compete favorably with internal combustion engines and hybrid cars, PEM fuel cells need to address several issues, including performance, durability, and cost. Hydrogen from natural gas could provide a firm stepping stone as the energy system evolves away from petroleum.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2009;131(05):36-39. doi:10.1115/1.2009-MAY-4.
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This article discusses various aspects of research funding that seeks to use waves, tides, and thermal in different useful ways. The Department of Energy (DOE) program is set to explore technology that aims to harness some of the ocean’s energy and put it to work. It also presents a conception of a field of water mills designed by Marine Current turbines that turn the currents of tides into electricity. The researchers believe that the tidal energy resource is both reliable and predictable. With the escalating costs of oil and natural gas, it will become a viable resource soon. The DOE’s new program in marine renewable energies is an attempt to tap into a vast resource. Electrical utilities and private companies have made early commitments to participate in the centers. While conducting their own research, the universities will assist in the establishment of ocean field-testing sites and help the DOE keep a recently created marine renewable energy data base up to date.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2009;131(05):40-44. doi:10.1115/1.2009-MAY-5.
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This article presents an overview of the gas turbine industry. The annual value of production provides the vital signs for the industry. Forecast International in Newtown, Connecticut, uses its computer models and extensive database to monitor value of production for both the aviation and the non-aviation gas turbine market. The largest segment in the industry is aviation—jet engines and turboprop engines for commercial and military manned aircraft—with $21.4 billion in production. While aviation is the largest market for gas turbines, the non-aviation segment is the broadest. General Electric’s new LMS100 gas turbine is one example firmly on the cutting edge. Introduced in 2005 and rated at 100 MW, the LMS100 is the first modern production electric power gas turbine to have an intercooler. The LMS100 is aimed at the mid-merit and daily cycling segments of the electrical market—the difficult-to-predict, must-be-ready-to-start electrical peak and intermediary power providers.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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