Engineering Ideas for Tomorrow -- College of Engineering 1997 Annual Report
Ideas: What the world needs now
College of Engineering 1997 Annual Report -- Engineering Ideas for Tomorrow

Partnership helps Wisconsin's small engine manufacturers compete

Transient Spray Patternator

Wisconsin is a major center of small engine production--17,000 residents are directly employed by the industry, and another 70,000 work at companies which supply the engine manufacturers with parts, materials and services. Federal emission reduction regulations and foreign competition meant big changes for this vital industry--and Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson was concerned. With his encouragement and funding from the state and participating companies, the Wisconsin Small Engine Consortium was born in 1993. It's a cooperative effort between the college's Engine Research Center and UW-Milwaukee's College of Engineering, along with Wisconsin small engine industry leaders Briggs and Stratton Corporation of Milwaukee, Harley-Davidson Inc. of Milwaukee, Kohler Company in Kohler, Fond du Lac's Mercury Marine Division of Brunswick Corporation, Nelson Industries Inc. of Stoughton and Outboard Marine Corp. of Waukesha. The idea is to bring the latest engine research to bear on the problems of engine efficiency and emissions control, within a framework for sharing information. Research results from the consortium's team efforts are already encouraging. A project aimed at two-stroke engines (marine engines, for example) has developed a device called the Transient Spray Patternator, shown at left (44K JPG), which measures spray behavior in fuel injectors to help improve emissions control. The patternator concept was developed by college researchers, the design work was a cooperative effort with industry and the device was fabricated at Mercury Marine. It is being patented by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

Process invented in engineering college wins R&D 100 Award

PSII research group

What makes tools, manufacturing components and artificial joints last longer, and received an R&D 100 Award as one of the most technologically significant products of the year? The answer is plasma-source ion implantation (PSII), a process invented by Engineering Physics Professor John R. Conrad. (At right, second from left, with his research group, (52K JPG)) A team consisting of Conrad and his research group, Los Alamos National Laboratory, General Motors Corp., Empire Hard Chrome and North Star Research Corp. received the award for its work developing applications of PSII to fulfill commercial and defense needs. PSII is a process that implants ions into surfaces to improve hardness and wear. The ions can be imbedded into materials such as metals, plastics, ceramics and semiconductors, modifying the physical and chemical properties of the near-surface layer. It can extend the lifetime of some products as much as a hundredfold. PSII offers strategic advantages over conventional ion implantation for industrial use because the target is placed in a plasma source and ions bombard it from all sides. This reduces the cost and complexity of the process and enables implantation to be done as a batch process. The awards, sponsored by R&D Magazine, are in their 35th year. Winners are chosen for their revolutionary capabilities. Past winners include the digital wrist-watch, antilock brakes and the fax machine.


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1997 Annual Report Contents