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Top 10 Mechanical Engineering Marvels 

Nano Engine that Works on a Single Atom

Nano Engine that Works on a Single AtomThe most efficient engine of the world is the one that runs on a single atom! This nano-engine designed by Johannes Roßnagel's is a four-stroke one. It means that it compresses and heats, and then expands and cools – again and again to transform changes in temperature into mechanical energy.

Roßnagel is an Experimental Physicist at the University of Mainz in Germany. His engine does not use internal combustion and is less than a micrometer in length – making it the tiniest engine of the World.

This nano engine first traps a single atom in a cone of electromagnetic energy using tiny electrodes. This energy cone squeezes tightly over the atom. The physicists then place two lasers on each end of the cone – one to heat the atom at the pointy end, and the other at the base of the cone to cool it back down using a process called Doppler Cooling. The heating and the cooling is done at the same resonance at which the atom vibrates naturally. This temperature change makes the atom run and forth along the length of the cone as it expands and contracts. The sound waves created through atom’s oscillation can be harnessed.

According to the Roßnagel, this engine can attain the efficiency which can surpass the Carnot Limit – the cap of engine efficiency limit according to the Laws of Thermodynamics.

Dialysis Machine for Newborns

Dialysis Machine for NewbornsItalian researchers have come up with a new small dialysis machine for newborns who suffer from kidney failure. The team was led by the Dr Claudio Ronco, Director of the Department of Nephrology at San Bartolo Hospital in Vicenza. Adult-sized dialysis machines available today were difficult to use for newborns that have tiny blood vessels. It cannot be used on babies that weigh less than 6.6 pounds. Called CARPEDIEM (Cardio-Renal Pediatric Dialysis Emergency Machine), this mini-version of regular dialysis machines can be used on babies and kids weighing between 4.4 pounds to 22 pounds.

The new machine uses tiny catheters to protect infant’s blood vessels and can handle very low blood flow and infiltration.

Dronies – the Nano Drones

Dronies – the Nano DronesWorld’s tiniest flying machines, dronies or nano drones are autonomous flying quadcopters. They can fly and move in formation indoors. Thet can also dance in sync without the use of external sensors or on-board infrared sensors. Produced by Drovionics, drone avionics attracts much interest from the industry. From delivering parcels to providing security cover to aerially inspect damage in pipelines, dronies have many potential uses. They can even operate independently of continuous human supervision.

Dronies are designed for indoor flying right now with a 2.4 GHz transmitter with a signal strength that extends up to 30 metres. The present version of dronies has a recommended distance of 2-10 metres between the controller and the dancing dronies. The coordinated flying and navigation abilities of dronies allow choreography on the basis of 6-axis aerial acrobatics.

World’s Fastest Unmanned Spaceship New Horizons Probe

World’s Fastest Unmanned Spaceship New Horizons ProbeLaunched on: January 19, 2006

Top Speed: 58,536 km/hr or 36,373 mph

New Horizons planetary probe is finally about to reach Pluto soon after a nine-year journey. Launched by NASA, this modern and sophisticate spacecraft uses novel technologies to cut down its travel time. It is the fastest spacecraft ever to leave the planet Earth and is travelling at a speed of about 31,000 miles per hour.

On July 14, 2015, the probe is expected to be just 7,750 miles above Pluto’s surface making it possible for us to see objects that are roughly the size of a football field from above. Its ultraviolet spectrograph will also allow space scientists to study the composition and structure of the atmosphere on Plutio.

Pluto is over 30 times farther than the Sun and hence, it is taking a long time to reach there. After reaching Jupiter, the speed of New Horizons probe picked up significantly – by about 4 km/sec. The Kuiper Belt has been an elusive space in the study of the Solar System and studying Pluto is expected to reveal new information about how the solar system formed and evolved.

The size and shape of the New Horizons spacecraft is comparable to a grand piano glued to a satellite dish that is almost as big as a cocktail bar. Its body is like a triangle while its main structural column is a 7075 aluminium alloy tube which is set between the radio dish antenna at its front flat side and the launch vehicle adapter ring at its rear side. This tube carries the titanium fuel tank. The RTG attaches with a 4-sided titanium mount as titanium provides both strength and thermal isolation to the system.

The spacecraft structure is bigger than necessary to allow for mass distribution and shielding from radiation of the RTG.  Inside, the structure is painted black to allow radiative heat transfer and add warmth to the spacecraft.

New Horizons has 16 thrusters – four larger ones for trajectory corrections and 12 smaller ones for attitude control and spin-up or spin-down maneuvers.

Manned Spacecraft Apollo 10 CSM

Manned Spacecraft Apollo 10 CSMLaunched on May 26, 1969

Top Speed: 39,896 km/h or 24,790 miles per hour

Apollo 10 Command/Service Module Charlie Brown – the fourth manned mission in the United States Apollo space program – was actually meant as a dress rehearsal for the actual landing on the Moon during Apollo 11 mission. Like Apollo 11, it had flight-experienced crew and its Lunar Module came to within 8.4 nautical miles of the lunar surface. Apollo 10, however, has a record to its name too. In 2002, it set up a record of highest speed attained by a manned vehicle during the return from the Moon.

It is the only Apollo crew – all of whose members got to fly subsequent missions aboard Apollo spacecraft. They also hold the distinction of being the only humans to fly farthest away from their homes on Earth’s surface. Apollo 10 was also the first space mission to make live color TV transmissions to Earth.

Robo-Fly may soon be used in Rescue Operations

Robo-Fly may soon be used in Rescue OperationsRobo-fly is a tiny, insect-sized robot designed by Harvard scientists.  RoboBee or Robo-Fly weighs less than a gram and has superfast electric muscles that allow it to flaps its wings 120 times per second and make tethered flight. It is made from carbon fibre. After 12 years of research by the Robotics team, this micro-robotics wonder work came into being after solving two key technical challenges – building a sub-millimeter scale for precise and efficient measurements, and creating artificial muscles for the fly.

With just a 3 cm wingspan, it is the smallest device to fly like an insect. Right now, the power supply and instructions to the bee are provided by a tiny tether on board its body. The research is going on to make the fly capable of making independent decisions and how to give it a viable power supply.

Robobee is a marvel because the reduced size of the robot meant that engineers had to work without using nuts, bolts, gears and rotary motors. They also used origami techniques to cut designs from flat sheets, folded them up and glued them together. Besides, at micro-scale levels, even a small amount of turbulence can cause severe flight disturbances. Hence, Robobee has to react very rapidly. Its artificial wing muscles use a piezoelectric actuator which is a thin ceramic strip that contracts when electric currents run across it.

These artificial robots are expected to work for search and rescue operations, as well as artificial pollination.

LTM 11200-9.1 - World's Strongest and Tallest Telescopic Crane

World's Strongest and Tallest Telescopic CraneLiebherr LTM 11200-9.1 is undoubtedly the strongest mobile crane in the world. It can carry as many as 12 adult Blue Whales at once (weighing around 1,200 tons in all). It can also carry as many as three of the world’s biggest wind turbines easily – which are 650 feet tall and weigh around 354 tons).

LTM’s has an 8-part telescopic boom that can extend up to 328 feet. Adding a lattice job, its maximum lift height can be extended up to 630 feet – more than 50 stories high.

LTM itself weights over 220 tons. The crane has a 6-cylinder 240 kW engine as well as a 500 kW engine for the 9-axle carrier that is 65 foot tall. When the crane is shifted from site-to-site, its 100-ton boom (about as long as the truck itself) is shipped separately.

Bagger 288 – World’s Largest Land Vehicle

Bagger 288 – World’s Largest Land VehicleBagger 288 or Excavator 288 weights 1,35,000 tons and is the largest land vehicle in the world. Thus bucket-wheel excavator was made by the German company Krupp for the energy and mining firm Rheinbraun to remove overburden from coal mining at the Hamback stripmine.  Bagger 288 can excavate 2,40,000 tons of coal or 2,40,000 cubic metres of overburden daily (which is comparable to a football field dug about 30 metre deep).

This giant machine is 220 m long and about 96 m high. The chassis of the main section is 46 m wide – which sits on 3 rows of 4 caterpillar track assemblies. Each track is about 3.8 m wide. With large surface areas, tracks place little ground pressure and allows the excavator to travel over gravel, earth and even grass. Maximum gradient over which the excavator can climb is 1:18.

The turning radius of the excavator is about 100 metres.

The Freedom Ship

The Freedom ShipThe Freedom Ship is a floating city that is expected to materialize soon. This mile-long ship will have buildings that are about 25 stories tall stacked close to each other. It is envisioned to be the largest man-made structure on Earth and there are talks that it could also be made into an independent country. The Freedom ship is designed to be 4,500 feet long, 750 feet wide and 350 feet high. It would be over 4 times longer than the Queen Mary.

This luxury city is not going to be a cruise ship but a place to live, work or visit which will continuously go around the globe covering the coastal regions of the world. It will have an extensive duty-free international shopping mall, residential space, schools, banks, hotels, offices, warehouses and light manufacturing and assembly enterprises too. The airport on the top deck of the ship can serve small private commercial aircrafts which can carry up to about 40 passengers each.

Magnetic Hybrid Motorbike

Magnetic Hybrid MotorbikeTokyo-based Axle Corporation has designed a new electric motorbike that can be charged at home like a regular cellular phone and can travel noiselessly up to 180 kilometers on a single charge. It takes about 6 hours to fully charge the battery and it can attain a maximum speed of up to 150 kilometers per hour.

The bike uses a hybrid magnetic motor SUMO (a hybrid of a permanent magnet and an electromagnet which is built inside the rear wheel of the bike. According to the manufacturers, this mini-scooter is 7 times more cost-efficient than gas-powered scooters.