Report By Times Union: Price Chopper Is Set To Join Actasys In Product Testing
A technology initially aimed at making jetliners more efficient by directing the flow of air may someday help the Price Chopper supermarket chain and other shippers squeeze more mileage out of delivery trucks. Developed at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, small devices called air-jet actuators are part of $4.3 million in state research funding announced this week for 17 different projects across the state meant to reduce the enviromental footprint of trucks, cars, trains, subways and airports.
Actasys, a start-up company at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Center for Flow Physics and Control, got $500,000 from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to develop actuators to be tested on Price Chopper trucks. Actasys is working with Albany-based DPR Consultants.
Made from small discs and slots, actuators function like tiny bellows to move high-speed air over the surface of an object. For the truck tests, actuators will be placed at two key locations when tractor trailers encounter the most drag at highway speeds, said Michael Amitay, director of both the center and RPI’s aerospace program. He is also a principal in Actasys, with two former RPI doctoral students, David Menicovich and Daniele Gallardo.
Amitay has been working for several years on this technology for aircraft maker Boeing, which is developing it to make its jetliners more energy-efficient. For the Price Chopper truck tests, actuators will be placed between the cab of the truck and the trailer, where oncoming air as the truck moves is pushed in to create resistance, and at the rear of the trailer, where air flow passing around the truck again creates resistance through turbulence.
As the truck moves, actuator discs are electrically controlled to open and close quickly, with that motion forcing a flow of high-speed air out of slots to create “a virtual wall of air that prevents oncoming air from reaching the places where it can create backpressure and drag,” said Amitay. “We are taking technology developed for aerospace and applying it to ground vehicles.”
With resistance reduced, the truck should move with less drag, and get better fuel mileage. Wind tunnel tests at RPI have shown actuators can cut energy consumption at least 6 percent, and possibly 10 percent or more, he said.
Testing on Price Chopper trucks should start sometime this summer. If successful, further testing would then be required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“By investing in innovative new energy technologies, we are continuing our progress in building a cleaner New York,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “These projects will have a far-reaching impact on our environment and economy by spurring major improvements in our modes of transportation, reducing pollution and our reliance on fossil fuels, and ultimately fostering healthier communities statewide.”
Smaller versions of actuators are already in use to cool components in consumer electronics and computers.
Another Capital Region projects to receive NYSERDA research funding involves plans to offer electric-powered bikes as part of a a bike-share program.
Alta Planning + Design, of Saratoga Springs, with Alta Bicycle Share and Julien Bouget of GreenPCS, are part of a $325,000 project to design and deploy bikes with a wireless recharging system that charges bikes when parked at special docks. Alta Bicycle Share currently operates systems in Washington, D.C.; New York City; Boston and other locations using solar-powered wireless bike-share stations.
Also, Ecovative Design, a Green Island firm that pioneered the use of mushroom biology as a replacement for petrochemical foams and insulation, received $110,000 from NYSERDA to continue development of bio-based car insulation foam.
Article Originally Posted By Times Union