College Students Use KNF Pumps to Fuel Racing Success

Wisconsin undergraduates have a need for speed.

Students from the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) have been getting in the competitive spirit in an effort to create and race the most energy-efficient cars.

Consisting of undergraduates ranging from freshmen through juniors, these students are part of their university’s Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) branch. As the organization operates solely on outside funding, KNF has sponsored these adventurous and ambitious students in their racing endeavors through the donation of needed liquid diaphragm pumps.

Joe Pechstein and team pose for a photo at the Shell Eco-marathon flanked by their vehicles.

Overseen by project manager Joe Pechstein, a junior, the group participates in two annual events: the Shell Eco-marathon, which took place in April 2017, and the SAE Supermileage competition, which took place in June 2017. Continuing an almost ten-year tradition of entering these selective competitions, Pechstein supervises the building of two vehicles for the former competition and one vehicle for the latter.

The mechanical engineering major recognizes the challenges involved, stating that the race is “a test of the driver’s skill, the design’s endurance, and the design itself.” With all design and testing done by students, the competitions represent the future of motor engineering.

To get the highest fuel economy possible while still meeting lap times, these twenty-five students use KNF’s NF 1.25 RPDC for their fuel system. These compact and powerful KNF pumps are used for engine dynamometer testing which typically determines the torque or power characteristics of a machine under test. Though dynamometers can also be used for standard emissions testing cycles such as those defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The vehicle itself is a three-wheeled device with optimal aerodynamic features. Convenient in its small and lightweight design, the KNF pumps allow for an appropriate pressure range and high enough fuel output to guarantee full speed ahead.

A photo of the course which is usually a motor racing track or a closed off city street.

How did these students fare in the competitions? At the Shell Eco-marathon, the gasoline vehicle came in 14th place out of 30 at 588 mpg, while the electric vehicle came in 9th place out of 17 at 120 mi/kwh. Having made their mark in the gasoline vehicle category, Pechstein admits that “we have been steadily improving our fuel economy over the past three years.” In the SuperMileage competition, they came in 8th place out of 16 at 442 mpg, and an impressive 3rd place in their design report. Of KNF’s contribution, Pechstein adds that “the pumps were ideal” in helping to reach the finish line.

The team at KNF offers our congratulations to MSOE’s Society of Automotive Engineers! We know they have a bright future ahead.

The Bear, The Pump, and Three Forks: A Tale of Sabotage Near Godfather Lake

From the time KNF was founded, “durability” has been one of the most distinguishing traits of our pumps. We feel a strong sense of pride whenever our customers use adjectives such as: “strong”, “enduring”, and “tough” when describing our products. That said, there are rare occurrences when a KNF pump succumbs to unusually extreme punishment. Not too long ago, a KNF customer, Brian Jarrell, informed us of one such example.

Brian is the Recreation Director at The Lodge and Spa at Three Forks Ranch, a luxury Resort and Spa approximately 40 miles north of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The sprawling, 50,000-acre resort offers beautiful landscapes, scenic mountain vistas, various year-round activities, and upscale amenities. As part of his duties, Brian is responsible for maintaining ponds and other natural features across the huge property. To that end, many bodies of water around The Lodge, including nearby Godfather Lake, are equipped with solar-powered aeration systems. These aeration systems employ KNF N 828 gas pumps to inject air into the water for improved clarity and quality. When Brian needed help with his system’s pump, he called KNF and told us his wild story of a shaggy saboteur.

A visitor admires the wildlife & natural beauty of Three Forks Ranch (photo via threeforksranch.com)

One day, while making his usual checks around the property, Brian approached a pond to find that the nearby aeration system was completely silent. As he examined the control box, it became evident that the protective cover had been completely ripped off. According to Brian, a large black bear – 7 feet tall and 450 pounds – had destroyed the cover protecting the aeration system’s electronic components. As bad luck would have it, heavy snow soon fell over the exposed electrical components of the system, short-circuiting one of the two KNF pumps inside.

These circumstances are certainly extraordinary, and even frightening considering that a huge bear was probably lurking nearby while Brian was examining the damage from only a few hours earlier. However, according to Brian, scenarios involving wild animals are nothing unusual in his line of work. “We have had animals destroy our property in the past – problems with elk and bear chewing wires.” Brian calmly elaborated, “They are typically searching for food when they stumble onto a piece of equipment and become very curious. This bear may have been bored and was likely looking for something to do.” Well it certainly appears that this bear found something to do! On the bright side, this was the very first incident involving aeration systems on the property. Prior to the curious and destructive bear, both system and pump were “running just as strong as when they were originally installed” in 2004.

The suspect: Ursus americanus aka American Black Bear

The suspected saboteur: Ursus americanus (aka American Black Bear)

After finding the mauled machine, Brian soon contacted a KNF Technical Sales representative and, after a “painless and easy” conversation, he was on his way to receiving a replacement pump. When asked about the required repairs, Brian seemed almost relieved, “The whole thing was taken care of within a matter of hours. I am very appreciative of KNF”. In fact, he rates his experience with KNF a 10 out of 10. We’re glad to know that Brian’s experience was  positive, and we hope that the local black bear population seeks entertainment elsewhere in the wilds of Colorado.

KNF OEM Diaphragm Pumps Used in Multiple Environmental Studies

A customer recently brought five environmental studies, ranging from 2013 to 1996, to our attention. Each of the studies details research conducted with one common component: a KNF OEM pump, which proved integral for sample collection or transfer during the analyses. Of the five studies, we cherry-picked two air-toxics studies for your further reading. However, here’s the listing of all five:

  1. Walter 2013 High Res Measurements Atmospheric Hydrogen West African Coast Mauritania
  2. Querino 2011 Methane Flux Vertical Gradient Mixing Ratio Measurements in a Tropical Forest
  3. Bailey 2010 Southwest Indianapolis Air Toxics Study
  4. Romashkin 2001 In Situ Measurements Long Lived Trace Gases Lower Stratosphere Gas Chromatography
  5. Elkins 1996 Airborne Gas Chromatography In Situ Measurements Long Lived Species Upper Troposphere Lower Stratosphere

KNF Environmental Pumps for Gas Sampling and AnalysisWe’re very proud KNF pumps are relied upon within ambient, source and portable devices for environmental sample collection and analysis. For example, the 2010 study listed above details a project in which the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), the U.S. EPA, the City of Indianapolis, and a diverse group of stakeholders teamed up to conduct an air toxics study in southwestern Indianapolis, Indiana (this region was identified by the U.S. EPA National Air Toxics Assessment [NATA] in 1996 and 1999 to be an area of potential concern for cancer risk from air toxics).

A KNF pump was used to enable the analysis of the total non-methane organic carbon (TNMOC) concentration of ambient air. For a history lesson, the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 required the EPA’s Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards to set National Ambient Air Quality Standard for the “criteria” pollutant, ozone. In areas of the country where the NAAQS for ozone is being exceeded, additional measurements of the ambient nonmethane organic compound (NMOC) concentration are needed to assist the affected States in developing revised ozone control strategies. Measurements of ambient NMOC are important to the control of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are precursors to atmospheric ozone.

Therefore, a reliable pump was essential for the collection of air samples with potentially harmful toxics. Simultaneously, it was critical for the pump to collect samples in a manner that didn’t change or contaminate the samples. KNF pumps, known for their reliability and chemical inertness, are ideally situated for this type of application. Additionally, their extremely high gas tightness allows for the accurate and complete collection of media, without the risk of sample loss, dilution, or contamination.

Also, in 2001, a study, titled In Situ Measurements of Long-Lived Trace Gases in the Lower Stratosphere by Gas Chromatography, utilized the KNF NMP 830 pump (referenced as UNMP 830 pump in article) . For this study, a four-channel gas chromatograph measured different air qualities in 70 and 140 second intervals. Air external to the aircraft was delivered to the instrument from an external, variable speed, two-stage, KNF diaphragm pump, driven by a brushless 24-V DC motor. The KNF pump was mounted on the aft wall, and was turned on by the ACATS-IV onboard computer when the ER-2 aircraft ascended through 87 kPa of atmospheric pressure.

Regarding this second study, there are a few points of interest we’d like our readers to note. First, the usage of the pump is a prime example of KNF application flexibility. The KNF NMP 830 micro pump is small; however, its footprint isn’t the only reason it was relied upon within this challenging design. For example, the pump in this application is pulling atmospheric samples at an extremely high altitude, measuring parts per billion (ppb) and parts per trillion (ppt). Expectedly, pump inertness is therefore paramount. Much like in the first study referenced above, environmental analysis customers have come to rely on KNF pump material options, including PTFE and stainless steel, and on the leak tightness of KNF pumps.

Additionally, the KNF pump used in this second study is driven by a brushless DC (BLDC) motor, which helps meet the small size mandate. BLDC allows flow rates to be adjusted as needed, helping to extend the lifecycle and reliability of a device. Motor adjustment is also particularly important for this application, because at high elevations, fewer air molecules are available to blow across the pump for cooling. Therefore, the pump faces the risk of overheating. However, the ability to adjust and operate the motor at a lower voltage and speed helps to mitigate this concern. The small and lightweight design of KNF micro gas pumps even allows for energy-efficient battery operation.

Also of note, there’s far less ambient pressure at the elevation at which the pump in this study is operating, resulting in less pressure on both the top and undersides of the diaphragm. This condition is certainly not ideal for pump operation, which further adds to the difficulty of this application. This, and the other challenges presented by high altitude operation and ppb/ppt detection require a specification-driven, individually-tailored pump. KNF excels in designing and configuring pumps to exacting requirements such as these. In fact, over 80 percent of KNF’s business involves custom-engineered pump solutions.

To round out this review, the first and second studies listed above used KNF pumps to flush sample flasks prior to sampling, and to collect and fill flasks, respectively. The last study used a KNF pump to collect samples in a high altitude study with a set-up similar to the Romashkin 2001 study, which was discussed above.

Summing up this entry to The Pump Post, each of the five studies offers a constant theme of KNF OEM pumps being well-suited for environmental sample collection and analysis applications. Please check back to learn more about KNF products in real-world applications!

A Simple Lab Equipment Change with an Immediate, Positive Environmental Impact

Right now there is a considerable water shortage throughout the United States, particularly in California, and other Western states. Drought conditions and other environmental factors have wreaked havoc on local agriculture, while the growing water demand of a steadily increasing population has led to a severe water scarcity situation. Moreover, what is currently limited to the Western United States will soon extend throughout the entire country; according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office – 40 of 50 states have at least one region that’s expected to face some kind of water shortage within the next 10 years. This growing national emergency should serve as considerable cause for concern as there are few natural resources as vital to our very survival than water. This isn’t just a U.S. problem either. The water crisis is even worse in other parts of the world where the infrastructure to collect and/or distribute water is poor or non-existent. It would appear that this is, in fact, everybody’s problem.

water aspiratorThe good news is that, while everyone is affected by this water shortage, there are steps that anyone can take to help address and improve the issue. In fact, making one simple change to your laboratory equipment can help save over 50,000 gallons of water per year! In a recent article published by Laboratory Equipment, KNF Laboratory Products Manager, Roland Anderson explains why you should get rid of your water aspirator.

Read article: “Last Word: Why You Should Get Rid of Your Water Aspirator” (Laboratory Equipment, Sep. 2015) >>

Also notable: “Water Aspirators: Cheap Pumps with Environmental Impact and High Operating Costs” >>

Adding Convenience to Field Filtration, Thanks to the New Mini-LABOPORT® Pump

Field Filtration Pump

Filtration of field water samples is not that easy. In discussions with customers, they’ve mentioned three alternatives that are available to accomplish the task, none of which are ideal:

  • Use a manual vacuum pump. However, manual pumps can be weak and therefore very slow. And, they can wear you out if you have a lot of samples or ones with moderate-to-heavy particulates.
  • Use a generator to power a standard lab bench vacuum pump. This option requires transporting the heavy generator and gasoline to the field water site.
  • Transport samples back to the lab. Transportation requires the extra step of packaging the unfiltered samples, and means a delay in getting results and possible degradation of the sample depending on what is being collected and/or tested.

KNF engineers decided that a fourth option would be useful to field scientists, so they developed the new lightweight 12 volt mini-LABOPORT pump, model PJ26078-811. Designed specifically for in-the-field use where vehicle access is possible, it combines the robust operation of the traditional KNF LABOPORT pump with the ability to be powered via 12V DC car outlet. Therefore, field scientists can now rely on a lightweight oil-free vacuum source in environments where weight, portability, space, and timeliness often factor into operation.

KNF LABOPORT 12V Field Filtration PumpEquipped with a three-meter long, coiled power cord fitted with a 12 volt car outlet adaptor cord and two 1/4” hose barbs for vacuum inlet and outlet, the new 12 volt mini-LABOPORT pump is ideally suited for filtration and gas sampling in the field. Its combination of compact convenience and reliable performance allow it to meet the needs of environmental companies, water treatment plants, field researchers, and anyone in need of a convenient vacuum source in remote locations.

Employing a compact, low-maintenance design, the pump is driven by a sturdy motor and features chemically-resistant construction. Providing up to 11 L/min flow at atmosphere, it offers 75 Torr (100 mbar) end vacuum.

To learn more, click here, and refer to model PJ26078-811, which is the first product listed in the chart on the resulting page. Or, contact us to discuss your particular needs.

Oil-free Pumps Deliver Environmental, Cost Benefits in the Lab

With all companies increasingly focused on sustainability, selecting products – including those for the lab – that reduce or eliminate waste and save energy are becoming a top priority. While many labs have traditionally relied on oil-lubricated vacuum pumps, oil-free alternatives have become prevalent, in part, because they are better suited to comply with corporate guidelines for reducing carbon footprint. The  question, however, is what other advantages do these pumps provide and how do you select the best one for your application?

In most instances, the price of an oil-free pump, sometimes referred to as a dry pump, is higher than the oil-lubricated alternative. However, when you consider the process savings, lower user costs, and environmental benefits, oil-free pumps, such as the KNF LABOPORT® shown in figure 1, more than pay for themselves over the long life of the pump. Let’s review two key advantages in a bit more detail:

Footprint:
This applies to both the carbon version and the actual space in the lab. Eliminating oil means there is no risk for  contamination, and no  need for oil changes and subsequent expensive, hazardous material disposal. Also, they do not emit fumes that   contaminate the air. Oil-free pumps also are more compact, requiring less room on the bench, helping reduce the overall size of the lab in  some cases.

Operating Costs:
Considering the long life of pumps in the lab, operating costs should be a major consideration, especially in relation to  the actual purchase price. Less energy is required to run the oil-free pump, creating lower electricity bills for a lab. As oil-free pumps can be built to be corrosion-resistant, and again, since there is no need for oil changes and associated expenses, maintenance costs are lower, as  well.

Selecting the Best Pump for Your Application:
Now, there are many different oil-free vacuum pumps to choose from. Scientists and other lab professionals are not always sure which one is best for their application. A good first step is to select the manufacturer. Look for a manufacturer that understands the application and has the benefit of experience. This will help ensure the proper pump is selected for your individual lab requirements.

Selecting the proper vacuum level is also important. Many times, especially with older oil-lubricated pumps, the capacity and vacuum levels exceed what is truly necessary. Matching the vacuum to the application will result in more efficient operation and cost savings.

Also consider service. Of course, oil-free pumps are highly reliable, as many models can go 10,000+ hours without needing service. Some pumps, such as those designed and manufactured by KNF, can have a diaphragm replaced on site in a half hour with just a screwdriver.   There’s no hazardous materials handling and drainage, nor is a specialized service professional required to perform the work. Think of it as simply changing the filter in your air conditioning unit.

To learn more about oil-free diaphragm pumps and their advantages, visit the KNF Technical Library. There, you can review white papers detailing application- and market-specific data.