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.

Is It Time To Replace Your Water Aspirator?

A water aspirator is a simple device capable of creating a low strength vacuum for many standard laboratory applications. Though they are inexpensive to purchase and easy to use, the long-term operating costs and environmental impact of laboratory water aspirators can be quite significant.

The above video from Lab Manager follows Linda the Lab Manager as she and her colleagues investigate the real costs of owning and operating a laboratory water aspirator.

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.

Water Aspirators: Cheap Pumps With Environmental Impact & High Operating Costs

Application Note: LabWater Aspirators are a common way of creating a low strength vacuum for many standard laboratory applications. Their simple design employs water running through a narrowing tube to create a reduced pressure via the Venturi effect. The pump’s performance is dependent upon the temperature and pressure of the water, two variables that often change based on the number of users and the ambient temperature, resulting in an unreliable vacuum source. In addition, when being used in chemistry and biology labs, aspirators allow potentially hazardous solvents to mix into the water stream and flow down the drain. Since a stream of continuously running water is required to operate the pump, a significant amount of water is wasted. The cost of water coupled with the environmental impact of wasted water and solvent pollution need to be considered.

With concern over water usage on the rise, use of aspirator pumps is understandably under scrutiny due to their excessive water consumption. A typical aspirator pump requires 1.5 – 2.0 gallons of water per minute to operate.3 Assuming an average of 1.75 gal/min and an average usage of 3 hours per day, 4 days a week for 10 months a year, one aspirator pump uses more than 50,000 gallons (189,000 Liters) per year! To put this amount of water in perspective, it is equivalent to:
Water Aspirator

  • 39,062 flushes of a low-flow toilet.4
  • 3,215 eight-minute showers, or a single shower lasting 416 hours.4
  • Washing 1,852 loads of laundry.4
  • 1.4 years’ worth of water consumed by the average American household for outdoor uses (watering lawns and gardens, etc.).5
  • 1,250 cars washed at a water-efficient car wash facility.6

When one considers the number of facilities with multiple water aspirators in operation, these numbers become staggering! >> Click here to view the full Application Note.