“Are there materials that retain their strength at exceedingly high temperatures?”
For processes such as nuclear power generation or incinerators, materials must be able to withstand heavy loads. However, the high temperatures that they operate at often destroy the useful properties of most materials. So are there materials that can withstand high temperatures? Well, after many years of hard work spent in research, Materials Engineers and Scientists have been able to classify such materials as refractory materials. Refractory materials can be divided into two types, acidic refractories with SiO2 content more than 93% used for their erosion resistance, and basic refractories for higher thermal resistance
“How do we account for plants and ground bodies in the atmospheric water cycle?”
For every terrestrial object in the universe with a moisture filled atmosphere, there must be an exchange of water between the ground and the air. So how can we account for the water given back by ground-based objects? Well, let’s use our scientific mindsets to find out. We know that water present in soil and aquatic bodies can evaporate into a gaseous. And we also know that water from plants can transpire through its stomas. Since these two phenomena are highly similar, how about we combine these two processes in our model to form evapotranspiration? Well, it turns out that professional researchers do exactly this to simplify the water cycle model, and is one of the reasons why life can be sustained on the planet.
“Can we optimize hydraulic actuators using electricity?”
Hydraulic actuators are ever so useful in their ability to move heavy machinery and can found in areas ranging from construction equipment to manufacturing machinery. However, these machines often suffer from a burdensome design, being forced to integrate numerous disparate components into one coherent system.
So how can we simplify the operation of these actuators?
Well, what if we were to replace the hydraulic pumps and tubing with electrical power? Not only will this simplify the system complexity but also increase the internal safety and reliability. These machines are known as electro-hydraulic actuators and can be found in applications ranging from aerospace vehicles to automobiles.
“How can we have distillation for materials with more than two substances?”
Distillation is the process of separating two substances using the science of evaporation and condensation in regard to different boiling points. However, how can we make this process happen for materials such as crude oil which are composed of many different substances? Well, let’s use our engineering mindset to find out. Let’s start out with a simple test tube. In this test tube, let’s also have another smaller tube at the midsection leading to a stationary beaker. Now let have the bottom portion of the main tube be immersed in a hot fluid. When we dispose a material into the tube, the hot fluid will heat the material until one of the substances evaporates. The gas from the evaporated substance will rise and move through the tube, eventually reaching the midsection tube, cooling and condensing into a liquid form in the beaker. Once all of this substance has been removed, we can swap out the old stationary beaker for a new one, replace the hot liquid with a bunsen burner, and repeat the process. This procedure is known as fractional distillation and is commonly employed for separating substances with numerous hydrocarbons.
“How can we transfer heat using machinery?”
Temperature is one of the most fundamental aspects of nature. And often times, we would like to transfer temperature from one location to another. Because this operation is so useful, engineers have created machines known as heat pumps to accomplish this. Heat pumps are one of the fundamental pieces in Air Conditioner Systems and are essential to the operation of human infrastructure
“How can we determine the fracture strength and resistance of a material using simple devices?”
Determining the fracture strength and resistance of a material is of the utmost practical use to the engineering profession. However, how exactly can figure them out experimentally in a cost-wise fashion? Well, let’s think about this using our engineering mindset. We already know the strength of many other materials. And we also know that if one material is able to scratch another, then it is the stronger of the two. So what if we were to take this method and use it to organize all of the different materials we know? Well, this is the fundamental idea behind the scratch test, and it is used for economically conscious projects around the world.
“How can we induce a vacuum in a sealed container?”
In engineering projects, we often want to create artificial vacuums in sealed chambers. However, Doing so is an arduous technical task. So how can we use our engineering mindset to accomplish such a feat?
Well, let’s start with first principles. We know that when a gas expands, it loses density. And when it becomes less dense, it takes less energy to move around. Now let’s apply this fact into a working machine. Take a sealed volume of gas, let’s say 1m^3. Now expand it to 2m^3. Then, place a divider in the middle. Then flush out all of the gas on one side. Remove the divider, and let the process repeat until a desired density has been reached. This machine is known as a vacuum pump, and is used in a startling range of applications, from automobiles to semiconductor processing to air conditioner operation!
“How can we quantify a material’s resistance to permanent shape change?”
When under a compressive force, materials tend to deform. However, some materials are more resistant to deformation than others. This resistance to compressive deformation can be quantified the concept of hardness. Hardness can be measured by varying a controlled force and recording the resulting deformations.
“What makes tires so useful?”
The vast majority motorized vehicles on this planet are able to transport passengers because of one simple invention, tires. However, what specific properties do they have that make them so useful? Well, let’s find out using our engineering mindset.
To begin, let’s analyze what makes a tire a tire. Tires are composed of a combination of synthetic rubber, natural rubber, fabric, and wire, fashioned with a thread and a body. Once manufactured, tires are threaded with grooves to provide traction, filled with air to provide buoyancy, and finally fitted onto vehicles.
Tires are well regarded around the world for their strength, flexibility, and cost. However, some downsides associated with these tools are their tendency to hydroplane (when a tire runs over a damp surface and become uncontrollable) and their production and decomposition process can be destructive to the environment (particularly if they are burned)