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`Most efficient` hydraulic technology could replace gearboxes
Published:  20 December, 2009

Edinburgh-based Artemis Intelligent Power has won this year’s Carbon Trust Innovator of the Year Award for developing what it claims are the world’s most efficient and controllable hydraulic machines, with potential applications ranging from vehicles to renewable energy. The company, which was spun out of Edinburgh University in 1994, also won the Power award category for the technology’s potential to produce robust, lightweight power take-off systems that could make wind turbines cheaper to build and maintain.

Artemis’ Digital Displacement technology replaces the port and swash plates of conventional hydraulic machines by computer-controlled, high-speed solenoid valves. The core component is a hydraulic piston pump/motor with actively controlled poppet valves that rectify the flow into, and out of, each cylinder. Banks of cylinders can be assembled along a common crankshaft to allow multiple independent outputs. The valves are operated by small electromagnetic latches so that they can be opened and closed on a stroke-by-stroke basis.

Artemis’ managing director Win Rampen (shown above, left. with Carbon Trust CEO, Tom Delay), who has devoted much of his working life to developing the technology, says that the awards “will bring credibility to what we do and hopefully will be key to encouraging UK manufacturing companies to work with us to get the transmission product on the market.

“The potential of this technology is exceptional,” he adds. “We are currently working on a replacement for a gearbox for renewable technologies which, if manufactured in the UK, could capture a significant fraction of the £3bn wind turbine gearbox market.”

Artemis has recently received £1m from the Low Carbon Energy Demonstration grants scheme to build and test a 1MW wind turbine based on its technology. Turbine costs will be reduced because the weight in the nacelles will be lower than usual and power electronics will be eliminated.

The hydraulic technology has also been tested in a hybrid passenger car based on a BMW vehicle.

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