Extremely hard, diamond-like carbon coatings are used to protect hard disks in computers and ensure that sliding bearings remain smooth. In the future they could help farmers to save fuel while plowing and make it easier to till the ground. Farmers in Germany consume nearly a billion liters of fuel every year to work their land.
Around 50 per cent of the energy used when plowing or harrowing is lost as a result of friction between the plowshare and the soil. To change this, scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM in Freiburg and their partners in the RemBob project are working on DLC-coated plowshares. They have already been able to reduce friction by half. The power required by the tractor has also been reduced, by more than 30 per cent in some tests.
For farmers, the smoothly cutting plowshares mean either a time gain because they can use wider equipment or lower costs for fuel, machinery and maintenance. The tractors can be smaller or can operate in partial load, with longer repair and maintenance intervals. “From the environmental point of view it would be better for the tractors to be smaller,” says physicist and trained fruit farmer Martin Hörner from Fraunhofer IWM. They would not only need less fuel but would also be lighter. Lighter machines mean less soil compaction, and the looser the soil, the less power is needed to work it.
The quality of the soil would also be better. In highly compacted ground there are hardly any worms and other small creatures which help to turn the soil and enrich it with nutrients. Compacted soils are less able to absorb water and dry out more quickly. “In Germany we are relatively advanced as far as protecting soil resources is concerned, but even in this country more soil is lost by compaction and erosion than is created by natural processes,” explains Hörner.
A further advantage of DLC coatings on groundworking equipment is the protection they provide against corrosion and wear. Plowshares have to be hard and sturdy but also resilient, so that they do not break if they hit a rock. High-durability steels are used, but they suffer visibly if they are used for a prolonged length of time in the ground. “A tine on a circular harrow can lose 50 per cent of its mass through wear every season,” states Hörner. But soil, sand and stones wear down conventional coatings within a very short time. This is why plowshares have not been coated up to now. DLC coatings, however, can withstand the extreme stresses and strains.
The problem is that the tough steel on the groundworking equipment deforms too easily and is therefore unsuitable as a substrate for the much more rigid diamond-like coating – it would quickly spall. The project partners are therefore testing plowshares made of different materials, including nitriding steel, glass-fiber-reinforced plastic and tungsten carbide, out in the field. The next project goal is to plow at least 20 kilometers of ground before the coating fails. “If we achieve that, the wear-free plowshare will be within touching distance,” affirms Hörner.
Martin Hörner | EurekAlert!
From ancient fossils to future cars
21.10.2016 | University of California - Riverside
Study explains strength gap between graphene, carbon fiber
20.10.2016 | Rice University
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences