SwRI to develop Florida Intelligent Traffic Systems

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) selected SwRI to develop and deploy a standard, statewide software system for intelligent transportation system (ITS) transportation management centers (TMCs).

Under an $8 million contract, SwRI will provide eight new TMCs with a statewide transportation management center software library system, and provide four existing TMCs that currently use separate, proprietary software systems with a migration plan so that one district's TMC computers can communicate with others.

Initial deployment will be in the TMCs for FDOT District 4 at Ft. Lauderdale, District 6 at Miami and District 7 at Tampa, said Dr. Steven Dellenback, project manager and an Institute Scientist in the SwRI Automation and Data Systems Division. In time, other FDOT districts such as District 3 at Tallahassee, expressway authorities such as Miami Dade Expressway Authority and local governments such as Lee County will be added.

Contact Dellenback at (210) 522-3914, or

Saturn-bound instrument detects interstellar ions

More than a year before the Cassini spacecraft arrives at Saturn, the Cassini Plasma Spectrometer (CAPS) has made the first in situ observations of interstellar pickup ions beyond Jupiter. This is the first major discovery using data gathered by CAPS, destined to reach Saturn in July 2004.

Pickup ions are neutral particles in the solar system that become ionized near the Sun and join the solar wind, the supersonic stream of charged particles flowing out from the Sun. By observing these pickup ions, researchers can better understand the interstellar medium, the low-density gas and dust that fills the space between stars.

Astronomers have observed interstellar pickup ions as early as 1985 from a distance of 1 astronomical unit (AU, the distance from the Earth to the Sun), but never before have they seen pickup ions beyond 5 AU -- Jupiter's orbit. The CAPS team uploaded software that allowed the instrument to collect and transmit detections of the relatively rare pickup ions it encounters on its journey to Saturn.

Analyses revealed a strong depletion of hydrogen pickup ions compared to helium pickup ions in the region behind the Sun. The team determined that this newly observed depletion, or "interstellar hydrogen shadow," is produced by radiation pressure and ionization of the neutrals. Most hydrogen atoms cannot penetrate into the downstream shadow region because they must pass near the Sun where they have a high probability of being ionized and swept out with the solar wind.

"These are very hard particles to measure because there are so few of them," said Dr. David J. McComas, senior executive director of the SwRI Space Science and Engineering Division. "Previous models have included something like this interstellar hydrogen shadow, but these are the first direct measurements of it."

Contact McComas at (210) 522-5983, or

SwRI launches Clean Diesel IV Consortium

Southwest Research Institute launched its fourth cooperative research program to reduce diesel engine emissions. The consortium, known as Clean Diesel IV, comprises more than 30 members, including light-, heavy-duty, and off-road engine manufacturers, component suppliers, and oil and fuel companies.

Interested companies may join Clean Diesel IV any time during the four-year program. The newest effort, which builds on 12 years of clean diesel programs at SwRI, seeks to meet the Environmental Protection Agency's stringent 2010 emissions goals. The program offers a yearly renewable contract.

Like its predecessors, the new consortium is designed to develop new diesel technologies. The primary objective is to reduce oxides of nitrogen ( NOx) to 0.2 gram per horsepower-hour (g/hp-hr) and particulates to 0.01 g/hp-hr. A secondary objective is to achieve U.S. Tier 2/Bin 5 emission standards for light-duty trucks. The final U.S. Tier 2 standards are based on a system in which manufacturers have the option of certifying any particular vehicle to one of eight emission categories or "bins," each having specified standards of differing stringency for a variety of air pollutants. These standards will be phased in throughout the United States during 2004.

Daniel Stewart, director of Combustion and Emissions in the SwRI Engine, Emissions and Vehicle Research Division, explained that participants select the consortium work from a number of Institute-suggested projects. Institute engineers and scientists recommend areas of interest based on SwRI's extensive automotive-related experience and on work performed during the three earlier clean diesel consortia.

Contact Stewart at (210) 522-3657, or

McFarland Award honors SwRI engineers

Two Southwest Research Institute engineers have been awarded the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Forest R. McFarland Award for their outstanding contributions in aiding the SAE fuels and lubricants activity to organize, develop and disseminate technical information.

Dr. Kent Froelund and Magdi K. Khair, both in SwRI's Engine, Emissions and Vehicle Research Division, exhibited unusual leadership in the organizing of SAE technical sessions and professional development seminars; made outstanding contributions to the overall planning of technical meetings and conferences; contributed greatly to SAE committee work in the form of innovation, operation, meeting structure and format development; and provided outstanding contributions as pre-publication reviewers of draft manuscripts.

The award was presented during the 2004 SAE World Congress. Froelund and Khair are among 20 recipients from more than 2,000 SAE Committee chairs eligible for the award.

Froelund has served as chairman of the Passenger Car Lubricants Sessions of the Fuels and Lubricants Meeting and Exposition Conferences since 2000 and also serves on the SAE Transaction Review committee. A principal engineer at SwRI, he previously has won the SAE Arch T. Colwell Merit Award and the SAE Excellence in Oral Presentation Award.

Froelund received a bachelor's in mechanical engineering from the Technical University of Aalborg (Denmark), a master's from the Technical University of Braunschweig (Germany), and a doctorate from the Technical University of Denmark in Copenhagen.

Khair is chairman of the Advanced Diesel Aftertreatment Systems session and has served as speaker at the Catalysts and Emissions Control and the Diesel Exhaust Aftertreatment SAE TOPTEC Series. A staff engineer at the Institute, Khair received the McFarland award in 1996 for his contributions to several diesel-related technical and educational activities.


SwRI opens Beijing office

SwRI has established an international office in Beijing. The liaison office, overseen by the SwRI Office of Automotive Engineering, will help facilitate automotive business opportunities in China including coordinating client and contract inquiries and offering program support.

SwRI has several ongoing projects and programs with clients in China. The new office allows clients more personal interaction and helps expand SwRI's presence internationally.

Representing SwRI in the Beijing office is Nian Sun, an SwRI senior research engineer with more than 35 years of experience in design and management of engine performance and bench test laboratories. He also has developed new test procedures and equipment for lubricant evaluation and data acquisition, control systems and test data measurements for engine testing. Contact:

Nian Sun Southwest Research Institute Unit 1204, Tower 1
Beijing Landmark Towers 8 North Dongsanhuan Road
Chaoyang District P.R. China
Telephone: 011-86-10-6590-8391 Fax: 011-86-139-1173-3620

Vertical furnace adds capabilities

A third generation, large-scale vertical furnace is now operational at SwRI for fire testing services. The new furnace can test specimens as large as a 12.5-foot square.

The furnace is used to help determine the fire resistance of wall and bulkhead assemblies. Systems to protect openings in walls and bulkheads, such as doors, windows and fire stops, are also tested in the wall furnace.

The furnace features enhanced controls and state-of-the-art instrumentation for evaluating the fire resistance of fire-rated doors, dampers, and wall assemblies for the construction and maritime industry, said Jim Griffith, a manager in the SwRI Fire Technology Department. Clients can use a thermally protected furnace camera, designed and fabricated by SwRI, to view a complete fire test as the specimen is exposed to temperatures in excess of 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit. The test video can be broadcast over the Internet via a secure web site, eliminating the necessity for the client to travel to SwRI to witness the test firsthand.

The new furnace, which is 14 ft. wide by 18 ft. tall and 4 ft. deep, replaces a smaller, older vertical furnace. Nine premixed air and natural gas flat flame burners are symmetrically spaced on the back wall of the furnace to provide heat.

Contact Matthew Blais at (210) 522-3524, or

Published in the Spring 2004 issue of Technology Today®, published by Southwest Research Institute. For more information, contact Joe Fohn.

Spring 2004 Technology Today
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