. Energy News .

Saving fuel while plowing

by Staff Writers


Munich, Germany (SPX) Jul 27, 2011 Less friction, less power, less fuel - plowshares coated with diamond-like carbon (DLC) slide through the soil like a hot knife through butter. As a result, the tractors pulling them need less power and fuel. In some tests the power required has been reduced by more than 30 percent.

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 Horner 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 Horner.

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 Horner.

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 Horner.

Research News July 2011 [ PDF 357KB ]

Related Links
Experimental DLC-coated tools after use. Top: Initial test results; the improved coatings after the same plowing distance are shown in the bottom of the picture. Right: DLC-coated plowshare for test purposes. (Felizitas Gemetz Fraunhofer IWM; Martin Horner Fraunhofer IWM) Farming Today - Suppliers and Technology

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries

. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

How Dairy Farms Contribute to Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Washington DC (SPX) Jul 27, 2011
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have produced the first detailed data on how large-scale dairy facilities contribute to the emission of greenhouse gases. This research was conducted by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists at the ARS Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research Laboratory in Kimberly, Idaho. ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency ... read more

Researchers Provide Detailed Picture of Ice Loss Following Collapse of Antarctic Ice Shelves

Aura Detects Pollution in the Great Lakes Region

TerraSAR-X image of the month - Volcanic eruption in Chile

Central America launches its 'Google' of weather

China to launch 9th orbiter for indigenous global navigation network

Cambridge Pixel, Navtech to work together

Second Boeing GPS IIF Satellite Sends First Signals from Space

Boeing: 2nd Boeing GPS IIF Satellite Ready for Launch from Cape Canaveral

The tallest tree in the land

Vietnam army smuggling timber in Laos: activists

Northwest Forest Plan has unintended benefit - carbon sequestration

Wood products part of winning carbon-emissions equation

Regulatory hurdles hinder biofuels market

Corn yields with perennial cover crop are equal to traditional farming

Researchers find potential key for unlocking biomass energy

Study: Biofuel regulations should change

S. Korean firm joins Chinese solar project

ReneSola Rolls Out Shipments of Its New Multicrystalline Virtus Wafer and Module Lines

Providing Power to More Than 2,000 Homes

New Labels For US And Canadian Solar Installers

Estonian wind farm taps GE for turbines

Wind-turbine placement produces tenfold power increase

Bold new approach to wind 'farm' design may provide efficiency gains

2010 Wind Technologies Market Report

Mongolian miner signs coal deal with China firms

Pinera under fire over coal mine project

China rescuers end search for Guizhou miners

Australia PM hails coal deal amid poll slump

Hundreds riot in China over vendor's death

China extends journalist's jail sentence

China philanthropist hires gymnast-turned-beggar

China calls Vatican excommunication threats 'rude'

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2011 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement