Student creation first of its kind
By Steve Tally
students Louis Cassens (right) and Michael Thomas put a
revolutionary lawn mower through a trial run. The mower
uses ordinary water in place of hydraulic fluid. (Photo
by Tom Campbell)
A group of Purdue under-graduates have built an industrial
riding lawn mower that's a cut above the rest.
The students have created what is thought to be the
first vehicle that uses water in all of its hydraulic systems, including
power steering, power brakes and transmission.
Recent advances in water hydraulic systems have allowed
them to perform as well as petroleum hydraulic systems. Because
water offers several environmental and economic advantages over
petroleum hydraulic fluid, the students teamed up to demonstrate
that such a vehicle is now possible.
Students Jason Brown of Pendleton, Ind.; Dan Sellers
of Bourbon, Ind.; Dan Pitstick of Rensselaer, Ind.; and Nathan
Schoonover, of Evansville, Ind., completed the mower before graduating
Although the mower was redesigned to prove a point,
it does have a practical purpose. Mowers leak some hydraulic fluid,
and on golf courses that fluid can kill grass on greens that often
cost tens of thousands of dollars to construct and maintain.
Gary Krutz, professor of agricultural
and biological engineering and the students' advisor, says water
hydraulic systems only would be practical in vehicles that use high-pressure
systems, such as heavy equipment used in construction, agriculture,
forestry and mining.