Machine Design

Backtalk - 5/22/08

An important part of engine maintenance is changing your car’s motor oil.

Oil recycling

What backyard mechanics do after the change is equally important. According to Castrol, almost half of the oil changes in the U.S. are done by car owners.

While most people properly dispose of oil, Castrol and have teamed up to raise consumer awareness that one improperly disposed-of oil change can contaminate 1 million gallons of fresh water — a year’s supply for 50 people. Used motor oil is insoluble, slow to degrade, and can contain heavy metals.\recycling has basic tips on how to properly dispose of used motor oil as well as how to find a nearby recycling center.

According to Castrol, a common misconception is that oil-recycling centers are difficult to find. There are more than 30,000 recycling centers nationwide, and most automotive shops and quick-lube retailers will take used motor oil if it is in a proper container — such as a sealable, approved oil-drip pan or motor-oil bottle.

Consumers can also visit the site or call the 1-800-CleanUp ((800) 253-2687) hotline for information and resources (at no cost).

Innovation Design winners

A drop-in rowing rig for a canoe or other small craft took the Grand Prize in PTC’s “Redefining Innovation Product Design Contest 2008” sponsored by PTC. Designers were asked to use PTC Pro/Engineer 3D parametric CAD software to design or redesign a product that can improve the way people play, live, and work.

Designed by Scott Buckner of the United States, the Easy Oar allows rowers to face forward in the direction of travel. Buckner wanted to overcome the awkward style of propelling a small craft with oars while facing backwards. No significant improvements to a forward-facing rowing system have been made since the late 1800s. The U.S.’s Benjamin Mahan received the Runner Up Award for his Predator Facial Armor. His redesign upgrades the ballistic coverage of current U.S. military helmets to create an effective facial armor that can be used with currently fielded helmets . Ben wanted to provide light-weight, maximum ballistic protection and coverage while not degrading or inhibiting a soldier’s peripheral vision.

The TNI Tellus Smart — a handheld communication device — was designed by Koert Vanoverbeke of Belgium, who took home the Second Place Award.

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