Final Take: Dozer wins IDEA silver

Although equipment manufacturers incorporate machine features to enhance productivity and performance, occasionally they get noticed for their good design by others besides their operators. The International Design Excellence Awards, sponsored by BusinessWeek magazine, has named Komatsu’s D51 EX/PX-22 crawler dozer as the silver award winner in the commercial and industrial category for the machine’s super-slant nose engine hood design.

The first of Komatsu’s three hydrostatic transmission dozers, the D51-22’s nose allows the operator to see objects closer to the blade for improved safety and efficiency.

Asphalt as a solar collector?
Research team explores turning highways into an alternative energy source

Everyone knows how easily asphalt absorbs the sun’s heat; now, researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts, have plans to take advantage of that property. Rajib Mallick, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, has assembled a team to develop a solar collector to turn roads and parking lots into inexpensive sources of energy.

“Asphalt has a lot of advantages as a solar collector,” Mallick says. “Blacktop stays hot and could continue to generate energy after the sun goes down, unlike traditional solar-electric cells.” Mallick also says existing roads and parking lots could be retrofitted during resurfacing.

Mallick and his team conducted lab tests on small slabs of asphalt, measuring heat penetration and how easily the heat could be transferred to water flowing within the slab, which could be used for heating buildings or in industrial processes, or passed through a thermoelectric generator to produce electricity. “Our preliminary results provide a promising proof of concept for what could be an important future source of renewable, pollution-free energy,” he says. “It has been there all along, right under our feet.”

Word for Word
“When it comes to making long-term investments simply to maintain things we rely upon … we have failed time and again.”
– Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff in a speech to the Brookings Institution about political leaders’ neglect of critical infrastructure upgrades.

“There’s a lot of hazards we train our people to expect. But you don’t prepare for a firebomb. That’s pretty unusual.”
– Keith Brubacher, owner of Brubacher Excavating, to the Allentown, Pennsylvania, Morning Call about two men throwing a magnesium-based firebomb at his crew.

“Who needs Disney when you have Day of the Dozer?”
– Bob Brady, co-owner of Brady Homes, to the Bloomington, Illinois, Pentagraph about the Day of the Dozer charity event which gives kids the opportunity to ride and help operate equipment such as excavators, backhoes and off-road trucks.

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.”
– Henry Ford (1863-1947), founder of Ford Motor Company.