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Students gain perspective on the intended purpose of hydraulic accumulators and why they might be the next best innovation for hybrid passenger vehicles. They learn about how hydraulic accumulators and hydraulic systems function, specifically how they conserve energy by capturing braking energy usually lost as heat. Students are given the engineering challenge to create small-scale models from which their testing results could be generalized to large-scale latex tubing for a hydraulic accumulator. After watching a video clip of an engineer talking about his lab-based model to test the feasibility of using an elastomer as an energy accumulator, they brainstorm ideas about how latex can be used in a hydraulic system and how they could test the strength of latex for use in a hydraulic accumulator. The concepts of kinetic energy and energy density are briefly discussed.
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