Skip to content

Fluid Power Research

Transforming Fluid Power

Transforming and fully exploiting fluid power into a compact, efficient and effective source of energy transmission-this is the vision of the Engineering Research Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP). The Center's work in achieving this vision is and will continue to make transformational societal impacts, reducing polluting petroleum usage and increasing the ways in which fluid power-through human-scale applications-will improve the quality of life, spawning entirely new industries in the process.

While the CCEFP strategy has evolved and matured, the vision has remained constant. The needs that inspired it and the accuracy of the course in pursuing it are affirmed by the international fluid power research community and by industry.

The CCEFP is transforming fluid power. The Center has become a catalyst in energizing the fluid power industry and the technology's research community. For the first time in decades, the fluid power industry in the U.S. is thinking seriously about university-industry collaboration on research. U.S. universities are emerging as international leaders in that research, as evidenced by best paper awards presented to Center researchers and their students at recent prominent international conferences. CCEFP connections are leading to a serious discussion of a proposed national fluid power energy policy involving industry, universities and national labs. And, as a direct consequence of CCEFP activities, the fluid power industry has now developed a research-technology roadmap.

The transformational seeds are sown. Societal impact is beginning.

Systems Vision

The CCEFP systems vision has been continuously modified and refined over the first five years of operation. The test beds demonstrate the systems vision. The current test bed configuration is based on two fundamental scientific observations:

Observation 1: It is not well known how fluid power scales with size as measured by weight or power.

Observation 2: The competitive advantage of fluid power is greatest in mobile applications.

Therefore, CCEFP has chosen mobile test beds spanning the entire range of power and weight of interest.

The figure below shows the range of power and weight for fluid power applications.

Scale showing power and weight of fluid power systems and where testbeds fit on the scale.


Four families can be identified, as listed below. The four test beds are representative members of these four families.

  • Mobile Heavy Equipment (50 kW-500 kW): Excavator (Test Bed 1)
  • Highway Vehicles (10 kW-100 kW): Hydraulic Hybrid Passenger Vehicle (Test Bed 3)
  • Mobile Human Scale Equipment (100W-1kW): Patient Transfer Device (Test Bed 4)
  • Human Assist Devices (10W-100W): Orthosis (Test Bed 6)

The test beds chosen represent mobile applications where fluid power is the best solution. They span four orders of magnitude of power and weight. They encompass current and future applications of fluid power, influence neighboring applications and solve important societal problems.