College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

ABE’s new dynamometer provides large machinery testing to Midwest manufacturers

Located in the heart of the United States farming landscape, Iowa State University serves as a resource for farmers all around the midwest. The Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE) has a history of working with local farmers on many different agricultural designs – from power machinery to wastewater treatment, and many projects in between.Photo of the dyno lab

ABE is continuing to enhance its reputation as a center of expertise in agricultural design with its new state-of-the-art off-highway vehicle chassis dynamometer. This device is the only one of its kind in terms of power and capacity at a public institution in the United States, according to ABE professor Brian Steward, one of the team leaders involved in the installation of the dynamometer.

The dynamometer is used to test the power and performance of off-highway vehicles. With the advantage of having the dynamometer in the Midwest, experts can test how well the tires or tracks of agricultural vehicles, like tractors or combines, can propel the vehicle.

Iowa State University is located in just the right spot for the dynamometer, according to Steward.

“Much of the agricultural machinery industry in the United States is centered around Iowa and the upper Midwest area,” Steward said. “So the dynamometer is very strategically located relative to that, making it very easy for manufacturers to access the device.”

Photo of four team members. From left to right: Andy Suby, Ario Kordestani, Brian Steward, Stuart Birrell
From left to right: Andy Suby, Ario Kordestani, Brian Steward, Stuart Birrell

Not only does the dynamometer bring many opportunities for manufacturers to test and enhance their machinery, but it also provides the chance for students to prepare for their careers in the industry, Steward said.

“With any vehicle, it gets tested extensively before it goes to the marketplace,” Steward said. “ISU students can now gain experience with cutting-edge equipment so that when they are in the industry, they are familiar with the testing process.”

The team plans to integrate the dynamometer into ABE labs, so students can gain experience using it. Aside from class, the team plans to employ students as well to help with the testing process and provide learning opportunities.

In its final stage of commissioning, the dynamometer is located at Iowa State’s BioCentury Research Farm west of Ames at 1327 U Ave, in the Off-Highway Vehicle Chassis Dynamometer Laboratory.