10 YEARS AGO — 2000
Spark plug doubles as fuel injector: A new gasoline direct-injection technology from Delphi Automotive Systems, Troy, Mich., and Australia-based Orbital Engine Corp. combines a spark plug and fuel injector in a single device. The result is low emission, direct fuel injection without costly engine redesign. The injector uses an air-assisted direct fuel-injection system with only one point of access to the combustion chamber for fuel and spark. According to Delphi, the new technology boosts efficiency with only minor changes to today’s engines.

30 YEARS AGO — 1980
Sealed foam quiets diesel engine: Acoustical foam with a newly developed thermal-edge seal is being used to quiet Cummins Engine’s NH-Series diesel engine and generator sets. Called Tufcote Acoustical Foam, it is supplied in die-cut parts by Specialty Composites Corp., Newark, N.J., for use on noise shields around engine-oil pans. The material has a Tedlar facing chemically bonded to the foam. The edge seal protects the foam from hot oils, water, and grease, and allows full noise absorption properties without degradation.

50 YEARS AGO — 1960
World’s shortest and hottest railroad: Traveling along 4 ft of track, a toy locomotive runs samples of nickel isotopes in and out of a nuclear reactor at the Univ. of Michigan. The track winds through a “tunnel” in the concrete-block shielding and stops at the focal point of a neutron beam. Here, isotope samples mounted on the locomotive absorb bombarding neutrons and give off gamma rays. Samples differ in the number of neutrons present in their nuclei, and UM researchers are measuring gamma-ray intensities to chart energy levels of nuclei in each sample. The beam, fatal to man, makes the engine only slightly radioactive.