Here is the full story from the WPLG Miami website:
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Something you commonly use for laundry — a detergent pod — is now a concept being used to power engines in things like drones and missiles. In today’s “Technically Speaking” report, Local 10′s Gio Insignares shows us how a local company has created a “Tide pod for engines and transmissions,” and how it can be used to save money and lives.
“What we do is we bring modularity to engineering,” Zulu Pods co-founder and CEO Robert Sladen said.
Modularity. That’s a word that might not be the easiest to digest for non-engineers or those who don’t consider themselves handy. But, technically speaking, it means the quality of having separate parts that, when put together, form a complete whole. Robert and Daniella Sladen are two of the co-founders behind this modularity to engineering, in the form of their company, Zulu Pods. Troy Cunningham and Todd Currier are the company’s other two co-founders, respectively.
Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, with a manufacturing facility in Amherst, Massachusetts, Zulu Pods — the “pod” standing for “packaged oil delivery” – is described as creating “the world’s first decentralized lubrication system for limited life applications.”
“I think we just came up with the concept — what if there’s another way to do it? What if we could do it, like this smaller burst of oil, everything all in one, in our handheld pod?” Daniella Sladen said.
The pod combines the function of a reservoir, pump and nozzle into a single, self-contained, self-pressurized and hermetically sealed device.
In other words, it’s like a Tide pod for jet engines.
“As soon as the washing machine starts, the detergent comes out. It’s the same idea. As soon as the engine starts, the oil comes out. Once the laundry is done, there’s no more detergent. Once the engine blows up, or does its mission, there’s no more oil or no more engine,” Robert Sladen explained. Both Rob and Daniella Sladen have backgrounds in aerospace and defense, giving them the tools and confidence needed to invent a tech platform they believe transforms traditional fluid oil delivery systems.
Created by a 3D printer and fitting into an engine bearing, each pod also delivers the right amount of lubrication for each use. That, in turn, simplifies the process without companies having to overhaul already-existing infrastructure.
“In this case, we flip it and we start on the inside. So the oil is already closer to where it needs to be. You don’t need tubes for it to travel,” Daniella Sladen said.
In addition to limited-use engines, Zulu Pods can also be applied supplementally in case of oil interruption, or as an emergency backup, such as an oil leak on a helicopter.
With this as the jumping off point, the idea for the company is to be applicable to a host of other possibilities, as well.
“Any mechanical system that exists, whether it’s maritime, whether it’s ground vehicles, whether it’s in the sky — anything where this idea of a small, amorphous, lightweight pod could help save somebody’s life or save them a multimillion dollar piece of machinery if there was a failure — that’s the going forward strategy,” Robert Sladen said.
It’s a company with a lot on its plate, and ambitions set high. But with two of the leaders partnered — not just in business, but in life — it makes what’s been a long, winding journey, that much more worth it.
“I think doing it together, having time to, like, drop off my kids for school, pick them up like that — that is a good work/life balance,” Daniella Sladen said.
Zulu Pods already has contracts with the U.S. Army and the Navy, plus partnerships with other manufacturers. Future use of the technology will also hopefully be applied to commercial products that can then sell in other industries.