Energy Storage for Renewable Energy Sources is Essential

Renewable energy sources such as Wind and Solar vary significantly in the output power level throughout the day. The peak output from Wind and Solar will generally not align with the peak power demand on the grid from home and business users. Further, the peak output is based on factors such as wind velocity and hours of sunshine that vary widely and that cannot be controlled by the system operators.

From the Design News Article on Dec.29, 2015 written by Charles Murray and entitled: Renewable Energy’s Secret Weapon

As the world moves toward a grand vision of renewable energy, an underappreciated reality is dawning: You can’t do it without storage.

The reason is deceptively simple: Wind turbines can’t produce power when the wind doesn’t blow; solar cells can’t do it when the sun doesn’t shine. Without some form of backup, those intermittent renewable sources can’t play in big numbers on the grid, unless the world is willing to accept instability and blackouts.

That’s where batteries — farm loads of them — could play a role. With coal and nuclear plants rapidly falling out of favor, energy storage is becoming more important, and batteries are increasingly being viewed as the most logical solution. “If you flash forward into the future, we are all going to need an inexpensive way to store lots of energy,” said Jeff Chamberlain, executive director for the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research.

 

Wind Turbine Generator

Racking up Energy

Even among the world’s most knowledgeable energy engineers, no one knows for sure when storage will become critical. Virtually all agree that today, with wind and solar accounting for only about 6% of the US’s power, the time hasn’t arrived yet. But as the number rises — to say, 20% or 30% of the overall power produced — the need will grow. “The curves seem to cross at about 20%,” Chamberlain said. “We know this because Hawaii has exceeded that limit and it is wreaking havoc on their grid.”

Battery farms are seen as a “balancing resource” for the grid, which is why they’re starting to pop up around the world. NEC Energy Solutions , for example, recently sold more than 60 MW of its GSS battery storage systems in the central US, had a hand in developing a 2.4-MW grid energy storage site in Orange County, Calif., and installed an 11-MW system to support a wind farm on the island of Maui. Similarly, Saft delivered its Max+ 20M Intensium battery storage systems to an electrical cooperative in Kotzebue, Alaska, and is providing another system to store electricity at King Saud University in Saudi Arabia. It also has teamed with the Kauai Island Park Cooperative in Hawaii to supply lithium-ion batteries into a 12-MW solar energy park.

One common embodiment of such energy storage systems is the so-called “containerized” solution — that is, a trailer full of batteries that can be installed in an urban parking lot or on a rural mountainside. NEC’s system, for example, uses modular, battery-based storage racks in containers measuring as long as 53 ft and weighing up to 140,000 lb. Known as the GBS line, they can store up to 4 MWh of energy and offer up to 4 MW of power. Similarly, Saft’s Intensium Max line can offer as much as 1 MW with continuous discharge power of 500 KW in a unit weighing 16.5 tons.

Material scientists are also developing alternative chemistries for the grid. Ambri Inc., for example, uses pizza-box-sized cells made from three chemical layers — a liquid salt electrolyte sandwiched between a high-density liquid metal and a low-density liquid metal. Ambri’s battery, which operates at 400C, can store up to 1.2 MWh. Others are also looking ahead to new technologies: Ecoult’s UltraBattery, for example, employs an ultracapacitor inside a lead-acid battery chemistry. Also, NEC has entered into an agreement with Eos Energy Storage LLC to produce a zinc hybrid cathode battery.

“In stationary power, there are a number of alternative chemistries that have seen some adoption,” said Lux Research energy analyst Dean Frankel. “But in the past year or so, the majority of systems that have been proposed and installed in the US have been lithium-ion.”

Still, the possibilities are compelling for storage systems of all types. A 2015 forecast from Lux Research predicted that stationary energy storage would rise from about a $1 billion market today to $6 billion by 2020. “We don’t believe there is just one solution to every storage application,” said Roger Lin of NEC Energy Solutions.

Distributed Grid

Indeed, the breadth of potential solutions is emerging, not only in the form of varying chemistries, but also in the format of the storage source. In May, Tesla Motors made its play for the storage market by rolling out a product that can be mounted on a garage wall near a home’s electrical panel. The company said that the unit, known as the Powerwall, is part of Tesla’s effort to wean the world off fossil fuels.

“This is within the power of humanity to do,” said Tesla CEO Elon Musk. “We have done things like this before. It’s not impossible.”

Tesla’s product, which employs lithium-ion battery technology, measures 34 x 51 x 7 inches and costs $3,500 for a 10-kWh of storage. Tesla said it also plans to sell bigger battery blocks for use in commercial and utility applications. Blocks containing 100-kWh of storage could be grouped to create larger systems offering as much as 10 MWh, Musk said.

  1. Energy Storage Growth Projections

Lux Research predicts that stationary storage will rise from a $1 billion market in 2015 to more than $6 billion in 2020.
(Source: Lux Research)

Experts say that either format — home storage or utility-sized systems — can serve as viable grid solutions. “You can think of solar on an individual’s roof as a distributed power plant on the grid,” said Chamberlain of the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research. “That’s where we are headed in the future.”

Pronouncements such as those have created a sense of optimism in the storage community, which is why the Energy Storage Association now counts such names as GE Energy Storage, LG Chem, Parker Hannifin, Johnson Controls, Hitachi Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin Advanced Energy Storage, Mitsubishi Electric Power, Samsung, Sharp, and many others among its members.

That’s not to say all is rosy for battery makers. Grid storage is still a nascent market, still struggling to find its way. In 2014, A123 Systems divested itself of its grid storage division. And in 2015, Ambri announced that it had cut a quarter of its staff and had backed off its plans to ship its first commercial grid storage products in 2016. News reports indicated that the company’s engineers were experiencing problems with the battery’s high-temperature seals. Ambri isn’t saying when its first products will finally reach the market.

Still, experts are steadfast in their belief that battery storage will eventually be needed for the electrical grid. “When there’s high demand, there can be a mismatch between the production of electricity and the use of electricity,” Chamberlain said. “During those milliseconds, batteries can act as a buffer.”

Grid storage proponents see it more optimistically. The batteries are more than a buffer, they say. They’re a key to a new way of life. “Once we’re able to rely on renewable energy sources for our power consumption, the top 50% of the dirtiest power generation resources could retire early,” Tesla Motors said in a prepared statement. “We could have a cleaner, smaller, and more resilient energy grid.”

 

 

 

Google Prevails in WAZE Copyright Infringement Suit by PhantomAlert

In the first round of this suit, Google scored at least a temporary victory in that the judge ruled that a copyright claim could not hinge on simple facts of where points of interest are located.

From arstechnica.com :

Google, the owner of the traffic app Waze, has managed to beat back a copyright lawsuit filed by lesser-known rival PhantomAlert.
Back in September 2015 PhantomAlert sued Google over allegations of copyright infringement. Google purchased Waze in June 2013 for over $1 billion. PhantomAlert alleged that, after a failed data-sharing deal between itself and Waze collapsed in 2010, Waze apparently stole PhantomAlert’s “points of interest” database.

In a judicial order filed earlier this month, the San Francisco-based federal judge found that PhantomAlert could not allege a copyright claim on simple facts of where different places actually are.

As US Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero wrote, granting Google’s motion to dismiss:

It is apparent from the allegations in the Complaint that Plaintiff’s Points of Interest are inherently factual, involving “traffic conditions, speed restrictions, and police-monitors,” that is, objective facts that can be discovered and reported. Compl. ¶ 17. The Supreme Court has made clear that facts are not copyrightable, though the creativity associated with the selection and arrangement of those facts in a compilation may be protectable (as discussed below). See Feist, 499 U.S. at 347-48. This rule applies even when the “facts” are inaccurate, as was the case in Feist, where the defendant had copied a handful of false listings that were “seeded” in the plaintiff’s directory. Id. at 344.
While it is possible to assert a copyright over a set of facts that are arranged or organized in a particular way, the court found that PhantomAlert had not done that. As Judge Spero continued:

Here, Plaintiff has not alleged any specific facts that suggest that the arrangement of the information in its Points of Interest database is characterized by any originality. There are no allegations that the data is organized into categories, for example, or that there is anything creative about the way the data is displayed. Further, to the extent Plaintiff alleges the information in the database is edited so as to alert the driver of the Point of Interest before reaching the actual location, see Compl. ¶ 22, there appears to be no creativity involved in these changes. As discussed above, the arrangement of the Points of Interest on the map merely effectuates the purpose of the database; presumably any app intended to alert drivers of the types of points of interest contained in Plaintiff’s database would make very similar changes.

However, the judge will allow PhantomAlert to file an amended complaint no later than mid-January 2016.

This article comes from the arstechnica  Article

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/12/judge-siding-with-google-refuses-to-shut-down-waze-in-wake-of-alleged-theft/

Also note that the link to DocumentCloud.org
Links directly to the Legal Document with the full opinion  of the judge at:
https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2650543-Phantomalert.html#document/p19/a268278

Study: Dissolvable Stent as Good as Conventional Version

See the full article at:  Dissolvable Stent as Good as Conventional Version

Bare metal stents were the first generation in stent technology.  I got involved in medical devices in the mid-1990’s with a number of projects related to radial force, flexibility, and fatigue of these devices.  These stents improved rapidly in terms of efficacy and other parameters.

Drug-eluting stents came along next to further reduce the incidence of restenosis.

Now we have bioabsorbable stents! They are made of a bioabsorbable polymer and are intended to be delivered at full strength, and then gradually degrade over time so that nothing remains.

This study shows a target lesion failure rate of 7.8% for the Abbott Absorb stent.  This rate is comparable to the best of the permanent stents.

Study: Dissolvable stent as good as conventional version

Feasibility of Energy Harvesting for Low-Power Applications

Energy harvesting (energy scavenging) has always been attractive since sources are almost always available and the energy available is just wasted if not used.  In addition to the three sources discussed in the reference below (light, vibration, and heat), another attractive source is available from automotive vibrations (particularly for sensors) and the more significant and now more widely used source of regenerative braking.

Quoting from the excellent Design News article of April 22, 2015 by Warren Miller:

“Energy harvesting in particular seems to be moving at an accelerating pace. We now seem to be at a point where it is possible to run low-power systems primarily from energy harvesting sources. This is a big shift from even just a couple of years ago.

Three key trends seem to have accelerated this dramatic shift. The first is the wild growth in the low-power market. New applications like wearable devices, smart sensors, and disposable devices are driving the insatiable need for more processing power on a low-power budget.

This rapidly growing market drives the second trend: the availability of low-power MCUs and FPGAs. These devices now offer considerable, power-efficient processing that can be applied to the wide range of applications in the growing low-power market. The third trend is the growing availability of energy harvesting sources that produce enough power to run low-power MCUs and FPGAs for enough time to do useful work.

Shown in the Figure below, is a summary of the power harvesting capabilities of three common harvesting technologies. We are all familiar with solar power as an energy harvesting technology, and it has probably been the main energy harvesting technology to power electronic devices up to this point.

But new technologies that provide alternative — and often more convenient power sources – have been developed. Piezoelectric effects, for example, can be used to harvest energy from vibration, motion, and pressure. This can be convenient for powering a variety of devices in areas such as wearable electronics for athletics and sensors on trucks or trains and for material flow control.

A piezoelectric energy source, as with many harvested energy sources, can be derived in bursts, which often need to be stored and accumulated for later use. In very simple systems, a simple capacitor storage system may be sufficient to give a very low-power MCU the juice needed to power up and perform simple calculations several times a second.

Smart use of the MCUs’ low-power states is usually critical in low-power applications, and newer MCUs can sleep indefinitely while using only microamperes of current, which makes it possible to use them in these types of very low-power applications.”

Energy_Harvesting_Data_Figure-1-Imec

“Perhaps surprising is the large amount of harvested power available from thermal energy. On par with solar harvested power, thermal energy can perhaps be best used in industrial applications where sensors monitor extremes of pressure and temperature.

The large temperature gradients available in industrial process control applications can easily power low-power FPGAs to implement very complex sensing algorithms using digital signal processing filtering or transform functions. Small rechargeable batteries can be used to store power when the temperature gradient isn’t available, but because sensing is normally only required while temperature extremes exist, batteries can be small without impacting sensor availability.

Perhaps even more interesting is the possibility of harvesting small amounts of thermally produced energy when temperature differences are not as extreme. A wearable device, for example, might have available a 10- or 20-degree temperate difference. This might be sufficient to generate enough power over just a few hours to power an activity monitor, heart rate sensor, or position tracker.

A small wristband could provide enough area to generate the power required to run a monitor or sensor. Combining energy harvesting techniques, thermal and vibration for example, could be an even more efficient method for powering an activity monitor.”

 

 

 

The California Drought and Potential Technology Solutions

The drought in California is in its 4th year. Water conservation and development of new water resources are becoming more important than ever.  Clever ideas and the development and application of new technologies to improve our water supplies are critical.  I also feel that the massive commercial and residential development that is going on in Silicon Valley and other highly-populated areas of California is rapidly increasing demand at the same time that supplies are falling.  Water may become the new currency, especially when you include the voracious water appetite in the agriculture industry!!

Clever ways to apply technology to make a real impact on water saved through conservation should all be addressed immediately.  Conservation measures are the easiest to implement quickly. However, most are at the household level and require participation by many to have an impact.

Large-scale sources of new water supplies also most be pursued aggressively.  Desalination plants offer a great opportunity to develop new supplies near the Pacific Coast.  Cost and energy requirements are major issues that must be addressed to make desalination more feasible.  I believe that the cost factor can be improved by standardized designs that are applied to the development of a large number of plants.

The energy required for desalination can be reduced and at least “green” energy sources can be substituted for traditional power sources.

Transporting of water supplies from geographic areas with huge supplies far in excess of their demand to areas where water supplies are limited also need to be explored.  What are the most efficient options?  What are the sizes required for either pipeline or canal transportation of large quantities of water?  Canals and pipelines are already used in California for water transportation, but the sources are also in California and are also affected by the drought (the reduced Sierra snowpack, etc.).

An excellent article by Michael Goldman gives great detail and context on the current historic drought.  The article has the provocative title  of:  The California Drought — “Whiskey’s fer drinkin’ – Water’s fer fightin'”     and is posted here :

http://calpensionsbrief.blogspot.com/2015/04/the-california-drought.html

A high-percentage of the total water used in California goes to agriculture.  Drip-irrigation can dramatically reduce the water used and is appropriate for many types of crops.  Incentives to promote the rapid conversion to drip-irrigation for agriculture should be put in place immediately.

For the remaining part of the water that goes toward commercial and residential use, a large fraction is used for landscaping. Grey-water and other sources of reclaimed water can certainly be used for landscape applications.

 

True or False? There is No Such Thing as a Bad Idea When Brainstorming!

From:  http://www.fairfaxcountyeda.org/bay-area-tech-wire

This article attracted my attention.  Any design book or concept workshop that I have ever attended say that every idea should be noted and considered during the brainstorming process.  We get another perspective here:

“There’s No Such Thing as a Bad Idea When Brainstorming – True or False?”

By Mitchell Rigie and Keith Harmeyer

“There’s no such thing as a bad idea!” Whether you’re in advertising, sales, HR, or just slaving away in the back cubicle, at some point, you’ve probably been involved in a brainstorming session where someone has uttered those brave words. In fact, the mantra is often upheld as the #1 “rule” of brainstorming, long embraced and championed by experts.

But is it really true? After all, when you think about it, you usually hear those words when they’re being used to justify a less-than-stellar suggestion that’s just been made by a colleague. In reality, aren’t there at least a few bad ideas lurking in the shadows?

In our SmartStorming corporate training sessions, we always introduce the “no bad idea” notion. More often than not, a heated debate ensues.

Most of us have at least a vague understanding of the expression’s meaning—but many of us just don’t buy it. When the debate comes up, there’s always one participant, and often many more, who challenge this notion that bad ideas don’t exist. We typically hear comments like, Of course there are bad ideas! If we all decided to jump out of the window right now and defy gravity, wouldn’t that be a bad idea?

Autodesk Completes $286M Acquisition of Delcam

Autodesk Completes $286M Acquisition of Delcam

Autodesk headquartered in San Rafael, CA is an early player in the CAD software space with AutoCAD and later the Inventor line and is the developer of a range of 3D design, engineering and entertainment software. Autodesk announced that it has completed a $286 million acquisition of U.K.-based Delcam, a supplier of computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software. The companies first announced plans for the deal in November. Delcam will operate as an independently operated subsidiary of Autodesk, with no significant changes to its business. “The acquisition of Delcam is an important step in Autodesk’s continued expansion into manufacturing and fabrication and beyond our roots in design,” said Buzz Kross, Autodesk’s senior vice president for design, lifecycle and simulation products.
http://www.autodesk.com/
http://www.delcam.com/
http://news.autodesk.com/press-release/corporate-sustainability/autodesk-completes-acquisition-delcam

How Material Testing can Assure Quality in Stent Manufacturing

QMED article from Sep.30, 2013 at:

http://www.qmed.com/mpmn/medtechpulse/how-materials-testing-can-assure-quality-stent-manufacturing

From the article:

Comprised of biocompatible metal or biodegradable polymers, stents bear a complex geometry, enabling them to act as effective scaffolds. As they must be able to push against the internal walls of the blood vessel or other conduit into which they are placed, their mechanical integrity is of the utmost importance. An insufficient level of flexibility can result in tissue damage while insufficient rigidity inhibits the device’s capacity to support natural flow.

Designed to address specific applications, stents are available in a wide range of sizes, diameters, mesh patterns, and strengths.An intraluminal coronary artery stent is a small, self-expanding, metal mesh tube placed inside a coronary artery following a balloon angioplasty procedure. This particular type of stent is designed to prevent the artery from re-closing. As it is placed within an artery, it is subjected to rather large forces that must be thoroughly characterized during the product development cycle and as part of quality management initiatives.

Zwick PrecisionLine Vario system
The Zwick PrecisionLine Vario system

Drug-eluting stents are among the most recent types of stents approved for use. Coated with time release pharmaceutical compounds, drug-eluting stents are also utilized in cardiovascular procedures to maintain blood flow. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, more than 500,000 patients in the United States are implanted with drug-eluting stents annually. A chief benefit is the reduced risk of repeat revascularization, a condition in which the patient requires additional cardiovascular procedures.

CES 2014 (Consumer Electronics Show) Highlights Some Impressive Inventions

The CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas, NV is famous for being “the” place to debut exciting new technology.  The 2014 CES appears to live up to the history of the show.

This article in DesignNews gives some highlights and further details:

Gadget Freaks Rejoice: CES Highlights Impressive Inventions
Take a look at some new gadgets from last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas — a self-balancing electric skateboard, a sensor family that will keeps you on track, and a protective iPhone battery case with 32GB built-in storage.

As a new owner of an iPhone 5s, Mophie’s Space Pack looks very interesting (more battery life and more storage are always important!!). The big question is how much added thickness and added weight.  The form factor in the photo below looks impressive and the Space Pack adds up to 32GB of storage and is claimed to add 100% to the standard battery capacity of the iPhone.  You do need a protective case anyway, right??

Space Pack

The space pack adds extra storage for your iPhone 5/5s.   (Source: Mophie)

The space pack adds extra storage for your iPhone 5/5s. (Source: Mophie)

 Mophie’s space pack not only serves as extra battery life, but it also increases the storage to your iPhone 5/5s. This protective battery case with built-in storage increases your iPhone battery by 100 percent and gives you up to 32GB of extra memory.

There is also a Space app that allows you to organize, share, and access the content on the space pack’s storage. Once items are stored, you can access all the files without any network data usage. Another perk is that a USB cable is included so you can charge and sync your iPhone and space pack at the same time.

You can pre-order the space pack for $149.95 for the 16GB or $179.95 for the 32GB versions, beginning in March 2014.

Is Zinc the Perfect Material for Use in Bioabsorbable Stents?

Much of the development around bioabsorbable stents and other bioabsorbable implants have focused on a polymer, PLLA (poly-L-lactic acid) as the base material.  Some new research indicates that a Zinc alloy may make a better bioabsorbable stent as compared to PLLA.  The Zinc would degrade through a corrosion mechanism.

For more information, see:

QMED Online, Jan.16, 2014:

  • http://www.qmed.com/mpmn/medtechpulse/stent-designers-think-zinc?cid=nl.qmed02

“…The most advanced absorbable stents available today are made from polylactic acid (PLLA). Based on nearly five years of clinical trial data, for example, Abbott Vascular’s bioresorbable Absorb scaffold compares favorably to the company’s metal-based XIENCE stent, the current industry standard for nonabsorbable drug-eluting stents….”

Also, see the link to research by Patrick Bowen, Jaroslaw Drelich, and others at Michigan Tech from April 30, 2013 with figures:

  • http://www.mtu.edu/news/stories/2013/april/story88993.html#idc-container

Patrick Bowen also indicates that a preprint of the paper accepted for publication in Journal of Advanced Materials, March 14, 2013, entitled: “Zinc Exhibits Ideal Physiological Corrosion Behavior for Bioabsorbable Stents”  is available at:

Some highlights of the discussion include: