Yokogawa Invests in Microalgae Biotech

Yokogawa has invested in a partnership with AlgaEnergy, a Spanish biotechnology company specialising in the production and commercial applications of microalgae. Their strategic agreement involves an approximately 10 million euro investment by Yokogawa to acquire newly issued shares of AlgaEnergy, making the Japanese company a reference shareholder.

Microalgae are a diverse group of unicellular photosynthetic micro-organisms that can thrive in a wide variety of aquatic habitats, such as oceans, lakes, and rivers. Their rapid rate of reproduction means they can be utilised effectively as a biological resource. They are recognised as having great potential to contribute to a more sustainable society through applications in diverse sectors ranging from agriculture, food, and animal feed through to pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, biomaterials and, in the future, sustainable biofuels.

AlgaEnergy has been a pioneer in the microalgae biotechnology field since 2007. It is currently operating a commercial production facility in the south of Spain, and, in late 2015, launched the world’s first line-up of microalgae-based biostimulant products to promote efficient crop cultivation. Biostimulants are micro-organisms whose function when applied to plants or the surrounding soil is to stimulate natural processes to enhance nutrient uptake, nutrient efficiency, tolerance to abiotic stress, and crop quality.

Yokogawa IA - AlgaEnergy's plant in Cadiz.jpg

The AlgaEnergy microalgae production plant in Cadiz

The entry of Yokogawa as a shareholder will enable AlgaEnergy to reinforce its position of international leadership, with the equity investment being used to fund a set of ambitious projects, including international expansion of its biostimulant product sales organisation, entry into new sectors such as food and cosmetics, and development of its promising product pipeline.

Future Intentions:

The scope of this agreement extends beyond just financial investment. The two companies, which share strong synergies and a common vision, seek to build an industry-leading partnership in the microalgae biotechnology sector worldwide by collaborating in the areas of R&D, manufacturing, marketing, and sales. AlgaEnergy will leverage its broad knowledge and experience in the microalgae biological processes, accumulated throughout more than four decades of R&D by its scientific leader, the world-renowned microbiologist Professor Miguel Garcia Guerrero of the University of Seville. Yokogawa will provide the advanced technologies and knowhow related to automation of industrial processes that will be key to maximising quality and efficiency as production volumes increase.

Augusto Rodríguez-Villa, AlgaEnergy’s president, highlighted that, “This agreement is the best possible partnership in the journey to achieve our mission to leverage the potential of microalgae worldwide. We share the same vision for the future, the belief that more sustainable development is possible and that microalgae can be a key contributor towards that objective.”

Tsuyoshi Abe, senior vice president and head of the Marketing Headquarters at Yokogawa, added, “Yokogawa aims to contribute directly to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals through its core business activities, and this year we established a new ‘Life Innovation’ business unit in line with that. This is our first serious foray into clean technology in the bioeconomy, which was recently added as a new focus area in our long-term business framework, so we have high expectations for this exciting strategic partnership.”

About AlgaEnergy

AlgaEnergy is a biotechnology company specialised in the science of microalgae. The company consolidates over four decades of state-of-the-art knowledge related to microalgae, generated by the main specialised universities, and has invested heavily in applied R&D, positioning itself as the main international reference in this field. AlgaEnergy’s mission is to develop and commercialise innovative, high-quality products derived from microalgae, targeting specific needs in different industries.

Advertisements

E+H celebrate 50 years in Manchester

Measurement and automation specialist Endress+Hauser Ltd is in great shape as it prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary on 11 November 2018. Now employing over 200 people, and with an estimated turnover of £46 million in 2018, the measurement and automation engineering specialist continues to break new sales records.

Part of the Switzerland-headquartered Endress+Hauser group, the UK sales and production centre was founded in 1968 by Dr Georg H Endress, the grandfather of the current managing director. Originally situated on Southmoor Road in Manchester, the company moved to its current site on Floats Road in 1996. In 2008 the company opened a new £8 million state-of-the-art office and engineering facility to support its growth, followed in 2013 by a £1 million training centre incorporating the latest digital technology.

_DSC1470.JPG

The E+H Manchester office and engineering building

Over the last 50 years Endress+Hauser has developed from a vendor of devices and instruments to a full-range services provider working with customers in process industries such as food and beverage, water and wastewater and oil and gas. Products for measuring temperature and flow are also designed and manufactured at the Manchester site.

Steven-EndressSteven Endress took the reins as managing director in 2016, the first third-generation member of the Endress family to take an operational role in the family business. Reflecting on the 50-year anniversary, he said, ‘Over the years our buildings and the scope of our offer have changed as we seek to align with our customers’ needs. But, without doubt, our most important asset is our people. It is the drive, ambition and attitude of my colleagues that makes the difference.’

As well as investing in the business, the company has a long history of investing in the local community. The founder of Endress+Hauser invested four per cent of his company in the creation of the charitable Georg H Endress Foundation, which promotes training and education, as well as supporting academic research. Today, Endress+Hauser Ltd continues this legacy by forging links with local schools, colleges and universities. Earlier this year, the sales centre donated nearly 50 computers to one local school, Harrop Fold, which allowed them to kit out their ICT room.

Power transmission, and the internet!

Changes in the technology around us that we work with and even create when involved with automation and control, are having a wider effect on society as a whole. Two areas that have been influenced this way are the growth of alternative methods of power generation and transmission, and the enormous power demands of the Internet, which will lead to a crisis somewhere.

The following article was written for the September issue of the journal “South African Instrumentation and Control”, which is published by Technews in South Africa.

Last November, this column described the long distance HVDC power transmission systems being installed by ABB, taking power across China, and also those used on undersea links between the mainland and offshore islands, or even oil industry offshore platforms. In reverse, similar DC power links deliver the new green power from offshore windfarms to national networks. Now GE has described how their MVDC technology from the GE Power Conversion business has been applied by Scottish Power to deliver extra power across existing lines between North Wales and the island of Anglesey (it is a quirk of the UK power industry structure that Scottish Power also supplies England and Wales).

The GE project converted the existing 33 kV AC transmission links to work with 27 kV MVDC, using GE power electronic inverters in sub-stations at either end of the line. This will increase the power available over the existing cables by 23%, enabling the supply to meet the future needs on Anglesey, without any additional environmental impact. GE point out that these same techniques are being applied in wind and solar farms, facilitating direct connection to an efficient MVDC power collection grid, giving a lower cable cost and less expensive installations.

Needless to say, the installations in Wales and Anglesey will be monitored by remote asset management systems, operated by GE engineers via the Internet.

DC power networks

DC power is becoming more prominent, both at the beginning and at the end of the grid. It is produced by wind turbines and solar PVs and used by everything from smartphones, laptops and electric cars, to the data centres that keep the Internet running.

However, having to convert back and forth between AC and DC along the way leads to wasted energy through resistance and heat – is this just to enable an interface with our old fashioned infrastructure? Our office buildings have computer network access on every desk, and even at home, the power sockets are fitted with added USB power outputs. The modern LED lighting systems, and ordinary domestic lamp bulbs, now use low power DC supplies. Why then do we need AC for more than power duties such as heating and cooking? Maybe it is time to convert homes to have most outlets just providing a DC supply from one power source housed in the local sub-station.

Internet burnout

There is a problem in adding too much emphasis on interrogating, monitoring and controlling everything via the Internet. The problem is the amount of power needed to run the data centres that store and distribute our data. In 2015, data centres worldwide consumed 30% more electricity than the whole of the UK demand for power – they took 3% of the global electricity supply. Ian Bitterlin, Britain’s foremost data centre expert and a visiting professor at the University of Leeds, says the amount of energy used by data centres is doubling every four years: and he points to a study focused on Japan, which suggests that their own data centres will consume the entire Japanese electricity supply by 2030. Carry on at this rate, and at worst the whole Internet will fail – at the very least there will need to be access charges and taxes to control the growth in Internet use.

Most data centres are sited in cold climates, to assist with cooling the electronics, as most of the power they use seems to be consumed by large cooling fans. While the heat generated directly contributes to global warming, the power used in 2015 accounted for 2% of total global greenhouse gas emissions, giving the data centres the same carbon footprint as the whole airline industry.

I had hoped that there would be an answer to this problem by using solar or other green DC sources to power these centres, but this seems unlikely, if the major power requirement is for the fans. Naturally, research continues on reducing the data centre demand for power, but it may be too late!

Vision sensors, the brain and intelligent data processing

At a certain age, around 70, our bodies begin to show signs of wear. What becomes apparent is that our built in control loops and data processing software steps in to compensate, and covers the gaps in the best way possible, working with the degraded sensors and equipment still functioning.

Dual sensors – the eyes!

J3827This was first obvious to me when I started to try to monitor the effects of glaucoma, which results in blind spots in the areas of sight for each eye. This is not apparent in normal life, as what you see is the brain-processed image from two eyes. Where one eye has a blind spot, data from the second eye is used to complete the single image in the mind – and this is how we do not notice the normal blind spots everyone has where the optic nerve leaves each eyeball. With the early stages of glaucoma, the smallish blind areas are only obvious when one eye is closed, so that your brain only works from one sensor. But our own sophisticated data processing fills in the blind spots with a plain area in the same colour/style of image as its surroundings, so you think that you see the whole panorama. With luck, opening the other eye will add detail from the second sensor, to complete the picture.

 

The brain as an image store…

When glaucoma gets severe, the blind spots from each eye begin to overlap, meaning that the processor has no data coming in from either of its two sensors for certain areas of your view, so the processor moves up a gear and fills the area with sort of a plain colour, the same as the surrounding areas. But actually it tries harder, and if you were viewing an array of books on shelves, the mind can insert a sort of composite image of the books there, and fill the blind spot: it almost tries to fill the space with past image information, when it last had an input from that area – when you were looking at that spot maybe. But the brain is not so good at this, and anyway it is old data. The driving authorities do not allow glaucoma sufferers to drive cars, as a child, or animal, or bollard, can disappear in a blind spot, replaced by an image of the surrounding tarmac road surface.

Astronomers already use this approach to refine telescope pictures of planets: getting the sharpest bits of multiple repeat images, disturbed by atmospherics, vibration etc., which can then be processed to produce an unblemished image.

Cataract operation – a sensor upgrade

Cataracts affect the vision, basically by making the image less precise, almost by adding a fog. I have just had the right eye operated on, and a ‘clean’ plastic lens inserted to replace the old cloudy lens. This does not help the glaucoma, but it gives the processor a whole new set of problems. Having worn glasses for myopia for 60 years, these were discarded as the new lens can see perfectly at distance. The brain now still uses the two sensors, but presents preferentially the sharply focused image from the right eye for distance viewing, supressing the fuzzy, out of focus image still available from the left eye. For close up views, maybe when reading, the left eye image is used, as the muscles of the right eye have lost some of their strength, and cannot focus up-close. So the brain switches sensors. All this happened straight away, no learning time needed.

Lazy muscles?

It was more of a problem when my glasses came back, one lens replaced with plain glass. Maybe they had been distorted by the optician, but the two images were displaced vertically with respect to one another. This requires the eyeballs to not move together, as they do when moving from side to side, but for one eye to move up with respect to the other. Not easy, particularly as the processor called on muscles not accustomed to such work to operate separately. So there was a mechanical delay in the control loop, of around a second, whenever I moved my gaze onto a different subject. The brain was doing the job, it was just the body complaining! However, a better option here is to adjust the frame of the glasses to restore normal operations…. maybe I “Should have gone to” ….a better optician!

The next step?

But do I need to wear glasses at all … or can the brain do the job without them? People use this technique with contact lenses, working with one for long distance sight, and one for close-up work.

The above is based on an article supplied for the Journal ‘South African Instrumentation and Control’, published October 2018 by technews.co.za

Italian Pharma co selects Emerson to enable a digital transformation…

FIS – Fabbrica Italiana Sintetici, a leading active pharmaceutical ingredients manufacturer, has selected Emerson to digitize operations and work processes at three manufacturing sites in Italy. With these $20m (€16.1m) contracts, Emerson will provide automation technology to help create a fully electronic manufacturing environment for increased efficiencies, quality and regulatory compliance.

“It is vital that FIS develops the right relationship to help it expand operations in a measured and prudent manner,” said Franco Moro, general manager of FIS. “Working with Emerson provides FIS with a trusted partner as we digitize work processes and invest in automation to improve production and efficiency.”

As part of its growth strategy, FIS constructed a new $123m (€100m) unit at its Termoli site, doubling capacity to produce active pharmaceutical ingredients. Emerson will implement its Syncade manufacturing execution system at the Termoli site, as well as the Montecchio facility, providing automated workflows and paperless procedures and record-keeping. Paperless manufacturing improves production efficiency and offers widespread benefits in compliance, product quality, inventory and document control, which are critical in the highly regulated pharmaceutical industry.

These two leading companies have partnered before; Emerson provided its DeltaV distributed control system to monitor and control manufacturing at the Termoli site in 2017. As part of this latest agreement, Emerson will expand the automation system to incorporate additional measurement and control instrumentation. By standardising on DeltaV across its Termoli, Montecchio and Lonigo sites, FIS aims to improve efficiency and ensure consistent operations.

“This project reinforces Emerson’s strong relationship with FIS, and, as a trusted advisor, we will continue to support its business objectives on a long-term basis,” said Mike Train, executive president of Emerson Automation Solutions. “Our expertise will help FIS further automate work processes and boost profitability across these three sites as part of a company-wide digital transformation strategy.”

The contracts are part of a 10-year strategic framework agreement signed with Emerson for the supply of its DeltaV and Syncade systems, measurement instrumentation and control valves, as well as a 10-year service agreement that covers the control systems at all three sites plus the new MES systems at Termoli and Montecchio.

Siemens and Bentley Systems consolidate alliance

Siemens has announced that their successful strategic alliance with Bentley Systems, the software development company that concentrates on infrastructure project management, will be further expanded to strengthen their joint business cooperation and investment initiatives. The result of this latest agreement between the two companies means that their initial 50 million Euro investment program will be doubled – taking it to 100 million Euro. In addition, the Siemens stake in the Bentley Systems company has been increased to over 9%, as a result of the continuous investment of Siemens into secondary shares of Bentley’s common stock.

Klaus Helmrich, member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG, declared: “I’m very pleased with how well our alliance started, how strong the relationship is. We are now investing up to the next collaboration level with Bentley. For example we will strengthen their engineering and project management tools using the Siemens enterprise wide collaboration platform ‘Teamcenter’ to create a full ‘Digital Twin’ for the engineering and construction world. Integrated company-wide data handling and IoT connectivity via Siemens ‘MindSphere’ will enable our mutual customers to benefit from the holistic ‘Digital Twins’.”

Greg Bentley, the CEO of Bentley Systems added: “In our joint investment activities with Siemens to date, we have progressed worthwhile opportunities together with virtually every Siemens business forgoing digital’ in infrastructure and industrial advancement. As our new jointly offered products and cloud services now come to market, we are enthusiastically prioritizing further digital co-ventures. We have also welcomed Siemens’ recurring purchases of non-voting Bentley Systems stock on the NASDAQ Private Market, which we facilitate in order to enhance liquidity, primarily for our retiring colleagues.”

Background to Bentley Systems

Bentley Systems is a software development company that supports the professional needs of those responsible for creating, building and managing the world’s infrastructure, including roadways, bridges, airports, skyscrapers, industrial and power plants as well as utility networks.

Founded in 1984, Bentley has more than 3,500 colleagues in over 50 countries, and is on track to surpass an annual revenue run rate of $700 million. Since 2012, Bentley has invested more than $1 billion in research, development, and acquisitions. The collaboration with Siemens commenced in 2016.

Editor’s note: The Bentley website ‘About us‘ page has an excellent video illustrating some of the worldwide applications where the Bentley infrastructure project software has been applied.

Algae control at Sellafield 

LG Sonic, a leading international manufacturer of algae and biofouling control systems, has installed multiple LG Sonic Industrial Wet Systems at the Sellafield  nuclear power facility in the UK. This led to a significant improvement in the clarity of the water and the visibility into the storage ponds. As a result of these ultrasonic processing systems there has been an exceptional reduction in blue-green algae and chlorophyll levels in the treated storage ponds.

Sellafield, a nuclear fuel reprocessing and nuclear decommissioning site, handles nearly all the radioactive waste generated by the 15 operational nuclear reactors in the United Kingdom. In 2015, the UK government started a major clean-up of the stored nuclear waste facilities in Sellafield because of the bad condition of storage ponds. One of the main causes of these bad conditions  was poor visibility in the water due to algae growth.

The Solution: Ultrasound technology

To improve water visibility in the storage ponds, four LG Sonic Industrial Wet systems were installed. The systems have 12 ultrasonic programmes to effectively control different types of algae, and are able to treat algae in a relatively short time. GPRS control allows the user to monitor and change the ultrasound programme remotely. Furthermore, status updates and alerts are received when power outages occur.

In only three weeks after the installation of the LG Sonic ultrasonic systems, there was a significant reduction in blue-green algae count and chlorophyll levels. As a result of the this reduction, the water started to clear and it was possible to see vessels and containers in the storage ponds that in recent years were only visible when using a tethered underwater mobile camera device.

Over 10,000 LG Sonic systems have been installed worldwide, including many on the current European FP7 projects.

unnamed (1)

A recent picture of a storage pond