Battery to provide on-chip power

The holographically patterned microbattery (photo: University of Illinois)

The magazine Design Products and Applications in the UK has reported that researchers have combined 3D holographic lithography and 2D photolithography to produce a 3D micro-battery suitable for large-scale ‘on-chip’ integration. “This 3D micro-battery has exceptional performance and scalability, and we think it will be of importance for many applications,” says Professor Paul Braun of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where the work was carried out. “Micro-scale devices typically utilise power supplied off-chip because of difficulties in miniaturising energy storage technologies.

“A miniaturised high-energy and high-power on-chip battery would be highly desirable for applications including autonomous micro-scale actuators, distributed wireless sensors and transmitters, monitors, and portable and implantable medical devices,” Braun adds.

Hailong Ning, a graduate student at Illinois and author of a paper on the work published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, says that due to the complexity of 3D electrodes, it is generally difficult to realise such batteries, let alone the possibility of on-chip integration and scaling.

“In this project, we developed an effective method to make high-performance 3D lithium-ion micro-batteries using processes that are highly compatible with the fabrication of microelectronics,” says Ning. “We utilised 3D holographic lithography to define the interior structure of electrodes and 2D photolithography to create the desired electrode shape.”

Enabled by a 3D holographic patterning technique – where multiple optical beams interfere inside the photoresist creating a desirable 3D structure – the battery possesses well-defined, periodically structured porous electrodes, that facilitates the fast transport of electrons and ions inside the battery, offering supercapacitor-like power.

“Although accurate control on the interfering optical beams is required to construct 3D holographic lithography, recent advances have significantly simplified the required optics, enabling creation of structures via a single incident beam and standard photoresist processing,” says Professor John Rogers who worked with Braun’s team. “This makes it highly scalable and compatible with micro-fabrication.”

This article was first published by Les Hunt on “DPA on the net”, www.dpaonthenet.net.

New design of Variable Speed Starter

The new PowerXL DE1 Variable Speed Starter (VSS) from Eaton made a big impression at the Hannover Messe trade fair. The German Industriepreis 2015 panel of professors, scientists, industry experts and specialist journalists recognized that the PowerXL DE1 VSS fills a gap in the market, for a new device class for motor control that will be particularly useful for helping to increase energy efficiency in applications where fixed-speed starters were previously used. So the Eaton PowerXL DE1 VSS was awarded the Industriepreis 2015 in the Electrical Engineering category.

Government efficiency requirements such as those set out in the ErP Directive, combined with increasing levels of machine automation have seen a significant growth in the use of applications with variable speeds. However, conventional variable speed drives are often too complex for these applications, whilst starters don’t provide the option to control speed. The PowerXL DE1 VSS provides machine and system builders with a cost-efficient and highly reliable new device class for motor control that will be particularly useful for helping them to increase energy efficiency in applications where fixed-speed starters were previously used. The PowerXL DE1 VSS fills a gap in the market, and this is recognized by the Industriepreis award, which recognizes ideas and products which are innovative, production-ready and modern, as well as that help users be more profitable and efficient.

The VSSs have been designed for straightforward ‘out of the box’ operation without the need for adjustments or parameter setting. At the same time, users have at their disposal a universal configuration module that allows the most important parameters to be set using only a screwdriver – no keyboard, software or manual are needed. This means they require up to 80% less commissioning time and cost up to 70% less to install than conventional VSDs.

New process laser spectrometer from Yokogawa

The Yokogawa Electric Corporation has announced the release of the TDLS8000 tunable diode laser spectrometer. This new product can quickly make in-situ measurements of gas concentrations in combustion and heating processes that are employed in the oil, petrochemical, electric power, iron and steel, and other industries, allowing quick and efficient combustion control.

Yokogawa’s laser gas analyser instruments make use of tunable diode laser spectroscopy (TDLS) to measure the gas concentration. To make the measurement, a receiving unit detects how much energy is absorbed as a laser beam, tuned to the correct absorption frequency of the gas to be monitored, is transmitted through the duct carrying the mixed gas stream. With this technique, there is no need for a sampling device: the analyser can be installed directly on a gas duct and make measurements quickly, in real time. Yokogawa’s analysers use a unique spectrum area method whereby the gas concentration is calculated based on the area in an absorption-distribution chart, and thus can stably measure the concentration of a specific gas in the presence of other gases or dust and under conditions where the temperature and/or pressure is fluctuating.

Improving combustion efficiencies
Companies are always looking for ways to optimise processes by saving energy, reducing CO2 emissions, and improving safety. An important way to do this is by optimising the air-fuel ratio in the combustion process. To accomplish this, sensors are needed that can continuously monitor the concentration of Oxygen and both Carbon Monoxide and Methane from the fuel in the radiant section of fired heaters.

The Yokogawa TDLS200 laser gas analyser, originally released in 2008, is an instrument capable of quickly performing in-situ measurements of the concentration of the near-infrared absorbing (paramagnetic) gases such as O2, CO, CO2, and NH3. Since the launch of this innovative product seven years ago, its high accuracy and precision have earned it a good reputation in the marketplace, and the TDLS200 has become one of the best-selling instruments of its type in the global market (admittedly based on market surveys conducted by Yokogawa).

The TDLS8000 is being introduced as the successor to the TDLS200 to satisfy the need for improved operability and to allow for greater adaptability in difficult applications.

Features of the new TDLS8000
1. Highly reliable measurement
The TDLS8000’s laser module includes a newly developed reference cell board that improves the reliability of absorption peak detection, which is an important step in the spectral area method. In addition, the receiving unit employs a new auto gain function that can automatically optimise detection sensitivity depending on the measurement object. By increasing the signal-to-noise ratio (S/N ratio), this improves the reliability of measurements taken in coal combustion and other processes where there is high particulate loading. Designed to meet the requirements for SIL2 certification (certification pending) defined by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the TDLS8000 will play a key support role in ensuring the safe operation of plants.

2. Improved operability and maintenance efficiency
The TDLS8000 comes with a large 7.5-inch LCD touch screen that can display a greater variety of data. The touch screen replaces the push button interface used with preceding models, making the setting of parameters easier and more intuitive. The light source module containing the laser diode is fully sealed and damage resistant. To facilitate troubleshooting and reduce downtime, this module is able to store up to 50 days’ worth of raw data that can be accessed anywhere in the world by, for example, a Yokogawa response centre.

3. Compact size
The new design of the TDLS8000 unit is just three-quarters the size and weight of the preceding model, allowing it to be installed in a greater variety of locations.

Yokogawa TDLS8000 Tunable Diode Laser Spectrometer

Yokogawa TDLS8000 Tunable Diode Laser Spectrometer

As the successor to the TDLS200 laser gas analyser, the TDLS8000 offers improved reliability and operability. With this new product, Yokogawa aims to capture a greater share of the gas analyser market by offering a solution that will make it possible to improve plant efficiency and safety. Major target markets include industries such as oil and gas, petrochemicals, chemicals, electric power, iron and steel, and ceramics.

Applications include measurement of O2 concentration in fired heaters for improved safety and lifecycle management; measurement of the Carbon Monoxide concentration during the combustion process; measurement of the amount of moisture in hydrocarbons and corrosive gases; and measurement of ammonia concentration for leak detection during the DeNox process.

Yokogawa plan to certify the TDLS8000 to the IECEx, ATEX (Europe), FM (US), cFM (Canada), and TIIS (Japan) explosion-proof standards. It will be suitable for installation in hazardous areas that require the use of an explosion-proof enclosure.

E+H expands into Colombia

After two decades serving the Colombian market, Endress+Hauser is acquiring 100 percent of its longtime sales and service partner in Bogotà, the process automation business of Colsein Ltda.

“We believe Colombia represents a market with great potential for further growth,” explains Michael Ziesemer, Chief Operating Officer of the Endress+Hauser Group. To date, the Swiss measurement and process automation specialist has been represented by local partner Colsein Ltda, whose portfolio includes a wide range of services such as calibration, maintenance and engineering, in addition to its sales activities.

To gain additional market share and fortify the Endress+Hauser brand even further in the country, Colsein’s process automation business will be transferred to a new Endress+Hauser sales subsidiary on 1 January 2016. The company will continue to maintain its headquarters in the capital city of Bogotà. Gabriel Navas, founder and managing director of Colsein, will continue as a member of the board.

A committed team
Of Colsein’s roughly 250 employees, nearly a third work in the process automation business. The company has represented Endress+Hauser in Colombia since 1993, successfully managing both domestic and international customers. “We’re pleased that we can rely on a skilled team of employees in Colombia who have worked hard to establish the Endress+Hauser brand in the country,” says Michael Ziesemer who adds: “This is a foundation we can build on.”

With a population of almost 50 million, Colombia is one of South America’s most populated countries, second only to Brazil. After Chile, it is considered the continent’s largest growth market. Although the oil and gas industry is the main driver of economic development, state-of-the-art measurement and automation technology is also helping to make process technologies efficient, safe and environmentally compatible in the food & beverage, water & wastewater and power & energy industries.

New Krohne ultrasonic flowmeter for superheated steam

With the Optisonic 8300, Krohne presents a dedicated ultrasonic flowmeter for the measurement of superheated steam. The 2-beam flowmeter stands out with a measuring accuracy of 1%, high repeatability, and a large dynamic measuring range. Typical applications include boiler and plant efficiency monitoring in power plants, energy balancing or inter-company steam billing.

As downtime of steam pipes is very costly and must be avoided, Optisonic 8300 was built for long term use: it features a full bore flow sensor without moving parts or obstructions, and an overall sturdy and robust construction with no cables or sensitive parts exposed. Therefore, it can uphold its measuring accuracy without maintenance or subsequent calibration for up to 20 years, while keeping operating costs at a minimum. If verification of the measuring accuracy should become necessary, it can be provided by using the flowmeter diagnostics, without removing the flowmeter.

With nominal sizes ranging from DN 100 to 1000, or 4” to 40″, Optisonic 8300 is particularly suited to high flow rates. Pressure rating up to 200 bar (3625 psi) and temperature rating up to 540°C / 1004°F are available, higher requirements can be considered on request. With temperature and pressure sensors also connected to the device, the integrated flow computer can calculate steam mass flow.

Optisonic 8300 adds to the Krohne portfolio of ultrasonic process and custody transfer meters for liquids and gases, which now cover the range from compressed air to cryogenic liquid natural gas (LNG).

Cooperation, collaboration and flexibility, robotically

Festo has announced three new additions to its ‘inspired by nature’ range; BionicANTS, eMotionButterflies and the FlexShapeGripper. The latest creations from Festo’s Bionic Learning Network play towards the philosophy of Industry 4.0.  This year’s approach has been to investigate ways to “join the network”, to review the connectivity in production through communication.

The BionicANTs and eMotionButterflies illustrate how through combining individual systems, a single system of networked communications can be created. In addition, the FlexShapeGripper demonstrates how a flexible and adaptable gripping mechanism, which is based on a reptile’s natural feeding habit, can be used across a wide range of applications.

BionicANTs

FTO3617 - BionicAntsThe BionicANTs project focuses on cooperation and looks at how ants autonomously work together for one common solution.  For the BionicANTs, Festo’s engineers have not only taken the delicate anatomy of the natural ant as a role model. For the first time, the cooperative behaviour of the creatures has also been transferred to the world of technology using complex control algorithms.

“Like their natural role models, the BionicANTs work together under clear rules,” explains Dr.-Ing. Heinrich Frontzek, Head of Corporate Communication and Future Concepts at Festo. “They communicate with each other and coordinate both their actions and movements. Each ant makes its decisions autonomously, but in doing so is always secondary to the common objective and thereby plays its part towards solving the complex task at hand.”

The cooperative behaviour of ants provides interesting approaches for the factory of tomorrow. Future production systems will be founded on intelligent components, which adapt flexibly to different production scenarios and thus take on tasks from a higher control level.

FlexShapeGripper

FTO3617 - FlexShapeGripperGripping applications have always played a key role in production. In cooperation with University of Oslo, Festo is now presenting a gripper whose working principle is derived from the tongue of a chameleon.

The FlexShapeGripper can pick up, gather and put down several objects with the widest range of shapes in one procedure, without the need for manual conversion. The unique ability to adapt to many different shapes is made possible by its water-filled silicone cap, which wraps itself around any item being picked up in a flexible and form-fitting manner.

“We see the FlexShapeGripper being used in any facility where multiple objects with a range of different shapes are handled at the same time. For example within the robotics sector, for assembly tasks or when handling small parts,” commented Frontzek.

eMotionButterflies

FTO3617 - EmotionButterfliesFesto’s eMotionButterflies have been developed to solve complex issues such as functional integration, ultra-lightweight construction and communication between individual systems that are networked and optimised on a real-time basis. The bionic butterflies show the extent to which the virtual and real world can work together.

Coordination between the individual flying objects is possible due to a well-networked external guidance and monitoring system. The communication and sensor technology used, which creates an indoor GPS system, enables the butterflies to display collective behaviour without any danger of collision.

The combination of integrated electronics and external camera technology, used with a host computer, ensures process stability through an intelligent guidance and monitoring system.  This technology opens up possibilities for enhanced safety of applications in an industrial environment.

To download further information about BionicANTS, FlexShapeGripper and eMotionButterflies, visit www.festo.com/bionics.

First UK Certified Profibus System Designers

The first group of engineers to pass the newly accredited UK Certified Profibus System Design course have graduated. The course was delivered by Verwer Training and Consultancy (VTC) at the extensive Endress+Hauser training centre in Manchester, where the picture below was taken.

profibus courseThe graduates include engineers from Endress+Hauser, Trant Engineering, CAT E&I and Control Specialists Ltd: Andy Verwer, of VTC, is on the left. The intensive course covered the detailed design of Profibus systems including methods for dealing with hazardous environments, various speed and performance requirements and solutions for high reliability and availability.  One of the core aims of this training is to cover the various methods of optimising control system design so that the impact of control system failures and maintenance on production is minimised.

The course is suitable for engineers who are involved in the specification, design and procurement of Profibus systems and covers many of the key concepts in achieving a reliable, repairable and maintainable system. The course is particularly valuable for companies involved in the UK water industry, where the WIMES standards apply.

The course can be cost effectively delivered on-site for between 4 and 20 people. See the Certified Profibus System Design course web page for more information. You can also call VTC to chat over your requirements.

2015 UK Profibus and Profinet Conference

This annual two-day conference is taking place in Stratford-on-Avon on 23 & 24 June in 2015. It includes two parallel streams of activities involving hands-on practical workshops and in-depth presentations by industry experts. The event will be covering the latest developments in Profibus and Profinet – it is also suitable for those who are new to the technology, who want to see the equipment working and talk to users who have installed systems already. Equipment manufacturers will show products and systems in an associated exhibition.

VTC will be represented by Andy Verwer who will be making a presentation on Profibus and Profinet system design and running a hands-on Profibus workshop. Peter Thomas, another of the VTC trainers, will be running a Profinet diagnostics workshop. Dennis van Booma, the CEO of ProCentec in the Netherlands, will be talking about network monitoring and diagnostics and presenting the latest ProCentec products for use on site.

See the conference programme for more details. If registering, please mention VTC in the comments box! VTC are offering two free places on the Certified Profibus Installer course and Certified Profibus System Designer course at the conference. Winners will be drawn from the conference attendees, during the event.

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Profinet gets the main attention from PI

In a separate news item, PI (Profibus and Profinet International) is celebrating its 25th Anniversary, and has released the latest node counts for installed systems: over 50 million Profibus and 10 million Profinet devices have been installed.

PI say that the growth in numbers of installed Profinet systems has been in line with the forecasts of an ARC market study of trends in Ethernet-based systems, which stated that the growth of Profinet was expected to exceed that of its competitors and the general Industrial Ethernet market. This PI claims is because Profinet is the only standard that combines the strict real-time requirements of high-performance machines (using higher-level systems such as MOM – Manufacturing Operation Management) with the necessary openness for IP communication.

Karsten Schneider, PI Chairman, commented “Users are won over by the integrated overall concept. For example, the combination of Profisafe and Profinet is an important deciding factor for the automotive industry. This is also reflected in the number of Profisafe nodes installed, which exceeded the 4 million mark this year. In 2014 alone, over 1 million new Profisafe nodes were installed, setting a new record. Outside of the automotive industry, Profisafe has been ensuring safety for the past 15 years in amusement rides, cable cars, passenger transportation, and in particular throughout the machine building sector as well as in many other applications.”

But what about Profibus, and Profisafe for that matter, in process industry applications?

PI does then talk about Profibus. They add: “Even though it has been on the market for a long time, Profibus continues to report impressive market growth. At the end of 2014, nearly 51 million Profibus devices were installed in industrial plants worldwide, about 3.6 million more than the previous year. This number shows that user confidence in Profibus is as high as ever. Profibus PA is also recording steady growth. Around 9 million PA devices are now installed in the process automation sector, around 800,000 more than in 2013. This sector will receive special attention at PI in the Achema year. Accordingly, PI is currently working closely with users to address the specific requirements of process automation in Profinet.”

So the PI emphasis seems to be on developing Profinet into the process automation industry, possibly even displacing Profibus.

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