The question we put to them was this: Wind, solar or biofuels? Which do
you think will have the biggest impact first?
Like any group of people, our LinkedIn group is not without its wisecrackers. As Bob White,
president and chief engineer at Embedded Power Labs, put it: "Wind and biofuels
are simply different ways of harvesting solar power." While he's certainly
correct, we could just end the discussion saying that all life and forms of
energy on the planet wouldn't exist without the sun, so it's really all just
various forms of solar power. But what fun would that be? So, on with the
Weighing in on behalf of biofuels was Daniel
Johnson-O'Mara, an instrumentation technician at the University of Iowa Power
Plant. "Storage is the principle problem (when it comes to) megawatts of solar
and wind," he said.
Storage issues aside, biofuels definitely had its
detractors. "I usually get angry when I see someone mixing biofuel with
renewable energies like wind and solar," said Emilijan Iljoski, general manager
at EiP Elektronika Co. He maintains that biofuels are as polluting as oil or
coal, plus the fact that setting aside crops for biofuels manufacture leads to
food cost and production issues for humans worldwide.
Chris Stergiou, a mechanical and manufacturing system
engineer, doesn't consider biofuel a renewable energy source and therefore
gives his nod to solar. "Since it is practically unlimited, relatively low
efficiencies are tolerable as long as practical amounts can be converted with
minimum physical footprints," he said.
Taking a different tack on the discussion, Andrew Wright,
machine design and electronics sales at Wright Track Enterprises Inc., suggests
that it is not a question of which will have the most impact based on its own
merits as an energy source. Instead he contends the answer will be all about
which one experiences the biggest comeback (since none of them are new) once
people "finally grow tired of rising fuel prices."
Based on his own experiences in building an off-the-grid
home, Wright said that "while my county's building restrictions aren't
prohibitive, trying to get someone to insure the home has proven a challenge." He added that in North Dakota (where he's building), the "individual and business tax incentives for adding alternative energy sources
to your property were low to non-existent last time I checked."
Truchard will be presented the award at the 2014 Golden Mousetrap Awards ceremony during the co-located events Pacific Design & Manufacturing, MD&M West, WestPack, PLASTEC West, Electronics West, ATX West, and AeroCon.
Robots that walk have come a long way from simple barebones walking machines or pairs of legs without an upper body and head. Much of the research these days focuses on making more humanoid robots. But they are not all created equal.
The IEEE Computer Society has named the top 10 trends for 2014. You can expect the convergence of cloud computing and mobile devices, advances in health care data and devices, as well as privacy issues in social media to make the headlines. And 3D printing came out of nowhere to make a big splash.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.