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Articles from 2018 In June


June 29 – Day 5 – A Hands-on Design

Webinar Information
Start Date: Jun 29, 2018 - 06:00 PM UTC

This class will provide an example implementation using a Renesas Synergy target platform- one used in previous courses. The example design we look at will be based on student feedback.

General Motors Sees a Future With Zero Crashes, Zero Emissions, Zero Congestion

General Motors Sees a Future With Zero Crashes, Zero Emissions, Zero Congestion

GM’s 2017 Sustainability Report boldly proclaims a vision of the future in which three of the biggest historical drawbacks of the automobile are completely eliminated. That is to say, there will be “zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion.” This, according to CEO Mary Barra, will be accomplished by a combination of “autonomous, electric, shared, and connected vehicles.”

Design News spoke with David Tulauskas, GM’s Sustainability Director, who elaborated on some of the key messages, strategies and enablers that are embedded in this report. “This report brings together our vision of the future of transportation that has been coming together over the past several years,” Tulauskas said.

Perhaps the primary message is that electric cars are the future. “This commitment is underscored by the fact that we are coming out with 20 EVs by 2023,” Tulauskas added. “That’s on top of the 13 vehicles we already offer globally with some form of electrification.” These will all be plug-in vehicles, though some may also have gasoline engines onboard as today’s Chevy Volt does. Some of them will also be fuel cell electrics.

He would not say whether or not any of these would be trucks, though we have noted in the past that fuel cells could be a sweet spot for trucks. To get a sense of proportion, Tulauskas said that they typically have between 50-70 vehicles in the pipeline.

The transformation, of course, goes well beyond what any single company can provide. Unless these technologies are developed in conjunction with corresponding changes in areas like the electricity delivery system as well as urban and road infrastructure, this could be a bridge to nowhere. 

However, when all the pieces are in place, the benefits are potentially enormous. For example, it’s not clear what portion of the estimated $1 trillion of productivity lost every year by people stuck in traffic can be recovered by autonomous vehicles. But it’s likely to be significant. One study estimates that as many as seven out of every eight vehicles could be taken off the road.

Right now, GM’s Maven suite of shared mobility solutions is reducing congestion by leveraging the growing popularity of car sharing and ridesharing. GM’s fleet currently contains more than 600 Bolt EVs that have chalked up a collective 13 million miles.

GM currently has 180 autonomous test vehicles on the road. (Image source: General Motors)

To fully realize the zero emissions promise, the coordination of electric vehicles, renewable energy storage, and the electric grid through some kind of vehicle to grid (V2G) architecture will be required. Today, GM is using its OnStar system to coordinate with utilities, allowing them to potentially track the available battery capacity of millions of vehicles.

Regarding autonomous cars, the company plans to announce a commercial autonomous fleet vehicle next year. It currently has 180 test vehicles on the road.

For those cars that will still require fuel, they will burn less of it, despite efforts by the administration to roll back fuel economy targets. “Remember,” said Tulauskas when asked, “we’re a global company.”

Perhaps foremost among innovations in the fuel economy space is vehicle light-weighting. The latest models have lost a collective 5,000 pounds, which works out to 357 pounds per vehicle. This results in an estimated 35 million gallons of fuel saved and 312,000 metric tons of CO2 that won’t be emitted. Varying degrees of electrification are being added to IC engine-powered cars, ranging from the Buick LaCrosse that gets a 19% boost to the Cadillac CT6 that achieves 62 mpge. Other developments include engine downsizing, turbocharging, stop-start technology, direct injection, variable valve timing, and cylinder deactivation. An innovation implemented on both cars and pickup trucks is active aero shutters. These close down airflow into the engine at higher speed, reducing aerodynamic drag.

The quest to reduce emissions goes beyond GM’s vehicles to its factories as well. It is closing in on 20% renewable power across its entire company this year. The goal is 100% by 2050. And emissions are not the only area that is being cleaned up. The company now has 142 zero-waste-to-landfill sites—well on its way to its goal of 150 by 2020.

This barely scratches the surface of all that’s contained in the report. But it gives a pretty good idea of the kinds of changes required by companies to keep pace with the enormous changes sweeping through our society today—changes that hopefully will result in a cleaner, safer and healthier future for all.

ESC, Embedded Systems ConferenceToday's Insights. Tomorrow's Technologies.
ESC returns to Minneapolis, Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2018, with a fresh, in-depth, two-day educational program designed specifically for the needs of today's embedded systems professionals. With four comprehensive tracks, new technical tutorials, and a host of top engineering talent on stage, you'll get the specialized training you need to create competitive embedded products. Get hands-on in the classroom and speak directly to the engineers and developers who can help you work faster, cheaper, and smarter. Click here to submit your registration inquiry today!

Study Says AI Can Deliver Huge Financial Value to Industry

Study Says AI Can Deliver Huge Financial Value to Industry

A new study from McKinsey Global Institute shows that artificial intelligence and deep learning are finally starting to make big gains in industry. But the study’s authors say that many engineers still hesitate to use it because they don’t fully understand it yet.

The new study, Notes from the AI frontier: Applications and the value of deep learning, shows tremendous potential for the technology in the automotive, electronics, aerospace, defense, chemicals, agriculture, oil and gas, and other industries. It suggests that many executives in those industries are already adopting it.

“In the Fortune 500, we’re seeing a significant shift toward taking advantage of artificial intelligence and deep learning applications,” Mehdi Miremadi, a McKinsey partner and co-author of the study, told Design News. “It is, without a doubt, one of the most prominent areas of focus in the last two years for every industry.”

Artificial intelligence and deep learning have the potential to create trillions of dollars in value for a broad variety of engineering-driven industries. (Image source: McKinsey Global Institute)

The study predicts that AI technology will have a tremendous financial impact on those industries. In automotive and assembly, for example, the paper’s authors expect AI and deep learning to generate about $300 billion in annual value. They also expect it to generate about $200 billion annually in electronics, $200 billion in chemicals, $100 billion in oil and gas, and about $25 billion a year in aerospace and defense.

The Benefits of Better Forecasting

One key area of application is predictive maintenance, the authors found. Using massive amounts of data from around a factory, for example, AI-based software can more accurately identify the assets and machinery that might be at risk of breaking down. And although many manufacturers are already doing predictive maintenance without AI, the authors believe they could do better with it.

“Using old types of analyses, you maybe could predict a 70% likelihood of a breakdown,” Miremadi said. “But with AI, you might go to 90% or even 95%. And that 20% difference has a significant value attached to it."

Other key areas of opportunity are inventory optimization and materials procurement. By using AI to do better forecasting, Miremadi said, manufacturers could streamline their production and supply chain management. “A lot of the inefficiency in the manufacturing and supply chain comes from not fully understanding what the demand will look like in the coming months and years,” Miremadi told us. “Using analytics and big data, you can develop a better perspective on demand and supply forecasting.”

Product developers could also benefit from AI and deep learning, the authors concluded.  Today, they said, new product iterations typically emerge over a period of years, based on feedback from customers. But with AI, product developers could speed up that process. “One of the things AI can do is expedite that feedback loop,” Miremadi said. “Optimizing the feedback loop is advantageous, not only for the manufacturer, but for society at large.”

Miremadi added that some developers are already working on ways to integrate AI capabilities into their design software.

Pilot Purgatory

Understandably, however, many executives and engineers are hesitant to take full advantage of artificial intelligence and deep learning, Miremadi said. Their first instinct is to run pilot programs. Even when AI’s worth is proven, however, many executives still prefer to run more pilot programs instead of adopting it broadly. “Often, we see this in Fortune 500 companies,” Miremadi noted. “They’ve read about AI, and they may even have pilots running. But they run into what we call pilot purgatory—just let me do one more pilot.’”

Many executives hesitate because they don’t fully understand the AI mechanism, Miremadi said. And they won’t commit significant resources to anything they don’t fully understand. In those situations, change may be slower. “There are cultural components to the way data-driven decisions are made in an organization,” Miremadi said. “So on a tactical, day-to-day basis, a cultural shift will need to happen.”

Still, Miremadi expects growth of AI and deep learning to continue at a fast pace. The reason lies in the results. “There’s a huge area of opportunity here,” he said.

Senior technical editor Chuck Murray has been writing about technology for 34 years. He joined Design News in 1987, and has covered electronics, automation, fluid power, and auto.

ESC, Embedded Systems ConferenceToday's Insights. Tomorrow's Technologies.
ESC returns to Minneapolis, Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2018, with a fresh, in-depth, two-day educational program designed specifically for the needs of today's embedded systems professionals. With four comprehensive tracks, new technical tutorials, and a host of top engineering talent on stage, you'll get the specialized training you need to create competitive embedded products. Get hands-on in the classroom and speak directly to the engineers and developers who can help you work faster, cheaper, and smarter. Click here to submit your registration inquiry today!

June 28 – Day 4 – Implementation Examples- Communications

Webinar Information
Start Date: Jun 28, 2018 - 06:00 PM UTC

This class will provide descriptions and examples of some common secure communications applications and will show implementation options for IoT applications.

Sensor Brings Automated Monitoring to Remote Water Pumps

Sensor Brings Automated Monitoring to Remote Water Pumps

In thousands of remote communities with no electricity and few resources, automated monitoring of water flow in hand pumps has long been a near-impossibility.

Now, however, that may be changing. A new sensor design promises to bring a rugged, automated, low-cost solution to rural communities that rely on wells as their only source of clean water. The new battery-powered design, now being employed on a hand pump in northern Ethiopia, measures flow through the pump and wirelessly transmits the pump’s data to an IoT site, where it can be monitored. Engineers hope it can serve as a model for countless more pumps in other locales.

“There are probably a billion people around the world who get their water from hand pumps,” said Christoph Gorder, chief global water officer for charity:water, a nonprofit organization that aims to bring clean water to people around the world. “This device has the potential to have an impact on their day-to-day lives.”

The new design, being employed on a hand pump in northern Ethiopia, measures flow and wirelessly transmits the pump’s data to an IoT site, where it can be monitored. (Image source: Intelligent Product Solutions)

The new sensing system, designed by Intelligent Product Solutions (IPS) for charity:water, uses a capacitance technique to measure the flow of the water through a plastic housing inside the hand pump. The solution consists of a small printed circuit board containing the following: a Texas Instruments microcontroller; six capacitive sensors; a temperature sensor; a wireless transceiver; a GPS unit, a lithium battery; and a software algorithm that calculates the flow. During operation, water collects inside the plastic housing and the capacitive sensors “feel” the capacitance change through the plastic. As the water flows past the sensors one by one, the algorithm monitors the subsequent capacitance changes and then calculates the flow rate based on those changes.

“On a real-time basis, we sample two times per second and we use those results in our water sensing algorithm,” noted Robert Lieb, principal software engineer for IPS. “And we can tell, not only when the (sensors) are covered by water, but what percent of the (sensor) is covered by water. And that enables us to get more accurate flow measurements.” The software also uses air temperature data to make small adjustments in the calculated flow rate, Lieb said.

Data from the sensor is collected in the microcontroller’s on-board Flash memory. The unit’s transceiver sends the data to a 2G network, which forwards it to an IoT site. The IoT site can then record and report the amount of water extracted from a well over time. “We also have software that does trending to see if the flow rate has changed significantly over time,” Lieb said. “If it does, we turn the modem on and send a red flag message to alert people in the field to check it out.”

Lieb designed the unit to minimize the MCU’s power usage. Earlier versions of the technology used a smaller MCU with less RAM and were therefore unable to operate the software algorithm. By going to a bigger MCU with more Flash, Lieb said he was able to run a more comprehensive algorithm to do the flow calculations, and still keep power usage low enough to enable the unit’s lithium battery to last about five years.

Gorder said that the sensor is helping residents in the Ethiopian community by ensuring that any problems with the well get fixed in a timely manner. Such timeliness is critical for locals. “Prior to this, there was no effective solution,” he told us. “Most of the time, local communities would be on their own. If they ran into problems they couldn’t solve, the system would just stop working.”

Gorder’s organization, which installs wells in remote areas for communities that lack access to clean water, hopes to use the technology on more hand pumps. “There are so many pumps out there,” he said. “This is something that will serve as a foundation for other developments moving forward.”

Senior technical editor Chuck Murray has been writing about technology for 34 years. He joined Design News in 1987, and has covered electronics, automation, fluid power, and auto.

ESC, Embedded Systems ConferenceToday's Insights. Tomorrow's Technologies.
ESC returns to Minneapolis, Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2018, with a fresh, in-depth, two-day educational program designed specifically for the needs of today's embedded systems professionals. With four comprehensive tracks, new technical tutorials, and a host of top engineering talent on stage, you'll get the specialized training you need to create competitive embedded products. Get hands-on in the classroom and speak directly to the engineers and developers who can help you work faster, cheaper, and smarter. Click here to submit your registration inquiry today!

 

5 Embedded Systems Books to Read this Summer

Jacob Beningo, Embedded Software, ESC, Embedded Systems Conference

After what felt like an eternal winter, summer has finally arrived! Undoubtedly, many engineers will shortly be heading to the beach or sitting out on the deck for some much-needed relaxation. This provides a great opportunity to catch up on some interesting engineering books, which can help carry that feeling of relaxation back into the office by enhancing those engineering skills. I have several book recommendations that I think most embedded systems engineers will find interesting and useful for the challenges that lay ahead.

For the record, other than slipping my own book into the list at the bottom, I don’t have a relationship with any of these authors. I found these books to contain useful information that I think can help make a difference in how we develop embedded systems—and that I think readers will enjoy.

Recommendation #1 – Embedded System Security by David & Mike Kleidermacher

For many embedded systems developers, security is becoming an important factor in their designs. Security typically is not one of those topics that developers used to have to consider at all. Embedded Systems Security was published back in 2012, but it contains a lot of fundamental concepts and material that don’t date themselves easily. The book starts out covering security fundamentals. It then moves into system and software considerations for security before moving into cryptography and data protection. Any developer who is interested in starting to understand security would gain a lot by reading this book.

Recommendation #2 – Real-Time C++ by Christopher Kormanyos

For any developer who is interested in writing microcontroller software in C++, this book is a must read. I absolutely loved the second edition of this book and just recently, in 2018, the third edition has been released. So it is once again in my own personal reading queue. Real-time C++ covers all the fundamentals and the advanced topics that developers need in order to write efficient, deterministic embedded software. Developers are walked through how to start writing their software in C++ step by step. I found that even if your C++ understanding is rusty or non-existent, there is more than enough information to help a developer get started using C++.


Recommendation #3 – Real-Time Concepts for Embedded Systems by Qing Li with
Caroline Yao

Real-Time Concepts for Embedded Systems is a book for developers who are getting started using real-time operating systems (RTOSs). This book starts out with a good basic review of embedded systems and moves quickly into real-time concepts. Topics such as tasks, semaphores, mutexes, message queues, events flags, and many other RTOS concepts are covered. The concepts can be applied to nearly any RTOS, and I found the book to be a good reference for the engineers who attend my RTOS courses. If you are getting started or need to brush up on RTOSs, this would be a good book to start with.


Recommendation #4 – Node.js for Embedded Systems by Patrick Mulder & Kelsey Breseman

We’ve all seen from the near nonstop press devoted to the IoT over the last several years that there is a lot of development and focus going into connected systems. It’s an exciting time. But for many engineers, the IoT may very well be a bit intimidating. I found this book to be very practical in the way it was written in covering how Node.js can be used for embedded IoT devices. The authors cover several different inexpensive and hobbyist development boards, which makes it easy for readers to dig in and get their hands dirty and learn through implementation.
 

Recommendation #5 – Reusable Firmware Development by Jacob Beningo

Well, since we are on the topic of book recommendations, I thought I would slip in a book I wrote late last year and that I have received good feedback on from readers. Reusable Firmware Development focuses on the journey that developers need to take in order to write reusable and portable software on microcontroller-based systems. I walk the reader through reuse best practices and a methodology for developing reusable software—not just at the application layer, but also at the HAL and driver layer. The goal is to help developers get away from constantly custom writing their software and reinventing the wheel every time they start a project.

I hope you find this list helpful and that it can help you improve your skills. If there are any other books that you have found to be helpful and would like to share, please add them as a comment at the end of this blog! Your fellow engineers will greatly appreciate it!

Jacob Beningo is an embedded software consultant who currently works with clients in more than a dozen countries to dramatically transform their businesses by improving product quality, cost and time to market. He has published more than 200 articles on embedded software development techniques, is a sought-after speaker and technical trainer and holds three degrees which include a Masters of Engineering from the University of Michigan. Feel free to contact him at [email protected], at his website www.beningo.com/, and sign-up for his monthly Embedded Bytes Newsletter.                                                            

(Image Source: Amazon & Apress)

ESC, Embedded Systems ConferenceToday's Insights. Tomorrow's Technologies.
ESC returns to Minneapolis, Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2018, with a fresh, in-depth, two-day educational program designed specifically for the needs of today's embedded systems professionals. With four comprehensive tracks, new technical tutorials, and a host of top engineering talent on stage, you'll get the specialized training you need to create competitive embedded products. Get hands-on in the classroom and speak directly to the engineers and developers who can help you work faster, cheaper, and smarter. Click here to submit your registration inquiry today!

June 27 – Day 3 – Implementation Examples- Storage

Webinar Information
Start Date: Jun 27, 2018 - 06:00 PM UTC

This class will provide descriptions and examples of some common secure storage applications and will show implementation options for IoT applications.

10 Cars that Changed the World

<p>In the 130-year history of the automobile, many cars have profoundly changed the world. And while it’s difficult to cite a handful as the most impactful, that’s exactly what a select group of automotive historians recently did.</p><p>The results of their effort, now on display at the <a href="https://studebakermuseum.org/"><u>Studebaker National Museum</u></a> in South Bend, IN, is a collection of ten cars that have deeply affected how the world works, plays, and lives. The voters, all of whom are members of the <a href="http://autohistory.org/"><u>Society of Automotive Historians</u></a>, actually cited more than 70 different vehicles on their ballots. The Studebaker Museum then collated the results and named the top ten vote-getters.</p><p>“We were all pretty much in agreement on the first three or four: the Model T, the Beetle, the minivan, and the Jeep,” Andrew Beckman, archivist for the Studebaker National Museum, told <em>Design News</em>. “But beyond that, there was no majority. No one’s ballot completely agreed with anyone else’s.”</p><p>By virtue of the fact that only ten cars were named, many great ones were left out. The 1932 Ford V8, '55 Chevy small block, '86 Ford Taurus with its aero look, and '39 Oldsmobile with the first automatic transmission, for example, all failed to make the cut. “It was a fun exercise to see how the people noted in their field looked at this,” Beckman said.</p><p>Here, we offer a peek at the vehicles on display in the new exhibit. From the 1901 Oldsmobile Runabout to the 2001 Toyota Prius, these ten cars have impacted history, technology, culture, and industry, as named by the members of the Society of Automotive Historians.</p><p>Do you agree with their choices? We encourage readers to weigh in with their selections for the list of cars that changed the world.</p>

 

Senior technical editor Chuck Murray has been writing about technology for 34 years. He joined Design News in 1987, and has covered electronics, automation, fluid power, and auto.

ESC, Embedded Systems ConferenceToday's Insights. Tomorrow's Technologies.
ESC returns to Minneapolis, Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2018, with a fresh, in-depth, two-day educational program designed specifically for the needs of today's embedded systems professionals. With four comprehensive tracks, new technical tutorials, and a host of top engineering talent on stage, you'll get the specialized training you need to create competitive embedded products. Get hands-on in the classroom and speak directly to the engineers and developers who can help you work faster, cheaper, and smarter. Click here to submit your registration inquiry today!

 

Go With The Flow?

PNNL Vanadium Flow Battery

Lithium ion batteries are capturing an increasing share of power grid support applications. Tesla recently claimed to have built more than a gigawatt-hour of electrical energy storage using its lithium ion Powerpack to help support renewable solar and wind energy production. But is lithium ion technology the best choice for stationary electric power grid support? Fans of redox flow batteries (RFB) would suggest otherwise.

Pumping Electrolytes

Flow batteries (also called redox or reduction-oxidation batteries) use two different electrolytes that are each pumped through the two half cells. The cells are separated by a thin ion exchange membrane. Charging the battery causes a reduction reaction on one side of the membrane and an oxidation reaction on the other. A reduction reaction results in a gain of electrons while an oxidation results in a loss of electrons. In use during discharge, the electrolytes are continuously pumped from their tanks into the reaction cell and electrical energy is drawn from the electrodes. The only limit to the amount of energy that can be stored is the capacity of the electrolyte storage tanks.

“One of the primary reasons that DOE (Department of Energy) is interested in flow batteries is because the power and energy of those systems are separate,” Vincent Sprenkle, Manager of the Energy Storage group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), told Design News. “What that gives you, from a grid perspective, is a high degree of flexibility. The other advantage is inherent safety. You are in an aqueous solution, so the fire hazards are not there as you would have with a pure organic electrolyte. We are doing water-soluble based systems. Also, in a megawatt hour system, you may only have kilowatt hours of it that are physically in contact with each other at any time,” he explained.

The Right Stuff

Choosing the materials for the reduction and oxidation reactions has a large effect on the flow battery’s characteristics. The flow battery concept was first used in 1884 with a zinc/chlorine battery that powered Charles Renard’s airship La France. More recently, redox flow batteries have been made from zinc bromide. This is the case for the ZCell, a 10 kilowatt-hour home energy storage system developed in Australia.

When the ZCell is charged, electrical current travels into the battery, causing zinc to be removed from the zinc bromide solution and to be electroplated onto a carbon-filled plastic electrode. The bromine gas that forms is reacted with other agents to form a thick oil. During discharge, the zinc is removed from the electrode and joins back up with bromine to make zinc bromide and an excess of electrons. These electrons travel by wire outside of the battery to power electrical devices before returning back to the opposite electrode of the flow battery.

PNNL has designed and is testing a modular 1kW/1kWh vanadium redox flow battery with an optimized stack design. The battery incorporates PNNL’s new electrolyte chemistry, delivering 80% increased power capacity and 90% increased efficiency with about half the operating cost of current vanadium redox flow batteries. (Image source: PNNL)

Another flow battery of interest was developed in the 1980s and uses an unusual property of the element vanadium. This metallic material can exist in four different oxidation states (2+,3+,4+, and 5+), depending upon the number of electrons around the vanadium nucleus. Energy is stored by providing extra electrons (during charging) to produce V2+, and V3+. During discharge, these electrons are removed to form V4+ and V5+.

The vanadium flow battery has two tanks, one containing the V2+ and V3+ cathodelyte solution, and the other tank containing the V4+ and V5+ anodelyte solution. These solutions are made up of vanadium dissolved in sulfuric acid. The tanks can store the cathodelyte and anodelyte almost indefinitely until the battery needs to generate electricity. At this point, the solutions are pumped into each side of a reaction cell that contains an ion-selective membrane.

During discharging, the V2+ oxidizes into V3+ in the negative side of the reaction cell and an electron is released, collected on the negative electrode, and conducted away by the external circuit. In the positive side of the reaction cell, V5+ accepts an electron from the external circuit, the reduction reaction creating V4+. Charge neutrality in the cell is maintained by exchanges of hydrogen ions (cations) through the membrane that separates the two sides of the reaction cell.

Vanadium is a common element used primarily in steel processing and as a catalyst. As with other flow batteries, the battery energy capacity is limited only by the size of the storage tanks that contain the cathodelyte and anodelyte solutions. The electrolyte liquids also provide good thermal regulation.

Going Organic

Because the cost of vanadium can be somewhat variable, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is working with an inexpensive organic molecule, often used in dyes and antibiotics, to replace vanadium in a flow battery. This work is described in a PNNL press release. The molecule PNNL is working with is called phenazine ((C6H4)2N2). It possesses the necessary redox properties to use in a flow battery but it is ordinarily insoluble in water. So the PNNL team worked to chemically modify phenazine—not only were they able to form a water-soluble version, the new derivative also had enhanced redox capability.

“Part of the goal is to move away from anything that can undergo price fluctuations,” explained PNNL’s Vincent Sprenkle. “We have seen lithium, cobalt, and vanadium prices double in the last year. By moving away from anything that is commodity-based metal, to something that you can synthesize and control the cost structure of, (as with) these aqueous-soluble organics, long-term, that’s the direction we want to go,” he added.

“We thought phenazine represented a really underexplored area, and when we started looking into it, we found that it indeed showed a lot of promise. We have been able to develop our system from there,” Aaron Hollas, a scientist and organic chemistry researcher at PNNL, told Design News. There were other reasons to examine organic materials for flow batteries. “There is obviously the cost advantage that we are primarily concerned with, but also we have a lot of tunability when we move from simple metal ion solutions to organics. There is a lot of different substitution patterns that we can do with organics. We can tune things like solubility and redox potential—a lot of things that we can’t do with simple metal ions like vanadium,” said Hollas.

Into the Future

Obviously, flow batteries are large in size and require pumps and electrolyte holding tanks. Thus, they are used primarily for stationary applications. They are particularly effective for load leveling and frequency control in electric power grids when batteries with both high power and high capacity are required. Flow batteries are capable of many thousands of charge and discharge cycles (higher than lithium ion). They also are capable of sitting unused for many months before starting with little or no preparation and, unlike lithium ion batteries, can be discharged 100% without damage.  Numerous utility-scale projects are underway worldwide using flow batteries of various types in full and micro-grid configurations, particularly with renewable power generation.

“We had an active program for a number of years looking at driving the cost of those systems down. So we successfully reduced the cost of vanadium systems by about half. That finished up and then last year, we started with this new system, where we are replacing the vanadium with an organic system which we think can further reduce the costs by two to three times,” said Sprenkle. Now that phenazine has been demonstrated on the small scale, next is scaling up to the kilowatt level “within the next three to four years to get this to the same state of technical feasibility as vanadium,” said Sprenkle.

Senior Editor Kevin Clemens has been writing about energy, automotive, and transportation topics for more than 30 years. He has masters degrees in Materials Engineering and Environmental Education and a doctorate degree in Mechanical Engineering, specializing in aerodynamics. He has set several world land speed records on electric motorcycles that he built in his workshop.

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June 26 – Day 2 – MCU-based Security Features

Webinar Information
Start Date: Jun 26, 2018 - 06:00 PM UTC

MCUs are the basic building blocks for the IoT. This class provides an introduction to the key features available in MCUs to support secure systems.