A Conversation With Anellotech’s CEO: Company Announces New Strategic Investor and Commissioning of R&D Unit

Last week, Anellotech publicly confirmed the official start of commissioning its “TCat-8™” research and development (R&D) facility in Silsbee, Texas, which began on September 1, 2016. In the same press release, the company also announced a $1.5 million equity investment from a new undisclosed strategic investor. Anellotech jointly designed the 25 meter-tall TCat-8 unit with its R&D partner, IFP Energies nouvelles (IFPEN), and will use the facility to validate Anellotech’s Bio-TCat® process, which catalytically converts biomass into BTX (benzene, toluene, xylene), for commercial scale-up. Three IFPEN engineers will join Anellotech’s team onsite at the TCat-8 facility for testing over the next two years. We spoke with David Sudolsky, President and CEO of Anellotech, for additional insight into the recent news. Continue reading

Case Study: North American Consortium Aims to Prove How Distributed Energy Can Be Valuable for Utilities in Three New Demonstrations

Key Players

Opus One Solutions (client registration required), a developer of distribution system optimization software for utilities, recently announced that it will lead a demonstration to apply its software to microgrid and distributed energy resource (DER) integration in North America. The demonstration includes three separate projects for three utilities – Nova Scotia Power, Emera Maine, and Toronto Hydro – each of which will use Opus One’s core technology. Three other consortium partners will also support the projects: distributed storage project developer Advanced Microgrid Solutions (client registration required), distributed energy resource management systems (DERMS) developer Smarter Grid Solutions (client registration required), and the Centre for Urban Energy (CUE) at Ryerson University. Key players and their roles are shown in the figure below.

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Navigating the Web of Bio-based Performance Materials

Bio-based performance materials (bioperformance materials), such as nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC) and spider silk, have received considerable interest for their impressive mechanical properties. However, in spite of the considerable hype surrounding use of these materials, few have been developed for widespread adoption. Developers of bioperformance materials that can overcome challenges such as applications development, market demand, and cost of production can expect a significant ROI.

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IBM’s, Omron’s, and Nokia’s Visions for Digital Health Are Compelling, but Challenges Remain Before These Promises Can Become a Reality

What They Said

Last week, we spoke at the 2016 Advanced Semiconductor Technology Conference in Singapore. The conference focused on semiconductor and information technologies and how they can impact the digitalization of two industries: manufacturing and health care. While discussions around advancements in nature-inspired structural materials and semiconductor technology were noteworthy, the forward-looking visions for digital health shared by three large players – IBM, Omron, and Nokia – took center stage. Continue reading

The Role of a Chief Robotics Officer and the Challenges Facing Enterprises Attempting to Implement Robotics Solutions

Lux recently attended RoboBusiness 2016 and its Chief Robotics Officer (CRO) Summit, where the role of the CRO was presented and discussed from a variety of viewpoints, including the perspective of Poul Martin Møller, CRO to the Region of South Denmark. If one hasn’t heard of the term, that’s because it is quite new and at this point more of a concept than a legitimate position within an organization. An analogy can be drawn to the term “chief information officer” (CIO), which was introduced in the 1980s and 1990s; those that predict the emergence of the CRO look at how the role of CIO, while indispensable today, was nearly unheard of back then, with only a small fraction of IT departments utilizing the title. The title of CRO could be expected to follow a similar trajectory, as well, as it is about structuring a corporate function that is intended to embrace a technology family in support of the rest of the business – robotics and automation, in this case. Today, the hypothetical role of the CRO can be spread across existing roles like the CIO, COO, etc., and really has to do with placing responsibility on a person or group for the implementation and integration of automation solutions across an organization. Continue reading

ORNL 3D Prints Autoclave-Capable CFRP Mold

In May 2016, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) reported that they had 3D printed a set of autoclave-capable carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) molds. The group used high performance thermoplastics (HPTPs) loaded with chopped carbon fiber: one mold used polyhenylene sulfide (PPS) from TechmerES, and the other used polyphenylsulfone (PPSU) from BASF. They printed the molds using a Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) 3D printer from Cincinnati Incorporated (client registration required), which can print parts up to 20 ft x 8 ft x 6 ft (6.1 m x 2.4 m x 1.8 m) in size with a 50 kg/hr material deposition rate. The researchers have stated that they expect the autoclave-capable materials they used to be commercially available for 3D printing by the end of 2016. Continue reading

Samsung Battery Fires Could Ignite Interest in Next-Generation Battery Technologies

Cellphones are always hot items entering the holiday season, even this early, but in this case Samsung’s recent Galaxy Note 7 got a little too hot – the company reported 92 cases of its customer’s phones catching fire or exploding. The phone, released on August 19, was recalled just two weeks later as the company advised its customers to shut down their phones, in addition to the Federal Aviation Administration banning use of the phones on airplanes. Samsung has since released statements that this issue only affects the Note 7, and no other devices. Continue reading

The Yield Gap: Getting Through the Genetic Glass Ceiling

Feeding the expected 9 billion global population has been an issue of attention over the last few years. Even more concerning is the feasibility of feeding those people while the rate of yield growth in major agricultural crops is decreasing. It seems impossible to squeeze any more yield per acre out of major agricultural crops. For any commercial crop, actual agricultural yields observed today are lower than the crop’s theoretical maximum yield, its genetic “glass ceiling.” The following figure illustrates this concept, where theoretical yield is constrained by an upper bound, and actual yield increases as it approaches the boundary.

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Industrial Big Data and Analytics in Digital Health

A profusion of patient sensors is joining advances in quantitative medicine and systems biology, giving health care providers more data than they can effectively manage. Focus is growing on prevention and chronic conditions, costs continue to rise, and medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the U.S. What these problems have in common is that they are all information problems – not a matter of making big new scientific breakthroughs.

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Apple’s New Watch and OS Showcase Its Move Toward Becoming a Health Device

Among its recent string of announcements, Apple has introduced the successor to its first wearable device, the Apple Watch, appropriately dubbed “Apple Watch Series 2,” along with an update to the the Operating System “Watch OS 3.” The Apple Watch Series 2 has a few additional hardware features, namely a faster processor, bigger battery, waterproof, brighter screen, and GPS module. The Watch OS 3, which is for both the Apple Watch 1 and 2, revamped the information provided during workouts with users being able to track distance, pace, active calories, heart rate, and elapsed time, in addition to being able to share activity with friends, and to track swim workouts and running workouts without also needing to carry a smartphone. The Watch OS 3 also includes a breathing app that guides users through deep breath exercises to help them relax. Continue reading