20 of the least known



1…GEORGE C BEIDLER. USA inventor of the photocopier in 19…

2…HARRY BREARLY. English inventor of stainless steel in 1913

3…WILLIS CARRIER.USA inventor of air-conditioning in 1902

5…MRS W.A. COCHRAN. USA inventor of the auto dishwasher

6…ADOLF E FICK. German inventor of contact lenses in 1887

7…DR. R.N. HARGER. American inventor of the breathaliser in 1938 [or drunkometer as it was known then]

8…EDWIN T HOLMES. USA inventor of the burglar alarm in 1858

9…MILLER REECE HUTCHINSON. USA inventor of hearing aid

10..WITCOMB L JUDSON. American inventor of the zip in 1893

11..CARLTON C MAGEE. USA inventor of the park meter in 19…

12..JACK MARKS. English inventor of the boxer’s gumshield 1902

13..KARL LUDWIG NESSLER. German inventor of the hair perm in 1906 [only became a hairdresser because his eyesight was too poor for shoe making]

14..JAMES RANSOME. English inventor of the motor mower 1902

15..ERIK ROTHEIM. Norwegian inventor of the aerosol in 1926

16..LUCIEN B SMITH. American inventor of barbed wire in 1874

17..CHARLES STRITE. American inventor of the toaster in 1927

18..JOHAAN VAALER. Norwegian inventor of the paperclip in 1900

19..ARTHUR WYNNE. English inventor of the crossword in 1913

20..JOSEPH L ZIMMERMAN. American inventor of the telephone answering machine in 1949. [His first device was called the Electronic Secretary]

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 7th July 2009


Plastic Solar Cells For Electronic Devices

Currently silicon-based solar cells are flooding the market. Industry pundits can foresee a hopeful future for low-cost, flexible solar cells. If we can make solar devices other than silicon based materials then they can be used for all sorts of applications beyond just the traditional solar panels on house rooftops. It will be great if we can have solar cells for portable electronic devices too.

Luping Yu, Professor in Chemistry, and Yongye Liang, a Ph.D. student, both at the University of Chicago, and five co-authors are working to develop a new semiconducting material called PTB1, which converts sunlight into electricity. The University accredited the patent rights to the technology to Solarmer last September. The license covers numerous polymers under development in Yu’s laboratory, confirmed by Matthew Martin. He is a project manager at University of ChicagoTech, the University’s Office of Technology and Intellectual Property. A patent is pending.

Solarmer Energy Inc. is spreading its wings in this direction. They are willing to incorporate technology invented at the University of Chicago. The commercial-grade prototype will be completed at the end of this year. It will be eight square inches with a lifetime of three years. This plastic solar device will have the efficiency of eight percent. This eight percent efficiency will give an edge to the Solarmer Energy Inc. over its competitors. Dina Lozofsky, vice president of IP development and strategic alliances at Solarmer states, “Everyone in the industry is in the 5 percent to 6 percent range.”

The active layer of PTB1 is around 100 nanometers in thickness, and the width is nearly 1,000 atoms. If we want to produce a small amount of the PTB1 material it will take considerable amount of time, and the whole procedure will be multi-step process. But, still the biggest advantage of this technology lies in its simplicity. Several products are being synthesized in other laboratories in the U.S., but the competitive advantage lies in the steps of production too. Other devices need far more extensive engineering work for commercial viability. “We think that our system has potential,” Yu said. “The best system so far reported is 6.5%, but that’s not a single device. That’s two devices.”

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 1st July 2009


Panasonic to Test

External-combustion Engine for

Recovering Waste Heat in Plant


Estir Co Ltd, a venture team of Panasonic Corp, started a verification test of the “Waste Heat Recovery Stirring Engine,” which generates electric power from waste heat in a plant, in June 2009 at Panasonic Nara Plant in Japan.

The company will test the reliability of the engine at the plant in operation in the aim of commercializing it in fiscal 2011.

estir has been engaged in the development of the stirring engine in collaboration with the National Maritime Research Institute since 2005. And it has already achieved a power generation efficiency of 15% with waste heat that was emitted from industrial furnaces such as drying, blast and heat-treating furnaces, power generating facilities, boilers and motors and has a temperature from 300 to 650°C.

This time, the company will attach the stirring engine to the chimney flue of the high-pressure air distribution equipment in Panasonic Nara Plant. It generates 500W output power by using part of waste heat having a temperature of about 300 to 500°C, which is lower than before.

If estir can verify the reliability in the test, it will develop a power generating engine with a capacity of about 5 to 10kW within fiscal 2009 in prospect of commercialization and aim to release a product in fiscal 2011 as an engine able to reduce CO2 emission at production sites.


In the industrial world, about 10% of primary energy such as petroleum and natural gas is discarded as waste heat. Therefore, energy recovery from waste heat is a major issue in reducing environmental loads.

A stirring engine is an external-combustion engine that expands and compresses the air inside the engine by using an outer heat source to obtain drive force. It can use various heat sources for power generation and is gaining attention especially in the field of energy conservation.

There has already been a stirring engine that uses heat of combustion gas with a temperature of more than 1,000°C. But it has been difficult to commercialize a stirring engine that uses waste heat having a temperature of about 300 to 500°C, such as waste heat in a plant, due to the low power generation efficiency and high costs.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 1st July 2009


Is Pink Best pink-tick-rect-button

LED Color to Grow Plants?

Nabesei Co Ltd, a company specializing in electronic parts, exhibited plants grown under LED lights in three different colors at an exhibition that took place from April 15 to 17, 2009, in Tokyo.

Plants of the same size were continuously irradiated with light from a lighting device equipped with 630nm red LEDs, a device with 430nm blue LEDs and a pink-colored LED light composed of half red LEDs and half blue LEDs.

After three weeks of irradiation, the growths of the plants were compared with one another. As a result, it was discovered that the pink LED light most effectively promotes the growth of plants, the company said.

According to Nabesei, plants do not need all wavelengths in the visible light range for their growth, but they absorb light with certain wavelengths to grow. For example, when they perform photosynthesis or come into bloom, red light around a wavelength of 660nm, which is the absorption peak for chlorophyll, promotes the growth. Meanwhile, when the plants form flower buds, blue light around a wavelength of 450nm promotes the growth.

When comparing the plants under the three kinds of light, those under the red LED light grew slower than others and were smaller as a whole. The plants under the blue LED light had fewer leaves and were spindly on the whole. On the other hand, the plants under the pink LED light had larger leaves and had generally grown in a more balanced way.

However, the wavelength ranges that affect the growth of plants are slightly different depending on the plant type. Therefore, field tests to evaluate the irradiation time and other issues should be conducted at agricultural experiment stations from now on, Nabesei said.


In line with the ban on the sale of incandescent bulbs in 2012, the company plans to focus on the application of LEDs to illumination equipment for growing chrysanthemums. The irradiation of red LED light can delay the formation of buds on chrysanthemums. Moreover, LED light keeps bugs away because the LED emission spectrum is deviated from the bugs’ visibility curve.

In addition, Nabesei exhibited a completely watertight LED light in a tank. The product is also available in a bendable type, which is suitable for interior lighting and plant cultivation requiring water sprinkling, the company said.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 1st JULY 2009


Imaging System Identifies Concealed Weapons Using RF Chips

The UC San Diego RFIC chip could lead to less expensive imagers for detecting concealed weapons.

Electrical engineers from the University of California, San Diego are using W-Band silicon-germanium (SiGe) radio frequency integrated circuits (RFICs) for passive millimeter-wave imaging. The resulting imaging systems would identify concealed weapons, help helicopters land during dust storms, and enable high-frequency data communications.

The new millimeter-wave amplifier system works at the same frequency and follows the same principles as security imaging systems now in use in airports. The new circuit is unique in that it uses standard silicon semiconductor technology, while today’s security imaging systems often rely on expensive gallium arsenide or indium phosphide amplifiers.

The circuit includes an antenna that can be used to capture radiation in the millimeter-wave frequency emitted from the human body and from objects under a person’s clothing. This radiation passes through clothing largely or completely unaffected. Imagers operating at millimeter waves are particularly useful because they can resolve images down to a millimeter scale, fine enough detail to identify small objects and separate items on a person’s body. Using signal processing, these kinds of scanners can put together a temperature map of a person’s body that includes any objects underneath the clothing.

Click here for the full story.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 1st July 2009


Exhibition Features LED

Fluorescent Lamps

A number of exhibitors showed off LED tube lamps that can be installed in existing fluorescent lamp sockets at the LED/OLED Lighting Technology Expo, which took place in Tokyo from April 15 to 17, 2009.

KFE Japan Co Ltd, for example, showcased Taiwan-made LED fluorescent lamps, which it started renting in March 2009. The company is currently renting 40 and 120cm long models for a minimum monthly fee of ¥135 (approx US$1.37) per lamp. And it will enhance the lineup and offer 30, 60 and 240cm long models from this fall.

Although LED fluorescent lamps are already available in the market, there was an increase in the number of such products that can be used with existing fluorescent lamp sockets. Many of the previous products need electric works to remove the existing sockets and reconnect wires for installation. However, if the existing sockets do not need to be removed, it is very easy to install LED fluorescent lamps.

For example, TriGem Japan Corp’s LED fluorescent lamps are compatible with about 200 kinds of sockets being used in Japan and Korea and can be installed without electrical work if the fluorescent lamp sockets are glow or rapid start type. They also support some inverter type sockets, the company said.

The products of Korea-based Teklux Co Ltd, which will be released by Japanese limited liability partnership Eco-Consortium LLP, can be used with the existing sockets except those for HF type fluorescent lamps.

The power consumption of the “TL120,” which corresponds to a 40W 120cm-long lamp, and the “TL60,” which is a substitute for a 20W 60cm-long lamp, are 23W and 13W, respectively. They will be priced at ¥18,000 and 10,000, respectively. Full-fledged sales of the products will now begin in Japan.

Koha Co Ltd will also launch a 20W-equivalent glow start type product and a 40W-equivalent rapid start type product for ¥17,000 and 10,000, respectively. Also, Toshin Electric Co Ltd released a 40W product that supports both glow and rapid start sockets (inverter type sockets are not supported).

However, some people are raising concerns about those products.

“Their power-saving effect is lessened as a result of the power consumed by the sockets, and their safety has not been verified yet,” according to an LED lamp manufacturer. Some manufacturers are recommending that customers remove the existing sockets for such reasons.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 1st July 2009


Nanao to Release LCD Monitor

with Human Presence Sensor

Eizo Nanao Corp will release a color wide LCD monitor equipped with a presence sensor.

Designed for use in offices,

the monitor detects the presence of a person with an infrared sensor.

And it shifts to the power saving mode when it finds the user leaving his or her desk and automatically resumes normal operation when the user returns.

The product comes in two types, the FlexScan EV2023W-H and the FlexScan EV2303W-T. The former is a 20-inch model with a resolution of 1,600 x 900, and the latter is a 23-inch model with 1,920 x 1,080 resolution.

The typical power consumption of the former model is 25W, and that of the latter model is 18W. In the power saving mode, the power consumption of the both models is 0.7W or lower.

The “EcoView Sense,” a power saving function based on the presence sensor, detects objects within a 120cm range from the sensor unit by using an infrared sensor installed on the lower part of the front face of the monitor. The monitor shifts to the power saving mode when it determines that nobody is in the detection range for 40 seconds.

In order to avoid malfunction in small offices or in similar situations, the monitor checks the fluctuations in the detected values. And the monitor judges that the user has left the desk when the fluctuation in the detected value is lower than the predetermined level. To discriminate a person from a chair, etc, an object that does not move for one minute or longer is determined to be a still object even if it is in the 120cm range.

From the perspective of environmental friendliness, the product has an improved recycling efficiency and is compliant with “TCO Displays 5.0,” the latest version of an international environmental standard, according to Nanao.

Also, the new product features a thin and light monitor unit. Each model has a monitor unit that is approximately 40% lighter than that of the existing model. Nanao reduced the number of sheet metal parts and increased the number of ribs in the resin parts to maintain the strength.

Furthermore, the company adopted new stand mechanisms called the “FlexStand” and the “TriStand.” The FlexStand mechanism adopted for the EV2023W-H has the “world’s largest class” height adjustment range of 225mm, according to Nanao. The mechanism has a tilt angle of 30° and a horizontal rotation angle of up to 172°. It can be vertically rotated as well.

The TriStand mechanism adopted for the EV2303W-T has a height adjustment range of 60mm, a tilt angle of 25° and a horizontal rotation angle of up to 172°. The EV2023W and the EV2303W respectively employs the vertical alignment (VA) and twisted nematic (TN) driving methods for the LCD panel.

Although there are no manufacturer’s suggested retail prices, the direct sales prices of the EV2023W-H and the EV2303W-T are ¥37,800 (approx US$385) and ¥44,800 (both including tax). They will be released May 21, 2009.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 1st July 209


China to Push Green Cars

India to Focus on Electric Vehicles

A number of lectures on the policies and current states of electric vehicle (EV) development in China and India were delivered at the 24th International Battery, Hybrid and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Symposium & Exhibition (EVS24), which took place in Norway from May 13 to 16, 2009.

China is planning to allot half the total transportation energy consumption to EVs and fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) that primarily use energy other than petroleum by 2020. In India, on the other hand, the diffusion of EVs has become an important issue due to its environmental problems and transportation conditions.

Gasoline cars, EVs to co-exist for some time in China

Automotive sales are growing extremely fast in China. They reached about 9.3 million units in 2008 and are likely to surpass 10 million units, the largest sales volume in the world, in 2010. The number of vehicles owned in China is currently 40 million and is forecast to reach 150 million in 2020.

C. C. Chan, president of the Electric Vehicle Association of Asia Pacific China, and Duan Ruichun, executive president of Chinese Electro-technical Society China, reported data on automotive development including EVs in China.

China is planning to reduce gasoline cars and hybrids, which are powered primarily by oil, and allot half the total energy consumption in the transportation segment to EVs and FCVs, which are powered by energies other than oil, Chan said.

As half of the existing cars will remain, China will (1) maintain the infrastructure for gasoline and other liquid fuels, (2) make its mileage regulation for gasoline cars etc, meet international standards and (3) give priority to high-efficiency direct-injection engine cars and hybrids until 2020.

Ruichun said China is conducting 863 projects concerning EV and FCV development to meet this goal. As a result of those projects, EVs and hybrids are currently running in 13 cities in China. And the Chinese government is planning to increase the number of those vehicles to more than 1,000 units within three years.

At first, EVs and FCVs will be diffused as means of public transportation. To accomplish this goal, the government will increase the subsidies for purchasers of electric buses, etc. For example, for the purchase of a hybrid, electric or fuel-cell bus with a total length of 10m or more, a subsidy of up to Rmb420,000 (about ¥5.88 million or US$61,600), 500,000 (¥7 million) or 600,000 (¥8.4 million) will be paid, respectively.

As for the purchase of a general EV, a subsidy of up to Rmb50,000 (¥700,000), 60,000 (840,000) and 250,000 (3.5 million) will be granted to the purchaser of a hybrid, EV and FCV, respectively.

Aided by those stimulative policies, China is already at a state where it can start producing core technologies for EVs and automotive platforms, Ruichun said.

“We have already achieved 2,000W/kg output density of a Li-ion secondary battery with a current capacity of 6 to 100Ah and mounted a 1,300W/kg output motor with more than 93% efficiency on a car,” he said, emphasizing the fact that EV development is making smooth progress in China.

EVs are suited for India

Meanwhile, Indian population will outnumber the world’s largest Chinese population, exceeding 1.4 billion in about 2030. The Indian automotive market has been growing at an annual rate of more than 15% as well. The market will maintain the same scale as in the preceding year even during the global recession of 2008 to 2009.

The diffusion of EVs seems to have become a pressing challenge in India.

“Considering environmental issues, we will face a serious trouble if we do not start spreading more EVs in priority to gasoline cars,” said Chetan Maini, deputy chairman and CTO of Reva Electric Company of India.

“In large cities, the degree of atmospheric pollution due to auto emission is by far worse than our safety standards,” said Shanta Chatterji, chairman and managing director of Chattelec Vehicles India Ltd of India. “And the number of deaths caused by diseases from air pollution has already outpaced that of deaths in traffic accidents.”

EVs are suited not only for environmental reasons but also for transportation conditions in India. Behind this is the fact that “long-distance driving is difficult in India because of heavy traffic congestion in urban areas,” Maini said. He revealed that 95% or more of automobiles in India are estimated to travel 80km or less per trip, with 80% traveling 25km or less.

“An EV equipped with a Li-ion secondary battery can travel about 120km per charge,” Maini said. “In other words, more than 95% of cars in India can be covered. Even when traveling 240km, the EV can travel the distance with a quick charge for about 1.5 hours. So, there will be no problem if more than 99% of cars in India are EVs.”

Moreover, there is little chance that traffic congestions will improve in India, where urban population is expected to increase about 50% in 20 years.

Nevertheless, the current hottest car in India is the low-priced gasoline car, “Nano,” which Tata Motors Ltd of India is planning to release. Reportedly, nearly 200,000 units of the Nano have already been ordered.

“The diffusion of the Nano is likely to worsen the current transportation conditions and environmental issues,” Maini said, commenting on the Nano.

The Nano can be used as the second car in urban areas or a convenient car for people in rural areas. In India, the number of cars purchased as the second car has reportedly surpassed that of first car purchases since 2005.

EVs recently started to penetrate India. The total sales of electric motorcycles and EVs were about 10,000 units in 2007 to 2008, but the sales are expected to sharply soar to about 110,000 units in 2008 to 2009. However, electric motorcycles are making up the majority of the sales.

Although there are more than 15 manufacturers of electric motorcycles in India, only few Indian manufacturers deal with EVs or hybrids. At this moment, Reva is the only EV manufacturer and Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd is the only hybrid manufacturer in India. Tata, on the other hand, is planning to market EVs in Europe as a starter.

The Indian government is currently devising policies with three pillars, “ecology,” “economy” and “social equity,” to diffuse EVs. Of these three pillars, EVs hold the key to both ecology and economy, Chatterji said.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 1st July 2009


Mitsubishi Heavy to Test CO2

Recovery from Coal-fired Flue Gas

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd (MHI) and Southern Company, a major US power company, will jointly launch a field test in 2011 to recover high-purity carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal-fired flue gas.

The two companies will set up a CO2 recovery demonstration plant, which is designed to be built at a medium-scale thermal power station in Alabama, the US. Based on the results of this demonstration plant, they will aim to commercialize the recovery plant in the future.

The field test will be subsidized by the US government. The demonstration plant will be constructed in Plant Barry, a coal-fired power station owned by Southern’s subsidiary Alabama Power. Recovered CO2 will be compressed and stored in an aquifer deep underground.

The demonstration plant is composed of various facilities such as those for pre-processing, CO2 absorption/reclamation (absorption and reclamation towers) and CO2 injection. The plant will recover 500t of CO2 per day (equivalent to that produced when 25,000kW electricity is generated). The recovery rate is 90% or higher. The purity of recovered CO2 is expected to be 99.9%.

The recovery process is as follows. Coal-fired flue gas contains not only CO2 but also ‘impurities’ such as SOx, NOx, heavy metals and halogen compounds. These impurities are removed as much as possible in the pre-processing facilities, and the flue gas is cooled to near room temperature.

Flue gas with most impurities removed is taken into the absorption tower. Inside the tower, the gas is brought into contact with an absorbing solution so that only CO2 is absorbed into the solution. The solvent, “KS-1,” is an amine-based material co-developed by MHI and Kansai Electric Power Co Inc.

Next, the solution containing CO2 is sent to the reclamation tower, where CO2 and the solution are separated from each other by heating. Then, CO2 is recovered, and the solution is recycled.

MHI has already commercialized a system to recover CO2 from natural gas-fired flue gas. But, in order to apply this system to coal-fired flue gas, an additional process is required to remove heavy metals and halogen compounds because the impurities contained in natural gas-fired flue gas are only SOx and NOx.

Electric Power Development Co Ltd is also testing a CO2 recovery plant for coal-fired flue gas at its Matsushima Thermal Power Plant. However, the amount of CO2 recovered at the plant is only 10t per day. Therefore, a field test needs to be carried out using a larger scale plant for commercialization.

In addition to the field test announced this time, MHI is planning to construct a demonstration plant with a recovery capacity of 3,000t per day in the UK and intends to start trial operations in 2015.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 1st July 2009


NGK Develops High-efficiency

Hydrogen Fuel Cell

Jun 15, 2009 17:53
Hiroshi Idegawa, Nikkei Monozukuri

NGK Insulators Ltd developed a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) that uses hydrogen gas as fuel and achieved a lower heating value (LHV) of 63%, one of the highest in the world.

The SOFC features a power output of 700W and an operating temperature of 800°C.

The company lowered the resistance value by completely coating the cell’s supporting anode with a thin film (5?m thick) of electrolyte (zirconia) and secured a sufficient power generation area by forming cathodes on both sides of the cell to achieve the large output, it said.

To evenly spread fuel gas to the entire cell, flow channels for fuel gas were formed inside the prototype cell. The thickness of the cell is 1.5mm. Also, the new fuel cell is superior in terms of size and cost because it can generate power on both the top and bottom sides and its flow channels eliminate the need for components (separators) to separate fuel gas from air, NGK Insulators said.

The company provided a stack in which tens of the cells are layered to a leading oil company in Japan, asking it to evaluate the fuel cell’s power generation performance. And it will aim to commercialize the cell for use in homes and commercial facilities such as convenience stores and shopping malls by further improving its performance. The company is planning to advance the development through technical alliances and joint developments with other companies.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 1st July 2009