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Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 25th March 2010

Fuel-cell Assisted Bike Comes With

Li-ion Battery

Mar 9, 2010 10:03 Tsunenori Tomioka, Nikkei Monozukuri

Iwatani Corp exhibited a fuel-cell assisted bicycle that charges a lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery by using a polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC) system with an output of about 60W.

The bicycle was showcased at FC Expo 2010, which took place from March 3 to 5, 2010, in Tokyo. And it is now being tested at the Kansai International Airport. The Li-ion battery (26V, 4Ah) supplies electricity to a motor. The PEFC system is mounted on the luggage carrier above the rear tire of the bicycle.

Hydrogen, which is used as a fuel, is stored in a hydrogen cartridge. When the cartridge is full and the battery is fully-charged, the bicycle can travel about 45km (it may change depending on driving conditions). The PEFC system can generate electricity for about three hours.

The PEFC system consists of the hydrogen cartridge, a coupler for connecting the cartridge, an adjusting valve for reducing the pressure of hydrogen coming from the cartridge, PEFC, a blower for sending air to the PEFC and a DC-DC converter.

The hydrogen cartridge stores hydrogen by using a hydrogen absorbing alloy. With an internal capacity of 0.25L, it can store 7g of hydrogen (equivalent to 80L under a pressure of 1 atm). It uses 750g of the hydrogen absorbing alloy that contains titanium zirconium.

With the coupler, the hydrogen cartridge can be attached just by inserting the inlet/outlet of the cartridge. When it is inserted, the adjusting valve opens. Though the pressure of the hydrogen coming from the cartridge does not exceed 1MPa, it is still high. Therefore, the valve is used to lower the pressure before the hydrogen is supplied to the PEFC system.

The output voltage of the PEFC is 30 to 35V. And it is lowered by the DC-DC converter to 26V to charge the Li-ion battery. The mass of the PEFC system is 1.1kg.

To fill the cartridge with hydrogen, a device called “bomb stocker” is used. It is installed in the Kansai International Airport.

According to Iwatani, the PEFC’s output power of 60W is not enough.

“Depending on driving conditions, it sometimes cannot supply the bicycle with enough electricity,” it said.

Currently, the company is not considering commercializing the bicycle, but it is aiming to enhance the output power of the PEFC system.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 16th March 2010

March 7: 1876 : Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone

On this day in 1876, 29-year-old Alexander Graham Bell receives a patent for his revolutionary new invention–the telephone.

The Scottish-born Bell worked in London with his father, Melville Bell, who developed Visible Speech, a written system used to teach speaking to the deaf. In the 1870s, the Bells moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where the younger Bell found work as a teacher at the Pemberton Avenue School for the Deaf. He later married one of his students, Mabel Hubbard.

While in Boston, Bell became very interested in the possibility of transmitting speech over wires. Samuel F.B. Morse’s invention of the telegraph in 1843 had made nearly instantaneous communication possible between two distant points. The drawback of the telegraph, however, was that it still required hand-delivery of messages between telegraph stations and recipients, and only one message could be transmitted at a time. Bell wanted to improve on this by creating a “harmonic telegraph,” a device that combined aspects of the telegraph and record player to allow individuals to speak to each other from a distance.

With the help of Thomas A. Watson, a Boston machine shop employee, Bell developed a prototype. In this first telephone, sound waves caused an electric current to vary in intensity and frequency, causing a thin, soft iron plate–called the diaphragm–to vibrate. These vibrations were transferred magnetically to another wire connected to a diaphragm in another, distant instrument. When that diaphragm vibrated, the original sound would be replicated in the ear of the receiving instrument. Three days after filing the patent, the telephone carried its first intelligible message–the famous “Mr. Watson, come here, I need you”–from Bell to his assistant.

Bell’s patent filing beat a similar claim by Elisha Gray by only two hours. Not wanting to be shut out of the communications market, Western Union Telegraph Company employed Gray and fellow inventor Thomas A. Edison to develop their own telephone technology. Bell sued, and the case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld Bell’s patent rights. In the years to come, the Bell Company withstood repeated legal challenges to emerge as the massive American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) and form the foundation of the modern telecommunications industry.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 11th March 2010

1899 : Bayer patents aspirin

On this day in 1899, the Imperial Patent Office in Berlin registers Aspirin, the brand name for acetylsalicylic acid, on behalf of the German pharmaceutical company Friedrich Bayer & Co.

Now the most common drug in household medicine cabinets, acetylsalicylic acid was originally made from a chemical found in the bark of willow trees. In its primitive form, the active ingredient, salicin, was used for centuries in folk medicine, beginning in ancient Greece when Hippocrates used it to relieve pain and fever. Known to doctors since the mid-19thcentury, it was used sparingly due to its unpleasant taste and tendency to damage the stomach.

In 1897, Bayer employee Felix Hoffman found a way to create a stable form of the drug that was easier and more pleasant to take. (Some evidence shows that Hoffman’s work was really done by a Jewish chemist, Arthur Eichengrun, whose contributions were covered up during the Nazi era.) After obtaining the patent rights, Bayer began distributing aspirin in powder form to physicians to give to their patients one gram at a time. The brand name came from “a” for acetyl, “spir” from the spirea plant (a source of salicin) and the suffix “in,” commonly used for medications. It quickly became the number-one drug worldwide.
Aspirin was made available in tablet form and without a prescription in 1915. Two years later, when Bayer’s patent expired during the First World War, the company lost the trademark rights to aspirin in various countries. After the United States entered the war against Germany in April 1917, the Alien Property Custodian, a government agency that administers foreign property, seized Bayer’s U.S. assets. Two years later, the Bayer company name and trademarks for the United States and Canada were auctioned off and purchased by Sterling Products Company, later Sterling Winthrop, for $5.3 million.

Bayer became part of IG Farben, the conglomerate of German chemical industries that formed the financial heart of the Nazi regime. After World War II, the Allies split apart IG Farben, and Bayer again emerged as an individual company. Its purchase of Miles Laboratories in 1978 gave it a product line including Alka-Seltzer and Flintstones and One-A-Day Vitamins. In 1994, Bayer bought Sterling Winthrop’s over-the-counter business, gaining back rights to the Bayer name and logo and allowing the company once again to profit from American sales of its most famous product.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha 17th March 2010

Toshiba Enters Residential Solar Cell

System Market

Mar 2, 2010 12:57 Motonobu Kawai, Nikkei Electronics

Toshiba Corp will start selling residential solar cell systems using SunPower Corp’s monocrystalline silicon solar battery module April 1, 2010.

“We decided to enter the residential solar cell system market to promote our electric appliance and smart grid businesses,” the company said.

Toshiba plans to sell its solar cell systems together with its “SCiB” lithium-ion batteries and smart meters in the future.

All of the devices used for the residential solar cell system are purchased from outside companies, including the solar battery module, power conditioner (power conversion efficiency: 94%) and color display. Among them, SunPower’s solar battery module, “SPR-210N-WHT-J,” features a cell conversion efficiency as high as 21.5%, which Toshiba claims is the world’s highest level for commercialized solar cells.

The high conversion efficiency was realized by, for example, employing the monocrystalline silicon cell and the back-contact structure, in which electrodes are formed only on the back to increase the light-receiving area. The conversion efficiency as a module is 16.9%, and the maximum output is 210W.

The advantage of the back-contact structure is not only the enhancement of conversion efficiency. Because there is no electrode on the surface, electrodes do not glare when solar batteries are mounted. Some construction firms say that the electrodes on the surface of solar cells are a problem in designing, and this problem can be solved by employing the structure.

Toshiba’s employment of SunPower’s solar battery module will probably influence the business strategies of Japanese solar cell manufacturers. So far, Sanyo Electric Co Ltd’s HIT (heterojunction with intrinsic thin layer) solar cell has been known as a solar cell with a high conversion efficiency in Japan.

Sanyo and SunPower have been competing for the highest conversion efficiency at academic conferences. Also, as for the back-contact structure, Kyocera Corp is planning to release a product using polysilicon solar cells with the structure.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 4th March 2010

All-solid Li-polymer Battery Goes

Flexible, Slim

2010 21:39 Tetsuo Nozawa, Nikkei Electronics

Mie Industry Enterprise Support Center (MIESC) announced that it prototyped a “sheet-type all-solid polymer lithium storage battery” by using only printing processes.

The battery is safe, thin, flexible and large in area, MIESC said. It will be exhibited at the 1st Int’l Rechargeable Battery Expo, which will take place from March 3 to 5, 2010, in Tokyo.

The positive electrode layer, electrolyte layer and negative electrode layer of the lithium-ion battery are made by roll-to-roll processes. No separator is used between layers.

The positive electrode is made with LiFePO4 and a carbon complex while the negative electrode is made with Li4Ti5O12 and a complex of graphite, silicon, etc. A film made of a polymer material using a cross-linked polyethylene oxide is used for the electrolyte.

The polymer material is not in a gel state but in a solid state, and the battery does not use an organic electrolyte, which is flammable, ensuring high safety.

The A6-size lithium-ion battery is 450?m in thickness. Its initial capacity is 45mAh. When half of the capacity is discharged, its voltage is 1.8V. The discharge rate can be changed between 0.02C and 1.0C.

Existing all-solid lithium polymer storage batteries can hardly be used at a room temperature or below. But the new battery can be used even at a temperature from 0 to 25°C, MIESC said. The charge-discharge cycle is more than 100 and is still being evaluated, it said.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 4th March 2010


to Release 1-seater Electric Robot


Feb 25, 2010 14:53 Tsunenori Tomioka, Nikkei Monozukuri

ZMP Inc will release the “RoboCar G,” a one-seater electric vehicle (EV), expecting that it will be used for the researches of next-generation vehicles.

The RoboCar G is based on a one-seater EV developed by the Next-gen EV Study Group at Gunma University. And ZMP added its technologies and know-how accumulated from the development of the Robocar, a platform for research and development assistance in the field of robotics (See related article), to it.

“We developed the RoboCar G for research and development using a car that is large enough for practical use,” ZMP said.

Sensors that can be mounted on the vehicle include a laser range finder, a stereo camera, a GPS (global positioning system), an IMU (inertial measurement unit), a milliwave radar and a sonar sensor. Sensors will be mounted in accordance with user needs and connected with one another via a network. And the RoboCar G will be shipped as a computer-controlled robot vehicle.

It will be built to order, and its price will be determined based on the types and the number of mounted sensors. Shipment will begin in or after November 2010.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 3rd March 2010

The man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar instead of how little he can give for a dollar is bound to succeed


Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha