Gentherm Added To The Standard & Poor’s SmallCap 600® Index

Gentherm Battery Thermal ManagementGentherm (nasdaq-gs:THRM), the global market leader and developer of innovative thermal management technologies, announced today that the Company has been selected by S&P Dow Jones Indices to join the S&P SmallCap 600® after the close of trading on April 1, 2015.

The Company’s advanced technology team is developing more efficient materials for thermoelectric and systems for waste heat recovery and electrical power generation for the automotive market that may have far-reaching applications for consumer products as well as industrial and technology markets.

Click on the following link to read the full article about Gentherm Added To The Standard & Poor’s SmallCap 600® Index.

Battery Technology: Why Honda Wants to Come Home With You

Electric Car On RoadAutomakers are often seen as one of the biggest innovators in improving battery technology in order to help improve the efficiency of hybrid and all-electric vehicles. However, they are also looking at solutions for homeowners who are trying to go green, and this research could mean an increase in the need for aluminum soldering.

Honda has been showing off an experimental house they built with the help of the University of California, Davis, according to a New York Times report. They want to integrate the batteries used in electric vehicles into the home’s mini-power grid for a very important purpose: storing energy developed from solar panels or other renewable energy sources.

They are “part of a larger energy system [now], and I think the greatest opportunity for automakers is figuring out how their vehicles become part of that system,” the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies director told the newspaper. Honda, Ford, Tesla and other companies envision the vehicles as energy storage sources along with other battery-based systems.

This is important because in the overwhelming number of cases, solar panels generate more electricity than most homes need at the time, so the power goes back to the local utility which “buys” it from the homeowner in the form of a rebate on their monthly bill. This can be problematic because homeowners cannot control their own supply or choose what to do with it based on differences in price.

Batteries in both cars and homes make a certain amount of sense and the Honda example includes a 10 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. For reference, a federal agency found that in 2012 that the Mid-Atlantic states consumed 701 kWh per month. Batteries in the home like this could give homeowners additional options for their power usage needs. Better battery technology will play a huge role in this, but the technology isn’t there yet. This is where aluminum soldering comes into play.

Joining dissimilar materials is a key part of making better, longer-lasting batteries with the aid of various alloys and in some cases ceramics. Aluminum solder allows these materials to be joined at a lower temperature, opening up more possibilities for researchers and engineers. The home of the future may have its own battery, but it would be more beneficial if the capacity was larger than a few hours of the average day in the Mid-Atlantic States.

For more information on the Honda Smart Home project and related efforts, the original New York Times piece is available.


Fracking Successes Don’t Diminish Alternative Energy Opportunities

At a time when the U.S. Energy Information Administration has announced significant growth in total natural gas and oil production, it may seem like there are fewer opportunities for alternative energy projects in the United States. However, if companies that produce batteries can improve storage capacity and lifetime for their products, the incentives for companies to develop wind, solar and other energy generation alternatives will be much greater.

Over the past five years, petroleum energy source production has increased by about 25 percent. However, concerns about the chemicals used to force out oil and gas in previously unproductive areas have also grown. Companies do not have to release the contents of their proprietary solutions. There is one major issue that companies that take advantage of solar panels and other alternative energy generation options must solve: better batteries.

Alternatiive Energy - Wind Farms In Texas and the Central Valley of California, it is easy to see massive wind farms, with turbines dotting hillsides. However, just as with wave and solar power, the energy delivery is not consistent. Turbines won’t turn on calm days, and PV panels will not develop power on cloudy days. Currently, homeowners with solar panels can “sell” excess electricity back to their utility company, but on a large scale that is not feasible.

Companies that use metal solders as part of programs to improve battery life will help make the largest leap in technology for perhaps a decade or more. Currently, advances in power management and reduced consumption electronics materials have masked the fact that battery technology has failed to keep up. Whether it is the use of new alloys, manufacturing processes or other ways to improve both capacity and lifetime, research is now placing new emphasis on materials.

To do so will make renewable energy applications like solar panels and wind turbines more feasible on a larger scale. Currently, small-scale projects include a two megawatt battery in the Orkney Islands of Britain and Duke Energy’s 36 megawatt battery for a remote wind farm in Texas, the New York Times report notes.

For more information on the growth of fracking, visit  http://www.hattiesburgamerican.com/article/20131011/OPINION01/310110002/Alternative-energy-hold-now. The New York Times piece on efforts to make renewable energy projects sustainable is available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/03/business/energy-environment/Filling-the-Gaps-in-the-Flow-of-Renewable-Energy.html?_r=0

Nokia unveils new phone with 35-hour battery

With some manufacturers jamming as many features, services and methods of mobile connectivity as will fit into their newest models of smartphones, it seems as though the latest devices are struggling more than ever to maintain a strong battery life. However, one company is going in the opposite direction, announcing a new phone that will hold its charge for an astonishing 35 days – and it only costs $20.

The Nokia 105, is a bit of a throwback for the Finnish phone producer, which had gained a reputation for producing simple, durable phones before going heavy into the smartphone market in recent years. Like many of its ancestors, the Nokia 105 is marketed as a tough phone with a keypad that is dust-proof and splash-proof. As to features, though, the phone doesn't offer much else.

With a 1.4-inch screen, the Nokia 105 provides little visual feedback for users and features a handful of games and multimedia options. It also lacks a camera. The phone will make calls and send and receive text messages, but that's about it – an unusual concept considering the dominance of smartphones on major markets today.

It's for that exact reason that Nokia is only releasing the phone in smaller, developing countries, as part of an effort to make its devices available to the many people around the globe who wouldn't normally have the money for a cell phone and have only limited access to power sources.

Nokia's move flies in the face of what many cell phone manufacturers are doing. While companies like Apple and Samsung are in a slugfest to find out which one can produce the device that is most aesthetically pleasing and has the most power, it's a fascinating change of pace to see companies like Nokia focusing on a phone's fundamental elements, such as the bonding of battery terminals and thermal management technologies.

USC researchers announce new battery design with triple the lifespan

By using a breakthrough design for lithium batteries that eliminates one of the main factors for deterioration, particularly in the current generations of lithium-silicon cells, researchers at the University of Southern California have developed a new battery model that boasts vastly improved longevity as well as shortened charging times, as a report published in Nano Research shows.

The revolutionary batteries will be available for use in small electronic devices, cars and everything in between. They will reportedly have triple the life of a conventional graphite-based battery and can be charged in just 10 minutes, according to a release from the University.

The research group, led by USC Viterbi School of Engineering professor Chongwu Zhou, was comprised of a team of graduate students who worked to come up with a solution to a problem faced by nearly all silicon-based batteries on the market today. Currently, the anodes of batteries consist of microscopic-thin sheets of metal – silicon in the case of many newer batters – and create a current by passing lithium ions through the sheets.

However, when the ions pass through the sheets, they force the metal to expand and shrink and, over time, break down. According to the Nano Research report, the USC team scrapped the idea of using sheets all together, instead using a silicon and titanium-based nanotube array structure "that is much more conducive to letting the ions pass through it than the solid sheets.

"It's an exciting research. It opens the door for the design of the next generation lithium-ion batteries," said Zhou, who was instrumental in the design of the arrays, which are less than 100 nanometers wide.

The newly developed array for the battery, which involves both silicon and titanium-based substances, is an example of how bonding dissimilar metals is a vital aspect of developing new energy technologies. Companies such as S-Bond that specialize in the creation of these components will be critical in driving future advances in the industry.

Now is the time for advance battery and alternative energy technologies to leap forward

In the month of February we have seen two incidents that have brought the need for advanced battery technologies to the attention of millions of Americans. Earlier this month, sports fans – and fans of funny TV commercials – had their gameday festivities interrupted when a power outage at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, halted the Super Bowl for 34 minutes.

And, more recently, the winter storm playfully named Nemo – reminding many of the animated film “Finding Nemo” – was anything but humorous when hundreds of thousands lost electricity thanks to heavy snowfall and jarring winds. We could even look back a few months further at the outages that lasted for more than a week in some areas following Hurricane Sandy.

Each of these offer strong arguments for a renewed focus on backup power and advanced battery technologies. Not only can they help to avoid the disruption to daily life and major events that come with blackouts, but they also offer a  critical component in the success of alternative energy technologies like solar and wind power installations.

James Greenberger, the executive director of NAATBatt, a trade association representing many companies in the advanced battery technologies industry, recently wrote an article for The Energy Collective. In it, he said that the best and most effective advertisement during this year’s Super Bowl didn’t cost millions of dollars, nor did it last 30 seconds. It was a free 34-minute commercial for better battery and backup power solutions.

“The message that the industry needs to deliver is clear:  While battery backup power systems are by no means a complete solution to power reliability problems, they can provide a margin of power and comfort in moments of grid interruption that would be welcomed and highly valued by millions of American consumers,” Greenberger wrote.

Ultimately, innovative methods for bonding of battery terminals and other power storage technologies can improve the energy efficiency of everything from wind turbines and solar panel installations to eco-friendly cars and more. Could there have been a more effective Super Bowl ad than 34 minutes without power during the biggest sporting event of the year in America?

Battery technologies could bridge gap between electric vehicle expectations and performance

The demand for more alternative energy technologies and efficient, eco-friendly modes of transport is on the rise, as evidenced by the recent fracas between automaker Tesla and The New York Times.

Times reporter John Broder took the Tesla Model S electric car for a test drive to see if it lived up to the hype. In reading his article, one would have to surmise that it fell short – both literally and figuratively.

According to Broder, he charged the vehicle at a charging station in Newark, Delaware, before beginning his journey. The car gave him a 242-mile estimate before another charge would be necessary, which suited him just fine considering the next charging station was 206 miles away in Milford, Connecticut. But, Broder reported that he just barely made it to Milford.

Then, when stopping for the night in Groton, Connecticut, the vehicle told him he had about 90 miles of range left before another charge was needed. When he awoke the next morning however, that number dropped to 25 miles. After using a low-power socket to charge the Model S, the car reportedly died 17 miles short of his destination.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk decried the Times report in a public statement, saying that it was “false” and that Broder did not charge the vehicle to full capacity, that he traveled at speeds substantially over the posted limit and took an unplanned detour through heavy traffic in downtown Manhattan.

Of course, the Times stands by Broder and his account, so we’ll have to wait until Tesla releases the vehicle logs for the journey before it is known exactly what happened. But this example perfectly illustrates how there is a clear desire and demand for electric vehicles not only to work, but to eventually replace their fossil fuel-reliant predecessors.

In order for this to happen, automakers are going to have to invest in innovative battery technologies, including cutting-edge methods for the bonding of battery terminals.

Electric car comes with individual motors for each wheel

Research being done at Ohio State University could foreshadow a new generation of electric cars that weigh half as much as traditional consumer vehicles while making substantial improvements to energy efficiency, traction and maneuverability. And it could all be possible through innovative battery and thermal management technologies.

“With four wheels that turn independently, each with its own built-in electric motor and set of batteries, the experimental car is the only one of its kind outside of commercial carmakers’ laboratories,” according to a recent Tech Briefs article.

The news source added that “conventional cars are much more limited in maneuverability by the transmission and differential systems that link the wheels together mechanically. The four independent wheels of the electric car give drivers greater control and more freedom of movement.”

With each wheel having its own 7.5 kW electric motor and a 15 kW lithium-ion battery pack, motorists will have far greater control over their vehicles if these become commercially available. For example, as the article explained, the car has no traditional engine or transmission because of the wheel-specific electric motors. The resultant reduced weight and the ability to have one wheel brake while others accelerate mitigates risks of fishtailing in wet road conditions.

More and more, we are seeing technology breakthroughs that hinge on advanced manufacturing techniques, like state-of-the-art bonding of battery terminals or heat sink assembly. These processes hold the keys to more powerful and efficient consumer products, clean energy systems and a myriad of other market game-changers.

And even if one project does not ultimately make it big in the business and consumer spheres, the lessons learned during its evolution often help to write the first chapter of the next great success story.

The right thermal management technologies could correct the course of Boeing’s Dreamliner

As this blog discussed last week, the woes that have beset Boeing’s 787 Dreamliners appear to be related to problems with thermal management technologies used in lithium ion batteries onboard the craft.

Several airlines operating Dreamliners have reported swollen and leaking batteries and subsequent fires. Such incidents have prompted emergency landings, flight cancellations and aviation regulatory bodies in several countries issuing orders grounding the jets until their investigations can be completed.

These are the latest in a series of technical difficulties Boeing’s newest 787s have encountered since they were first used in late 2011, not to mention numerous production delays prior to that. So, is the 787 Dreamliner the aviation industry equivalent of a lemon? A recent article in The Verge says that it is not, and makes a compelling argument as to why.

“Government regulators, manufacturers like Boeing, Airbus, and Embraer, airlines, and pilots operate out of an abundance of caution because the stakes are so high with every flight that leaves the ground, and you’d be hard pressed to find a single model of airliner that hasn’t been beset with numerous upgrades and retroactive fixes designed to make them safer,” the article says.

The news source goes on to cite a bevy of difficulties other manufacturers and commercial aircraft have faced throughout the years. In the case of the Dreamliner, there doesn’t seem to be a particularly vexing problem that has Boeing engineers scratching their heads. Dealing with thermally conductive materials and innovating the appropriate battery and active solder technologies is something that companies like S-Bond have been doing for years.

Does Boeing have some adjustments to make? Sure. But, thanks to industry leaders that are never caught resting on their laurels, they are far from having to scrap the more than $30 billion The Verge reports Boeing spent on research and development for the Dreamliner.

Green taxis help save the environment

As evidenced by previous posts in this blog, it is impossible to stress the importance of alternative energy technologies enough. Solar and wind power have come a long way in the last decade, and as we continue to develop innovative ways of making these power sources more efficient and affordable, they will play an increasingly significant role in the preservation of our global environment.

Battery and energy storage technologies are perhaps equally important in the struggle to curb climate change and pollution. With the world's population climbing at the fastest rate in history, there are more and more automobiles hitting the streets every day.

Consider major metropolitan areas like New York, Chicago, Boston and Washington, D.C. The vehicle traffic alone in these cities accounts for staggering amounts of greenhouse emissions. And, it's not just individual car owners contributing to this. Think of the thousands upon thousands of taxis transporting people to and from points all throughout these cities.

Thankfully, several cities are beginning to recognize the benefits of a green cab fleet. As a recent article in The Atlantic Cities points out, a fleet of all-electric taxis is awaiting what many feel is an inevitable approval from the county government to launch next year in Arlington, Virginia.

The city of Chicago started its own green taxi program last year, and across the pond in London they have been embracing hybrid taxis since 2004, the news source reports. In fact, this past summer, the city tested out five zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell cabs that can travel up to 250 miles before needing to be recharged.

Through state-of-the-art bonding of battery terminals and energy storage technologies, the harmful emissions in these metropolitan meccas can be drastically reduced, while air quality improves by leaps and bounds.