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Helium Discovery

heliumNews broke recently of the discovery of a huge pocket of helium in the Tanzanian East African Rift Valley, calming fears of a shortage of the useful element. Already, a Canadian city has banned filling balloons with the non-renewable resource. Helium has a variety of industrial uses, from semiconductors to medical equipment to propulsion and lasers. Now scientists from Oxford and Durham Universities, working with Norwegian company Helium One, have announced that they located shallow pockets filled with the valuable gas under rocks in a volcanically active valley. The pocket could be as large as 54 Billion Cubic Feet (BCf), compared to total known reserves in the USA of 153 BCf. The findings are being presented this week at the Goldschmidt geochemistry conference in Yokohama, Japan.

For more information, visit: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-06/uoo-hhd062416.php

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NASA Pushes Toward Electric Flight by 2018

The X-57, NASA’s latest experimental aircraft, is a small passenger plane with electric motors powered by lithium-ion battery cells. It’s based on the Tecnam P2006T, a four-seat plane made in Italy. NASA has replaced the original wing and twin engines with an array of fourteen propellers across a custom-designed wing. The motors at each wingtip provides 60 kW each, for cruising at altitude, while a dozen smaller 11 kW motors placed along the length of the wing are employed for takeoff and landing. The electric motors are powered by an array of 18,650 COTS battery cells. Sean Clarke, NASA co-principal investigator, explained, “We don’t have access to any fancy space technologies. It’s the same battery technology the automotive industry is using.”

NASA's experimental X-57 electric plane
Photo: NASA

NASA’s schedule for the X-57 is to begin test flights in early 2018. With the constant progress in battery energy density, NASA’s engineers foresee aviation manufacturers integrating the technology within ten years. They see the X-57 as an opportunity to test ideas, including hybrid electric/liquid fuel power, controlling peak power output, and new chassis designs. Clarke said, “This is an opportunity to go back to the drawing board and rethink some of the old assumptions.”

Read the full article at http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=280813

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Advances in RF Power for IoT Devices

Freevolt courtesy of Drayson TechnologiesAlthough early in development, soon radio frequency (RF) signals will soon be able to deliver electricity wirelessly to small internet-enabled devices outside the lab. Researchers at Drayson Technologies in the UK are working on their technology, called Freevolt, which harnesses the RF energy from wifi and broadcast networks and provides it to ultra-low-power devices like wearables and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices. What makes Freevolt different from previous versions of the technology is the absence of a transmitter. Instead, the technology employs a rectifier and multiband antenna to harvest energy from multiple RF bands. The company plans to license the technology to a variety of markets. Full article at DesignNews.com.

WISP courtesy University of WashingtonThe Wireless Identification and Sensing Platform (WISP) is a mini sensor-based platform suitable for IoT applications. Engineers from the University of Washington and the Delft University of Technology have used their research in transmitting energy to low-power devices to create this new, open-source platform. Incorporating sensors with UHF RFID readers and a fully programmable 16-mit microcontroller allows WISP to be far more flexible and versatile than traditional RFID tags. Potential applications include reactions to changes in environment and cryptography, bolstered by the ability to perform these tasks without a battery. Full Article at DesignNews.com.

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Nanowires in Solar Technologies

There was recently an article in DesignNews about advances in nanowire technology for solar applications. Sol Voltaics is using gallium aresenide (GaAs) to create a film to add to solar panels to increase their efficiency. The Swedish company has been successful with the challenging process of aligning and orienting .00008 inch nanowires to create the film, called SolFilm. This breakthough promises to allow solar panels to achieve 28% and greater efficiency, a significant increase over current silicon-based technologies. Samples of this promising technology should be available within 18 to 24 months. For more information, visit Sol Voltaics website or read the original article on DesignNews.com.

MiQ

Assembling Medical Devices from Nitinol

In February 2016’s issue of Assembly magazine, Austin Weber delves into a promising alloy called Nitinol. Medical companies are exploring new avenues for device assembly with the alloy of nickel and titanium which was discovered at the Naval Ordinance Laboratory, hence the name Nitinol.

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What makes Nitinol unusual is the combination of superelasticity, the ability to return to a preformed state, and response to variations in temperature or application of electrical current by changing length or shape.

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MiQ

Why Should Medical Products Manufacturers Worry About ‘Smart Assets’ and Data Security?

In the current age, the rise of Internet-enabled connectivity has pushed advancements in various fields, in particular the medical industry. For medical products manufacturers in the field, you likely know the use of “smart assets” for medical devices has changed the industry and increased its reliance on technology. But what about security? Our team explores this topic and its implications for the industry below.
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Growth of Robotics Manufacturing Industry Part Two – The Market for Contract Manufacturing Robotics

In part one of our blog, we explored the various benefits that the increased use of robotics in contract manufacturing brings to the industry with a focus on the service side of things. In this blog, we’re shifting our focus more to the business side of things to examine the evolving market of robotics. With more and more advancements being made in the industry each day, its is beginning to garner the attention of investors and those noticing its rapid expansion, as we explore below.

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MiQ

Growth of Robotics Manufacturing Industry Part One – Benefits of Robots for Contract Manufacturing Services

For those working in the robotics manufacturing industry and dealing with contract manufacturing services, it’s certainly an exciting time – between the year 2010 and 2014, average worldwide robot sales shot up at a combined annual growth rate of 17 percent, as reported by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR). With the IFR predicting a continued increase in global robot installations, further advancements will continue to help manufacturing services.

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MiQ

Will the Rise of Automation and Robots Put You out of a Job, or Give You a New One?

With the recent rise of robots and automation in the manufacturing industry, many people are worried that they are limiting the job potential for human workers. However, recent research is still unclear as to whether this is true and some point to robots as actually having a positive impact on job growth. Our experts at MiQ Partners explore this issue and the role of custom automation companies in it in our blog below.

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