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Daily industrial news and top headlines for plant and maintenance managers

Licensed To Flex Feedstock Muscle

January 4, 2010 8:16 am | by Carrie Ellis & Luke Simpson, Editors, Chem.Info | Articles | Comments

Nobody would believe it until they saw it—especially leery investors. But FlexEthanol technology is here today and readily available. October 15 was the big day for Coskata Inc. After more than three years spent refining the technology that has excited investors like General Motors, the ambitious cellulosic ethanol company declared itself open for business.

Boiling Up A Pot Of Conservation

December 23, 2009 6:17 am | Articles | Comments

As part of its compliance with a PepsiCo corporate mandate on resource conservation, the Quaker Oats Bridgeview Division food manufacturing plant has installed two Miura Boiler LX200 gas-fired steam boilers to reduce fuel and water consumption, increase energy efficiency, and cut emissions.

Forget The Hybrid, Let's Start Composting

December 22, 2009 11:14 am | Articles | Comments

Vertal, a British composting company, has introduced some of the most innovative technology when it comes to turning our organic waste — you know, that steak you couldn't quite finish last weekend — into energy. Unlike other technologies, the process is entirely self-heated, so the company does not have to use any energy in the composting process, which is called autothermal thermophilic aerobic digestion.

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Hackers: Criminals Or Just Unemployed?

December 22, 2009 11:05 am | Articles | Comments

Hackers can bring down government agencies, hijack websites, and snoop on private information. But sometimes, they're just looking for a job. At the U.S. Cyber Challenge, hackers battle each other in a multi-faceted battle — they have to exploit other systems while protecting their own. The contest isn't just about being able to hack into another system, but rather finding these intelligent and tech-savvy youth constructive and non-exploitative outlets for their hacking skills.

Making Candy Canes... As Hard As Steel

December 22, 2009 10:43 am | Articles | Comments

Like most anything else eaten during the holidays, most of us don't know where candy canes come from, or how they're made. Turns out it's not all that different from making steel. Just more... sweet. If you're having trouble watching this video, try downloading the latest version of Flash Player or contacting your IT department.

How An Engineer Puts Up Christmas Lights

December 22, 2009 10:35 am | Articles | Comments

Christmas lights are a trademark of the season, but some homeowners take the tradition a little further than others. While some settle for a single dim string on the bush beside their front door, others opt for something more luminescent. See what happens when a database engineer from Middletown, OH gets into the holiday spirit.

'Greening' Building-Sized Christmas Lights

December 22, 2009 10:25 am | Articles | Comments

Every year, Hong Kong lights up for the holidays. That is, they decorate their high-rise buildings in millions lights, all in dazzling displays and patterns. For years, the bulbs were a drain on the city's electrical supply, until the designers began to switch to energy-efficient, long-lasting LED lights.

Reducing Emissions While Recouping Costs

December 18, 2009 4:05 am | by Karl Walby | Articles | Comments

The aluminum division of CMWA approached the Environmental and Energy Systems group of Dürr Systems Inc. in keeping with their green factory efforts and a focus on reducing fuel consumption. The plant was in the midst of a company-wide initiative to reduce energy at both the aluminum and steel wheel divisions.

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CSB Warnings: The Fiery Side Of Ice

December 16, 2009 11:24 am | Articles | Comments

An idled pipe and cold temperatures set off a series of events that culminated in a gas explosion and chlorine gas release at Valero's McKee refinery. The CSB looks at ways the incident could have been avoided. If you're having trouble watching this video, try downloading the latest version of Flash Player or contacting your IT department.

The Snowman And His 1 µm Nose

December 16, 2009 11:18 am | Articles | Comments

Researchers at the Britain's National Physical Laboratory (NPL) made a tiny snowman out of two tin beads, and then went as far as to mill out a smile and eyes using a focused ion beam. The little guy's nose, which is under 1 µm wide (or 0.001 mm), was made out of platinum and was deposited by an ion beam.

The Coolest Gadgets Of 2009

December 16, 2009 10:21 am | Articles | Comments

TIME technology editor Peter Ha counts down his top 10 gadgets released this year, and it runs the gauntlet from cool to crazy. There's the standard cell phones and digital cameras, with some interesting additons from a wristwatch (who wears those anymore?) and a bladeless fan . [ Time.com ] If you're having trouble watching this video, try downloading the latest version of Flash Player or contacting your IT department.

The 787 Dreamliner (Finally) Takes Flight

December 16, 2009 10:00 am | Articles | Comments

As most of us know, Boeing's long-awaited 787 Dreamliner took its maiden voyage on Tuesday, marking the end of a construction process that has been delayed for more than two years due to labor issues and malfunctioning components. While the plane still has a battery of tests to complete before the first models are shipped off to airlines around the world, the first flight represents a significant leap forward for the project.

Renegade Electric Cars In China

December 16, 2009 9:54 am | Articles | Comments

In the Shandong province of China, some entrepreneurs have started building their own emission-free electric vehicles, much like what we will someday see in the Nissan Leaf or the Chevrolet Volt, to an extent. Thing is, these cars weren't exactly legal to start out. But now that so many companies and individuals have stepped up to retrofit cars with electric drivetrains, demand is steadily rising.

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The Brainstorm: Innovation In A Recession

December 14, 2009 10:23 am | by Tim Bowe, CEO & Co-Founder, Foliage | Articles | Comments

It has been suggested that the recession is, in part, a result of a lack of innovation in America? Do you buy that?  This question has been discussed by economists for quite some time. The basis of the question is that in the 1980’s, the U.

Flying Into The Wind-Powered Future

December 11, 2009 9:00 am | Articles | Comments

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is expecting to achieve 20 percent wind energy or 300 GW of wind generating capacity by 2030. Unlike many traditional energy sources, the challenge to achieve this goal is not related to availability of raw materials but rather increasing the manufacturing capacity of wind energy generation equipment.

Simplicity On The Road To Recovery

December 10, 2009 7:45 am | Articles | Comments

Listen to talk radio or the cable news pundits, and it’s easy to believe Michigan, and its largest city (Detroit), are industrial wasteland. True, the unemployment levels are the highest in the nation, and the battering the automotive industry has taken has been significant and deeply felt.

Too Lazy To Do Dishes? There's A Robot For That

December 10, 2009 4:06 am | Articles | Comments

You just can’t stop the Japanese obsession with robotics. We’ve featured domestic robots on the IMPO Insider before, but they’ve never made us quite this lazy. For those who have decided that putting their dirty dishes in the dishwasher is now too difficult—fear not, robotics will help you not only on the plant floor, but at home too.

OLED Displays: Wearing Your Plant Around Your Wrist

December 10, 2009 4:01 am | Articles | Comments

First came those clunky CRT monitors that could kill a man even when unplugged, then dainty LCD panels that were thin and light, but looked like you could snap them in two. Now there’s OLED—the latest and greatest in display technology. Just imagine the possibilities of flexible, wearable OLED monitors in manufacturing.

Fake Thunderstorms And A Few Thousand Spot Welds

December 10, 2009 3:55 am | Articles | Comments

Many of us have ridden one, but do any of us know where—or how—the New York subway trains are put together? National Geographic takes us through the Brazilian plant that produces the NYC staple. There’s even a thunderstorm involved, but you’ll have to see just how that fits in for yourself.

Got $200,000? Step Aboard The Virgin Enterprise

December 10, 2009 3:54 am | Articles | Comments

On Monday, Sir Richard Branson introduced the world’s first commercial spacecraft, called the U.S.S. Enterprise, which will take six tourists 65 miles into space for a full five minutes of weightlessness and sightseeing. While Branson hopes the craft will finish testing in 2010, he’s making darn sure it’s safe before sending his family up into the abyss (his wife and children are among the first ticket-holders).

Spill Containment 101

December 8, 2009 10:53 am | by Karen Hamel, New Pig Corporation | Articles | Comments

The sooner you can stop a spill, the faster cleanup can begin. Containing spills at facilities is an essential first step in spill response that helps minimize environmental impact and lessen overall response time. According to National Response Center (NRC) statistics, over 10,000 reportable spills occurred in fixed facilities last year.

Prevent Slip-Ups With A Slip Clutch

December 4, 2009 11:22 am | Articles | Comments

Previously, a prominent food manufacturer was unable to run one of its production lines at its rated capacity because of difficulty in managing drive chain slack that affected indexing. The line handles rectangular packages weighing about 10 pounds each. Each item moves down the conveyor straightaway on its narrow side, but as it is picked up and indexed, it needs to be moved along its length.

Tiny Tools Key To Understanding Aerosol Dangers

December 4, 2009 11:10 am | by Fred J. Brechtel, Ph.D., Vice President, Brechtel Manufacturing Inc. | Articles | Comments

Particles thousands of times smaller than the diameter of a human hair transform materials, micro-sensors, and energy-producing processes. And they can also severely pollute air quality and the integrity of technology products, like integrated circuits. Airborne aerosols in the air we breathe can damage our health, especially particles containing trace amounts of metals — largely from burning fuel — can wreak havoc on our nervous systems.

What Floor? The Moon, Please

December 3, 2009 3:54 am | Articles | Comments

Space elevators — the final frontier. Kind of. See how a space elevator would revolutionize not only the way we get into space, but also the way us Earth-bound folk live. Not only would we have the capacity to ship large payloads into space, but we could build large solar arrays to catch the sun's energy.

German Engineering And The Chainsaw Motorcycle

December 3, 2009 3:39 am | Articles | Comments

Leave it to the Germans. When you want to see the pinnacle of crazy engineering, go no further. A group of German gearheads have bolted 24 — yes, 24 — chainsaw engines, all working in unison, to a custom motorcycle frame. It's both beautiful and monstrous. But none of that would matter if it was mine.

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