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Westfall Technik enhances micro-molding capabilities

Westfall Technik enhances micro-molding capabilities

Westfall Technik’s Mold Craft Tech Center (Willernie, MN) has added an MHS M3 micro-molding machine to its wide range of micro-molding capabilities. The M3 is a dedicated micro-injection-molding machine capable of producing small, direct-gated plastic parts on a large scale. The electro-pneumatic molding cell accommodates both high- and low-volume production runs that require extreme precision, quality, speed and flexibility.

M3 series micro injection molders
M3 series micro-molders.

The M3 offers all the advantages of direct-valve-gate, hot-runner technology. Eliminating cold runners improves part quality, speeds up cycle times and reduces waste in the form of scrap runner material, said Westfall Technik’s announcement. This results in substantial savings, especially when molding highly valuable plastics such as PEEK or bioabsorbables. The M3’s patented Isokor injection technology reduces melt residence time and protects resin morphology.

Mold Craft, a designer and builder of molds for difficult to mold micro parts, was acquired by Nevada-based Westfall Technik, a global holding company headed by CEO Brian Jones, in January of this year. In March, Westfall Technik acquired micro-molding firm MicroTech Southwest (Tempe, AZ).  Westfall Technik has acquired a total of 15 companies in about 18 months of operation.


World's smallest polymer stent could fit in fetal organs

World's smallest polymer stent could fit in fetal organs

Researchers have fabricated the world’s smallest stent using a shape-memory polymer, with features that are 40-times smaller than existing stents. The device could be used to widen the urinary tract in a fetus and prevent life-threatening levels of urine from collecting in the bladder. Approximately one in every thousand children reportedly develop a urethral stricture, sometimes while they are still in the womb.

Microstent manufactured by ETH Zurich researchers
The micro-stent made from a shape-memory polymer measures 50 micrometers wide and 1/2 millimeter in length. Image courtesy Carmela de Marco/ETH Zürich.

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zürich, Italy’s Politecnico di Milano and the Kantonnspital Aarau in Switzerland developed a novel manufacturing technique to produce the stents. Called indirect 4D printing, the process is based on the sacrificial mold principle. Laser-printed high‐resolution micromolds are infused with a polymer and then dissolved with a solvent, revealing the three-dimensional stent.

The stent’s shape-memory properties give it a fourth dimension, explained a press release on the ETH website. “When compressed, the stent can be pushed through the affected area," said Gaston De Bernardis, a pediatric surgeon at the hospital in the Swiss canton of Aarau. "Once in place, it returns to its original shape and widens the constricted area of the urinary tract,” said De Bernardis, who is, in fact, responsible for initiating this research because he was dissatisfied with existing surgical options.

The conventional procedure to prevent urine from collecting in the bladder, potentially threatening the life of a fetus or child, is to surgically remove the affected section of the urethra and sew back together the open ends of the tube. It would be less damaging to the kidneys, however, if a stent could be inserted to widen the constriction while the fetus is still in the womb, noted the ETH press release. While stents are routinely used to treat blocked coronary vessels, they are not small enough to fit into the urinary tract of a fetus. De Bernardis approached researchers at ETH Zürich to see if they could develop a method to produce stents that could sit within extremely narrow channels. The technique they developed for manufacturing these highly detailed structures is described in a recently published paper in Advanced Materials Technologies.

The stents still must undergo testing in animal models, after which human studies can begin. Real-world applications are a long ways off, but the paper's lead author, Carmela De Marco, firmly believes that the research “can open the door to the development of new tools for minimally invasive surgery.”

Medtronic Drops Huge Update on Surgical Robotics System

Pixabay update-4223736_1920.jpg

Analysts and investors will get their first look at Medtronic’s soft tissue surgical robotics system late next month. The Dublin-based company gave an update about the highly-anticipated platform during an earnings call earlier this week.

The firm said it will host a preclinical demonstration of the device on September 24, according to a transcript of the earnings call from Seeking Alpha. Medtronic also reaffirmed its plans to launch its surgical robotics platform outside of the U.S. in its FY20.

Medtronic will continue its push into surgical robotics, noted Geoffrey Martha executive VP and president of the company’s Restorative Therapies Group. The company took a deep dive into robotics when it acquired Mazor in 2018.

“Let me tell you that in virtually every area that we have a procedural presence, we will look at robotics because that’s how it’s going to be,” Martha said according to a transcript from Seeking Alpha. And we’re learning from our current experience, but I can tell you that the data analytics capability, we’re just beginning to evolve. Combination with the robot with other capital equipment, especially ones with visualization and for navigation, that we’re showing with Mazor is not only restricted to spine alon[e]. This is a core area for us and we’ll see much more about robots than just the two that you’re looking at today in the future.”

Throughout the past few months, Medtronic has been dropping tidbits about its robotic system. In June, the medtech giant said it would incorporate Karl Storz’s 3D vision systems and visualization components into the technology. Both have been working on this for about four years and this is the first time the duo made the collaboration public.

Medtronic’s surgical robot would be a direct competitor of Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci platform. The Sunnyvale, CA-based company is considered a pioneer in the surgical robotics space – garner a nod from FDA for the da Vinci in 2000. Since FDA’s nod, the company has dominated the surgical robotics landscape – facing little to no competition.

Now that Medtronic and Verb (a joint venture of Verily and Johnson & Johnson) have platforms on the horizon, speculation has been about the impact the systems could have on Intuitive’s marketshare.

Jason Mills, an analyst with Canaccord Genuity gave his take on Medtronic’s most recent news and how it could potentially affect Intuitive.

“Net, net, we think Medtronic’s update is immaterial to Intuitive’s near- to medium-term results (H2:19 and 2020E),” Mills wrote in a research note. “Indeed, we continue to think [Intuitive’s] competitive moat (breadth of product, instrumentation, and customer relationships) will allow [it] to maintain robust low- to mid-teens procedure growth over the next few years at least. Longer term, we expect to see ramping utilization of robotics overall in surgery and think Intuitive will chart a course for significant increases over time to the global procedure total available market for surgical robotics.”

Other competitors that are on the horizon include Caesarea, Israel-based XACT Robotics, which received a CE mark in September of 2018 to sell its robotic navigation steering system in Europe. The XACT robotics system is currently being used for CT-guided percutaneous procedures in the abdomen.

Another company hoping to bring new options to the robotic surgery field is Virtual Incision, which is developing a two-pound robotic device that operates entirely inside the body through a single abdominal incision. The device is expected to be less expensive and more portable than existing laparoscopic surgery robots.

5 More Private Medtech Companies to Watch

MedTech analysts continue to keep a watchful eye on the private sector. Needham & Co.'s Mike Matson just called attention to these five private medical device companies he finds interesting, adding to two previous lists the firm published earlier this year.Matson is not the only analyst in the industry keeping tabs on up and coming private companies. In January, Canaccord Genuity's Jason Mills highlighted 16 potentially disruptive medtech companies in the private sector.

Poland Spring teams up with Recycling Partnership to help consumers identify recyclables

Poland Spring teams up with Recycling Partnership to help consumers identify recyclables

Let’s face it—recycling can be very confusing to consumers. When the plastics industry came up with the chasing arrows and numbering system for the seven most common types of plastics, it probably never dreamed that consumers would be at a loss when it came to figuring out what and how to recycle.

confused man with recycling bin on head

That could be why less than half of recyclables—and a mere 30% of PET bottles—are actually recycled by U.S. consumers. Since PET is one of the most recyclable and in-demand materials, re-introducing it into the value chain should be a no-brainer. 

Poland Spring Brand 100% Natural Spring Water has come up with a solution to this dilemma. The company is teaming up with the Recycling Partnership to tackle one of the core reasons for low recycling rates—consumer confusion. Starting this month, they are launching their Instagram recycling hotline to answer the common question, “Can I recycle this?” Consumers can post a photo of the item in question on their Instagram feed or in their stories and tag #NotTrash and @PolandSpringWtr to ask for help. Poland Spring and the Recycling Partnership will get back to them with an answer.

“Consumers are at the heart of everything we do, and that means we are constantly listening to them to understand their needs and preferences,” said Yumiko Clevenger-Lee, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Nestlé Waters North America, Poland Spring’s parent company. “What we’re hearing is that consumers are concerned and confused about plastic bottles. So, we’re working on innovations like our recently launched and nationally available Poland Spring Origin in a 100% recycled plastic bottle. And we’re taking it a step further by working with organizations like the Recycling Partnership to help remove some of the confusion about recycling.”

Poland Spring is donating $150,000 to the Recycling Partnership to help improve curbside access to recycling and inspire Americans to recycle more and better.

“We are thrilled Poland Spring is joining the Recycling Partnership, and we’re excited about our collaboration on the #NotTrash campaign,” said Recycling Partnership CEO Keefe Harrison. “Consumers play a critical role in reducing waste and improving markets for recyclable materials by recycling properly. Debunking common recycling myths empowers residents to do their part to recycle better, which improves their local recycling programs, helps create a healthier U.S. recycling system and is good for the planet.”

Poland Spring and Nestlé Waters North America are committed to leading the industry in the use of recycled plastic. Poland Spring’s current packaging, which is made from PET, is already 100% recyclable. In June, the brand made the industry-leading commitment to convert all its individual-sized still water bottles to 100% recycled plastic by 2022. The conversion has started already, with their 1- and 1.5-liter still water sizes being made with 100% recycled plastic. The brand also expanded the use of How2Recycle labels across all of its packaging to remind consumers to empty the bottle, replace the cap and recycle when they’re done. 

“We’re on a mission to eliminate the “single” from “single-use” plastics,” said David Tulauskas, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer at Nestlé Waters North America. “When valuable plastic like PET is not recycled, it can’t be broken down and reused to make new products, which is a waste of money and resources. On the other hand, as more consumers recycle their PET bottles, they increase the number of bottles that can be made with bottles and reduce the need for virgin plastic. Working with partners like the Recycling Partnership helps to make recycling as convenient as possible for consumers.”

Image: Ljupco Smokovski/Adobe Stock

Plastic Molding Technology makes Inc. 5000 list

Plastic Molding Technology makes Inc. 5000 list

Inc. magazine listed Plastic Molding Technology Inc. (PMT; El Paso, TX) on its annual Inc. 5000 ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. PMT is the only El Paso–based company to make the list, ranking number 4748 on the 2019 list, with three-year revenue growth of 59%.

According to Inc., the list represents a unique look at the most successful companies within a dynamic segment of the U.S. economy—independent small businesses.

PMT Inc.'s Charles A. Sholtis, CEO, and daughter Jennifer Perez, Marketing Communications Specialist
Charles A. Sholtis, CEO, and daughter Jennifer Perez, Marketing Communications Specialist.

“This achievement reflects the talent and focus of our team, a group that always rises to the next level when facing a challenge,” said PMT CEO Charles A. Sholtis. “PMT focuses on creating molding solutions for our business partners, and this ranking captured our renewed emphasis on using ingenuity and technology to achieve more.”

Not only have the companies on the 2019 Inc. 5000 been very competitive within their markets, but the list as a whole shows staggering growth compared with prior lists, according to Inc. The 2019 list achieved a three-year average growth of 454%, and a median rate of 157%. The Inc. 5000’s aggregate revenue was $237.7 billion in 2018, accounting for 1,216,308 jobs over the past three years.

PMT is an IATF 16949– and ISO 9001–certified manufacturer of precision-engineered injection molded plastic components, producing more than 160 million parts per year for an array of industries including the automotive, electrical, medical device and industrial sectors. Strategically located in El Paso, PMT is well positioned to serve maquiladora (twin-plant) operations in Mexico.

Ed Begley, Jr. Brings a Passion To EVs

Ed Begley, Jr. has been driving EVs for more than 50 years and will share his experiences at The Battery Show in Novi, Michigan. (Image source: Ed Begley, Jr.)

Ed Begley, Jr. is an actor who has appeared in hundreds of films, television shows, and stage performances. He is most recognized for his role as Dr. Victor Ehrlich on the television series St. Elsewhere (1982–1988). Beyond his career as an actor, Begley became an ardent environmentalist in the early 1970s and his commitment to living green brought him to a passion for electric vehicles (EVs).

It is that passion that will provide the background as Mr. Begley provides one of the Keynote Addresses at The Battery Show and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo 2019, on September 12th in Novi, Michigan. Begley will share his experiences as, over the past 50 years, he has been a staunch advocate for electrification of transportation.

Starting Early

“I’m an early adopter—I bought my first electric car in 1970, so I have a certain amount of knowledge about such things,” Begley told Design News. “It was as primitive as you can imagine—it was an electric vehicle made by a company called Taylor-Dunne. They still make electric cars today. When I say electric car, I am being quite grand. It was a golf cart with a windshield wiper and a horn. It didn’t have a high top speed—about 20 mph—and the range was about 20 miles,” he added.

Aside from his bicycle, the crude electric vehicle was Begley’s major mode of transportation. “Living in the San Fernando Valley, it was a good vehicle to get around with when it was too smoggy or too rainy, or when I had something big to carry that was too much for my bicycle, or to take on the bus,” he said. But the EV was a revelation in some ways. “I suddenly had a car that was not only good for the environment, but it was good for my pocket book. It was so much cheaper to charge it than it was to buy 1970 gasoline,” said Begley.

Becoming More Practical

Eventually, as Begley’s success as an actor grew and his environmentalism further developed he was able to buy more practical electrified transportation. “I bought a conversion car in 1990, a 1973 Subaru,” he told us. “The guy was real electrical whiz—he had built his own controller out of Radio Shack parts and what have you—and I bought that car for $1700 dollars! I put in a state-of-the-art Curtis controller, and upped the battery voltage from 36-volts to 72-volts, and suddenly had a vehicle that could go on the freeway!”

Later, Begley spent $10,000 for a VW Rabbit that had been converted to electric. “The guy built it specifically for me. I drove that car for about four years, and sold it for $10,000—exactly what I paid for it,” he said.

Begley was among the first to get a new GM EV-1 when the company introduced its first electric vehicle. “When the (GM) EV-1 came out in 1996, I hopped on that because they had airbags for safety and it was built by a real car company. I had that for three years, the first lead-acid battery one, and then I drove the 1999 version of the EV-1 (with improved batteries) for three years. I could see the writing on the wall that they (GM) were going to crush them, so I switched into a (Toyota) RAV-4 in 2001, before Toyota started to get rid of those too,” said Begley.

Begley drove his RAV-4 from 2001 until 2014 and had to replace the battery pack once during that time. Next, he got a Nissan Leaf (in 2014), and claims that 5 years later the batteries are, “still in great shape.”

Making Everything Green

It hasn’t just been his transportation that Begley wanted to be green. He installed solar hot water in his house in 1985 and added PV electric solar panels to his house in 1995. More recently he has built a new home to LEED-Platinum certification—which architects recognize as possessing the highest levels of energy efficiency and responsibility. Begley is a man who lives his convictions.

Begley’s Keynote address is titled “Electric Vehicle Sustainability: Overcoming Barriers & Resistance” and will take place from 12:00 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. on Thursday, September 12. What does the actor want to tell a room that is largely filled with engineers? “I want to share with them my personal experience about the financial ramifications of adopting all of these green measures in my home,” he said. “It’s all been good for my pocketbook. There is an economic case to be made for doing this green stuff,” he added.

With such a long perspective on the ups and downs of the EV market, Begley is optimistic about the near-term future. “I think the market is going to step up at some point, and make a nice selection of vans and pickup trucks that are fully electric,” he told us. “I think that day is coming and soon because people want those vehicles. If you can give people a proper experience with that kind of vehicle with a proper range, cost, and performance, and reliability, and it’s electric, I think a lot of people would give electric a try.”

Senior Editor Kevin Clemens has been writing about energy, automotive, and transportation topics for more than 30 years. He has masters degrees in Materials Engineering and Environmental Education and a doctorate degree in Mechanical Engineering, specializing in aerodynamics. He has set several world land speed records on electric motorcycles that he built in his workshop.


The Battery Show logoBattery, EV/HV, & Stationary Power All in One Place.
Learn everything you need to know at our in-depth conference program with 70+ technical sessions in eight tracks covering topics on battery, electric & hybrid vehicles, and stationary power technologies. 
The Battery Show. Sept. 10-12, 2019, in Novi, MI. Register for the event, hosted by Design News’ parent company Informa.

Mixing Graphene with Bacteria Offers Cost-Effective, Eco-Friendly Production

We recently told you how researchers in Australia used bark from eucalyptus trees to produce the highly useful material graphene in a low-cost, more eco-friendly way than typical processes.

Now a researcher in the United States—working with a team in the Netherlands--also has reported a more eco-friendly and inexpensive way to create the carbon-based material, which has myriad uses due to its high electrical conductivity, low weight, and high strength.

 From left to right, A vial of graphite like what you would find in an ordinary pencil; a vial of graphene oxide, produced by exfoliating graphite—shedding the layers of the material—and mixing it with the bacteria Shewanella; a vial of the resulting prod
 From left to right, A vial of graphite like what you would find in an ordinary pencil; a vial of graphene oxide, produced by exfoliating graphite—shedding the layers of the material—and mixing it with the bacteria Shewanella; a vial of the resulting product—graphene materials; and a vial of graphene materials that have been produced chemically. The graphene materials produced by Professor Anne Meyer’s lab at the University of Rochester are significantly thinner than the graphene materials produced chemically. (Image source: Delft University of Technology/Benjamin Lehner)

A cross-institutional team at the University of Rochester and Delft University of Technology have developed a way to produce graphene materials by mixing oxidized graphite with bacteria. The method—like that of the Australian team—could help overcome the hurdle to producing graphene in large quantities for next-generation applications.

This new research also was inspired by other previous work, which already identified a certain type of bacteria as a good way to produce graphene-like materials, acknowledged Anne Meyer, associate professor of biology at the University of Rochester.

“We were inspired by some earlier papers that showed that you could mix together a graphene precursor with the bacteria Shewanella oneidensis,” she told Design News. “These earlier papers showed that the bacteria can change the chemistry of this graphene precursor to be more graphene-like, but it was totally unclear if this new material would be in any way suitable for materials applications--whether it was electrically conductive, or able to be used over long periods of time.”

Scientists long have known that the nanomaterial graphene is incredibly useful for creating new and more efficient computers, medical devices, and other advanced technologies. However, production of the material is typically a time- and resource-consuming process that requires the use of toxic materials, which is inspiring researchers to find other ways to do it.

Currently there are two main ways to make graphene, Meyer told Design News. Chemical vapor deposition can make highly pure graphene, but this procedure only makes very small amounts and requires complex equipment and chemistry, she said.

To make graphene on a larger scale, there also is another approach that uses chemicals, “but this technique is very harsh and energy-intensive,” she told us.

Overnight Transformation

The procedure Meyer and her team devised is far simpler and less energy intensive, nor does it require the use of toxic chemicals. Researchers started with a vial of graphite, which they exfoliated until they produced graphene oxide. Then they mixed with the bacteria Shewanella and the rest of the process happens organically overnight, Meyer told Design News.

“In our procedure, all we have to do is mix together our bacteria with some of the graphene precursor material and leave it sitting on the benchtop overnight at room temperature,” she told us. “The next morning, the new graphene material will be ready. This procedure is inexpensive, easy, and very environmentally-friendly.”

Moreover, the graphene produced using bacteria are thinner and can be stored longer, she added.

Researchers published a paper on their work in the journal ChemOpen.

Another benefit of the graphene materials Meyer and her team produced are that they can easily have functional groups added to them, which makes them well-suited to developing new devices, she told us.

“They could be used for example as a field-effect transistor (FET) biosensor,” Meyer told Design News. “For this type of device, you want a conductive material onto which molecules have been attached that can detect specific biomolecules. Our material could be used therefore as a lightweight, flexible device for detecting biomolecules such as blood sugar or infectious agents.”

The materials’ longevity when stored while retaining electrical conductivity also makes them conducive to producing conductive inks for printed electrical circuits and other electronics, she added.

So far the team has only been able to produce milliliters of graphene from the materials; however, in the future researchers hope to produce liters of the materials and see their use in real-world applications, Meyer told Design News.

Elizabeth Montalbano is a freelance writer who has written about technology and culture for more than 20 years. She has lived and worked as a professional journalist in Phoenix, San Francisco and New York City. In her free time she enjoys surfing, traveling, music, yoga and cooking. She currently resides in a village on the southwest coast of Portugal.

Drive World with ESC Launches in Silicon Valley

This summer (August 27-29), Drive World Conference & Expo launches in Silicon Valley with North America's largest embedded systems event, Embedded Systems Conference (ESC). The inaugural three-day showcase brings together the brightest minds across the automotive electronics and embedded systems industries who are looking to shape the technology of tomorrow.
Will you be there to help engineer this shift? Register today!


First Autonomous Circumnavigation of Antarctica


The square-rigged saildrone was tough enough to withstand 80 mph winds and 50-foot waves as it autonomously circumnavigated Antarctica. (Image source: Saildrone)

The Southern Ocean around Antarctica is a dangerous and foreboding place. Wind speeds can exceed 80 miles per hour and waves as high as a 5-story building are common, along with frequent icebergs. The dangers of the region mean that there isn’t any regular ship traffic, making it difficult to obtain accurate weather data. Yet, acquiring this data from the Southern Ocean is crucial to making scientific assessments of the Earth’s atmosphere, climate, and status of the oceans.

Filling in a Blind Spot

To meet the challenge, a consortium of researchers sponsored by the Li Ka Shing Foundation created a series of sailing drones capable of withstanding the extreme conditions in the seas around Antarctica. Science collaborators on the project include: the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), the Palmer Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER), the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the Southern Ocean Observing System (SOOS), the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), the Korea Polar Research Institute (KOPRI), the Norwegian Polar Institute, the University of Exeter, the University of Gothenburg, the Department of Marine Science, University of Otago, and the New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA).

The project was described in a news release form Saildrone. “One of our largest ‘blind spots’ in terms of our climate knowledge and its future prediction lies in the Southern Ocean. This is mostly due to the serious lack of observations, in particular in winter, in this remote and harsh environment. This leads to a poor understanding of how these polar oceans function,” said Sebastiaan Swart, co-chair of the Southern Ocean Observing System (SOOS).

SD 1020 circumnavigated the Southern Ocean, a mission of 22,000 kilometers, in 196 days, the first unmanned system to complete an Antarctic circumnavigation. (Image source: Saildrone)

Circumnavigation of Antarctica

Recently, a seven-meter (23-foot) long, wind-powered saildrone became the first unmanned system to circumnavigate Antarctica. The vehicle, known as SD 1020, was equipped with a suite of climate-grade sensors and collected data in the waters surrounding Antarctica, enabling new key insights into ocean and climate processes. “These exciting, high-resolution observations from Saildrone during its circumnavigation of the Antarctic provide valuable ground-based datasets for scientists to understand the Southern Ocean better and evaluate the models we use to predict weather and climate,” said Swart.

The 196-day mission was launched from Southport in Bluff, New Zealand, on January 19, 2019, returning to the same port on August 3 after sailing over 22,000 km (13,670 miles or 11,879 nautical miles) around Antarctica. During the mission, the vehicle survived freezing temperatures, 15-meter (50-foot) waves, 130 km/h (80 mph) winds, and collisions with giant icebergs.

A Square Rigged Sailing Vessel

The Generation 5 saildrone includes a seven-meter (23-foot) hull, a 2.5-meter (8-foot) keel, and a five-meter (15-foot) tall solid wing. According to Saildrone, “This regular saildrone wing has an operational wind range up to 60 knots; however, the massive waves of the Southern Ocean were too much for this tall and slender wing.” The company reports that on two previous circumnavigation attempts, in 2015 and 2017, after a short period of time, the missions were compromised and the saildrones had to sail back for repairs. According to the news release, the team learned a huge amount from these failures and designed a new type of wing specifically for the Southern Ocean. The lower aspect “square rig” is much stronger and is designed to deal with the huge forces of being rolled and submerged by 15-meter (50-foot) breaking waves.

“While the square rig has less performance range than the regular saildrone wing and struggles to sail upwind, it does a great job of sailing downwind and can still get you where you need to go in the Southern Ocean,” said Saildrone founder and CEO Richard Jenkins. “You inevitably sacrifice maneuverability for survivability, but we have created something that gets the job done and that the Southern Ocean just can’t destroy!”

Less of a CO2 Sink Than Previously Thought

Carrying an instrument developed by NOAA to measure carbon fluxes very precisely, the saildrone provided important new data on the rates of carbon uptake in the Southern Ocean. “There’s a lot left to be learned about the ocean’s uptake of CO2 emissions, especially in the Southern Ocean. Up until a few years ago, the Southern Ocean was understood to be a large CO2 sink. Yet, that understanding was based primarily on observations made from ships that steer clear of the harshest weather in the Southern Ocean, leaving winter months undersampled,” said explained Dr. Adrienne Sutton, an oceanographer with the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) Carbon Group.

According to Sutton, with the deployment of carbon sensors on profiling floats, part of the Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling (SOCCOM) project, scientists started to get a broader seasonal distribution of observations, and they found less of a CO2 sink than previously thought.

“In terms of carbon and heat, the Southern Ocean is by far the most important ocean. Globally, the Southern Ocean takes up about half of all carbon and 75% of all heat that enters the ocean. This makes it disproportionately more important to place efforts and resources, such as those occurring by robotic platforms like Saildrone, into obtaining more scientific measurements in this polar region,” said Swart.

For Saildrone, this means the Southern Ocean is a key priority to instrument. Saildrone plans to deploy a fleet of vehicles to monitor the Southern Ocean— 10 – 20 saildrones sailing around Antarctica year-round. “A monitoring system for the Southern Ocean is one of our highest priorities,” said Jenkins. “Understanding heat and carbon fluxes, fish populations, and ocean acidification in the Southern Ocean are absolutely key to improve the understanding of our climate, and to the sustainability of life on this planet. Only very significantly increased measurement will enable meaningful predictions for the future.”

Senior Editor Kevin Clemens has been writing about energy, automotive, and transportation topics for more than 30 years. He has masters degrees in Materials Engineering and Environmental Education and a doctorate degree in Mechanical Engineering, specializing in aerodynamics. He has set several world land speed records on electric motorcycles that he built in his workshop.


Drive World with ESC Launches in Silicon Valley

This summer (August 27-29), Drive World Conference & Expo launches in Silicon Valley with North America's largest embedded systems event, Embedded Systems Conference (ESC). The inaugural three-day showcase brings together the brightest minds across the automotive electronics and embedded systems industries who are looking to shape the technology of tomorrow.
Will you be there to help engineer this shift? Register today!

Weatherproof TPEs target auto exterior applications

Weatherproof TPEs target auto exterior applications

Kraiburg TPE has debuted a series of thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) that were specially developed to deliver weathering resistance coupled with adhesion to polypropylene (PP) resin and UV resistance in automotive applications. The new compounds of the Thermolast K UV/HF/SF family are intended primarily for automotive exterior applications such as water deflectors and window encapsulation.

Plastics used in exterior automotive applications can be exposed to severe weather influences, especially on vehicles. These applications often require a weatherproof plastic material that can withstand the negative impact ultraviolet (UV) radiation can have on the visual appearance and mechanical properties of automotive parts. Therefore, it is usually wise for weatherproof plastics to be somewhat UV resistant since UV radiation can have an especially high impact on materials used outdoors.

The latest Thermolast K UV/HF/SF series distinguishes itself by extreme UV and weathering resistance as well as its bondability to PP. The thermoplastic elastomers can be processed to a precise and even surface without weld line formation. This is achieved due to the excellent flow properties of the TPE.

These TPE compounds can also be processed easily and precisely by two-component injection molding. Here, they form a very good bond to the rigid PP component. Using the multi-component injection molding process, the best bonding property can be achieved, additional assembly steps are no longer necessary, and the cycle time of the component is reduced.

UV/HF/SF Thermolast K TPEs provides a broad spectrum of benefits such as increasing the value of design, economic processing and expansion of product functions. They meet the typical requirements of different areas of use and the automotive industry, including the PV3929 Kalahari natural weathering test for two year cycles and the PV3930 Florida test for outdoor use. This allows more potential exterior application in the automotive sector, such as in the Asia Pacific region, with its ever-changing weather, to ensure the vehicle achieve better performance over a longer time and hence, saving costs in maintenance of the vehicle.