June 19, 2018 Volume 14 Issue 23

Electrical/Electronic News & Products

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AI development kit for multi-camera products

The QCS6490 Vision-AI Development Kit from Avnet enables engineering teams to rapidly prototype hardware, application software, and AI enablement for multi-camera, high-performance, Edge AI-enabled custom embedded products. The kit facilitates design with the new, energy-efficient MSC SM2S-QCS6490 SMARC compute module based on the Qualcomm QCS6490 processor. Provides support for up to four MIPI CSI cameras and concurrent Mini DisplayPort and MIPI DSI displays.
Learn more.


High-temp cabinet cooler keeps incineration process in business

An EXAIR client company handles waste treatment on a large ship by operating an incinerator. The area where the incinerator is located gets very hot (over 120° F). This causes failures in the electronics package used to control the incineration process. Since compressed air is readily available, EXAIR's Model HT4225 Cabinet Cooler System is being used to keep the panel cool. It saved the customer from having to replace their control units due to the hot conditions in the incinerator room. Thermostat control is also available, conserving air and operating only when needed to minimize air consumption.
Learn about EXAIR's huge selection of Cabinet Coolers.


Compact snap-in capacitors for general-purpose applications

TDK's new EPCOS B43659 series of snap-in aluminum electrolytic capacitors is the next generation of ultra-compact, general-purpose components for voltages of 450 V (DC) featuring an extremely high CV product. It provides the same features and serves the same applications as the previous series but is much more compact. These RoHS-compliant capacitors can be used in a wide range of applications, such as switched-mode power supplies, frequency converters, UPS, medical equipment, and solar inverters.
Get all the specs.


Conductive Brush Ring overcomes current leakage in EV powertrains

SKF's new Conductive Brush Ring paves the way to greater reliability and longer life in high-performance electric vehicle powertrain systems. Using pure carbon fiber bristles, it provides a reliable electrical connection between an EV eAxle rotor shaft and its housing. When used in combination with SKF Hybrid ceramic ball bearings, it helps to alleviate parasitic current effects that can lead to premature failure in bearings and other components. Available in different configurations for wet (oil-lubricated) motor designs -- and soon for dry (sealed) applications.
Learn more.


Intro to reed switches, magnets, magnetic fields

This brief introductory video on the DigiKey site offers tips for engineers designing with reed switches. Dr. Stephen Day, Ph.D. from Coto Technology gives a solid overview on reed switches -- complete with real-world application examples -- and a detailed explanation of how they react to magnetic fields.
View the video.


Bi-color LEDs to light up your designs

Created with engineers and OEMs in mind, SpectraBright Series SMD RGB and Bi-Color LEDs from Visual Communi-cations Company (VCC) deliver efficiency, design flexibility, and control for devices in a range of industries, including mil-aero, automated guided vehicles, EV charging stations, industrial, telecom, IoT/smart home, and medical. These 50,000-hr bi-color and RGB options save money and space on the HMI, communicating two or three operating modes in a single component.
Learn more.


All about slip rings: How they work and their uses

Rotary Systems has put together a really nice basic primer on slip rings -- electrical collectors that carry a current from a stationary wire into a rotating device. Common uses are for power, proximity switches, strain gauges, video, and Ethernet signal transmission. This introduction also covers how to specify, assembly types, and interface requirements. Rotary Systems also manufactures rotary unions for fluid applications.
Read the overview.


Seifert thermoelectric coolers from AutomationDirect

Automation-Direct has added new high-quality and efficient stainless steel Seifert 340 BTU/H thermoelectric coolers with 120-V and 230-V power options. Thermoelectric coolers from Seifert use the Peltier Effect to create a temperature difference between the internal and ambient heat sinks, making internal air cooler while dissipating heat into the external environment. Fans assist the convective heat transfer from the heat sinks, which are optimized for maximum flow.
Learn more.


EMI shielding honeycomb air vent panel design

Learn from the engineering experts at Parker how honeycomb air vent panels are used to help cool electronics with airflow while maintaining electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding. Topics include: design features, cell size and thickness, platings and coatings, and a stacked design called OMNI CELL construction. These vents can be incorporated into enclosures where EMI radiation and susceptibility is a concern or where heat dissipation is necessary. Lots of good info.
Read the Parker blog.


What is 3D-MID? Molded parts with integrated electronics from HARTING

3D-MID (three-dimensional mechatronic integrated devices) technology combines electronic and mechanical functionalities into a single, 3D component. It replaces the traditional printed circuit board and opens up many new opportunities. It takes injection-molded parts and uses laser-direct structuring to etch areas of conductor structures, which are filled with a copper plating process to create very precise electronic circuits. HARTING, the technology's developer, says it's "Like a PCB, but 3D." Tons of possibilities.
View the video.


Loss-free conversion of 3D/CAD data

CT CoreTech-nologie has further developed its state-of-the-art CAD converter 3D_Evolution and is now introducing native interfaces for reading Solidedge and writing Nx and Solidworks files. It supports a wide range of formats such as Catia, Nx, Creo, Solidworks, Solidedge, Inventor, Step, and Jt, facilitating smooth interoperability between different systems and collaboration for engineers and designers in development environments with different CAD systems.
Learn more.


Top 5 reasons for solder joint failure

Solder joint reliability is often a pain point in the design of an electronic system. According to Tyler Ferris at ANSYS, a wide variety of factors affect joint reliability, and any one of them can drastically reduce joint lifetime. Properly identifying and mitigating potential causes during the design and manufacturing process can prevent costly and difficult-to-solve problems later in a product lifecycle.
Read this informative ANSYS blog.


Advanced overtemp detection for EV battery packs

Littelfuse has introduced TTape, a ground-breaking over-temperature detection platform designed to transform the management of Li-ion battery systems. TTape helps vehicle systems monitor and manage premature cell aging effectively while reducing the risks associated with thermal runaway incidents. This solution is ideally suited for a wide range of applications, including automotive EV/HEVs, commercial vehicles, and energy storage systems.
Learn more.


Benchtop ionizer for hands-free static elimination

EXAIR's Varistat Benchtop Ionizer is the latest solution for neutralizing static on charged surfaces in industrial settings. Using ionizing technology, the Varistat provides a hands-free solution that requires no compressed air. Easily mounted on benchtops or machines, it is manually adjustable and perfect for processes needing comprehensive coverage such as part assembly, web cleaning, printing, and more.
Learn more.


LED light bars from AutomationDirect

Automation-Direct adds CCEA TRACK-ALPHA-PRO series LED light bars to expand their offering of industrial LED fixtures. Their rugged industrial-grade anodized aluminum construction makes TRACKALPHA-PRO ideal for use with medium to large-size industrial machine tools and for use in wet environments. These 120 VAC-rated, high-power LED lights provide intense, uniform lighting, with up to a 4,600-lumen output (100 lumens per watt). They come with a standard bracket mount that allows for angle adjustments. Optional TACLIP mounts (sold separately) provide for extra sturdy, vibration-resistant installations.
Learn more.


Stanford researchers develop a water-based battery to store solar and wind energy

What is now a prototype could one day lead to an industrial-grade system to store alternative energy to feed into the electric grid.

Stanford researchers have developed a water-based battery that could provide a cheap way to store wind or solar energy generated when the sun is shining and wind is blowing so it can be fed back into the electric grid and be redistributed when demand is high.

The prototype manganese-hydrogen battery, reported April 30 in Nature Energy, stands just 3 in. tall and generates a mere 20 mWh of electricity, which is on par with the energy levels of LED flashlights one might hang a key ring.

Postdoctoral scholar Wei Chen holds a prototype of what could one day be an enormous battery designed to store solar and wind energy thanks to a water-based chemical reaction developed in the lab of Stanford materials scientist Yi Cui. [Image credit: Jinwei Xu]

 

 

 

 

Despite the prototype's diminutive output, the researchers are confident they can take this table-top technology up to an industrial-grade system that could charge and recharge up to 10,000 times, creating a grid-scale battery with a useful lifespan well in excess of a decade.

Yi Cui, a professor of materials science at Stanford and senior author on the paper, said manganese-hydrogen battery technology could be one of the missing pieces in the nation's energy puzzle -- a way to store unpredictable wind or solar energy so as to lessen the need to burn reliable but carbon-emitting fossil fuels when the renewable sources aren't available.

"What we've done is thrown a special salt into water, dropped in an electrode, and created a reversible chemical reaction that stores electrons in the form of hydrogen gas," Cui said.

Clever chemistry
The team that dreamed up the concept and built the prototype was led by Wei Chen, a postdoctoral scholar in Cui's lab. In essence, the researchers coaxed a reversible electron exchange between water and manganese sulfate, a cheap, abundant industrial salt used to make dry cell batteries, fertilizers, paper, and other products.

To mimic how a wind or solar source might feed power into the battery, the researchers attached a power source to the prototype. The electrons flowing in reacted with the manganese sulfate dissolved in the water to leave particles of manganese dioxide clinging to the electrodes. Excess electrons bubbled off as hydrogen gas, thus storing that energy for future use. Engineers know how to recreate electricity from the energy stored in hydrogen gas, so the important next step to prove was that the water-based battery can be recharged.

The researchers did this by re-attaching their power source to the depleted prototype, this time with the goal of inducing the manganese dioxide particles clinging to the electrode to combine with water, replenishing the manganese sulfate salt. Once this salt was restored, incoming electrons became surplus, and excess power could bubble off as hydrogen gas, in a process that can be repeated again and again and again.

Cui estimated that, given the water-based battery's expected lifespan, it would cost a penny to store enough electricity to power a 100-W lightbulb for 12 hours.

"We believe this prototype technology will be able to meet Department of Energy (DOE) goals for utility-scale electrical storage," Cui said.

The DOE has recommended batteries for grid-scale storage should store and then discharge at least 20 kW of power over a period of an hour, be capable of at least 5,000 recharges, and have a useful lifespan of 10 years or more. To make it practical, such a battery system should cost $2,000 or less, or $100 per kWh.

Former Department of Energy Secretary and Nobel laureate Steven Chu, now a professor at Stanford, has a long-standing interest in encouraging technologies to help the nation transition to renewable energy.

"While the precise materials and design still need development, this prototype demonstrates the type of science and engineering that suggest new ways to achieve low-cost, long-lasting utility-scale batteries," said Chu, who was not a member of research team.

Shifting away from carbon
According to DOE estimates, about 70 percent of U.S. electricity is generated by coal or natural gas plants, which account for 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions. Shifting to wind and solar generation is one way to reduce those emissions, but it creates new challenges involving the variability of power supply. Most obviously, the sun only shines by day and, sometimes, the wind doesn't blow.

But another less-well understood but important form of variability comes from surges of demand on the grid. On a hot day, when people come home from work and crank up the air conditioning, utilities must have load-balancing strategies to meet peak demand -- some way to boost power generation within minutes to avoid brownouts or blackouts that might otherwise bring down the grid.

Today, utilities often accomplish this by firing up on-demand or "dispatchable" power plants that may lay idle much of the day, but can come online within minutes -- producing quick energy but boosting carbon emissions. Some utilities have developed short-term load balancing that does not rely on fossil-fuel burning plants. The most common and cost-effective strategy is pumped hydroelectric storage: using excess power to send water uphill, then letting it flow back down to generate energy during peak demand. However, hydroelectric storage only works in regions with the water and the space, so to make wind and solar more useful DOE has encouraged high-capacity batteries as an alternative.

High capacity, low cost
Cui said there are several types of rechargeable battery technologies on the market, but it isn't clear which approaches will meet DOE requirements and prove their practicality to the utilities, regulators, and other stakeholders who maintain the nation's electrical grid.

For instance, Cui said rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which store the small amounts of energy needed to run phones and laptops, are based on rare materials and are thus too pricey to store power for a neighborhood or city. Cui said grid-scale storage requires a low-cost, high-capacity, rechargeable battery, and the manganese-hydrogen process seems promising.

"Other rechargeable battery technologies are easily more than five times of that cost over the life time," Cui added.

Chen said novel chemistry, low-cost materials, and relative simplicity made the manganese-hydrogen battery ideal for low-cost grid-scale deployment.

"The breakthrough we report in Nature Energy has the potential to meet DOE's grid-scale criteria," Chen said.

The prototype needs development work to prove itself. For one thing, it uses platinum as a catalyst to spur the crucial chemical reactions at the electrode that make the recharge process efficient, and the cost of that component would be prohibitive for large-scale deployment. But Chen said the team is already working on cheaper ways to coax the manganese sulfate and water to perform the reversible electron exchange.

"We have identified catalysts that could bring us below the $100-per-kWh DOE target," he said.

The researchers reported doing 10,000 recharges of the prototypes, which is twice the DOE requirements, but say it will be necessary to test the manganese-hydrogen battery under actual electric grid storage conditions in order to truly assess its lifetime performance and cost.

Cui said he has sought to patent the process through the Stanford Office of Technology Licensing, and he plans to form a company to commercialize the system.

This work was funded by the Department of Energy.

Source: Stanford University

Published June 2018

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