research & development

Materials That Turn Car Body Parts Into Batteries

Posted on June 24, 2012. Filed under: automotive, materials science, research & development | Tags: , |

Sharing abstracts from the Polymer Library … “Polymers in Automotive Fuel Efficiency” is the theme for the June 2012 set of abstracts from the Smithers Rapra Polymer Library.

I enjoy browing the short set of abstacts each month, and this month I was especially intrigued by an abstract titled “Surface Charge”.  It describes research into replacing vehicle batteries and other components with structural energy materials, which could yield weight savings of more than 50%.  If it pans out, it “should provide a way for the battery to add to the car’s strength instead of creating extra weight.”  One of the first prototype vehicles is the Lola-Drayson B12/69EV electric racing car demonstrator.

 I don’t ever expect to be driving anything like this (do you?) but if the technology can be brought to commercial production, it could certainly provide a boost to the desirability of electric vehicles.    One more option in the quest for lighter, more efficient batteries.

 

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ARPA-E Offers Good News for Advanced Energy Research

Posted on April 24, 2011. Filed under: energy, government programs, research & development, science & technology | Tags: , |

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency -Energy (ARPA-E) has announced an additional $130 million for innovative research focusing on rare earth alternatives and breakthroughs in biofuels, thermal storage, grid controls, and solar power electronics.  More specifically, the five advanced energy technology areas are called:

  • Rare Earth Alternatives in Critical Technologies (REACT) (up to $30 million)
  • Plants Engineered to Replace Oil (PETRO) (up to $30 million)
  • High Energy Advanced Thermal Storage (HEATS) (up to $30 million)
  • Green Electricity Network Integration (GENI) (up to $30 million)
  • Solar Agile Delivery of Electrical Power Technology (Solar Adept) (up to $10 million)

Concept papers are due May 19, 2011.  Learn more at the Funding Opportunity Announcements page. 

Good for the DOE and for the the congressional appropriations process that retained ARPA-E funding.  It’s this kind of high risk/high reward scientific research that industry can’t or won’t sustain alone, but is so essential for scientific advances we and the rest of the world need.

Need research assistance?  Perhaps I can help!

Nora K. Stoecker, NKS Info Services

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A challenge – managing the deficit and supporting scientific research

Posted on January 3, 2011. Filed under: economic development, research & development, science & technology, the economy |

How will the country balance the competing demands of managing and reducing the budget deficit while also investing in the kind of scientific research and development needed for future economic prosperity? 

I expect the National Academies, the scientific societies, the national labs, and universities among others will line up to support funding for the sciences.  I’m sure others of equal stature will argue the country can’t afford it right now.  I wish I had a good answer; I don’t.

For now I’ll just try to follow what others are writing – such as George Will’s Sunday Jan. 2nd Washington Post column.   http://tinyurl.com/2dtk447

New Republican legislators should come down Capitol Hill to the National Museum of American History , which displays a device that in 1849 was granted U.S. patent 6469 . It enabled a boat’s “draught of water to be readily lessene…

What do you think?  — nks

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Rising Above the Gathering Storm Revisited – Some Factoids

Posted on September 30, 2010. Filed under: innovation, research & development, science & technology |

The recently released Rising Above the Gathering Storm Revisited contains a number of thought-provoking if not disturbing factoids.  Here are five of them:

 China is now second in the world in its publication of biomedical research, having recently surpassed Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France, Canada, and Spain.

In 2009, 51 percent of United States patents were awarded to non-United States companies.

The World Economics Forum ranks the United States 48th in quality of mathematics and science education.

According to OECD data the United States ranks 24th among thirty wealthy countries in life expectancyat birth.

The United States has fallen from first to eleventh place in the OECD in the fraction of 25-34 year olds that has graduated high school.  The older portion of the U.S. workforce ranks first among OECD populations of the same age.

What are the implications for U.S. competitiveness in the world economy? –nks

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Clean Energy Technology Commercialization Portal

Posted on September 22, 2010. Filed under: energy, energy efficiency, research & development, tech transfer |

 Courtesy of the US Dept. of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) comes a Technology Commercialization Portal which could be considered a one-stop shop for technology transfer opportunities in renewable energy and energy efficiency arenas.

The Technology Commercialization Portal enables you to find patents and patent applications for energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and a growing number of technology marketing summaries, all developed by U.S. Department of Energy laboratories and participating research institutions.

 The EERE Technology Commercialization Portal currently contains almost 200 technology marketing summaries, almost 12,000 patents available for licensing, and just over 3,000 patent applications.  The technologies covered fall into one of fourteen categories:

  •  Advanced Materials
  • Biomass and Biofuels
  • Building Energy Efficiency
  • Electricity Transmission and Distribution
  • Energy Analysis Models, Tools and Software
  • Energy Storage
  • Geothermal
  • Hydrogen and Fuel Cell
  • Hydropower, Wave and Tidal
  • Industrial Technologies
  • Solar Photovoltaic
  • Solar Thermal
  • Vehicles and Fuels
  • Wind Energy

There’s a nice story about this portal in the August/September issue of Innovation – “Introducing a Portal to Make Technology a Lot Easier“.  This could be a very useful tool.  I like it!  —nks

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Research and Experimentation Tax Credit (R&D Tax Credit) – Obama’s Proposal

Posted on September 8, 2010. Filed under: congress, policy, research & development | Tags: , , |

Today the President proposed an “expanded, simplified and permanent research and experimentation tax credit“. 

In a speech in Cleveland what he reportedly actually said was “Instead of tax loopholes that incentivize investment in overseas jobs, I’m proposing a more generous, permanent extension of the tax credit that goes to companies for all the research and innovation they do right here in Ohio, right here in the United States of America. ”

The fact sheet on whitehouse.gov (linked above) provides more details:

  • Expand the R&E credit by about 20% (from 14% to 17%)
  • Simplify the credit
  • Make the R&E tax credit permanent (currently it must be extended every year, and in fact expired in December 2009)

The administration proposes that the R&E credit (or R&D credit, as it is more popularly known) would be paid for “with the over $300 billion in loophole closures and other measures proposed in the FY2011 budget.”

What are the benefits, according to the administration?

  • Increases business certainty (see above and my April 11, 2010 blog post on the R&D Tax Credit – An Update  for discussion of repeated – but uncertain – extensions.)
  • 80% of the benefit directly supports jobs in the U.S.
  • Prevents the U.S. from falling further behind other countries in tax incentives for R&Eor R&D.
  • Leverage – $1 of tax benefit leverages up to an additional $2 in private R&D spending in the long run.

So what happens next?  I don’t know what kind of energy the administration will put behind this proposal in the upcoming months, but Congress is on recess until next week; the fiscal year ends in three weeks, and Congress is the entity that must either extend the current tax credit or pass a bill authorizing a new one. 

Earlier this year three bills containing R&D tax credit language had been introduced in the House of Representatives:

HR. 4213, the American Workers, State and Business Relief Act , passed the House Dec. 9, 2009; passed the Senate Mar. 10, 2010;  sent back to the House on March 18th.  If it had passed, the research tax credit would be extended once more, through December 31, 2010, via section 31 of the bill (section titled “Research Credit”).

 HR. 4770, Create Jobs by Expanding the R&D Tax Credit Act of 2010, introduced in the House on Mar. 4, 2010. This bill, if it passes, would increase the credit for research expenses and extend the deadline to December 31, 2011.

H.R.4965, Targeted Job Creation and Business Investment Act, introduced in the House on Mar. 25, 2010.  This bill, if it passes, would make permanent the R&D tax credit.  It was introduced by Rep. Joe Donnelly (D, IN) the day before congress went on recess.  The bill currently awaits action in the House Ways & Means committee.

As of today, both HR 4770 and HR 4965 are languishing in the House Ways and Means Committee with no action since March, it seems.

Meanwhile HR4213, which had passed the House and Senate, found itself rewritten and renamed the “Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2010, and was passed into law on July 22nd – with all reference to business tax credits of any kind removed.  In fact, nothing remained of the original bill except the number.

Today Congressman Rush Holt sent letters to the House Majority Leader and the Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee urging them to bring R&D tax credit legislation to the floor.  

As noted above, two related bills are awaiting action in House Ways and Means. But will the House take action?  And if it does, will the Senate follow suit? Or will most energy be directed to trying to pass a budget or a continuing resolution before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, followed by attention to the upcoming elections?  Time will tell.  And meanwhile, in 2010, there is no research and experimentation (or R&D) tgax credit at all.  –NKS

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The R&D Tax Credit – an Update

Posted on April 11, 2010. Filed under: congress, research & development |

The R&D tax credit was enacted in 1981 and has been extended 13 times through 2009, but expired (for the 14th time) on December 31, 2009.  The R&D credit, actually three available credits, is available for qualified research and development expenditures incurred in the United States.

 So what is happening with the R&D tax credit in 2010?  There are at least three bills to watch.

 HR. 4213, the American Workers, State and Business Relief Act , passed the House Dec. 9, 2009; passed the Senate Mar. 10, 2010;  sent back to the House on March 18th.  If ultimately passed, the research tax credit would be extended once more, through December 31, 2010, via section 31 of the bill (section titled “Research Credit”).

 HR. 4770, Create Jobs by Expanding the R&D Tax Credit Act of 2010, introduced in the House on Mar. 4, 2010. This bill, if it passes, would increase the credit for research expenses and extend the deadline to December 31, 2011.

H.R.4965, Targeted Job Creation and Business Investment Act, introduced in the House on Mar. 25, 2010.  This bill, if it passes, would make permanent the R&D tax credit.  It was introduced by Rep. Joe Donnelly (D, IN) the day before congress went on recess.  The bill currently awaits action in the House Ways & Means committee.

 Congress will be returning to session on April 12th.  With 2010 being an election year and all the spending bills still to work on, there will be much competition for congressional time.  It will be interesting to see which, if any, of these bills proceeds to full passage.

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Tracking trends in science research – ScienceWatch

Posted on February 14, 2010. Filed under: information search, research & development, science & technology | Tags: , |

Have you seen the Thomson Reuters ScienceWatch site? It offers insights into “trends and performance in basic research”, in a variety of ways , based in large part on citation analysis of published papers.

The site offers a number of different looks at research topic data and rankings – fast breaking papers, new hot papers, emerging research fronts, fast moving fronts, corporate research fronts, and more.

For example, as reported for February 2010, an emerging engineering research topic has to do with thin film solar cells and their ability to compete with traditional crystalline silicon technology in terms of conversion efficiency.  That is just one of many emerging research topics reported on for February.

Thomson Reuters is a publisher of web-based information resources.  The data they post and discuss on ScienceWatch.com is pulled from their proprietary “Essential Science Indicators” database. 

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Yo quiero taco patent :-)

Posted on August 4, 2009. Filed under: intellectual property, research & development | Tags: |

Browsing the USPTO (patent & trademark office) listing of new patents is always interesting.  This one, published last Tuesday, caught my eye – Food tray insert for holding tacos.  I love it already!

Patent number 7,565,864 describes a food container insert designed to hold tacos upright in a food container and to “facilitate drainage of grease and juices from the taco filling away from the taco shell”.

You can learn the most amazing things when perusing patents.  In this one, as part of the “background” section, there’s a short history of tacos!    I’m having fun with this, but my real point – patents can be an excellent addition to your information research toolbox. 

And, as this patent illustrates, there are seemingly endless possibilities for innovation and invention. –nks

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GE to add R&D center, employ over 1,000 in Michigan

Posted on June 29, 2009. Filed under: research & development, the economy | Tags: |

GE announced today it would be adding a 5th R&D center to its roster, this one in the Visteon Village site of Van Buren Township, Michigan.  The Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Software Center reportedly will employ an estimated 1100 scientisits, engineers, and technologists.   Work will include development of  next generation manufacturing technologies for renewable energy, aircraft engine, gas turbine, and other high-tech products, as well as software development, data architecture, networking, business intelligence, and program management.

Prior to opening the Center, GE will be providing employment for the local construction trades to build a $100 million, 100,000 square foot building on the site.

All of this is good news for Michigan, hit hard by the auto industry’s troubles.  The location has an auto industry connection as well.  Visteon Village (25 miles from Detroit) was developed in 2002 by Visteon Corporation, an auto parts supplier that had spun off from Detroit a few years earlier. It is still Visteon Corp’s. headquarters.

Michigan is reportedly providing $60 million in incentives over the next twelve years to support the center.  Certainly the state hopes and expect this move by GE will make a significant contribution to its efforts to diversify its economy into new high-paying industries. –nks

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