Archive | March 2013

World-class wind tunnel opens in Williston

The world’s largest wind tunnel for wind sensor calibration opened in Williston – and Governor Peter Shumlin and representatives from The University of Vermont (UVM) and NRG Systems were on hand for the event. Owned and operated by Svend Ole Hansen of SOH Wind Engineering, this facility will be used to calibrate wind sensors like those manufactured by Hinesburg’s NRG Systems as well as to test the effects of wind on large structures like bridges and buildings. The wind tunnel will also serve as an educational resource for the UVMstudents.

“The opening of this wind tunnel is great news for Vermont,” said Governor Peter Shumlin. “Not only will it help support businesses like NRG Systems that require this specialized service, the wind tunnel provides a great learning opportunity for our science, technology, engineering and math students.”

Svend Ole Hansen, principal of SOH Wind Engineering and wind tunnel owner, decided to launch this new business in the United States in response to a request issued by Hinesburg-based NRG Systems, global manufacturer of wind turbine measurement equipment and optimization systems.

“The reason I chose to site my business in Vermont is because of NRG Systems,” said Svend Ole Hansen. “And the reason we’ve constructed such a large tunnel is it will allow my company to advance the science of wind engineering and gain a better understanding of wind forces on a variety of structures.”

“The presence of this new wind tunnel is great news for our company, our customers, and the global wind industry in general,” said John Norton, chief operating officer of NRG Systems. “It creates the opportunity to understand the behavior of our sensors in an unrestricted but controlled environment and it allows NRG Systems to verify the accuracy of sensor calibrations, reduce transportation costs, and better serve our customers.”

The wind tunnel will also serve as an educational resource for UVM professors and students in the engineering school. Currently, two UVM engineering students are working at the facility and others are using the facility for academic projects.

“We are so fortunate to have a facility of this caliber in our backyard,” said Dryver Huston, PhD, UVM’s College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences. “This gives our students the opportunity to apply what they learn in the classroom into a real world setting.”

The wind tunnel facility has a wide range of applications for businesses in civil and mechanical engineering, architecture, transportation and renewable energy. Its flexible design allows it to be configured to test large structures such as bridges and buildings as well as small items such as anemometers. At full build-out the Williston facility will operate four closed return-flow wind tunnels; two of which are operating now. Each wind tunnel measures about 10 feet tall by 10 feet wide and 125 feet long and includes two 125 horsepower fans capable of producing wind speeds up to 65 miles per hour.

Launching the business was a two-year initiative that integrated private investment with public dollars. Based on the capital investment and employment projections, SOH secured a grant under The Vermont Economic Growth Initiative for roughly $150,000.

SOH Wind Engineering is an independently-owned company that is located in Williston, Vermont. Together with its sister company, Svend Ole Hansen ApS, located in Copenhagen, Denmark, the company has more than 25 years of experience in wind engineering and boundary layer wind tunnel testing.

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Why post-press kit is beginning to matter

Commercial printing is seeing a slowdown; at the same time, there is no dearth of print jobs. We have seen leading commercial printers across India boost their capacity. Many of the printer-visitors we spoke to talked about the growing awareness of print buyers. There is equal stress on the finishing as there is on print quality. Be it saddle-stitching, perfect binding, lamination and case-making were on display. Players like Megabound, Fortec, Suba Solutions, Malhotra Graphics, Pratham Technologies, Welbound (on the Pressline stand), etc made their presence felt at the show.

Bhogle Engineering Works showcased live demonstration of the 32-inch Thermolam 800 AC along with 24-inch Thermolam 600 AC. The Thermolam 800 AC uses hot oil spray for heating the roller. It is equipped with an automatic cutting device to deliver the output in sheet form. Yogesh Bhogle of Bhogle Engineering Works, says, “These machines are targeted at digital as well as offset print firms, which require in-house lamination. The trend is shifting from conventional wet glue lamination to thermal lamination.” The company has installed more than 400 machines since 2002, of which 35 installations were in 2012.

Sheth Printograph under the brand name Daya launched proto-type of finishing machines which includes Daya automatic thermal laminator. The laminator has a size of 15 x 20- inch and is equipped with inline sheet separator. The machine accepts stock ranging from 150gsm to 450gsm and has a speed of 50 meters/minute, depending on the substrate. Sonal Sheth, director at Sheth Printograph, says, “It is difficult for the small to medium print firms to invest in expensive European finishing machines nor do they have big shop-floor where the machines can be installed. Our machine suits Indian requirements.” Sheth Printograph has already applied for registration of the patent for the machine.

Welbound displayed its WB 2000, a six-clamp perfect binding machine at Pressline’s stall. WB 2000 has a capacity to bind 2,000 books/hour and can bind book with size ranging from 150×100 mm up to 440×250 mm. The machine has six book clamps traveling in an oval shaped path, where the spine is inline with the crucial binding station. The book clamps is calibrated with thickness indicators; single knob adjustments and can handle job change-over efficiently.

Kerala-based Redlands Machinery unveiled Petratto Metro 78, the folder-gluer which is capable of 100 different types of folds, including in the small pharmaceutical cartons. Fortec Binding System showcased the Fortec Eco, a case-making machines and automatic Fortec 2 Fold board fixing machine. Fortec Eco can be customised and has a digital control and A/C drive system. The 2 Fold board fixing machine has an automatic registration system and a pneumatic control system that helps fix the board with perfect registration.The production speed of the machine is 400 cases/hr.

Megabound launched four new post-press machines, namely automatic case maker Pearl, MAC-650, X-Press Bookline and PB-680. Automatic case maker Pearl is an automatic case maker wherein all the process is automated except for the manual gluing system. It has a production speed of 500 cases/ hour and can accept paper and board thickness ranging from 80gsm up to 5mm. The MAC-650 is a fully automatic case maker and has production speed of 800 cases/ hour.

Amritsar-based Five Star Printing Machinery launched exercise booking binding and folding machine, which can be customised according to customer’s requirement.

The other side of the story

Last week, former security company CEO Stew Henry made a presentation to Hamilton Township Council predicting that the 20-year green-energy contracts being let by OPA, if the generation goal of 10,700 megawatts of green, renewable energy is reached, would cost taxpayers significantly more than the $58 billion he previously predicted based on an 80/20 split between wind and solar.

Given the state of the economy, this is an extra cost that could be reduced by going another route entirely, he said.

Henry urged that council petition Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to meet with her Quebec counterpart to negotiate an agreement to have Quebec use its hydro surplus to meet Ontario’s green needs, instead of letting more OPA contracts. He asked the local council not to support the provincial direction of the Act, and to demand the Ontario Auditor General review the existing contracts for expensive cancellation clauses, and if found, cancel them.

Council heard the presentation and, in conjunction with a report on wind turbines heard at its corporate services committee meeting of March 6, directed township staff to arrange a meeting to hear from both sides of the debate.

During the March 6 committee meeting, a recommendation was also made to hold a public meeting to see if township residents wanted to “be a host for large scale wind turbine/solar energy projects” and to possibly identify the municipality as an “unwilling host” for them.

No vote was taken about it at the committee of the whole level and presumably it will be discussed after the upcoming meeting at which a professional with the OPA and/or Green Energy Act will be present to provide the flip side of the green-energy story.

Nearly a month ago, during the Ontario Good Road Conference, Hamilton Township Deputy Mayor Isobel Hie and Councillor Donna Cole met with Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli and 10 other municipal representatives to express concerns about the Act and contracts being let though the FIT Program.

She also raised concerns about the changes to the Act’s regulations whereby wind and solar proponents seek municipal letters of support to gain points on their applications.

In a written document presented to the energy minister, Cole stated that in their view “the Ontario government has not considered… Hydro Quebec’s excess generating capacity” as an alternative, green energy source for Ontario; the ” true cost of the FIT Program’s green energy”; the Dec. 2012 World Trade Organization ruling against Ontario’s requirement for specified Ontario content in alternative energy infrastructure; “the need for municipal involvement in the FIT Program Application”; as well as how wind turbines affect the health of Ontarians.

Chiarelli replied with a standard thank you letter but did not respond to the specific questions put to him, Cole said.

Meanwhile, shortly before Cole’s presentation to the energy minister, Guelph University professor Ross McKitrick wrote the Ontario Energy Board quoting the Ontario Auditor-General’s 2011 report which warned that “no comprehensive business-case evaluation was done to objectively evaluate the impacts of the billion-dollar commitment” of the province’s direction with the Green Energy Act.

At Page 89 in the 2011 report, wrote McKitrick, the Auditor-General stated that “wind and solar renewable power will add significant additional costs to ratepayers’ electricity bills. Renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, are also not as reliable and require a backup from alternative energy-supply methods such as gas-fired generation…. A typical residential electricity bill would rise about 7.9% annually over the next five years, with 56% of the increase due to investments in renewable energy.”

McKitrick also noted in his correspondence that surplus wind power is generated when Ontario’s peak periods are over and then is “dumped into the export market” sometimes requiring taxpayers to pay some other jurisdiction to take the excess.

Wind in the sails

When Ghrepower, a Shanghai-based manufacturer of small and medium-size wind turbines, decided to set up a subsidiary in Swansea, Wales, in 2011 to tap into the British wind turbine market, it did not realize how much of an impact it would make on the local community.

Joseph Deng, director of Ghrepower UK Ltd, says that though the overall investment environment in Britain is satisfactory, it is the help that his team received from the Welsh government that has greatly helped the company grow.

“They have been very supportive of our development and in turn we create more jobs for the local people and bring growth to the local economy,” Deng says.

The initial choice of location was made to minimize cost, he says. “Wales was not doing particularly well after the financial crisis and its government was keen to support businesses growing through favorable policy measures.”

One such scheme that helped the company was the Local Investment Fund scheme, which funds up to 40 percent of the capital equipment cost for small and medium-size firms in the manufacturing and manufacturing services sectors.

Another scheme of great help to Ghrepower was the GO Wales Work Placements scheme, created to help Welsh graduates find work.

Graduates participating in the scheme work at companies located in Wales for between six to 10 weeks, during which time the Welsh government contributes up to 100 pounds ($150; 115 euros) per week to their wages. When the placement period ends, the employers can offer the workers long-term jobs if they wish to.

“This scheme has been very helpful for us because it creates a period of time for us to understand if the new worker fits in well with our team before we make a commitment to hire them,” Deng says. So far, three Welsh graduates have completed their placements at Ghrepower, and all three of them continued on to more permanent roles.

“Labor laws in Wales are very different from that of China. As it is much harder to fire a worker in Wales, we take great care to select the most suitable workers in the first place. And the placement period of the scheme helps us with that a lot,” he says.

In Wales, workers have the right to take their employers to employment tribunals, if they feel their dismissal is unfair.

Differences in labor laws between China and many Western countries often surprise Chinese managers when they start to work overseas.

Despite the complexity of Welsh employment laws, Deng greatly supports the idea of employing local workers. He is currently the only Chinese within his team of eight.

“Local employees can contribute a lot to our business, they speak the local language, they know the local market very well, and they can visit our customers as they have local driving licenses,” he says.

Last year, Ghrepower was selected by the Welsh government as one of 50 businesses to participate in its High Potential Starts project, a scheme designed to help young SMEs grow by providing them with financial, legal and technical consultancy services.

Launched in January 2012, the three-year scheme would cost the Welsh government 2 million pounds, but is forecast to generate an extra 36 million pounds of turnover for participating businesses and at least 480 well-paid jobs for the local economy.

“The scheme has helped us a lot, especially in terms of widening our business connections,” Deng says. He regularly attended seminars, talks and conferences that the government organized to introduce SMEs to expert advisers.

Cray re-soldering Titan’s connectors

Hundreds of connectors are being re-soldered each week, and the Titan supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory—the world’s fastest machine—could be in regular production by May, a lab official said Wednesday.

Jeff Nichols, ORNL associate lab director for computing and computational sciences, said connectors on the $100 million computer’s motherboards had too much gold, and solder was interacting with the gold on connector pins, making the solder unstable and leading to cracks.

There are about 20,000 of the pencil-sized connectors, which link central and graphic processing units, or CPUs and GPUs. Each connector has about 100 pins.

Motherboards from Titan’s 200 closet-sized cabinets are being shipped back to Cray Inc., and the company is removing the connectors, laying down new ones with the right amount of gold, and re-soldering them, Nichols said.

ORNL had hoped to complete acceptance testing on Titan, allowing it to be put into production with full-scale user operations, by the end of 2012, Nichols said. But that was an aggressive target and assumed that everything went well, he said.

Lab officials now plan to have all the components back in service by April 6, and they plan to run the acceptance test one more time. It includes a 14-day stability test that will ensure Titan is finishing problems, producing the right answers, and performing appropriately. The acceptance testing could be complete by the end of April.

The testing was almost completed once before, but workers noticed a degradation in communications between the CPUs and GPUs.

While repairs are being made, research is continuing on Titan. The machine’s GPUs give it a lot of power, but the CPUs still allow it to be used.

“Right now, the users are on it, but they’re not able to take advantage of the full system in the way that they could in the future,” Nichols said.

Titan has 24 pizza box-sized metal “blades” in each of its 200 cabinets. There are four connectors per blade or about 100 connectors per cabinet. Nichols said Cray is repairing connectors in about 12-16 cabinets per week.

He said the lab is not assigning blame for the solder problems on the big, cutting-edge machine. The solder started to crack as Titan heated up and cooled down, and blades were moved in and out of cabinets.

“We have the biggest machine on the planet,” Nichols said. The setbacks are part of “life on the leading edge,” he said.

He said Cray is bearing the cost of the repairs, and the company won’t get all of its money until the machine is accepted.

Titan received a first-place ranking in a semiannual Top500 list that was released in November at the SC12 supercomputing conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. A test showed Titan is capable of reaching a speed of 17.59 petaflops, or more than 17,000 trillion calculations per second. It had an even higher theoretical capability of 27 petaflops.

Five companies vie to build wind farms

Five companies are interested in developing wind farms in the ocean off North Carolina, hoping to take advantage of what could be the East Coast’s most promising chance to create energy through giant turbines anchored to the sea floor.

The idea is embraced by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and the Sierra Club alike, who see North Carolina as the next potential center for renewable energy in America. But big obstacles remain before the whirling farms become a reality. Offshore wind is an expensive form of energy, and Congress is losing interest in federal subsidies to encourage it. There are no offshore wind farms in the United States, although they’re common in Europe.

The federal government asked companies in December if they’d be interested in North Carolina offshore wind development. Five responded positively in filings released Tuesday. One is Virginia Electric and Power Co., part of the Dominion utility that serves Virginia and northeastern North Carolina.

“We responded we are interested, but there is a long way to go,” said Dominion spokesman Dan Genest. “We are interested. We would like to be a player. There’s a lot we have to learn, though.”

The federal government has to finish an environmental study before auctioning the offshore leases. The agency also needs to decide whether to change the areas considered for wind farms in light of newly released public comments. Those include the assertion of the World Shipping Council, a trade association that represents container vessels , that inviting wind farm proposals off Kitty Hawk, N.C., is “dangerous and imprudent” for shipping.

Two potential development areas are between Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Wilmington, N.C., while another is beyond the Outer Banks, across from the island towns of Kitty Hawk, Nags Head and Manteo. All potential areas are at least six miles from shore.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates suggest that North Carolina’s offshore wind potential is the highest on the East Coast. The five companies interested in leasing did not make binding commitments or detailed proposals. But Brian O’Hara, president of the North Carolina Offshore Wind Coalition, said their responses are still a good sign wind farms will be coming.

Wind farm development is not a fast process. O’Hara said it could be at least five years before the turbine construction would begin.

“There has to be some sort of agreement for where the power is going,” he said.

That’s the roadblock, said Bruce Hamilton, a California-based wind expert with the global firm Navigant Consulting. Offshore wind is much more expensive than other sources of electricity, Hamilton said, and utilities are not going to buy it unless there’s something forcing them to do so.

He said that means a requirement such as the one Maryland is considering. The Maryland legislature is poised to pass a bill requiring the state’s electricity providers to buy a certain amount of power from a proposed wind farm off Ocean City. It would increase monthly electricity bills for ratepayers by an estimated $1.50 a month.

“Absent those kinds of specific policies, offshore wind probably won’t make the short list – at least in the near term,” Hamilton said.

North Carolina has a law saying electric utilities must generate 12.5 percent of their retail sales from renewable energy or energy efficiency by 2021. But any offshore wind production is at least several years off and could be too late to be part of that mix. Also, some Republicans in the state legislature are trying to gather the votes to overturn that renewable energy requirement.

Laser scanner medical research boon

Australia’s first laser scanner cytometer is tipped to cut years off drug development and reduce the need for animal trials.

Stem cell researcher Associate Prof Louise Purton said the $700,000 machine, at St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research, would allow researchers to study cells in the body. “Anything we want to know about a cell, this should be able to answer it,” she said.

“This is the way the cancer field is moving forward into finding a cure, by understanding why that cancer is forming and specifically targeting those cancer cells as opposed to the other cells around it.”

Deputy director of the institute, Prof Michael Parker, said the scanner would give Victorian researchers a “huge advantage”.

“We could have 100 molecules that bind pretty well to the protein we’re targeting, but once you put them in the animal or human we don’t know if they’re actually going to get to where the disease is,” he said. “The scanner will tell us of the 100 molecules what are the ones we should be focusing on.”

Once a potential cancer-killing molecule has been developed by Prof Parker’s drug discovery laboratory, associate Prof Purton’s team can fluorescently tag the compound to see if the drugs are getting inside the cancer cells.

“It allows you to see the effect on the cell, but also on the cells around it,” Associate Prof Purton said. “Usually you just have to monitor the visual appearance of the animal to see if they’re showing any signs of any illness.

“The scanner will allow us to see what’s happening inside the organs, and monitor more specifically what’s happening with the drug.

“We can look at what’s happening with patients pre and post-chemotherapy; see if the cells are changing, if the disease is being eradicated properly and if they’re changing the cells they’re interacting with.”

The scanner was funded by an Australian Cancer Research Foundation grant. It will also be used by the institute for research into heart disease, Type 1 diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

Similar surgeries may follow in other cases where sections of the skull are removed because the brain has swollen during a surgery or after an accident, says Scott DeFelice, president of Connecticut-based Oxford Performance Materials, the company that created the prosthetic.

Technicians used CT scans to get images of the part of the skull that needed replacing. Then, with computer software and input from surgeons, engineers designed the replacement part. A machine that uses lasers to fuse granules of material built the prosthetic layer by layer out of a special plastic called PEKK. While inert like titanium, PEKK is riddled on its surface with pocks and ridges that promote bone cell growth, DeFelice says.

Such implants have value as a brain-protecting material, says Jeremy Mao, a biomedical engineer and codirector of Columbia University’s center for craniofacial regeneration. But doctors will need to keep an eye out for long-term problems; The skull isn’t just a box for the brain but a complicated piece of anatomy linked to connective and soft tissues.