Corning Inc. announced that its board of directors has approved a capital expenditure plan of approximately $250 million to increase manufacturing capacity of the company’s diesel emissions control products. The majority of the investment will increase capacity at the Erwin diesel facility near Corning, which manufactures large ceramic substrates and filters for heavy-duty diesel engine, truck, construction, and agricultural equipment manufacturers worldwide. “Important heavy-duty regulations in China and Europe, as well as for non-road vehicles, take effect over the next two years which could double demand for our products by 2017,” says Mark Beck, executive vice president, Corning Environmental Technologies & Life Sciences Business Group. Corning’s diesel plant in Erwin began manufacturing large substrates in 2004 and now also produces particulate filters for heavy-duty applications. The company has already completed two facility expansions to accommodate global market growth. Corning said spending on the $250 million project will occur over a three-year period and will not change the company’s previous capital spending forecasts for 2013 and 2014. The latest project is expected to be operational in 2015 and to create an additional 250 new full-time positions if market demand grows as expected.
Infab Refractories Inc. is a descendant of Eastern Refractories Co, which opened a branch office in Lewiston on Holland Street in the 1940s. The Lewiston satellite was located strategically with a rail siding, for delivery of the refractory firebricks needed to service the boilers of various power plants, paper mills and manufacturing plants. The company was sold to a national contractor in the late ’90s and was soon re-sold, becoming employee owned in 2004. David Collins, the principle owner of Infab Refractories, is the grandson of the first regional manager of Eastern Refractories, Ted Collins. Infab Refractories has expanded its client base through the manufacture of custom-made, removable insulation blankets and various other high-temperature products under the direction of owner Jean (John) Bergeron and former owner Dick Marston at their current location on the corner of Whipple and Summer streets in Lewiston.
Minerals Technologies Inc. (reported net income of $18.8 million, or $0.53 per share for the first quarter 2013, compared with $18.0 million, or $0.51 per share in the first quarter of 2012, a 4-percent increase. “We began 2013 with solid operating performance, which generated a record in profit for both Minerals Technologies and our Specialty Minerals segment,” says Joseph C. Muscari, executive chair. “During the quarter we saw organic growth from new satellites ramping up in Asia, and we also announced three new commercial agreements for our FulFill technology, two in North America and one in South America.” The company’s worldwide sales declined 2 percent to $251.3 million from $257.1 million in the first quarter of 2012. Foreign exchange had an unfavorable impact of 1 percentage point of this decline, and two fewer days in the quarter affected sales by an additional 2 percentage points. Operating income was $27.1 million, a 1-percent increase over the $27.0 million recorded in the prior year’s first quarter.
(Washington Post) Fiber cement, a century-old material, has become popular in recent decades as a cheaper, more durable alternative to wood siding. It used to be reinforced with asbestos until the 1980s, when that hazardous substance was eliminated from its manufacture. Now the material is typically made with cement, sand, wood fibers and additives. In recent years, designs made from the mixture have expanded from wood-grained boards to paneling resembling brick, stone and stucco, and contemporary furnishings. “We use it on about 90 to 95 percent of our remodeling and addition projects,” says Bill Millholland, executive vice president of Case Design and Remodeling of Bethesda. “I can’t think of much we are doing that is not fiber cement. It looks like real wood siding, but it doesn’t decay, and it’s fire-resistant.” James Hardie Industries is the largest producer of the material in the country, and its HardiePlank siding “has become the Kleenex of fiber cement,” Millholland says.
(Tanzania Daily News) Tanzania’s total cement production is expected to more than double over the next two years, thanks to the new entrants, which expect to amplify competition. The current four firms that produce Twiga, Simba, Rhino and Tembo brands have a combined installed annual capacity of 3.75 million [metric] tons and output is expected to reach 8.65 million tons per year in 2015. The new producers are Dangote Cement, Lake Cement, and Lee Building Material plus the existing firms’ expansion expected to boost production by 4.9 million tons per annum. Tanzania Securities’ CEO, Moremi Marwa, says the firms are taking advantages of increased cement demand pushed by construction activities that grew at an annual average rate of eight per cent over the past five years. “We expect local demand to grow at over 10 per cent if infrastructure investments are sustained at the current levels and the economic momentum remains as projected,” Marwa says. The demand, currently standing at four million tons, has been growing at a compound annual growth rate of 10 per cent over the past five years to 2012. “We note that Tanzania is currently a net importer of cement, importing about 500,000 tons per annum or 12 per cent of the total consumption,” the CEO says in a cement analysis report. He adds, “We estimate that current sector utilization of the installed capacity is 90 per cent, offering minimal room for upside unless the projected new capacity is added.”
XG Sciences Inc. announced today that it has launched a new generation of anode materials for lithium-ion batteries with four times the capacity of conventional anodes. The new anode material is produced through proprietary manufacturing processes and uses the company’s xGnP graphene nanoplatelets to stabilize silicon particles in a nano-engineered composite structure. The material displays dramatically improved charge storage capacity with good cycle life and high efficiencies. “We are pleased to announce the immediate availability of this new high-capacity anode product,” says Rob Privette, vice president of energy markets. “Our new silicon-graphene anode material, when used in combination with our existing xGnP graphene products as conductive additives, provides significantly higher energy storage than conventional battery materials. This is great news for applications like smartphones, tablet computers, stationary power and vehicle electrification that use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. We are working with battery makers to translate this exciting new material into batteries with longer run-time, faster charging and smaller sizes than today’s batteries.” Privette says that the exact performance of the new anode materials will depend on the specific battery formulations used by the cell manufacturer, noting that XGS has demonstrated capacity of 1500 mAh/g with low irreversible capacity loss and stable cycling performance in life tests.
3M announced that two of its recent technologies have received prestigious honors from the Edison Awards, a program conducted by the non-profit organization Edison Universe, which is dedicated to fostering future innovators. The company’s 3M LED Advanced Light received a Gold Edison Award in the Lighting category while the 3M Molecular Detection System earned a Silver Edison Award within the Diagnostic/Analytic Systems category. Nominees were judged by a panel of more than 3,000 leading business executives including previous winners, academics, and leaders in the fields of product development, design, engineering, science and medicine. The evaluation criteria used for this comprehensive, peer-reviewed process emphasized themes of concept, value, delivery and impact. The 3M LED Advanced Light—the company’s first-ever bulb—couldn’t be more appropriate for an innovation award named after Thomas Edison. The 3M LED Advanced Light provides an option that’s just as bright as a traditional bulb, and with its special Light Guide Technology, it shines in all directions. Developed with 3M multilayer optical film, adhesives and heat management technologies, the stylish bulb provides long-term cost savings but doesn’t compromise on energy efficiency.
The Corning Inc. Board of Directors approved an increase in the company’s quarterly common stock dividend. Corning’s second quarter dividend will rise to $0.10 per share of common stock held, versus $0.09 per share previously. Corning previously increased its dividend payment to $0.09 per share from $0.075 in October 2012. It is the third dividend increase in the past 18 months. Additionally, the board authorized a share repurchase program to acquire up to $2 billion of the company’s common stock from time to time through open market or private transactions. “We believe the future for Corning is very bright. Our business results are improving, and we have seen two consecutive quarters of year-over-year core profitability improvements. In the display industry, we have stabilized our market share, moderated price declines and we are reestablishing positive momentum in the business. And, we are seeing positive signs of earnings growth across all our other businesses,” Wendell P. Weeks, chairman, chief executive officer and president, says.
(GigaOm) A Swedish startup is introducing a new approach to making next-gen thin film solar panels, using techniques from optical disc manufacturing. However, the solar manufacturing sector is facing a brutal year in 2013 and as solar manufacturers continue to suffer losses, it could be a difficult time to launch a new production technique. Midsummer, based in Jarfalla, Sweden, has developed equipment and processes to make thin film solar panels, using the material copper indium gallium (di)selenide, or CIGS. Midsummer’s approach is to produce individual CIGS thin film cells on a stainless steel substrate. The cells are “punched out” of the stainless roll before deposition. “We wanted to produce many small thin film solar cells and then later on put them together in a module,” says CEO Sven Lindström. This approach draws on optical disc manufacturing techniques, treating each individual CIGS cells in much the same was a CD or DVD would be created. It certainly marks a departure from current thin film semiconductor deposition, which tends to be employed in a continuous process, either onto a glass substrate or a roll of stainless steel.
Saint-Gobain received the “European Cleantech Corporation of the Year” award at the 9th European Cleantech Forum in Bilbao, Spain, organized by Cleantech Group, a global network that brings together investors, start-ups and industrial groups in the area of green technology. This award singles out a company for its significant action to promote innovation in green technology and environmentally friendly products and services. Saint-Gobain was selected for its sustainable habitat strategy, for continuing its strategic investments in 2012, and NOVA External Venturing’s contribution to speeding up innovation. Tasked with identifying start-ups and encouraging partnerships with Saint-Gobain Activities, NOVA’s international team promotes a culture of innovation that embraces the world outside Saint-Gobain. “We were struck by Saint-Gobain’s consistent approach to cleantech innovation, underpinning its sustainable habitat vision, as shown by the gradual growth in new products as a percentage of its sales. In 2012, despite a tough economic context, its commitment to sustainability, innovation and energy efficiency prevailed, with notably the acquisitions of Celotex and Sage Electrochromics, and the running of the 4th NOVA Innovation Competition,” explains Richard Youngman, managing director for Cleantech Group in Europe.
Research and Markets’ new report, “Global Cement Market to 2017: Market Size, Growth and Forecasts in Nearly 80 Countries” is a comprehensive package that enables readers the critical perspectives to be able to evaluate the world market for cement. The package provides the market size, growth, and forecasts at the global level as well as for each of the following countries: Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay and Vietnam. The market data covers the years 2006-2017
Cemex announced a collaboration agreement with the Earth Engineering Center (EEC) at Columbia University and City College of New York in which EEC will conduct a year-long study of the life cycle effects of using alternative fuels in cement manufacturing. This study will result in a better understanding of the role that alternative fuels play in society and the environment. “This collaboration with EEC underscores the urgency of searching for alternative fuels given the continuing rise of oil prices and the increase of waste in landfills,” says Luis Farias, Cemex’s senior vice president of energy and sustainability. “The alternative fuel strategy has already enabled Cemex to avoid the emission of approximately 2.5 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere per year.” Led by Nickolas Themelis and Marco Castaldi, from Columbia University and the City College of New York, respectively, the study will focus on waste combustion technologies implemented in Cemex kilns in the United States and Mexico. “The study is of great interest to the EEC because cement production is the largest materials-based high-temperature process worldwide, therefore, cement kilns present a great potential to reduce the amount of wastes in landfills,” explains Themelis. “This study provides EEC with the opportunity to develop a knowledge position similar to that EEC has attained in the global waste-to-energy technology and industry.” Cemex is on track to achieve its target of a 35 percent alternative fuel substitution rate in cement production by 2015.
Schott is now the first manufacturer to offer special optical glasses of the tolerance level 0.5. The maximum deviation from the nominal values listed in the datasheet is only ± 0.0001 with the refractive index nd and ± 0.1 percent with the Abbe number νd with this new level of quality. This means Schott has the narrowest optical tolerances available in the market. Glasses of the tolerance level 0.5 are particularly well-suited for use in high-precision lenses. To achieve the best possible resolution, several lenses must be precisely in tune with each other. The narrow optical position of the glasses helps to improve the quality of the lenses used in inspection systems in industry or microscopy. In response to the growing demand, Schott now offers the following preferred fine annealed and prepared glass types in the tolerance level 0.5 from stock: N-BK7 and N-BK7HT, N-KZFS4 and N-KZFS4HT, N-KZFS5, N-KZFS8, N-PK51 and N-FK51A. Other glasses of the tolerance level 0.5 are available upon request. Schott is able to achieve these extremely narrow tolerances by closely controlling the melting and annealing processes with the help of state-of-the art techniques used in glass manufacturing. Then, these glass products are measured extremely precisely and further referenced inside a V-block refractometer at Schott.
(Business Courier) David Joyce, CEO of Evendale-based GE Aviation, said last week the company will make an announcement in the next 60 to 90 days about a ceramic matrix composites production site.
Joyce, who was meeting with reporters after parent company General Electric Co.’s first quarter earnings were reported, didn’t share any additional details about the production site. Ceramic matrix composites, or CMCs, are expected to play an increasing role in new jet engines from GE Aviation. Ceramic matrix composites combine the heat resistance of ceramics with the strength of metal. GE Aviation recently tested an engine core that achieved the highest combination temperatures ever recorded inside the compressor and the turbine, a core made of lightweight and heat-resistant CMCs. The hotter the engine can get, the more efficiently the engine can run, which could result in improved fuel efficiency of as much as 25 percent.
• Allied Glass Containers Ltd has recently successfully completed a major investment program at its Knottingley site, which involved a complete melter and forehearth rebuild. The project, which started in January has resulted in a larger furnace with increased production capacity and improved environmental performance.
• Saverglass is strengthening its industrial presence worldwide recently by opening in the Middle East its new Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates, a production site. Saverglass, the world specialist in manufacturing and decorating luxury and high-end bottles, inaugurates a furnace to produce more than 150 million bottles peryear, and 120 employees are expected to be running the plant.
• Through the acquisition of Scheuten’s stake in “Moustier4,” AGC Glass Europe has acquired the total share capital of the joint venture that constitutes the Belgium-based float production line located in the AGC Moustier plant.
• Magnezit Group, in the framework of the project for production of magnesia fluxes, has successfully launched a line with annual capacity of 50,000 tons at Panteleymonovka Refractory Plant (settlement Panteleymonovka, town Gorlovka, Ukraine). The production facility was organized from scratch and will reach designed capacity this year.
• Mineral sands miner Iluka Resources cut production by nearly half in the March quarter (compared to March 2012), and will reduce it even more as prices fall. Poor prices and weak demand led to a 21 per cent fall in mineral sands revenue of $139.9 million, from $177.1 million in the same period last year.
Onyx Solar has rolled out a complete new full range of colored photovoltaic glass. The new product, which allows any sustainable project to configure a customized design in any color (or combination of colors) while generating clean and free energy. The wide range of tones and colors provides to any architectural design-curtain wall, brise soleil, skylight, ventilated façade, canopy, etc.—a new world of possibilities to integrate photovoltaic materials into buildings. With this innovative product, Onyx Solar shows that implementing green building solutions is compatible with an aesthetic architectural design and gives an absolute freedom of choice to integrate renewable energy into buildings. In addition to energy generation, Onyx Solar multifunctional solutions also provide other benefits to the buildings that incorporate them: Provide both thermal and sound insulation and filter out harmful radiations of natural light (IR & UV).
Chinese ceramic products are flooding the Indian market that has been impacting the interest of domestic manufacturers to the extent that many small units are on the verge of closure, an Assocham study has said. Ceramics manufacturers are not able to pass on the rise in input costs to consumers owing to the emerging competition from Chinese ceramic imports, which further hurt their profitability, the industry body said its study. “This has even lead to closure of certain ceramic units unable to bear rising production costs,” says D.S. Rawat, secretary general of Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham). The production of ceramics has been significantly falling short of the prevailing local demand in India and despite making rapid strides for enhancing domestic production capabilities, China continues to be a major supplier of ceramic products to India, the study says. Also, it says the rate of growth for import of Chinese ceramics into India has substantially risen from about eight per cent till a few years ago to over 42 per cent now.
Morgan Technical Ceramics (MTC) of Stourport-on-Severn, UK, has opened a new production facility for piezoelectric ceramic discs, which can be used in heat-, gas- and water-metering applications. The company says it is responding to growing global demand for ultrasonic domestic utility metering. MTC’s site in Southampton, UK, is now able to produce in excess of ten million piezoelectric ceramic discs a year. Cogeneration is an increasingly popular method of simultaneously generating both electricity and heat. Essentially, excess heat from a central power station is used to heat water, which is then pumped to homes. As a result, heat metering, which measures the flow of water ultrasonically and monitors any drop in temperature, presents a significant opportunity, according to MTC. Meanwhile, ultrasonic products are rapidly replacing mechanical meters in gas- and water usage measurement, as the drive to measure usage more accurately for energy efficiency reasons continues.
TechNavio’s analysts forecast the Nanotechnology Drug Delivery market in the US to grow at a CAGR of 84.79 percent over the period 2012-2016. One of the key factors contributing to this market growth is the low R&D cost. The nanotechnology drug delivery market in the US has also been witnessing the trend of emergence of personalized medicines. However, the increasing safety concerns could pose a challenge to the growth of this market. TechNavio’s report, the Nanotechnology Drug Delivery Market in the US 2012-2016, has been prepared based on an in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry experts. It also covers the Nanotechnology Drug Delivery market in the US landscape and its growth prospects in the coming years. The report also includes a discussion of the key vendors operating in this market.
At its First Annual Supplier Forum, BAE Systems Maritime—Submarines has recognized Schott’s Electronic Packaging Business for ten years of outstanding cooperation. The specialist for glass-to-metal sealing technology provides hermetic power, control, and instrumentation penetrations for BAE’s Astute-class submarines. The components safely conduct electricity and data through the containment structure of the submarine’s nuclear reactor. “Since 2003, Schott has consistently been one of our top-performing suppliers,” says Jeannette Medati, BAE Systems Maritime—Submarines Head of Supply Chain Category Management. “The cross-functional, cross-business, and multinational teamwork with Schott serves as a benchmark for what can be achieved by working together with joint aims, open and honest communication, and a will to perform to the highest levels. We hope to continue in a spirit of true partnership for many years to come.” Since the early 1960s, Schott’s glass-to-metal sealed electrical penetration assemblies have been used in naval vessels ranging from civil icebreakers to aircraft and LNG carriers, as well as dozens of active nuclear power plants around the world. In rigorous testing-including seismic simulations and severe accident test programs beyond conditions believed to have occurred in 2011 in Fukushima-the robust components have proven their heat-, pressure-, and radiation-resistant hermeticity and integrity.
Rio Tinto Minerals has formally launched its Asia Technology Centre (ATC) to serve the growing market for borates in Asia. Rio Tinto Minerals is recognized as a world leader in borate supply and science. Borates are found in a variety of products including high technology glass used in flat screen televisions and laptops, fiberglass to make buildings energy efficient, and fertilizers that help farmers increase crop quality and yield. The ATC in Suzhou, China joins research facilities in the US and is fully developed with laboratories, offices and work spaces, and built for growth. The ATC provides important internal capabilities in glass and ceramics, metals and advanced materials, and agriculture and specialty chemicals to support RTM’s research and development expansion in Asia. The company’s research and development strategy is to partner with customers, universities, government labs and other centers of to pursue commercially relevant innovation.
Words such as “novel” and “revolutionary” get thrown around fairly frequently in science and engineering circles, but the still-young technique of flash sintering, in theory, could deliver a broad revolution in the preparation of ceramic materials, and it appears it will soon be put to a significant manufacturing test by a UK-based company, Ceram.
If you haven’t heard of flash sintering before, you are certainly not alone. Aside from a (growing) body of papers in ACerS’ journals (as well a few other peer-reviewed materials journals), posts in this blog and a feature story in this month’s ACerS’ Bulletin, not a lot has been written as yet in the broad scientific and engineering media about flash sintering. I am not sure why that is. Perhaps it is because sintering and kiln technology have an old fashion ring to them and do not carry the high-tech cachet that accompanies novel electronics, biomedical, energy and defense-oriented glass and ceramic research.
But, I would argue that flash sintering—if it continues to pan out as it is scaled up—could be one of the most profound and disrupting developments in materials in the last 50 years (if not millennia, given how long mankind has been trying to fire ceramic objects or melt glass), at least from an energy-consumption point of view. And, if you have ever seen even modern, relatively energy-efficient ceramic production lines (making, for example, tiles, whiteware, refractory brick, construction brick, etc.), you know the current process still requires long heating (sometime over a day) and the use of energy-intensive tunnel or massive box kilns.
But flash sintering may change nearly all of that.
For the sake of simplicity, you can think of flash sintering as a traditional sintering/kiln process, but with special twist: The heating takes place in the presence of an electrical field. Surprisingly, because of the effects of the electrical field, as the ceramic object reaches a critical (and relatively low) temperature, it suddenly sinters in a few seconds rather than hours and hours. There is a lot of research and speculation about the exact mechanisms that allow flash sintering to occur, but part of the phenomenon likely has to do with the electrical field allowing the ceramic grains to align and slide past each other. A defect avalanche mechanism might also enhance diffusion. Oddly, there is also a photoemission effect that has been detected, which seems to also signify that the formation of electron hole pairs plays of role.
Regardless of the mechanism, the good news is that flash sintering has been tested many times on relatively small scales and appears to work on nearly every type of ceramic material. (It also seems to be an effective way to rapidly melt glass—but that’s a story for another day.)
Despite a lot of initial (and not inappropriate) leeriness and “too good to be true” thinking when reports of flash sintering first appeared, the caution has evolved into general enthusiasm among ceramic scientists and engineers, and some of that enthusiasm has started to spill over into the manufacturing community. That is because the potential energy and CO2 emissions savings from flash sintering in the ceramics and glass sectors is staggering.
Regarding manufacturing, when I interviewed University of Colorado’s Rishi Raj for my Bulletin story, he mentioned that he is working to scale-up the technology with Ceram, a subsidiary of British Ceramics Research and a well known international company focused on materials testing, analysis and consultancy. Raj predicted that a place to start introducing flash sintering into the business side of things might be to develop a new kiln system for ceramic tile manufacturing, where energy costs are high and business competition is intense. He mentioned that one challenge would be developing a non-contact electrode system to provide the electrical field.
The non-contact electrode challenge must have been solved because the project with Ceram now appears to have started. A few days ago, the Westland (UK) version of TheBusinessDesk.com reported that at Ceram, “Work has started on a kiln that is to be the basis for technology that could cut energy costs for ceramics firms by up to 30 percent.”
The same story says Ceram is calling the effort the Low Energy Firing Project and describes it as an “80-feet-long commercial-scale kiln.” It also reports that construction of the new kiln is supposed to be completed this month, and testing is to begin in May. It goes on to say, “[T]he first commercial-scale results should be available before the end of the year.”
The story intriguingly quotes David Pearmain, the LEFP project manager, who says, “The potential of this work is really exciting. We think we can reduce firing times as well as temperatures, so there could be very, very significant advantages for the sector.”
I am curious how Ceram came up with its projected 30 percent savings figure, and I suspect that is on the conservative side. I have reached out to officials at Ceram for more details on the LEFP and hope to have more details next week.