Here is what we are hearing:

AGC’s large-sized, chemically strengthened Dragontrail enables efficient production of thinner touchscreens

Asahi Glass Co. will newly set up a chemical strengthening facility for Dragontrail, a specialty glass used as cover glass for smart phones and tablet PCs, at its Kansai Plant in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. This new chemical strengthening facility can handle up to sixth-generation (1850mm x 1500mm) glass, enabling the efficient production of thinner next-generation touchscreens. Operation is scheduled to begin in March 2013. Conventionally, touchscreens of smart phones and tablet PCs have been triple-layered, consisting of a cover glass, a touch sensor and a display. Recently, however, demand for double-layered touchscreens, which can make the touchscreen even thinner, is expected to grow, and a technology to attach the touch sensor into the cover glass is drawing attention as a means to manufacture double-layered touchscreens. A large number of cover glass with built-in touch sensor can be manufactured at a time by neatly arranging touch sensors on a large sheet of chemically strengthened glass and cutting the glass into pieces of the intended size. As the touchscreens manufactured based on this method are increasingly adopted for use in smart phones and tablet PCs in 2013 onward, AGC’s high-quality G6-size chemically strengthened Dragontrail manufactured at the new facility will contribute to the creation of even thinner smart phones, tablet PCs, and other touchscreen devices.

Lux Research: Driven by energy efficiency, novel windows can save up to $135 per square meter a year

A quest for energy efficiency is driving the next generation of technologies in architectural glazings, glass walls and windows for buildings. A short payback period is key to rapid adoption, and, according to Lux Research, technologies like daylighting glazings and skylights are hitting that mark today, with dynamic glazings not far behind. Technologies like double-pane low-e coated windows and daylighting glazing can have a payback period of two years or less, reaching a tipping point for adoption, says Lux Research. “Double-pane, noble-gas-filled glazings have paved the way, but an explosion of innovation over the past five years has created a larger technology toolbox for the designer,” says Aditya Ranade, the lead author of the report titled, “Balancing Energy Efficiency, Occupant Comfort, and Aesthetics in Architectural Glass. Lux Research analysts assessed technology developers based on their technical value and maturity, sorting them into four categories: faded incumbents, current winners, future winners and long shots. Among their findings: Daylighting glazings are a short-term winner; dynamic glazings will take more time due to high cost, leading to longer payback times; “Green” glazings (e.g., building-integrated photovoltaic glazings) are a long-term winner, but long paybacks of 14–15 years make them only a long-term choice. Leading innovators include “future winner” Bisem Inc, which makes curtain walls capable of integrating electrochromic glass, CIGS cells, and daylighting louvers.

GlobalData: Dental biomaterials market outlook in BRICS countries to 2018

GlobalData’s new report, “Dental Biomaterials Market Outlook in BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) to 2018,” provides value, volume, and average price data for each segment and subsegment within three market categories: dental bone grafts, bone graft substitutes, and tissue regenerative materials. The report also provides company shares and distribution shares data for the overall dental biomaterials market in each of the aforementioned countries. The report is also supplemented with global corporate-level profiles of the key market participants with information on key developments, wherever available. This report is built using data and information sourced from proprietary databases, primary and secondary research and in-house analysis by GlobalData’s team of industry experts. The emerging economies, comprising China, India, Brazil, Russia, and South Africa, with a significantly large pool of under-served patients, represent the next big opportunity for the leading medical equipment and devices manufacturers.

Cemex completes year of recovery

(International Construction) Cement producer Cemex reported more than a 10 percent increase in operating EBITDA to $2.6 billion as it filed full year financials for 2012. Net sales for the Mexico-based firm reached $15 billion, a decline of 2 percent on a year-over-year basis. Fernando A. González, executive vice president of finance and administration, calls 2012 a year of recovery for Cemex. “During the year, we achieved the highest EBITDA generation and operating EBITDA margin since 2009 and the fourth quarter was the sixth consecutive quarter with a year-over-year EBITDA increase,” he noted. According to Cemex, the infrastructure and residential sectors were the main drivers of demand in most markets.

American Vanadium and Gildemeister join to deliver energy storage solutions

American Vanadium Corp., a mining company developing its world class Nevada-based vanadium deposit, has entered into a business relationship with Gildemeister energy solutions of Germany—a part of Gildemeister group—which holds a leading position worldwide as a producer of cutting machine tools as well as integrated energy solutions for the production, storage and utilization of renewable energies. American Vanadium and Gildemeister have unveiled their memorandum of understanding to explore various joint venture and partnership arrangements with the objective of being a leading provider of energy storage and micro grid solutions in North America. “We have commercialized a unique energy storage solution with our CellCube, a powerful, durable and low maintenance large scale vanadium redox flow battery that can be incorporated into everyday energy systems. Our battery system ensures a clean, emission-free energy supply at all times, characterized by high reliability, high stability and very fast reaction times,” says Ron MacDonald, executive chair of American Vanadium.

Tile of Spain exhibits some architectural proposals in UK

“Illuminating through Ceramics” is the inspiring result of an academic research project launched in 2011 by ASCER/Tile of Spain, the voice of the Spanish tile industry, in partnership with the University of Liverpool School of Architecture, examining the sustainable properties of tiles and aiming to push the boundaries of ceramic application. The research program at the University of Liverpool forms part of the Network of Ceramic Tile Studies Departments sponsored by Tile of Spain around the world. Illuminating through Ceramics showcases the work of MArch students in developing projects to explore our growing preference for natural lighting sources, through a range of materials and technical solutions, and with a special focus on ceramic facades. Thirteen student proposals and five full-scale prototypes, displayed within a light-immersing scenario, propose methods by which ceramics could be transformed into a dynamic interface that transports daylight throughout a building’s skin. “The use of ceramics in contemporary facades offers an interesting combination of thermo-acoustic control and aesthetic properties, but very little has been explored in terms of the potential to maximize the benefits of sunlight,” says program leader Rosa Urbano.

The big picture: Helping companies make products we actually want

Researchers have developed a model that will, hopefully, help companies develop innovative products that people actually want to use. The model is a first step towards capturing the behavior of both companies and consumers, so that we end up with more iPods and fewer Edsels. This concept may sound obvious, but companies have difficulty grasping it. Companies constantly try to develop new products and services that capture market share. We knew that. Consumers constantly try to evaluate recent innovations to determine whether they’re useful, and how much they’d be willing to pay for them (if at all). We knew that, too. But, to this point, business researchers have attempted to understand these two processes separately: product innovation on one hand, and customer evaluation on the other. Now a team of researchers from NC State, University of Illinois-Chicago, University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign and University of Wyoming has developed an integrated model that tries to capture both sides of the equation. Their conceptual model illustrates the interaction of innovation and customer response, which will hopefully help companies adapt their innovation processes to make them more efficient, forward-looking and successful. But, not so fast – there are at least as many questions as answers.

Cabot launches first graphene-based additive to improve energy density of Li-ion batteries

Cabot Corp. announced the launch of LITX G700, the company’s first graphene-based additive for high-energy density lithium-ion battery applications. Using graphene material developed on the basis of a new technology platform, the new additive helps lithium-ion battery manufacturers achieve superior cell performance. Battery developers for applications in electronics and electric vehicles have reached the limit in reducing the loadings of conventional carbon additives. As a result, many are resorting to alternatives such as carbon nanotubes that add significant cost as well as manufacturing challenges. The LITX G700 conductive additive is designed for use in electric vehicle and high-end consumer electronics in which better driving range and longer run times are critical performance features. The new additive can achieve very high energy densities at ultralow loadings. Less loading or volume allocated to conductive additives enables more volume to be available for energy storage materials. As a result, the additive delivers step change performance in conductivity and is easily incorporated into battery electrodes.

CFC reports 34% increase in sales

Ceramic Fuel Cells Ltd., a leading developer of high-efficiency and low-emission power products for homes and other buildings, released its interim financial results for the six months ended Dec. 31, 2012, along with its directors’ report and review of operations. Highlights of the half-year include strong political support in Germany & the UK; North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW) introduces a capital subsidy scheme-the Company expects this to reduce the installed cost of a BlueGen unit to commercial customers in NRW by around €10,000; UK government increases the feed-in tariffs applying to mCHP units like BlueGen from December 2012; CFC targets the significant UK social housing market and appoints the energy services company iPower as distribution channel; sales of 90 units completed, 34 percent increase over the equivalent period in 2011; total cumulative orders received exceed 600 units. CFC says investment in marketing is being increased to support projected sales growth in Germany, UK and Benelux.