(Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) The moribund ceramics business of East Liverpool, Ohio, a small Ohio River town that a century ago was known as the “Pottery Capital of the USA,” recently received a jolt from an unlikely source: coffeehouse giant Starbucks Corp. American Mug and Stein Co., one of just two potteries left in East Liverpool, struggled in recent years to fill small orders from government agencies obliged to “buy American.” Then last fall, Starbucks, the Seattle-based company with 17,000 stores around the world, announced a program to support American jobs and set in motion events that turned the company’s fortunes. Starbucks ordered 20,000 mugs from American Mug and Stein—the largest single order in the company’s history—and continuing orders from Starbucks have the East Liverpool factory humming and adding employees.
The Fraunhofer Center for Energy Innovation at UConn, a partnership between the University of Connecticut, Fraunhofer USA, and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, was officially launched last week. The center will focus on developing advanced technologies related to energy storage, fuel cells, power management, and distribution. One of just seven Fraunhofer research centers in the US, the facility will be temporarily located at the Depot Campus, with plans to relocate it to the UConn’s new Technology Park when it opens. Director Prabhakar Singh says the CEI will develop highly efficient and cost-effective energy conversion and storage systems, concentrating on metals, ceramics, and micro- and nanostructures as components for fuel cells and electrolyzers.
Sandia National Laboratories (Albuquerque, N.M.) is building a portfolio of intellectual property that can be licensed by businesses in as little as an hour. “This is the simplest process possible,” said Sandia business development specialist Bob Westervelt, who helped create the ready-to-sign licensing. “The language is clear and easy to understand. We can say, ‘Here’s the license, here are the terms. Once you and Sandia have signed it, you can start using the intellectual property.’” The lab has about 1,300 patents available for licensing, but the streamlined process covers a shorter list of about 50 IPs.
The Edward Orton Jr. Ceramic Foundation announced its next “Introduction to Refractories” short course will be held September 23–25, 2013. The course is designed to provide an intensive overview for engineers and technicians working in the field of refractories. The highlight of the course is the “hands-on” labs conducted at the Orton Testing facility. The labs will give participants experience with common refractory tests and application of standard ASTM test methods. Registration is limited.
(Marketwatch.com) In 2012, world consumption of kaolin had recovered to almost 23 million tons, according to a new report on the industry by Roskill, compared to less than 20 million tons during the global economic downturn. Consumption is concentrated in Asia (36%), Europe (30%) and North America (24%), and differences in regional growth rates will continue to reshape the industry. By 2017, Asia is forecast to account for 39% of total demand, followed by Europe (28%) and North America (23%), the report says. Consumption of kaolin in ceramics was estimated at 6.6 million tons in 2012, much of it used in whitewares (tiles, sanitaryware, and tableware) followed by proppants and catalyst supports. The market for hydraulic fracturing proppants is driving kaolin demand in North America, according to the report.