Here is what we are hearing:

Zircoa: A corporate model for “Veterans Opportunity to Work” legislation

Recenctly, Zircoa Inc. of Solon, Ohio, had the distinct honor of a visit from US Senator Sherrod Brown because of the specialty ceramics-makers efforts to hire veterans. Sen. Brown, an original cosponsor of “Veterans Opportunity to Work to Hire Heroes Act” (VOW), was joined by Mary Ann Pacelli from Cleveland’s Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network. Currently, Zircoa employs 23 veterans, more than 20 percent of their workforce. Jason Haffner, one of those veterans and Zircoa’s plant manager, and Ronne Proch, Zircoa’s president and CEO met with the Brown and Pacelli to discuss VOW and how its tax credits have encouraged the company to hire up to five more veterans in the immediate future. Brown highlighted the key points and objectives of VOW to a cross section of Zircoa’s workforce including many of the veterans. MAGNET’s Pacelli released the results of a complimenting pilot program to place veterans in good-paying manufacturing jobs in Northeast Ohio. She said the federal law and the local program are an example of how government and industry can and do work together for a common good. During the visit, Brown also learned of Zircoa’s breakthrough solution for NOx emission control: a sensor that could help to significantly reduce air pollution from automobiles. With the potential for commercial readiness in 18 months and sufficient funding, this product would mean even more local jobs for veterans. “Zircoa is a proof of concept for worthiness of VOW. We love our veterans. Not only for their sacrifices in the military, for us all, but also as proving themselves outstanding members of Zircoa’s team,” said Proch. “Senator Brown and Ms. Pacelli’s visit and their words to us, demonstrate Zircoa’s initiatives to hire veterans are a model not only for a great workforce but also for a strong nation.” Founded in 1952, Zircoa engineers and manufactures specialty ceramic materials and has continued to grow its facility, now occupying almost three acres.

Tecnargilla presents award for ceramic sector research

Tecnargilla 2012 hosted the first edition of the Ceramic TTD Award, set up to honor the best and most innovative ceramic sector research projects that can be adopted at an industrial level. First prize went to the project entitled “Automatic density control of a green ceramic tile produced by pressing,” submitted by Gustavo Mallol from the Instituto de Tecnología Cerámica. The Spanish research center developed an innovative system for automatically controlling the pressing process in the ceramic industry. Innovative features include the absence of mercury and the fact that the green density of ceramic tiles is maintained constant by means of online measurements of the moisture content of powders. In second place was a team from the University of Trento, Department of Mechanical and Structural Engineering, led by Davide Bigoni, with the proposal “Modelling, numerical simulation and optimisation of the ceramic powder forming process.” Third prize was won by Antonio Maccari from Macs Tech srl with “Keracromia: How to optimise digital production in the ceramic industry.”

Extrel introduces a new line of systems to the VeraSpec research grade mass spectrometer family, the MB, molecular beam inlet quadrupole mass spectrometer systems

The MB2 and MB3 systems are two and three-stage molecular beam inlet systems, designed for analysis of neutrals or ions across a wide pressure range, from 2 mTorr up to 2 atm. These systems are ideal for plasma diagnostics, chemical vapor deposition, and other similar applications. The MBx system is a three-stage, discreetly pumped, gas analysis system for extreme samples. The MBx is designed with a heated inlet, easily changed first aperture and skimmer, and an isolation gate valve. These features allow easy inlet maintenance for applications, such as pyrolysis, which have challenging sample conditions. The VeraSpec MBx is an integral part of the high-throughput analytical pyrolysis system, which was developed in collaboration between the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Extrel, ArborGen and Frontier Labs. The HTAP system is being used to accelerate the search for new and improved biofuel sources and improves the analysis of pyrolysis in general. The VeraSpec systems are based on Extrel’s MAX line of high performance quadrupole mass spectrometers and are available with various mass ranges from the high resolution MAX 60 (60 amu maximum mass) up to the MAX 4000 (4,000 amu maximum mass). The quadrupole mass spectrometer consists of a 19 mm tri-filter assembly that uses a precision machined quadrupole rod set with RF-only pre- and post-filter stages, stabilizing rods, and high power RF generators. This combination delivers excellent transmission, resolution and abundance sensitivity characteristics. The VeraSpec MB line are complete turn-key gas analysis systems including UHV chamber, vacuum pumps, and rack with provision for connection to the customer sample. These systems are also available with a chopper and lock-in amplifier.

Slow China demand hurts Morgan Crucible; slowdown in advanced materials and technology business

(Financial Times) The FTSE 250 company, whose materials are used to make products ranging from artificial hips to military body armour and solar panels, said it expected to absorb £15m in costs as it implemented cost-cutting measures across its global manufacturing base. … The slowdown in demand has been most pronounced in the advanced materials and technology business, according to the company. Morgan Crucible had already warned that this previously high-growth division had seen significant revenue declines in some of its highest margin areas—body armor and renewable energy—because of cuts in western defense spending and lower Chinese demand for its materials used in solar and wind power products. Trading at the company’s ceramics division and its molten metal systems business, which supplies crucibles to foundries, had been more resilient, it said.

Harper International webinar open for registration: ‘Scaling Up Your Thermal Processes’

Harper International’s webinar on Oct. 23 (11:00 am ET) will help you reach the next level of efficiency by identifying opportunities to reduce operating costs and increase producticity through thoughtful design. This is the second webinar in a series on maximizing the production economics of your thermal processing system. Harper’s experts, with decades of experience in thermal processing of advanced materials, will cover managing risk during transition from bench to continuous processing, preparing for the unknowns and stumbling blocks, primary design aspects in scale up including material flowability, bed depth, off-gassing, retention times, cross contamination and more. Detailed case studies & technical examples will be used to illustrate.

FuelCell Energy highlights advances with the development of a 59 megawatt fuel cell park in South Korea

FuelCell Energy Inc., a global leader in the design, manufacture and service of ultraclean, efficient and reliable fuel cell power plants, today announced market developments in South Korea that support expanding demand for stationary fuel cell power plants as ownership of a 58.8 megawatt fuel cell park has been finalized. This fuel cell park, which will be the world’s largest, will utilize fuel cell power plants sold by Posco Energy and based on designs and fuel cell components from FuelCell Energy, Inc. A share purchase agreement executed Oct. 16, 2012 establishes the Gyeonggi Green Energy Co. to develop and operate the fuel cell park in Whasung City, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea. The ownership consortium includes the largest electric utility in South Korea, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. with 49 percent ownership, Posco Energy with 15 percent ownership, Samchully Co., a gas distributor, with 15 percent ownership, and the remaining 21 percent will be allocated to financial investors. Posco Energy is the sole provider of the fuel cell power plants for the project, which will consist of 21 DFC3000 power plants located in an industrial complex. Posco Energy will lead the construction of the fuel cell park and will maintain and service the power plants under a long-term service agreement. Construction is scheduled to commence in 2012. The electricity generated by this fuel cell park will be supplied to the power grid and will assist the partners with compliance under the South Korean Renewable Portfolio Standard. The heat generated by the fuel cell power plants will be supplied to a district heating system for local use.

Portable, cost-effective, flexible film isolator

Air Science provides containment solutions to meet any analytical need and one example is the company’s new Purair Flex Film Isolator that provides numerous performance advantages over the competition. The Purair Flex features an innovative curved film design that provides more working volume than any other glove bag on the market. Unlike other glove bags, the double O-ring design on the standard polyurethane cuffs allow users to quickly and easily change gloves to meet a variety of dexterity needs. Semi-rigid support rods make the Purair Flex easy to setup up and provides increased stability, even if the bag is not inflated to full pressure. HEPA filter availability, bag-in/bag-out port, and optional nitrogen purge inlet connections offer the reliability and safety today’s analysts need.

Air Products’ California hydrogen pipeline powers Toyota

The switch was officially flipped and Air Products, a leader in hydrogen fueling technology, added another hydrogen customer and yet another successful undertaking to its accomplished list of alternative energy projects. Toyota Motor Sales activated the first-ever pipeline, which fed a 1.1 megawatt proton exchange membrane hydrogen fuel cell generator at a ceremony held at its Torrance, Calif., headquarters campus. Air Products’ Southern California hydrogen pipeline network is supplying the hydrogen to the zero emission fuel cell, capable of supplying approximately half of the electricity needs for six Toyota headquarters buildings during peak demand. “Several years ago, Air Products had the vision of a pipeline-fed hydrogen fueling station as a glimpse of what the future can be. That station operates today fueling vehicles across the street from Toyota’s headquarters. Now that pipeline extends to Toyota’s campus where we will supply on-demand hydrogen to help power several buildings. We applaud Toyota for its progressive and forward-thinking directives in the use of alternative energy,” says Ed Kiczek, global business director of Air Products’ Hydrogen Energy Systems.