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Ceramics and glass business news of the week

Here is what we are hearing:

APC publishes free piezo calculator iPhone, iPad app

APC International Inc. has announced the release of its APCPiezoCalc iPhone and iPad app. The app is an interactive mobile application that allows the user to easily calculate the frequency constant, resonance frequency, capacitance, dielectric constant, static displacement and static voltage of many piezoelectric ceramic elements. To make calculations easier, the APCPiezoCalc is preloaded with the material properties of APC’s piezoelectric materials. To allow for a broader use, the user is also able to add custom material properties. “APC’s customer service team is frequently asked how to calculate the physical and electrical properties of our piezo products. We developed this app so that our customers would be able to easily compute the most common physical and electrical properties of our products without the need to memorize formulas or look up material properties. We believe the APCPiezoCalc showcases APC’s commitment to a high level of customer service and innovative thinking by providing our customers with a valuable tool that, until now, had not been provided by anyone in the industry,” says APC VP Alexander Henderson. The app is available for free for a limited time in the Apple App Store.

Schott NA and Space Photonics Inc. sign agreement for covert communications technology

Space Photonics Inc. and Schott North America Inc. announced that they have entered into an exclusive licensing agreement for the commercialization of LaserFire free space optical communications systems for military and intelligence customers. The covert communications technology enables uninterrupted, secure communications: building-to-building, vehicle-to-vehicle and tower-to-tower-where high-capacity fiber optic cable has been damaged or is not available, particularly in RF-denied environments. Many free space optical communication systems use a large beam to maintain their links. The LaserFire system, however, incorporates a patented automated beam pointing, acquisition and tracking technique. This ensures a more robust network when optimal performance is critical, regardless of available bandwidth, distance, adverse weather conditions or movement. Further, since the terminal uses low-power infrared lasers, it is nearly impossible for adversaries to detect and intercept the beam while the system is operating, providing the ultimate intelligent gateway and enabler for covert operations. Space Photonics Inc., lauded for its outstanding leadership in the SBIR program, recently completed development of the LaserFire system under a four-year Air Force Research Lab Phase III contract. In selecting Schott as the manufacturer and distributor of the LaserFire system, Space Photonics secured an expert partner recognized in the defense community for delivering high-quality components for use in night vision goggles, lasers, advanced imaging fiber optics, and transparent armor window systems.

Setaram offers new µSC microcalorimeter

Setaram is pleased to announce the release of our all new microcalorimeter, the µSC, featuring the widest temperature range for a microcalorimeter (-40-200°C); high sample throughput with a total of two measuring wells, easily removable and reusable cells; and zero cross talk is achieved, even in the most sensitive isothermal operations by utilizing two independent reference. High-precision isothermal and scanning operations are available to enable the study of both transitions and long-term isothermal behavior, such as stability and long term reactions. The μSC features the very latest evolution of the proven high performance Calvet 3D Sensor using state of the art Peltier elements that surround the sample, together with direct (Joule Effect) calibration. New developments in heat exchangers and temperature control using multiple stage thermal elements allow us to control temperature highly precisely.

Utah’s Ceramatec awarded $3.8M in energy grants

(Salt Lake Tribune) Ceramatec Inc. has been awarded two DOE grants to pursue the development of its cutting-edge research. The two grants worth a combined $3.8 million are part of 66 research projects chosen by the DOE’s ARPA-E to receive a total of $130 million in funding. Ceramatec, which focuses its research and development efforts on advanced ceramics material technology that can be used in the energy and environmental industries, will receive more than $1.7 million to develop a small-scale membrane reactor to convert natural gas into transportable liquids in one step. ARPA-E noted that many remote oil wells burn natural gas as a by-product because it is not economical to store or transport. Such natural gas contains energy that equals 20 percent of annual US electricity product and capturing that energy would reduce both waste and green house gas emissions. Ceramatec also will receive over $2.1 million to develop a solid-state fuel cell that operates at temperature ranges similar to internal combustion engines. The ARPA said the company’s design would allow for low-cost materials and catalysts that demonstrate high performance without the need for expensive components. The project will involve Ceramatec engineering a fuel cell stack that performs at lower cost than current automobile engine designs.

Evans Analytical Group acquires SEAL Labs

EAG, a leading, fully integrated, independent laboratory network, providing high value expert analytical and testing services to a wide range of industries and end users, announced that it has acquired Scanning Electron Analysis Laboratories Inc. SEAL will be operating as a business unit within the EAG Materials Characterization division. SEAL has a long history in metallurgy, destructive physical analysis, SEM, residual gas analysis and surface analysis. SEAL has extensive expertise in metals, alloys, composites, glass and plastics, and assists leading corporations and legal firms around the world in analyzing product failures. Clients of SEAL have relied on the company’s expertise for more than 40 years. The work conducted at SEAL is highly specialized and the team has extensive experience in metallurgy and chemistry, often working as consultants and expert witnesses for litigation support.

New market report: Innovations in crystalline silicon PV 2013 – Markets, strategies and leaders in nine technology areas

Times are tough across the crystalline silicon (c-Si) PV supply chain. Overcapacity has contributed to crashing prices and negative profit margins, and equipment vendors are challenged to sell new equipment to companies with idled lines. Innovation is one way out of this current mess. Never before has the pressure been so intense to improve every aspect of PV technology, including cell efficiency, materials costs, equipment costs, equipment throughput, installed system costs, and energy delivery in the field. The potential rate of technological innovation is overwhelming and the impacts on module cost, performance and reliability are difficult to understand or predict. This 262-page report helps readers navigate these factors. In this report, Greentech Media market researchers explore nine topics of innovation within the c-Si PV industry that are distributed evenly between the wafer, cell and module. The nine technology areas covered are quasi-mono wafers, diamond wire sawing, kerfless wafers, elective emitters, reduced-silver metallization, dielectric-passivated backside cell architectures, conductive adhesives, encapsulant alternatives to EVA and frameless and plastic-framed module designs. GTM also offers this podcast of report author Andrew Gabor talking about this research:

Simio releases version 5 with a novel approach to modeling flow

Simio announced that it has issued release 5 of its modeling software and continues to introduce innovations that are changing the landscape of simulation and stimulating new development across the industry. Many of its customers have cited Simio’s flexibility, ease-of-use and great support among the reasons why they have adopted Simio-often switching so they can do things that are difficult or impossible with other products. Simio is ready to take on your most demanding modeling tasks and a wealth of new features recently have been added. One major development effort is a Flow Library for modeling processes of bulk, mass and liquid flows of materials. Simio employs a novel approach to modeling flow by allowing entities to change shapes and transfer weight or volume at a specified rate. Any entity in Simio can now be displayed either as symbol or as geometric shape that changes size with changes in volume. For example a pile of ore might be represented by a single entity that is displayed as a symbol that changes size as it transfers its volume to a new location over time.

Federal agencies to hold workshop on the design of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation

Several US agencies are working together to organize the first workshop in a new series of public meetings devoted to reviewing and refining the suggested design for a new National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. Entitled “Blueprint for Action I,” the event will be held on Jan. 16, 2013, at the Davidson Center for Space Exploration, US Space and Rocket Center, in Huntsville, Ala. The NNMI is a collaborative effort to improve the US manufacturing sector’s competitiveness and innovation performance, focusing on the scale-up of new product and process technologies. It will engage small, medium-sized and large manufacturers; universities and community colleges; state and local governments; economic development organizations; and other stakeholders. Broad participation by these various sectors is essential in shaping the future Institutes and Network. The workshop is sponsored by the interagency Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office, in cooperation with stakeholders and local organizations. The Department of Defense will host the event and additional support is being provided by NASA and the University of Alabama in Huntsville.