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Posts Tagged ‘batteries’

Well, here’s a new concept in energy production: braking regeneration.

Diane Cardwell writes at the NY Times, “Along Philadelphia’s busy Market-Frankford subway line, the trains behave like those of any transit system, slowing to halt at the platforms and picking up passengers.

“But more is happening than meets the eye. In an experimental system that is soon to be more widely adopted, every time the trains pull into certain stations, they recover the kinetic energy as they brake and channel it as electricity to battery banks at one of two substations.

“The batteries, managed by software, can then use that power to push the trains back out or to help modulate electricity flows on the grid.

“The system is unusual because the batteries are being used for more than just powering the trains, said Gary Fromer, senior vice president for distributed energy at Constellation, the power provider that will own and operate the system for the transportation authority.

“The electricity savings alone do not justify the battery costs, he said, so it was important to find another source of revenue, which comes from selling energy services to the grid. …

” ‘We don’t have to front the money and we’re reaping both savings and actually money coming back our way,’ said Jeffrey D. Knueppel, general manager of the transportation authority. The base technology of the system, known as regenerative braking, was one of the breakthroughs that allowed for the development of hybrid and electric cars like the Prius.” More here.

This reminds me of my 2012 post on inmates in Brazil who bike to create electricity — and reduce their sentences. And this post from 2013 about lighting schools by playing soccer. All hail to human ingenuity!

Photo: Jessica Kourkounis for The New York Times
The Market-Frankford subway line in Philadelphia is part of a regenerative braking experiment.

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From a NY Times article by Stephanie Strom June 12:

“A few companies have taken some small steps to bring lost manufacturing jobs back to American soil, driven sometimes by declining labor costs in the United States, other times by dissatisfaction with the quality of goods made abroad.

“General Electric, for example, has created almost 800 jobs by building plants in Schenectady, N.Y., and Louisville, Ky., to make sophisticated batteries, some of which were previously made in China. NCR is making automated teller machines in Georgia that had also been made overseas. Last month, Starbucks announced it would build a factory in Augusta, Ga., that would employ 140 people and make the company’s Via instant coffee and the ingredients for its popular Frappuccino drinks. About half of Starbucks’s new employment overall will come in the United States, the rest internationally. …

“The effort is not all altruistic. Chinese labor has become more expensive, and Starbucks and other companies are looking at their supply chains more holistically. American Mug can deliver to Starbucks in four days, while Chinese suppliers may take three months.

“A Chinese supplier is also likely to require an order in the hundreds of thousands, increasing the risk that Starbucks will get stuck with inventory. And then there is the difference in shipping costs. ‘No doubt the cost of doing what we’re doing in East Liverpool [Ohio] at least in the initial stage will be more expensive for Starbucks, but the investment we’re making in this is about the conscience of our company and recognition that success has to be shared,’ [Starbucks CEO Howard] Schultz said.” Read more here.

We will probably never have the massive manufacturing we once had, but do send me what you hear about manufacturing picking up, even a little. For example, I recently heard about a new company in Massachusetts, 1366 Technologies, which makes silicon wafers for solar applications and has a manufacturing pilot going in Bedford. I mentioned this to a colleague who added that he knew of a new gin distillery in South Boston, which wasn’t really what I meant by manufacturing, but whatever floats your boat.

Photograph: http://www.1366tech.com/

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