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Nearly 70 Percent of Critical Infrastructure Providers' Information Systems Have Been Breached in Past Year

July 10, 2014
By Maryann Lawlor

Only 6 percent of power and water companies say they provide cybersecurity training to all employees.

Exide to Provide Batteries

March 20, 2014

Exide Technologies, Milton, Ga., a global leader in stored electrical-energy solutions, recently announced that the company has secured a new, 3-year supply contract for storage batteries with the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Land and Maritime, Columbus, Ohio. Exide will supply the Exide Military 6TAGM battery to the DLA for use by the U.S. armed forces in their fleets of rolling stock vehicles. The 6TAGM battery joins the other 6T family of batteries for military applications that the Company provides to the DLA. 

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology Provides Power to Port

February 27, 2014
By Cyndy Hogan

The Port of Honolulu will host a demonstration of a portable hydrogen fuel cell unit in 2015 with the goal of developing a commercial-ready technology to provide sustainable power to ports worldwide.

Nano Looms as the Next Pervasive Technology

December 1, 2013
By Rita Boland

Nanotechnology is the new cyber, according to several major leaders in the field. Just as cyber is entrenched across global society now, nano is poised to be the major capabilities enabler of the next decades. Expert members from the National Nanotechnology Initiative representing government and science disciplines say nano has great significance for the military and the general public.

According to the initiative, its aim is to move discoveries from the laboratory into products for commercial and public benefit; encourage students and teachers to become involved in nanotechnology education; create a skilled work force and the supporting infrastructure and tools to advance nanotechnology; and support responsible development. The initiative involves more than two dozen government agencies, industry, academic partners and international participants.

Dr. Mihail Roco is the main architect and founding chair of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). In addition to that work, he sits on various committees and serves as the senior adviser for nanotechnology at the National Science Foundation (NSF). Having helped advance the field to its current point, he predicts that in the next five to 10 years the focus will shift to application. Because of improved tools for more accurate measurement and control at the nanoscale level, he foresees more economical development of nanotechnology. “We’ll be able to understand and build robust solutions,” he states. Most solutions now are based on assumptions and trial and error. For these reasons, they are still expensive, he adds.

New Innovation Awards RESONATE at Resnick Sustainability Institute

August 21, 2013

 

The Resnick Sustainability Institute at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has established an award to honor cutting-edge work that addresses some of the most difficult problems in energy and sustainability. The award winners will be announced in the spring of 2014. The RESONATE Awards will focus on innovative, paradigm-shifting work from individuals at an early stage in their careers, whose ideas are worthy of significant, widespread recognition. The work can be from many fields, including science, technology, economics and public policy, among others. The intent is to draw attention to the innovators making significant strides in some of the grand challenges facing humanity within the context of achieving global sustainability. These include meeting the world’s energy needs, providing water and food for a growing world population, cleaning the environment and improving access to the natural resources people need to live a productive life.

The deadline for nominations is October 13, 2013. For additional information, email the Resnick Institute.

Research Paves Possible Path to Better Batteries

June 13, 2013

Research at the Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, California, has revealed part of the mechanism by which particles of lithium ions move in and out of lithium iron phosphate (LFP). The findings could lead to improved performance in lithium ion batteries used in aircraft, electric vehicles and electronic equipment.

LFP is the newest, most recent material being used for lithium ion batteries and is considered safer and longer lasting than previously used materials such as lithium cobalt oxide. Until now, scientists did not understand how lithium ions move in and out of LFP while storing and releasing electrical energy. But now, X-ray microcoscopy has revealed that the lithium ions in LFP behave much like popcorn, in that they absorb the lithium one particle at a time as they are discharged. Researchers believe that this observed and recorded behavior explains, in part, the improved performance of LFP. The finding is important to a better understanding of how to construct improved lithium ion batteries using LFP. The research was funded internally by the U.S. Department of Energy and is reported in the journal Nano Letters.
 

 

White House Flips the Switch on Electric Grid Modernization

June 11, 2013

As part of his effort to build a 21st century infrastructure, U.S. President Barack Obama on June 10 signed a presidential memorandum designed to speed the modernization of the nation’s electric grid. The initiative will help make electricity more reliable, save consumers money on their energy bills and support homegrown American clean energy jobs and industries by making renewable energy easier to access across the country, say White House officials.

The memorandum directs federal agencies to create an integrated pre-application process across the federal government to help identify and address issues before the formal permit application process begins. It also calls for streamlined coordination of permitting processes across the federal, state and tribal governments. In addition, it directs agencies to identify and improve the use of energy corridors on federal lands that are most suitable for electric transmission projects sites, which will help expedite permits while improving environmental and community outcomes. Furthermore, it prioritizes engagement with stakeholders and the public to arrive at the best quality projects with the least conflicts and most support.

Helping the Grid
 to Bounce Back

June 1, 2013
By Max Cacas

Industry and government search for for the best approach for the rapid recovery of a key element of the electrical grid in the event of an attack.

One of the most crucial elements of the nation’s critical infrastructure is gradually getting the attention it believes it deserves from both the electrical power industry and the federal government. In the years to come, that effort could finally yield agreement on how best to design and implement badly needed upgrades to a key component to the daily operation of the power grid—electrical transformers—and how they would be replaced in the event of a systemwide failure or an attack on the grid itself.

Electrical transformers are an important part of the power distribution system. Past wide-scale outages have been linked to failed transformers, and replacement can be a lengthy and expensive proposition. Experts predict that any wide-scale failure of multiple transformers could result in widespread social and economic damage. Groups representing the electrical power industry have focused in recent years on several voluntary initiatives involving the stockpiling of replacement parts in key locations to facilitate quick and timely recovery of electrical transformers. To date, the industry has been unable to reach agreement on a uniform, nationwide program.

The federal government side of the effort is being led by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Specifically, DHS has been a supporter of a parallel and competing program to develop a new modular transformer for use with power grids, one that is easier to transport and install in the event of an emergency and takes advantage of improved technologies.

Microgrid Means Mega Advantages

May 31, 2013
By Rita Boland

Fort Bliss, Texas, has installed an unusual mircogrid to help power a dining facility on base, introducing a new approach to the U.S. Army’s efforts to find alternatives to traditional power. The technology is intelligent, optimizing energy usage.

Marines Research 
Modernization

April 1, 2013
By Rita Boland

Looking past the alligators close to the boat, scientists prepare for the wars of tomorrow.

Distributed operations are the future of the U.S. Marine Corps, and its premier science and technology organization is laser focused on the capabilities to make such missions a success. Enabling communications for mobile troops across long distances is a priority as battles continue in Afghanistan while the focus shifts toward more maritime environments. Success will give lower echelons better access to command and control, enhancing the fight in any theater.

Brig. Gen. Mark R. Wise, USMC, commander of the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL) and vice chief of naval research, explains that people usually think of modernizing a force as working on resources to be ready in five to 10 years, but efforts at the laboratory reach much further ahead. “We are influencing the very leading edge,” he states. The research helps define what times to come should look like for Marines and what they will need to operate effectively. This aim at the future influences the requirements that influence modernization.

“The MCWL is very focused on distributed operations right now,” Gen. Wise explains. Units in current conflicts already operate at great distances from other units or their own command and control (C2) elements. As operations shift to the Asia-Pacific, such distance problems are likely to increase. The MCWL is working on methods to sustain—through enhanced logistics—and command and control such a force. Researchers are exploring material and nonmaterial solutions to find the correct enabling capabilities.

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