Technology news: March 2011
March News in Brief
♦ The International Society of Automation (ISA) has formed a task group to determine whether companies that follow its ANSI/ISA99 standards (which cover industrial automation and control systems security) would have been protected from threats such as the Stuxnet malware. The group will also identify any changes needed to the standards being developed by the ISA99 committee. It plans to produce a report summarising its findings by mid-2011.
♦ Roll-Royce’s electric-powered Phantom car, announced at the 2011Geneva Motor Show, will be powered by two 145kW electric propulsion systems supplied by the US electric drivetrain specialist, UQM Technologies. Each system will deliver 800Nm of torque. Rolls-Royce plans to use the vehicle as a testbed on which to base future decisions on alternative drivetrains.
♦ The market analyst ABI Research predicts that the global market for energy-harvesting systems will grow from just $3.82m in 2009 to $418m by 2016. These systems convert ambient energy from light, heat, motion or vibration into usable energy to power devices such as wireless sensors.
♦ The US wind turbine developer Northern Power Systems has announced a 2.3MW turbine with a permanent magnet direct-drive technology that avoids the need for gears and allows the turbine to operate in lower windspeeds than competing technologies. The turbine is said to capture more power over a wider range of speeds than other designs and to have lower maintenance costs.
♦ The chip developer austriamicrosystems has announced a 10-bit magnetic rotary encoder chip for contactless position sensing which, it claims, is the lowest-powered and smallest available. The AS5050 encoder, which provides automatic power-down and wake-up modes, is targeted for low-power applications such as robotics and for servomotor control. Depending on the readout rate, the current consumption is reduced to µA levels.
♦ Stäubli robots can now be directly operated with B&R controllers using a Powerlink interface on Stäubli’s uniVal drives that allows generic motion control programs from B&R controllers to be transferred to the robots. When using a higher-level controller, the robot controllers switch into a passive mode, which still allows them to check whether incoming control commands are valid with regard to kinematics and safety.
♦ Fläkt Woods is offering a range of box fans that use EC (electronically commutated) motors to deliver higher efficiencies and lower energy consumption. The EC TwinBox fans deliver up to 1.7m3/s of air against static pressures of up to 870 Pa. The motors have a soft-start function to reduce starting currents and mechanical stresses.