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Ability to Meet Instantaneous Power Requirements Spurs Demand for Ultra capacitors© Business Wire 2008

2008-01-24 12:16:38 - - Research and Markets ( has announced the addition of "World Ultra capacitor Markets 2007" to their offering.

This Frost & Sullivan research titled World Ultra capacitor Market provides revenue forecasts, trends and market share of companies in the world market. In this research, Frost & Sullivan's expert analysts thoroughly examine the applications: transportation, industrial, and consumer electronics.

Market Overview

Ability to Meet Instantaneous Power Requirements Spurs Demand for Ultra capacitors

The world ultra capacitor market undergoes significant changes every year as it is still in its early commercialization stage. Although ultra capacitors are set to replace batteries in the long term, they are currently used in complementing batteries for more efficient energy storage. When used in tandem with the battery, they can significantly increase battery life by handling all the peak power requirements of the device. Ultra capacitor technology offers some very unique selling points such as high power density, ability to operate at a wide range of temperatures and climatic conditions, quick and easy recharge, and up to a million charge recharge cycles without affecting its efficiency.

The market has advanced and has found several optimal uses in the transportation and industrial segments. Moreover, with a growing need for environment-friendly solutions, especially in Europe and North America, there is a lot of investment in this technology toward a cleaner environment. There are several opportunities for ultra capacitors that are yet to be explored. "Their use in micro, mild, full, and fuel cell hybrids, is seen as a high volume application for the future ultracapacitor market," cites the analyst. "In the industrial market, their use can be diversified in backup power applications." Hence, the role of researches in identifying the right applications for product expansion is a key to drive the market in the long term.

Ultra capacitor Technology Can Realize Its Full Market Potential by Scrutinizing and Improving Its Production Process

From a technology standpoint, ultra capacitors' footprint and form factor do not have standardized sizes in the market and hence there are several random designs being made by manufacturers. Integrating these designs in devices is a challenge especially in the consumer electronics market. Moreover, their prices have remained high.

Cost reduction must be achieved by higher economies of scale, increase in production capacities, sourcing materials from cheaper suppliers and enabling easy design and packaging. Once demand for the ultra capacitor is established and clearly defined standards for sizes are laid out, the currently rigorous and time consuming task of design and incorporation into devices can be easily minimized. In addition, identification of niche application areas and early adoption into new technology is the key to growth in this market. "Funding has been abundant in the market and continues to remain steady implying that there are high expectations from this technology," remarks the analyst. "Hence, as a product, the ultra capacitor has performed fairly well, but there is scope for further improvement in technology."

For more information, visit

Research and Markets
Laura Wood, Senior Manager
Fax: +353 1 4100 980


Union City company wants state to OK bus into hybrid project

Hybrid-electric school bus to soon roll on Indiana roads By Tiffany Griffin
Story Created: Jan 25, 2008 at 8:15 AM EST
Story Updated: Jan 25, 2008 at 4:42 PM EST
UNION CITY, Ind. (AP) — A hybrid-electric school bus will soon roll on Randolph County's roads as part of a program for schools to be more environmentally friendly.
A Department of Education committee on Friday approved safety standards that allows hybrid diesel school buses on Indiana roads. A prototype of the bus was developed by Productive Concepts Inc., a manufacturer in eastern Indiana's Randolph County that retrofitted an existing vehicle into what officials believe is the state's first hybrid school bus.
"If this thing works, it's going to have a tremendous impact on school transportation," said Ron Chew, a South Henry school bus driver and president of the Indiana Association of School Bus Drivers. "They've got something that will be on the path to mass production."
Chew is one of seven members of the Department of Education's school bus committee who voted on the new safety standards.
New hybrid buses can cost $250,000-$350,000, while retrofitting an existing bus with a hybrid system will cost $40,000-$50,000, according to Cathy Stephen, superintendent of Randolph Eastern Schools.
PCI's prototype passed an initial Indiana State Police inspection last week, company president Rob Lykins said.
The bus is part of the education department's Learn Green, Live Green program designed to help educators, students, parents and community members discover practical ways to be more responsible about the environment.
On the bus, a hybrid electric system is connected to the drive shaft. The system, purchased from Variable Torque Motors of Fort Wayne, includes an electric motor, a controller and an ultracapacitor, a unit that stores and transfers energy. The ultracapacitor works much like a car battery.
In this configuration, there is no battery, and no need to plug the bus into a power source.
The system is designed for start and stop driving, and Lykins said as long as the bus runs around or below 35 mph, the electric motor is powering it.
Lykins estimates that the hybrid system will result in 25 percent to 35 percent reductions in fuel usage and emissions.
Additionally, the electric system should cut brake maintenance and replacement costs in half. That savings comes from regenerative braking. When the driver steps off the brake or off the gas, the kinetic energy from that move is stored and redirected to the ultracapacitor.
Information from: The Star Press,


MITのJOEL SCHINDALL氏論文: The Charge of the UltraCapacitors

Illustration: Bryan Christie Design

The Charge of the Ultra - Capacitors:By Joel Schindall
In 1995, a small fleet of innovative electric buses began running along 15-minute routes through a park at the northern end of Moscow. A decade later, a few dozen seaport cranes in Asia, a couple of light-rail trains in Europe, and a battalion of garbage trucks in the United States have joined their high-tech ranks.

A smattering of mass-transit vehicles and industrial machines may seem like one wimpy revolution, but revolutionary they are. Unlike most of their electric relatives, these vehicles all share one key attribute: they don't run on batteries. Instead, they are powered by ultracapacitors, which are souped-up versions of that tried-and-true workhorse of electrical engineering, the capacitor.

A bank of ultracapacitors releases a burst of energy to help a crane heave its load aloft; they then capture energy released during the descent to recharge. Buses, trams, and garbage trucks powered by the devices all run for short stretches before stopping, and it's during braking that the ultracapacitors can partially recharge themselves from the energy that's normally wasted, giving the vehicles much of the juice they need to get to their next destinations.

Because no chemical reaction is involved, ultracapacitors—also known as supercapacitors and double-layer capacitors—are much more effective at rapid, regenerative energy storage than chemical batteries are. What's more, rechargeable batteries usually degrade within a few thousand charge-discharge cycles. In a given year, a light-rail vehicle might go through as many as 300 000 charging cycles, which is far more than a battery can handle. (Although flywheel energy-storage systems can be used to get around that difficulty, a heavy and complicated transmission system is needed to transfer the energy.)

The synergy between batteries and capacitors—two of the sturdiest and oldest components of electrical engineering—has been growing, to the point where ultracapacitors may soon be almost as indispensable to portable electricity as batteries are now.

Ultracapacitors are already all over the place. Millions of them provide backup power for the memory used in microcomputers and cellphones. They also supply brief bursts of energy to numerous consumer products containing batteries. In a camera, for example, an ultracapacitor can extend battery life by providing the oomph for power-intensive functions, like zooming in for a close-up.

Perhaps most exciting is what ultracapacitors could do for electric cars. They're being explored as replacements for the batteries in hybrid cars. In ordinary cars, they could help level the load on the battery by powering acceleration and recovering energy during braking. Most deadly to the life of a battery are the moments when it is subjected to high-current pulses and charged or discharged too quickly. Conveniently, delivering or accepting power during short-duration events is the ultracapacitor's strongest suit. And because capacitors function well in temperatures as low as –40 ºC, they can give electric cars a boost in cold weather, when batteries are at their worst.

Commercially available ultracapacitors already address those needs to some extent and can provide many times the power of batteries of the same weight or size. But in terms of the amount of energy they can hold, ultracapacitors lag far behind. The major difference is that batteries store energy in the bulk of their material, whereas all forms of capacitors store energy only on the surface of a material. Like a battery, an ultracapacitor is filled with an ionic solution—an electrolyte—and its current collectors attach to the electrodes and conduct current to and from them. The collectors are coated with a thin film of activated carbon that has orders of magnitude more surface area than ordinary capacitors. The amount of surface area in ultracapacitor designs has so far been constrained by the limitations in the porosity of the activated carbon.

The innovation that my colleagues John Kassakian and Riccardo Signorelli and I have pursued at MIT is to replace the activated carbon with a dense, microscopic forest of carbon nanotubes that is grown directly on the surface of the current collector. We think—and our work so far supports our theory—that by doing so, we can create a device that can hold up to 50 percent as much electrical energy as a comparably sized battery. This feat would allow ultracapacitors to supplant batteries in a number of mainstream applications.
It's almost engineering heresy to suggest that a capacitor could power a car. Indeed, the common capacitor stores a puny amount of energy. At equivalent voltage, a chemical battery can store at least a million times as much energy as a conventional capacitor of the same size. Put two ordinary capacitors the size of a D-cell battery in your flashlight, each charged to 1.5 volts, and the bulb will go out in less than a second, if it lights at all. An ultracapacitor of the same size, however, has a capacitance of about 350 farads and could light the bulb for about 2 minutes.

Before delving into our methods, I should explain the basics of capacitors and ultracapacitors. Capacitors have been around since 1745, beating batteries to the scene by half a century. Ultracapacitors are much more recent, but they're not exactly new, either. Engineers at Standard Oil patented ultracapacitor technology in 1966, an unanticipated product of their fuel-cell research. Standard Oil licensed the technology to NEC Corp., of Tokyo, which commercialized the results as “supercapacitors” in 1978, to provide backup power for maintaining computer memory.

A capacitor consists of two electrodes, or plates, separated by a thin insulator. When a voltage is applied to the electrodes, an electric field builds up between the plates. A capacitor's energy is stored in such an electric field, without requiring any sort of chemical reaction. Thus a capacitor has an almost unlimited lifetime. It's also fast. Depending on its physical structure, typical charge and discharge times are on the order of a microsecond; sometimes they are as quick as a picosecond.

Three main factors determine how much electrical energy a capacitor can store: the surface area of the electrodes, their distance from each other, and the dielectric constant of the material separating them. However, you can push conventional capacitor designs only so far. What the Standard Oil engineers did was to develop a capacitor that functions differently. They coated two aluminum electrodes with a 100-micrometer-thick layer of carbon. The carbon was first chemically etched to produce many holes that extended through the material, as in a sponge, so that the interior surface area was about 100 000 times as large as the outside. (This process is said to “activate” the carbon.)

They filled the interior with an electrolyte and used a porous insulator, one similar to paper, to keep the electrodes from shorting out. When a voltage is applied, the ions are attracted to the electrode with the opposite charge, where they cling electrostatically to the pores in the carbon. At the low voltages used in ultracapacitors, carbon is inert and does not react chemically with the ions attached to it. Nor do the ions become oxidized or reduced, as they do at the higher voltages used in an electrolytic cell.

This approach allowed the engineers at Standard Oil to build a multifarad device. At the time, even large capacitors had nowhere near a farad of capacitance. Today, ultracapacitors can store 5 percent as much energy as a modern lithium-ion battery. Ultracapacitors with a capacitance of up to 5000 farads measure about 5 centimeters by 5 cm by 15 cm, which is an amazingly high capacitance relative to its volume. The D-cell battery is also significantly heavier than the equivalently sized capacitor, which weighs about 60 grams.

Hundreds of thousands of ultracapacitors are manufactured each year, for applications that require rapid recharging, high power output, and repetitive cycling. In 2005, the ultracapacitor market was between US $272 million and $400 million, depending on the source, and it's growing, especially in the automotive sector. Though ultracapacitors have generally remained a niche player, the situation may soon change.

My laboratory at MIT—the Laboratory for Electromagnetic and Electronic Systems—works with several automobile manufacturers to investigate ways to improve vehicle performance. About four years ago, I assisted on a project to evaluate commercial ultracapacitors for use in cars. While on a flight from Boston to Detroit, I read an article describing a way to grow vertically aligned carbon nanotubes on a flat surface. This is a truly amazing process. A sheet of silica is covered with a nanometer-thick layer of an iron catalyst. The sheet is placed in a vacuum, heated to 650 ºC, and exposed to a thin hydrocarbon gas, perhaps ethanol or acetylene. The heat causes the iron to form tiny droplets, which steal carbon molecules from the gas. The carbon molecules then begin to self-assemble into tubes, which grow upward from each of the droplets.
By virtue of their dimensions, it struck me that those nanotubes held the promise of even higher porosity than the activated carbon used in commercial ultracapacitors. Together the nanotubes have an enormous surface area, and their dimensions are more uniform than those of the activated-carbon pores, making them more like a paintbrush than a sponge.

There are two major limitations to the conductivity of activated carbon—the high porosity means there isn't much carbon material to carry current, and the material must be “glued” to the aluminum current collector using a binder, which exhibits a somewhat high resistance. If my colleagues and I replaced the activated carbon with billions of nanotubes, we predicted we could make an ultracapacitor that could store at least 25 percent—and perhaps as much as 50 percent—of the energy in a chemical battery of equivalent weight. (To get that much improvement, we'd have to make a number of other changes, as well, such as increasing the number of ions in the electrolyte to reflect that new-found storage space.)

Another advantage of nanotubes over activated carbon is that their structure makes them less chemically reactive, so they can operate at a higher voltage. And certain types of nanotubes, depending on their geometry, can be excellent conductors—which means they can supply more power than ultracapacitors outfitted with activated carbon.["see illustration, "Piling on The Farads"]

Even better, this nanotube-enhanced ultracapacitor would retain all the advantages ordinary ultracapacitors have over batteries: they would deliver energy in quick bursts, they would perform well in cold weather, and they would have much longer life spans. If this ultracapacitor could be developed, it would be revolutionary.

It was clear from the outset that a lot of know-how would be needed to make an ultracapacitor according to our design—knowledge of chemical-vapor deposition, electron microscopy, material science, quantum chemistry. And it's a challenge to get people with all those skills together. One of the strengths of a research university is its incredible diversity of expertise and equipment, plus there's the willingness of faculty to collaborate. Nobody in my lab had experience fabricating carbon nanotubes, but much of the early research in that area at MIT was done in the building next door, at a laboratory under the direction of Mildred Dresselhaus. Using those facilities and aided by Dresselhaus and her lab colleagues, we succeeded in synthesizing a nanotube forest on a small piece of silica in only a few months.

Nanotubes can vary in size, and the ones we're growing are about 5 nm across, or about 1/10 000th the diameter of a human hair. Each tube is about 100 µm long, and they can be spaced as little as 5 nm apart.[see image, "Electric Shag"]

But the sliver of silica was only the start. Silica is an insulator, and we needed a conducting material. After more than a year of false starts, we finally designed and built a custom reactor for chemical-vapor deposition and have used it to grow nanotubes on a conducting substrate. We are now packaging this collection of nanotubes in a prototype ultracapacitor.

We believe that within a few months we'll be able to demonstrate results that outperform today's designs by a wide margin. There will still be a big challenge ahead of us at that point: to see whether our devices can be manufactured at prices that make them attractive for mainstream applications. We are optimistic, though, because chemical-vapor deposition is already used on a huge scale in semiconductor manufacturing, and the raw materials that we need are cheap.

It's not a straight path from high-density ultracapacitors to practical electric cars, but what my colleagues and I have done may constitute one big step along a tortuous route to making such vehicles more convenient and attractive to consumers. Even if it takes many years before ultracapacitors on their own can power either full battery-electric or hybrid cars, we're already at the point where such devices could easily assist lithium-ion batteries. "How to Ultracap A Car"] When the car's electric motor needs high current for a short time, the ultracapacitor supplies it. After the demand eases, the ultracapacitor recharges from the battery. When the motor, working now as a generator, delivers high current for a brief interval—which is typically what happens with regenerative braking—the same thing happens in reverse. A computer would monitor voltages, the state of charge, load, and demand, and then adjust the current flow accordingly using some additional dc-dc power electronics. The added weight and expense involved might not matter if it improves vehicle performance and makes the battery last longer.
Photo: Riccardo Signorelli/MIT
ELECTRIC SHAG: A cross section of an electrode made with carbon nanotubes.

Small-cell ultracapacitors can be used in cars for purposes other than in the drivetrain. They can be integrated into air-conditioning, electric power steering, power locks, and window systems—components that demand high peak currents, which typically require large-diameter wiring. The need is intermittent, and the average power is low, so having ultracapacitors provide the high current at strategic points would permit thinner wiring to be installed. With the high price of copper these days, such changes can shave an appreciable amount from the cost of a vehicle.

Safety is another motivation. Suppose a car has electrically actuated brakes or door locks and the wiring harness fails because of a defect or an accident. A local ultracapacitor can still provide power for a few precious seconds or minutes.

Such devices are by no means limited to vehicles. Society is in the midst of an energy crisis, and many sources of green energy would benefit from regenerative energy storage. Electric power grids could be 10 percent more efficient if there could be simple, inexpensive ways to store energy locally at the point of use. And if renewable energy is ever to displace fossil fuels, engineers will need to devise better ways to store wind power when the wind is not blowing and solar power when the sun is not shining.

My colleagues and I are not the only ones researching ultracapacitor technology, of course. All the existing ultracapacitor manufacturers—including Maxwell Technologies, NessCap, Panasonic, Nippon Chemi-Con, and Power Systems Co.—are working on improved activated carbons or devices where one electrode functions as a battery and the other as an ultracapacitor. The Japanese government has provided $25 million for nanotube research, money that has supported a promising joint effort between Nippon Chemi‑Con and AIST National Lab to explore nanotube-based techniques. Investigators at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in Troy, N.Y., recently announced, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, an exciting combined battery-nanotube ultracapacitor fabric to store electrical energy.

And nanotube forests are not the only way to provide increased porosity. Power Systems, in Japan, for example, has been getting good results with a type of graphene structure that it calls a “nanogate.”

There's a slightly different approach to modified capacitors that has been generating a lot of buzz lately, developed by a start-up called EEStor, in Cedar Park, Texas. EEStor has focused on improving the dielectric, rather than the capacitor's plates. Its design uses barium titanate, which has a high dielectric constant. High-dielectric-constant substances allow for high-value capacitors that are still small in size. The downside is that such materials generally are unable to withstand electrostatic fields of the same intensity as low-dielectric-constant substances such as air. EEStor claims that the capacitors can operate at extremely high voltages, on the order of several thousand volts, leading to very high storage capacities. One concern is that high voltages can cause a dielectric to break down irreversibly in the presence of even slight imperfections in the material. Only time will tell how its design fares.

Improving substantially on the means to store electrical energy would be a welcome development, and high-density capacitive storage is one promising avenue of research. Although batteries and capacitors are old inventions, our particular technique could not have been pursued until recently. Just as semiconductor designers have created smaller and smaller transistors, so have engineers in other areas learned to manipulate objects with ever-more-minuscule dimensions. The ability to sculpt materials at the atomic level is new and evolving. Engineers can use these new techniques to achieve novel properties and, in the case of my lab's research, to move toward a nanoengineered carbon that might usher in the next generation of energy storage.

About the Author
JOEL SCHINDALL spent 35 years working in the telecommunications and satellite industries before joining the faculty of MIT, where he is now associate director of the Laboratory for Electromagnetic and Electronic Systems.

To Probe Further
For an overview of ultracapacitors and their applications, as well as a number of free technical papers (after registration), visit
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, in Golden, Colo., surveys its energy storage research at

Sidebar 1
Piling on The Farads
Plain Old Plates: In a typical capacitor, electrons are removed from one plate and deposited on the other. Polarized molecules in the dielectric concentrate the electric field. One major factor determining capacitance is the surface area of the plates.

Plated Packed with Ions: An ultracapacitor can store more charge than a capacitor can, because the ­activated carbon has a pocked interior, much like a sponge. This means that ions in the electrolyte can cling to more surface area.

Images: Bryan Christie Design
Enter the Nano-World: With finer dimensions and more uniform distribution, carbon nanotubes enable greater energy storage in ultracapacitors than activated carbon does.

Sidebar 2
How to Ultracap A Car
Image: Bryan Christie Design
How to Ultracap a Car: Ultracapacitors can power a number of a car’s ­functions locally. The orange arrows show how an ultra­capacitor discharges to power acceleration,while the blue arrows show energy flowingback during braking. The red squaresindicate places where ultracapacitors can be used.




January 10, 2008 11:03 AM PST  Lockheed signs deal with EEStor   Posted by Michael Kanellos
Lockheed Martin has signed a deal with EEStor to try to integrate the ultracapacitor start-up's electrical energy storage units into the defense contractor's products. Financial terms of the agreement, announced Wednesday, were not disclosed. EEStor is developing a ceramic battery chemistry that could provide 10 times the energy density of lead acid batteries at about a tenth of the weight and volume, according to Lockheed. A Lockheed spokesman said the company is interested in energy storage systems a soldier can carry, but also car batteries and energy systems for remote buildings. Lockheed will spend most of the year evaluating samples it gets from EEStor and, if all goes well, it can start incorporating them into products. EEStor will begin to conduct qualification testing and mass production of the units in late 2008. As part of the contract, Lockheed will have the exclusive right to use EEStor products in the homeland security market. The company also announced that former Dell Chairman Mort Topfer has joined its board. Last year, it was reported that Topfer left the board. The Toronto Star broke that story. (I wrote a story repeating what the Star said, citing the newspaper.) Reporter Tyler Hamilton says that Topfer did leave, but is now rejoining. This marks another unexpected turn in the EEStor saga. The company has devised an energy storage device that it says can change the battery industry. Zenn Motors of Canada is an investor and wants to incorporate the batteries into its cars. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is said to be an investor. EEStor, however, doesn't say a lot. In fact, the company rarely gives statements or issues releases, though it's one of the favorite topics of debate in the clean-tech world. For instance, EEStor didn't say it will begin qualification and testing on the battery units that are part of this deal. Lockheed did, in its own release (which, incidentally, doesn't include quotes from EEStor). EEStor didn't put a release out on the deal, though it put one out on Topfer. Some people who have visited the company's facilities or reviewed its patents have come away believers. Others have become skeptics. EEStor had hoped to come out with products in 2007 but was forced to delay. The Lockheed deal gives the company a shot of credibility. Critics, though, will likely remain skeptical until they see the devices. Defense contractors, after all, sign lots of deals like this.
Lockheed Martin Signs Agreement with EESTOR, Inc., for Energy Storage Solutions
DALLAS, TX, January 9th, 2008 -- Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] has signed an exclusive international rights agreement to integrate and market Electrical Energy Storage Units (EESU) from EEStor, Inc., for military and homeland security applications. Specific terms of the agreement were not disclosed. EEStor, based in Cedar Park, TX, is developing a ceramic battery chemistry that could provide 10 times the energy density of lead acid batteries at 1/10th the weight and volume. As envisioned, EESUs will be a fully “green” technology that will be half the price per stored watt-hour than traditional battery technologies.“Lockheed Martin has a wide range of innovative energy solutions for federal, state and regional energy applications,” said Glenn Miller, vice president of Technical Operations and Applied Research at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “The EEStor energy storage technology provides potential solutions for the demanding requirements for energy in military and homeland defense applications.”EESUs are planned as nontoxic, non-hazardous and non-explosive. Since the EESU design is based on ultra-capacitor architecture, it will allow for flexible packaging and rapid charge/discharge capabilities. EESUs will be ideally suited for a wide range of power management initiatives that could lead to energy independence for the Warfighter.“Lockheed Martin continues to focus on providing our Warfighters with new and innovative technologies that will make their jobs easier,” said Lionel Liebman, manager of Program Development – Applied Research at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “Our ruggedized BattPack™ energy storage unit generated considerable interest at the Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting in October 2007 for its potential for fuel savings in vehicular silent watch applications. The potential of an even safer, smaller and more powerful EESU in BattPack™ would significantly enhance the Warfighter’s capabilities.”EESU qualification testing and mass production at EEStor’s facility in Cedar Park is planned for late 2008.EEStor, Inc., of Cedar Park, TX, originally developed its solid-state EESU technology as a longer lasting, lighter, more powerful environmentally friendly electronic storage unit for a wide variety of applications. EEStor’s vision also includes EESU facilitating the conversion of wind energy and photovoltaics into primary electrical energy providers and increasing the role of renewables for increasing energy production. Its CEO and president, Richard Weir, is also the inventor named on its EESU principal technology patent.Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin employs about 140,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.


2008/01/10 14:15
 先日、二つの興味深いニュースが同じ日に流れた。大きな扱いの記事ではないが、二つの戦略の対比が興味深かったのでここで引用したい。  一つは、Googleが太陽光や風力、地熱などを利用した発電技術といった代替エネルギー開発に数億ドルを投資するというもの。もう一つは、イオンと三洋電機が共同で、イオンのプライベートブランドである「トップバリュ」ブランドの家電を開発するというもので、低価格路線ではなく、省エネとデザイン性の高い商品を目指すとしている。  Googleの戦略は、同社のコアである技術やビジネス領域から大きく逸脱しているようにみえる。そこに一挙に投資してしまおうというのだから、かなり大胆な戦略に思えるのだ。これは想像するしかないのだが、検索エンジンについて世界中のあらゆる情報を記録、整理するという大胆なコンセプトを打ち出している企業であるから、この新しい事業に関しても、理念やビジョン、事業コンセプトなどは上流のところで彼らなりにきちんと整合は取れているのだろう。  一方、三洋の戦略は、自社ブランドではなくイオンのプライベートブランドのために家電を開発しようというものである。市場で強力なブランドを持たない同社が、既に持っている家電の開発と製造技術というリソースをそのまま活用し、弱いブランド力をカバーできる戦略はないかと考え立案したものであろう。省エネとデザイン性の高いものらしいが、自社のブランドを拠り所にしたり育て上げたりする戦略ではない。OEMを得意としてきた三洋らしい戦略であり、基本的に今までのビジネスモデルを踏襲している。
 その良し悪しではなく、どうしてこのような戦略の差が生まれるかということについて、今回は議論してみたい。  Googleは今や大企業だが、まだ成長段階にある企業である。これに対して三洋は停滞期にある企業だ。このことが戦略に大きく関係していることは異論がないだろう。ではどのように戦略に影響を及ぼしているのだろうか。  前回のコラムで私は、「組織は戦略に従う」ことを大前提に、戦略の必要性について述べた。戦略とそれを支える組織は表裏一体であり、切り離して考えることはできない。しかし、大前提はまず戦略ありきだと主張したつもりだ。今回の事例は、この大前提とは見かけ上は逆になる。では、「組織は戦略に従う」という前提が間違っているのだろか。  戦略を実行する際、組織に大きな変化を強いることがある。戦略遂行を行ってきた組織は、過去の戦略遂行によって組織がチューニングされてきているのだ。この組織が企業の理念やビジョンに沿った事業や製品のコンセプトを立案するのであるから、結果的に組織が戦略に影響を与えることになる。すなわち、戦略は組織の理念やビジョンを反映したものであり、戦略遂行によって組織は調整され、結果的に理念やビジョンは影響を受けるわけだ。
 最近私が注目している本に『ブレイクアウトストラテジー』(シドニー・フィンケルシュタイン著)がある。これによると、急成長を続けている企業はそうでない企業には決定的な違いがあり、優良企業は瞬時に市場を制することのできるブレイクアウト戦略を採っていると主張している。この本の戦略論を紹介し、前述のニュースの事例に適用して考えてみたい。  このブレイクアウト戦略は、新技術やサービスでいきなりトップを占める「強襲型」、地方で成功した企業が一気に世界市場を制する「拡張型」、低迷していた名門企業が復活する「巻き返し型」、トップにいる企業が更に市場獲得を目指し変身する「変身型」の4タイプに分類できるという。  この戦略を実現するための様々な要因について詳しく解説がされているが、その中で、「組織ビジョン」「顧客への価値提供」「ビジネスモデル」「プロジェクトとプログラム」が輪となって連鎖するブレイクアウトストラテジーのサイクルというものが示されている。  さらには、四つの要素に対して戦略的リーダーシップが影響を与えていることも示されている。戦略の創造や遂行にはリーダーシップを大きな要素として扱っているのだが、それについては後述するとして、まずは前述の2事例をこのブレイクアウト戦略と比較して検証してみたい。
冒頭のGoogleの例は「強襲型」に相当するだろう。拡張型とみえなくもないが、「まったく違うドメインの市場を狙う」という点を重視してここでは強襲型と分類した。いずれにせよ、Googleはこの戦略でブレイクアウトを目論んでいる筈だ。これを実行し、将来的にエネルギー市場の一角に食い込む算段なのだろう。  Googleは、1998年に創業した若い強襲型の企業である。『ブレイクアウトストラテジー』でも、行動するプレイクアウト・ストラテジー企業の典型例として取り上げられている。一部を引用してみよう。 「1990年代半ばに同社は超高速インターネット検索とインデックス化に使えるアルゴリズムとソフトウェアシステムを開発した。当時、検索エンジはすでにあったが、Googleのように高速で質問に答えてくれ、しかも検索ワードに対する重要度に応じてランク付けして表示できるものはなかった。貴重な情報に無料でアクセスできることで、Googleが世界中の無数の人々の生活を向上させてきた。  同社の目標は、世界中の情報を組織化し、どこからでもアクセスできるようにするという、明白にしてこの上なく野心的なものだ。  そのために同社は、CEOエリック・シュミットのリーダーシップのもと、経験豊富な経営陣を編成し、磐石の金融・商業システムを作り上げて、技術力を補強した。先行企業との提携を通じて、社内の知的資産の強化をはかり、成長市場への進出に必要なネットワークを構築していった。Googleは組織の最終目標として、利潤より社会的目的を優先すると宣言したことに大いに助けられた」  このようにGoogleは、ビジョンと理念を掲げ、それを戦略に落とし込み、その戦略がうまく機能しているか、市場に合致しているかをチェックしつつ必要があればそれを修正するといった一連のプロセスをうまくコントロールしてきたのである。
 この戦略を支える組織作りのために、Googleは独自の人材採用方針を持っている。トップ層のペイジとブリンが人事委員会を設けて全ての採用をチェックしているのだ。こうして採用と人事をトップがコントロールして組織の都合による内部抗争を未然に防ぎ、独自の社風を失わないための仕掛けを用意しているのである。  その仕掛けのひとつが有名な20%ルールだ。Googleでは、就業時間の20%を本来の仕事以外に使うことがルール化されている。この時間で各社員が研究開発した面白い技術やシステムが他の社員の支持を得た場合に社内で公式なプロジェクトになるという。  このようにGoogleでは、大きな社会的ビジョンを掲げ、先端の技術を拠り所として戦略を構築し、それらを支える組織を意識的に調整している。こうして今までになかった市場を生み出し、そこで圧倒的な支持を得ている。こうした強襲型企業のブレイクアウト戦略を成功させたパターンをGoogleはエネルギー市場でも用いようとしているのだろう。  豊富な人的リソースと資金、そして何よりも自らが生み出して成功したブレイクアウト戦略の必勝パターンを持ってすれば、また彼等が成功するのはそんなに困難ではないと思える。ここで重要なのは、ビジョンを掲げ戦略を作り上げ、それらをうまく生み出し、回すための組織が計算された形で作られている点だ。そこにはリーダーシップも大きく影響を与えている。  『ブレイクアウトストラテジー』にはこうも述べられている。「ブレイクアウト・ストラテジーでも、成功のカギは戦略そのものではなく、戦略をいかに緻密に実行するか、である」と。Googleの仕組みは、今のところこれをうまく実践するのに貢献しているように思える。  さて、この本では大企業にも「強襲型」の戦略は可能だと明言している。この点は、筆者の考え方と少し違う。少なくとも強力なトップダウン型ではなく、過去の成功体験に大きく影響されている停滞期や衰退期の日本の企業にとっては「強襲型」戦略を取るのはかなり困難が伴うと思っているのだが。
 一方、『ブレイクアウトストラテジー』では、巻き返しの戦略を取った大企業の例についても、日産自動車を初めいくつも取り上げられている。イオンと提携した三洋の戦略は、一見「巻き返し型」の戦略を取っているように思える。しかし、それはブレイクアウトのための「巻き返し型」戦略なのだろうか。この三洋の提携は、厳密に言うと新市場を開拓するものではない。どちらかと言うと単なる企業同士の販路マッチングと考えた方がしっくりくる。当然ブレイクアウトはあまり期待できない。  もちろん、三洋にとってこのプライベート・ブランド家電の戦略は、数ある戦略の一つに過ぎない。そうだとすれば、会社全体としてブレイクアウト戦略を採らないのはどうしてだろうか…三洋は今、エネルギーと環境に資源を集中させていると聞く。それならば、何故家電や半導体といった一度は売却を考えた事業を強い意思で切り離すことを考えないのだろうか。こうした戦略の混在が、企業全体の戦略を不明確なものにしているのではと危惧するのだが。  三洋は総合家電メーカーとしてその地位を築いてきたが、ソニーや松下といったトップブランドではない。技術力は高いが、右肩上がりの時代、即ち作れば売れた時代に取ってきた戦略にいまだ縛られているのだろう。市場が拡大していたあの時代は、他社と同じ事をしていればよかったが今は違う。経営資源を他社と差別化できる事業分野に集中させて、究極の製品やサービスを求めなければブレイクアウトは手にできない。私には三洋はブレイクアウトを自らあきらめているように思えるのだ。  そのかたわらで、ブレイクアウト戦略を採ろうとしている企業にソニーがある。最近ソニーは最新の半導体製造ラインの売却を決めた。過去に取った戦略をあっさり捨てたのだ。ソニーはいろいろと注目されているが故に批判にもさらされている企業だが、失敗だと思ったら潔く戦略を修正する潜在力、ダイナミズムが存在している。これを支えているのはやはりリーダーシップと組織の柔軟さではなかろうか。ソニーは常にブレイクアウトを求め、常に大胆に戦略を修正していく。その戦略が組織を再活性させるという好循環を維持しているように思える。  Googleと三洋の話に戻ろう。これまで述べてきたように、様々な条件により生み出された二つの企業の戦略の違いが、彼らの将来像をさらに大きく変えることになると思う。何故なら、ブレイクアウトを生み出す戦略を取れるかどうかが、企業の将来を左右する大きな要因になるからだ。  前述のブレイクアウトストラテジーのサイクルをうまく回して、ブレイクアウト戦略を生み出すためには、明確で強いビジョンと柔軟な組織が必要になる。そしてもう一つ、リーダーシップが欠かせない。これらが相互に関係し影響を与え、循環することが重要なのだ。  繰り返しになるが、企業は「まず戦略ありき」で戦略を立て、実行し、それをフィードバックし、次のビジョンやコンセプトを作り上げるという活動を日常的に行う責務を負う。その中で、組織はそのビジョンや理念に少なからず影響を受けて事業や製品のコンセプトを作ることになる。そして、このビジョンやコンセプトを作る「人・組織」は戦略実行時に、さらに調整されるのである。  これを繰り返すうちに、「人・組織」の生み出すビジョン、コンセプト、そして戦略は企業ごとに違った特徴を獲得することになる。その結果、Googleと三洋の例のように、それが生み出す戦略の内容が大きく違ってくるのだ。
 これらを理解して、ブレイクアウト戦略に一歩踏み込む勇気が企業のリーダーには欠かせない。ブレイクアウトができるかできないかが、これからの生き残りに多大な影響を及ぼすからだ。前述のブレイクアウトストラテジーのサイクルにおいて、戦略の策定、実行、フィードバックといったサイクルの各プロセスに対してリーダーシップが影響を与えているのはこのためだと思う。  プロデュース・テクノロジー開発センターというNPOが京都にある。ここでは、「プロデュース」を「何かを思いつくこと」ではなく、「その思いつきを具体的に世に出し社会化するまでの一連の行為」と定義する。そのうえで、このような「プロデュース」行為を、再現可能な「テクノロジー」として手法化し、新たな人材育成プログラムとして研究・開発を進めている。  この手法を用いて組織の各部門別にプロデュース点をつけ、組織のプロデュース力を客観的・定量的に評価しようとする試みも行われている。同センター代表の渡辺好章同志社大学教授によれば、プロデュース点の高い企業、組織には必ず優れたリーダーが存在するという。優れたブレイクアウト戦略のためには、優れたリーダーは不可欠なのだろう。 「強襲型」戦略を取る成長期の企業だけでなく、「巻き返し型」戦略を成功させた停滞期や衰退期の大企業でも優れたリーダーの顔が見えることが多い。優れた戦略の遂行サイクルの中から優れたリーダーが育ってくるようになれば組織として理想的だが、日産のように外部から優れたリーダーを招き入れ「巻き返し型」戦略を成功させた例もある。  ただ、それも戦略あってのこと。優れた戦略を生み出すことが企業活動の全ての原点であることは間違いない。

2007年09月13日 08時53分 更新
 米Googleの慈善部門Google.orgは9月12日、6月に発表したプラグインハイブリッドカー普及計画「RechargeIT」の提案依頼書(RFP)を公開した。総額1000万ドルの資金を提供する。プラグインハイブリッドカーや電気自動車、関連するV2G(系統連系自動車)の開発、採用、商用化のための提案を募る。同社は各企業に対し、50万ドルから200万ドルの出資を行う準備があるといい、米国だけでなく世界中から募集する。 RFPは一般企業のみを対象としたもので、提出締め切りは10月22日。
Google to enter clean-energy business
Search giant earmarks hundreds of millions of dollars with the goal of generating a gigawatt of clean energy that's cheaper than coal.
By Martin LaMonica
Staff Writer, CNET

Published: November 27, 2007, 1:00 PM PST
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Search giant Google on Tuesday pledged to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to make renewable energy cheaper than coal.

The effort, dubbed RE C (shorthand for "renewable energy less than coal"), calls for Google to invest in companies developing clean-energy technologies and for Google itself to next year invest tens of millions in research and development in renewable energy.

Technologies created by Google will likely be used by Google, whose data centers are voracious consumers of electricity. The company envisions either selling electricity from renewable sources or licensing technology on terms that would promote broad adoption, according to company founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Its overarching goal is to produce 1 gigawatt of electricity from renewable sources--enough to power the city of San Francisco--faster than the current pace of green-technology development.

"The main crux of this is that we believe that you can do it cheaper than coal...and we want to make it happen now," said Page, Google's president of products. "Most people who are doing this now are trying to do it less expensive than people before, but they are not trying for that goal which will have a significant effect on the world."

Investments in other companies will be funded by Google's philanthropic arm,, which has about $2 billion worth of Google stock available to it.

In particular, Google will be investing in solar-thermal technology, wind power, and geothermal systems. Its target is to fall below the price of coal power generation, which can be as low as 2.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, said Bill Weihl, Google's green-energy czar.

Google said it's already working with eSolar, a solar-thermal company building systems for utilities to generate electricity from heat. It has invested in Makani Power, which is pursuing electricity generation by harnessing wind at high altitudes.

As part of the effort, Google will be hiring experts in the energy field. It expects to hire 20 to 30 people into its clean-energy division in the next year. More substantial investments will come as energy projects come online, Weihl said.

Although an ambitious plan, Google's impact on the clean-tech market segment in the near term is likely to be more psychological than financial, said Paul Clegg, a senior equity analyst who follows clean tech at Jefferies.

"Tens of millions of dollars is not a small number, obviously, but you're spreading that over things that a lot of other companies are attacking on an individual basis with more money going at it," Clegg said. "I think they'd have to invest a lot more money to get the next Manhattan Project going."

However, Google's initiative is significant in that it could indicate how corporations will start addressing their energy needs and climate change going forward, he said.

A strategic move
The push to mitigate the effects of climate change through clean energy falls squarely into's missions to improve human health and alleviate poverty, said Larry Brilliant, the executive director of

Its foray into the energy business is part of Google's corporate charter to expand into new business areas that are "strategic," according to Brin.

As a large consumer, Google can benefit from cheaper sources of electricity and technologies it successfully develops could generate revenue, he said. In addition, those technologies could potentially bring cheaper sources of electricity to areas of the world that don't have it.

"For economic development to be possible in these areas and for new industries to be spurred along, we want to develop cheap alternatives that are widely available," Brin said. "This isn't just about solving a problem. It also creates a gigantic opportunity."

Right now, the most widely used form of renewable energy in the United States is from hydropower, which makes up about 7 percent of power generation. Other renewables make up 2.4 percent, while coal-fired power plants generate nearly half of the power in the United States, according to the United States Energy Information Administration. Google estimates that about 40 percent of power worldwide comes from burning coal, one of the most polluting fossil fuels.

Some renewable forms of power promise to approach the cost of fossil fuel production, notably solar thermal and wind, which both benefit from government incentives.

In an FAQ document, Google said it will pursue "enhanced geothermal technology that taps into heat underground to generate usable energy. It said this approach differs from traditional geothermal technology because it can be used nearly anywhere, rather than only in locations with specific geological features.

Avoiding hypocrisy
Google's intention to invest directly in power generation technologies is unusual for a business outside the energy sector.

Companies with environmental stewardship programs or commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions typically invest in on-site renewable energy or purchase carbon offsets that represent investments in clean-energy projects.

Wal-Mart, for example, has a high-profile program to make its stores more energy efficient by using the latest technologies, including solar photovoltaics. It has also done reviews with suppliers to reduce waste and packaging in its supply chain and stores.

Google's initiative came about as many of Google's different operations reached a similar conclusion on the need for clean energy, Page said.

The company has hundreds of people dedicated to making its computing infrastructure more energy efficient, and it founded the Climate Savers Computing Initiative to make computer components more energy efficient.

As a corporation, it has undertaken programs to lower greenhouse gas emissions from its own operations, including a 1.6-megawatt solar array and a facility to charge plug-in hybrid vehicles. It expects to meet its goal of being carbon neutral this year, executives said.

In September, it set up a $10 million program to invest in companies developing clean transportation technologies.

Despite these efforts, the company's buildings and data centers continue to consume electricity from coal-fired power plants.

"We feel hypocritical as a company so we want to make the investments so that alternatives are available down the road," Page said.


XH-150 Extreme Hybrid--(Li電池+ultracapacitor)

●XH-150 Extreme Hybridについては、他にも様々な映像が以下にあります。




CSIRO's UltraBattery to power hybrid cars

Written by Stuart Corner Thursday, 17 January 2008
The CSIRO has developed a revolutionary 'UltraBattery' for use in hybrid petrol/electrical vehicles that combines supercapacitor and conventional lead acid battery technology into a single unit. It is able to deliver the benefits of both technologies and with much lower cost and longer life that a conventional battery. A test vehicle using the UltraBattery has just completed 100,000 miles (160,000km) of testing in the UK and vehicles using the technology are expected to be in dealers' showrooms within two years.The combination of supercapacitor and battery is attractive for hybrid vehicles because the capacitor is able to deliver power at high levels in short bursts for acceleration and to receive high levels of power input, such as that produced by regenerative breaking. However capacitors are very poor at storing electrical energy over long periods. Batteries, in contrast are excellent for long term storage but do not like being rapidly charged or discharged.However, there are cost, space and weight penalties from using both technologies and complex electronics needed to manage the flow of electrical energy into and out of supercapacitor and the battery add considerably to the cost.The UltraBattery eliminates the need for all the control electronics required to manage electrical energy flows in a dual capacitor/battery system because energy flows are determined at a 'chemical' level by the internal construction of the unit."It is as though the positive plate as been split into two: one half lead [the battery] and one half carbon [the capacity] and that is what the first of our patents relates to," David Lamb, leader of low emissions transport research at CSIRO told iTWire. "The second patent relates to how you make this into a battery in the factory."During development of the UltraBattery the CSIRO discovered that the inclusion of the 'capacitor' created a better battery, and this is what makes the device so attractive. "The inclusion of the carbon seemed to help the battery avoid all the usual battery problems so it lasts four to five times longer that an conventional lead acid battery. That extended battery life is a real plus," Lamb said.He said that, initially the research team had expected use of the UltraBattery to be limited to mild' hyrids - those that are predominantly driven by their internal combustion engine but with some electrical assistance. "After all this testing we are now very confident we can support medium hybrids [like the Toyota Prius] or even full, plug-in hybrids [which are charged overnight from a power point]," Lamb said.
The test vehicle was a Honda Insight: a production hybrid (no longer in production) that used a nickel metal hydride battery (the same technology as powers the Toyota Prius). "Our goal was to fit our battery into the same space," Lamb said. "It is 17kg heavier and that creates a fuel consumption penalty of 2.8 percent. But it is about one quarter of the cost, so you save around $2000 on the cost of building the car."The UK test was undertaken in collaboration with the Furukawa Battery Company of Japan, which manufactured the battery and the US Advanced Lead-Acid Battery Consortium.Lamb said it was likely that Japanese car manufacturers would be well-advanced in the development of production vehicles using the new UltraBattery. "They will have had these batteries on test for a year and if they have done as well as that car in England they will be as thrilled as we are and will be doing their best to find ways to milk the technology in some future model. But they don't tell us what they are doing." However he predicted that cars using the UltraBattery would be in showrooms with two years.The CSIRO is also involved in a company which is looking to commercialising the UltraBattery technology for renewable energy storage from wind and solar power generation, "That will require a totally different approach to battery building," Lamb said.
●UltraBattery sets new standard for HEVs

The odometer of a low emission hybrid electric test vehicle reached 100,000 miles as the car circled a track in the UK using the power of an advanced CSIRO battery system.The UltraBattery combines a supercapacitor and a lead acid battery in a single unit, creating a hybrid car battery that lasts longer, costs less and is more powerful than current technologies used in hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs).“The UltraBattery is a leap forward for low emission transport and uptake of HEVs,” said David Lamb, who leads low emissions transport research with the Energy Transformed National Research Flagship.“Previous tests show the UltraBattery has a life cycle that is at least four times longer and produces 50 per cent more power than conventional battery systems. It’s also about 70 per cent cheaper than the batteries currently used in HEVs,” he said.By marrying a conventional fuel-powered engine with a battery to drive an electric motor, HEVs achieve the dual environmental benefit of reducing both greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel consumption.The UltraBattery also has the ability to provide and absorb charge rapidly during vehicle acceleration and braking, making it particularly suitable for HEVs, which rely on the electric motor to meet peak power needs during acceleration and can recapture energy normally wasted through braking to recharge the battery.Over the past 12 months, a team of drivers has put the UltraBattery to the test at the Millbrook Proving Ground in the United Kingdom, one of Europe’s leading locations for the development and demonstration of land vehicles.“Passing the 100,000 miles mark is strong evidence of the UltraBattery's capabilities,” Mr Lamb said. “CSIRO’s ongoing research will further improve the technology’s capabilities, making it lighter, more efficient and capable of setting new performance standards for HEVs.”The UltraBattery test program for HEV applications is the result of an international collaboration. The battery system was developed by CSIRO in Australia, built by the Furukawa Battery Company of Japan and tested in the United Kingdom through the American-based Advanced Lead-Acid Battery Consortium.UltraBattery technology also has applications for renewable energy storage from wind and solar. CSIRO is part of a technology start-up that will develop and commercialise battery-based storage solutions for these energy sources.



Super Soaker Inventor Hopes to Double Solar Efficiency
Posted by timothy on Wednesday January 09, @06:32PM
from the if-they-get-too-hot-we-can-super-soak-them dept.
mattnyc99 writes
"With top geeks saying photovoltaic cells are still four years away from costing as much as the grid, and the first U.S. thermal power plant just getting into production, there's plenty of solar hype without any practical solution that's efficient enough. Until Lonnie Johnson came along. The man who invented the Super Soaker water gun turns out to be a nuclear engineer who's developed a solid-state heat engine that converts the sun's heat to electricity at 60-percent efficiency—double the rate of the next most successful solar process. And his innovation, called the Johnson Thermoelectric Energy Conversion (JTEC) system, is getting funding from the National Science Foundation, so this is no toy. From the article: 'If it proves feasible, drastically reducing the cost of solar power would only be a start. JTEC could potentially harvest waste heat from internal combustion engines and combustion turbines, perhaps even the human body. And no moving parts means no friction and fewer mechanical failures.'"
Cheaper Solar, Battery-Free Devices and Nano-Energy Coming Soon, Top Geeks Say

WASHINGTON — A big focus here at the IEEE’s IEDM conference has been on devices for energy harvesting—sometimes called energy scavenging. Essentially, they can produce their own electricity from ambient sources. This “free energy” comes from solar, vibration, pressure and temperature gradients, as well as human power (solar obviously being the most well known and technologically developed of the bunch).

Richard Swanson of SunPower Corporation spoke today to give an update on solar photovoltaic technology, predicting that panels should reach $1.50 per watt—what he called the “magic number,” because it represents price parity with the electrical grid—by 2012. For the record, that’s three years earlier than many in the industry have predicted. According to Swanson, two of the main challenges confronting photovoltaics are a shortage of silicon and a lack of efficiency as scientists try to push toward the theoretical limit of 29 percent.

After Swanson, the University of California at Berkeley’s Jan Rabaey discussed the state of “Disappearing Electronics,” super low-power devices that need no batteries or outside power supply, instead relying upon microgenerators. These generators could be used in implantable medical devices such as pacemakers (because having extra surgeries for battery replacement is uncomfortable, to say the least) as well as low power sensors for industrial use.

The repurposing of motion energy for devices is hardly new—self-winding watches have been using human movement for years, and several companies, such as Lightning Switch and Ad Hoc electronics, sell battery-free wireless light switches that convert the energy of a button push into a wireless signal. Rabaey showed some of his own work on battery-free tire pressure sensors, and he’s currently developing a next-generation “intelligent tire” with cymbal transducers that convert impact acceleration into power for sensors. Such tires could measure all aspects of tire performance in real time.

The real heady stuff came in the form of nanogenerators. Two types were discussed at the conference, and required putting on your physics thinking cap for full impact. The first was a DARPA-sponsored project for nanoscale thermoelectric energy harvesting. Basically the idea is to create a thin-film, solid-state heat pump that turns temperature variance directly into electricity—taking advantage of a phenomenon called the Seebeck effect. As with much of this research, the scientists behind it saw an application in implantable biomedical devices, but they also offered an innovative potential use as a layer on top of computer chips. As the chip heats up, it could produce enough power to run a fan on the heat sink that would cool it down. Since heat from computer chips is entirely the product of energy waste, the solution seemed particularly elegant.

The award for craziest idea that just might work goes to Zhong Lin Wang of the Georgia Institute of Technology. He’s experimenting with a piezoelectric nanogenerator, though Wang uses the term Nano-Piezotronics (he’s even trademarked it). What the hell does that mean? Well essentially Wang has created nano-wires out of zinc oxide (pictured above) that create an electric charge when bent. Suspended over these tiny wires is a zigzagging series of electrodes. When vibrations shake the whole setup, the wires act like a brush over the electrodes, sending a stream of electricity. What do they want to use it for? Yes, yes, implantable biomedical devices and sensors for industrial use. I hope that there’s another room full of scientists putting as much thought into how to make those sensors do the job of sensing, because there are a lot of tiny generators coming down the pike that need a home. —Glenn Derene



INL researcher Steven Novack holds a plastic sheet of nanoantenna arrays, created by embossing the antenna structure and depositing a conductive metal in the pattern. Each square contains roughly 260 million antennas. Nanotechnology R&D usually occurs on the centimeter scale, but this INL-patented manufacturing process demonstrates nano-scale features can be produced on a larger scale.
INL 研究者スティーブンNovackは1枚のプラスチックnanoantenna配列を持ちます。そして、アンテナ構造に浮彫りして、パターンで導電性金属を沈澱させることによってつくられます。各々の正方形は、およそ2億6000万のアンテナを含みます。微小工学研究開発は通常センチメートルスケールに起こります、しかし、このINL特許を受けた製造プロセスはナノスケール機能がより大きなスケールで生じられることができることを証明します。

An array of nanoantennas, printed in gold and imaged with a scanning electron microscope. The deposited wire is roughly a thousand atoms thick. A flexible panel of interconnected nanoantennas may one day replace heavy, expensive solar panels.

Harvesting the sun's energy with antennas
By Rachel Courtland, INL science writer

INL researcher Steven Novack holds a plastic sheet of nanoantenna arrays, created by embossing the antenna structure and depositing a conductive metal in the pattern. Each square contains roughly 260 million antennas. Nanotechnology R&D usually occurs on the centimeter scale, but this INL-patented manufacturing process demonstrates nano-scale features can be produced on a larger scale.
INL 研究者スティーブンNovackは1枚のプラスチックnanoantenna配列を持ちます。そして、アンテナ構造に浮彫りして、パターンで導電性金属を沈澱させることによってつくられます。各々の正方形は、およそ2億6000万のアンテナを含みます。微小工学研究開発は通常センチメートルスケールに起こります、しかし、このINL特許を受けた製造プロセスはナノスケール機能がより大きなスケールで生じられることができることを証明します。

Researchers at Idaho National Laboratory, along with partners at Microcontinuum Inc. (Cambridge, MA) and Patrick Pinhero of the University of Missouri, are developing a novel way to collect energy from the sun with a technology that could potentially cost pennies a yard, be imprinted on flexible materials and still draw energy after the sun has set.

The new approach, which garnered two 2007 Nano50 awards, uses a special manufacturing process to stamp tiny square spirals of conducting metal onto a sheet of plastic. Each interlocking spiral "nanoantenna" is as wide as 1/25 the diameter of a human hair.
新しいアプローチ(それは2 2007年のNano50賞を得ました)は、1枚のプラスチックの上へ金属を実行する小さい四角い螺旋に印を押すために、特別な製造プロセスを使用します。各々の連動している螺旋「nanoantenna」は、1/25と同じくらい広く、人間の髪の直径です。

Because of their size, the nanoantennas absorb energy in the infrared part of the spectrum, just outside the range of what is visible to the eye. The sun radiates a lot of infrared energy, some of which is soaked up by the earth and later released as radiation for hours after sunset. Nanoantennas can take in energy from both sunlight and the earth's heat, with higher efficiency than conventional solar cells.

"I think these antennas really have the potential to replace traditional solar panels," says physicist Steven Novack, who spoke about the technology in November at the National Nano Engineering Conference in Boston.

Taking antennas to the atomic level
The miniscule circuits absorb energy just like the antenna on your television or in your cell phone. All antennas work by resonance, the same self-reinforcing physical phenomenon that allows a high note to shatter glass. Radio and television antennas must be large because of the wavelength of energy they need to pick up. In theory, making antennas that can absorb electromagnetic radiation closer to what we can see is simple: just engineer a smaller antenna.

But finding an efficient way to stamp out arrays of atom-scale spirals took a number of years. "It's not that this concept is new," Novack says, "but the boom in nanotechnology is what has really made this possible." The INL team envisions the antennas might one day be produced like foil or plastic wrap on roll-to-roll machinery. So far, they have demonstrated the imprinting process with six-inch circular stamps, each holding more than 10 million antennas.

It wasn't immediately obvious the structures might be used for solar power. At first, the researchers considered pairing the antennas with conventional solar cells to make them more efficient. "Then we thought to start from scratch," Novack says. "We realized we could make the antennas into their own energy harvesters."

An economical alternative
Commercial solar panels usually transform less that 20 percent of the usable energy that strikes them into electricity. Each cell is made of silicon and doped with exotic elements to boost its efficiency. "The supply of processed silicon is lagging, and they only get more expensive," Novack says. He hopes solar nanoantennas will be a more efficient and sustainable alternative.

The team estimates individual nanoantennas can absorb close to 80 percent of the available energy. The circuits themselves can be made of a number of different conducting metals, and the nanoantennas can be printed on thin, flexible materials like polyethylene, a plastic that's commonly used in bags and plastic wrap. In fact, the team first printed antennas on plastic bags used to deliver the Wall Street Journal, because they had just the right thickness.

By focusing on readily available materials and rapid manufacturing from inception, Novack says, the aim is to make nanoantenna arrays as cheap as inexpensive carpet.
初めからすぐに利用できる材料と迅速な製造に集中することによって ― Novackが、言う ― 狙いは、nanoantenna配列を安価なカーペットと同じくらい安くすることです。

Fine-tuning fine structures
The real trick to making the solar nanoantenna panels is to be able to predict their properties and perfect their design before printing them in the factory. While it is relatively easy to work out the physics of one resonating antenna, complex interactions start to happen when multiple antennas are combined. When hit with the right frequency of infrared light, the antennas also produce high-energy electromagnetic fields that can have unexpected effects on the materials.

So the researchers are developing a computer model of resonance in the tiny structures, looking for ways to fine-tune the efficiency of an entire array by changing factors like materials and antenna shape. "The ability to model these antennas is what's going to make us successful, because we can't see these things," Novack says. "They're hard to manipulate, and small tweaks are going to make big differences."

A charged future
One day, Novack says, these nanoantenna collectors might charge portable battery packs, coat the roofs of homes and, perhaps, even be integrated into polyester fabric. Double-sided panels could absorb a broad spectrum of energy from the sun during the day, while the other side might be designed to take in the narrow frequency of energy produced from the earth's radiated heat.
ある日 ― Novackが、言う ― これらのnanoantennaコレクターは携帯用のバッテリーパックを満たすかもしれなくて、家の屋根をおおうかもしれなくて、おそらく、ポリエステルファブリックに融和さえするかもしれません。向こう側が地球の放射された熱から作り出されるエネルギーのぎりぎりの頻度を理解するようになるかもしれない間、両面パネルは日中太陽から広い範囲のエネルギーを吸収することができました。

While the nanoantennas are easily manufactured, a crucial part of the process has yet to be fully developed: creating a way to store or transmit the electricity. Although infrared rays create an alternating current in the nanoantenna, the frequency of the current switches back and forth ten thousand billion times a second. That's much too fast for electrical appliances, which operate on currents that oscillate only 60 times a second. So the team is exploring ways to slow that cycling down, possibly by embedding energy conversion devices like tiny capacitors directly into the antenna structure as part of the nanoantenna imprinting process.

"At this point, these antennas are good at capturing energy, but they're not very good at converting it," says INL engineer Dale Kotter, "but we have very promising exploratory research under way." Kotter and Novack are also exploring ways to transform the high-frequency alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC) that can be stored in batteries. One potential candidate is high-speed rectifiers, special diodes that would sit at the center of each spiral antenna and convert the electricity from AC to DC. The team has a patent pending on a variety of potential energy conversion methods. They anticipate they are only a few years away from creating the next generation of solar energy collectors.




2008年1月21日、アラブ首長国連邦(UAE)のアブダビ(Abu Dhabi)で開幕した代替エネルギーに関する国際会議「World Future Energy Summit」の開会式で発表された二酸化炭素(CO2)排出量ゼロの都市「マスダール・シティー(Masdar City)」の完成予想図。(c)AFP/Karim SAHIB
【1月22日 AFP】アラブ首長国連邦(UAE)のアブダビ(Abu Dhabi)首長国で、世界初となる二酸化炭素(CO2)を排出しない「ゼロ・カーボン・シティー」の建設が来月から開始される。アブダビで同日開幕した国際会議「World Future Energy Summit」で開発業者が発表した。
「マスダール・シティー(Masdar City)」と名付けられたこの新都市は 2013年の完成予定で、総面積は6平方キロ、想定人口は5万人。太陽熱発電など再利用可能なエネルギーで都市全体を賄う。「マスダール」はアラビア語で「資源」の意。マスダールの建設に当たるAbu Dhabi Future Energy CompanyADFEC)の担当者はこの都市について、「CO2を排出せず、地球にまったく害を及ぼさない。その上、住民に最高級の生活水準を提供する都市になる」と胸を張る。
 マスダール市内の移動には自動車を一切使用せず、路面電車と自動化された「自動ポッド」を利用するという。ポッドは水平移動するエレベーターのようなもので、口頭で行き先を伝えるだけでその場所に運んでくれるという。 都市設計はフォスター・アンド・パートナーズ(Foster and Partners)が担当。高層ビルがひしめくアブダビ市と異なり、マスダール市内は低層建築物で統一され、すべての建物の屋上にソーラーパネルが設置される。また、海風を利用して砂漠の熱風を防ぎ、隣接するアブダビ国際空港(Abu Dhabi irport)からの騒音は外壁で遮断する。
 新都市の電力は、約3億5000万ドル(約370億円)かけて建設される100メガワット級の太陽熱発電所が供給。将来的には、発電能力を500メガワットまで拡充し、ピーク時の電力供給圧力を緩和する。 さらに、マサチューセッツ工科大学(Massachusetts Institute of Tech-nology、MIT)と共同で、未来のエネルギーを研究する大学も設置されるという。
 マスダール・シティー計画は、2006年にアブダビ首長国政府が発表した「マスダール・イニシアティブ」と呼ばれる構想の一部だが、民間自然保護団体「世界自然保護基金(WWF)」も旗艦プロジェクトと位置づけ参加している。 ADFECのアル・ジャービル(Sultan al-Jaber)CEOは「マスダール」構想の意義について、「代替エネルギーに特化した新しい経済分野」となり、「国家経済にも良い影響を与えるだろう」と語る。 アブダビ首長国にはUAE全体の原油および天然ガスの大半が埋蔵されており、埋蔵量はそれぞれ世界第5位と4位。今後150年間は産出できる見通しだ。しかし、ほかの多くの産油国と同様に、UEAも原油だけに依存する経済からの脱却を図ろうとしている。
2008年1月7日 月曜日
Stanley Reed (BusinessWeek誌、ロンドン支局長)、Reena Jana
米国時間2007年12月13日更新 「Guess Who's Building a Green City」
 アブダビ国際空港の王族専用ターミナルと向かい合って、かつての植栽場がある。今は見る影もなく、1600エーカーの砂地の所々に、みすぼらしい小さな木立が残っているだけだ。だが柵で囲まれた区画では、壮大な都市建設計画が進行している。無尽蔵にも思える富を誇る土地にあって、その計画はひときわ目を引いている。  そこではコンクリートの平板の上で、技術者が太陽熱収集器の試験の準備をしている。これを使って、ペルシャ湾に近いこの砂の荒れ地に建設中の10万人規模の未来都市に電力を供給するためだ。目指すは、地球温暖化の原因となる二酸化炭素(CO2)を一切排出しない、世界初の「ゼロエミッション」都市の建設である。
 何とも皮肉な話である。石油とカネがあふれんばかりの中東の国――アブダビ首長国だけで石油埋蔵量は1000億バレル近い――が、“ポスト石油”時代の未来都市を地球上のどこよりも早く建設しようというのだから。  しかしながら、この都市計画(英ロンドンの設計事務所、フォスター・アンド・パートナーズが手がける)は、アブダビによる常識破りの取り組みの1つにすぎない。この首長国は、再生・持続可能なエネルギー技術に何十億ドルもの資金を投じ、“脱石油”を加速させる産業を新興しようとしているのだ。  これは実に賢明な計画だとプロジェクトを主導する政府系組織のCEO(最高経営責任者)、スルタン・アル・ジャベール氏は言う。アブダビの豊富な石油資源もいつかは枯渇してしまう。「石油や天然ガスで得た収入を、将来主導権を手にできそうな分野に投資することが、アブダビにとっては一番いい」と同氏は言う。
 プロジェクト全体は「マスダル」(アラビア語で“源”)と呼ばれているが、これは太陽を指す。同じくマスダルと呼ばれる新都市は、「アラビアン・ナイト」と「宇宙家族ジェットソン」(注:30世紀の宇宙を舞台にしたホームコメディーアニメ)を合わせたようなものとなる。  アラブの伝統的建築物「ウィンド・タワー(風の塔)」を自然のエアコンとして利用することで都市に風を送り込む。同時に中庭に噴水を設置して散水することで、乾いた暑さに湿気を与える。建物は古来のカスバのように狭い通りに密集させて、華氏120度(摂氏約50度)にもなるアブダビの夏場にもエアコンを余り使わずに済むようにする。一方で最新式の冷却システムなども採り入れていく。「最初から高いエネルギー利用効率を達成する」とアル・ジャベール氏は言う。  主に利用するのは、風力発電ではなく太陽熱発電である。この土地の灼けつくような日射しと気まぐれにしか吹かない風を考えると妥当な選択だ。  都市に入るには、「フェラーリ」や「ポルシェ」を都市を囲む城壁の外に置いていかなければならない。都市内では徒歩か自転車、あるいは自動運転の未来型レールカーを利用する。  アブダビの挑戦はこの環境都市の建設にとどまらない。投資資金2億5000万ドルの大半を、環境技術企業に投資している。対象は、電動モーター式2輪車を製造する米セグウェイ(本社:ニューハンプシャー州ベッドフォード)やソーラー技術メーカー、廃水浄化処理会社などだ。  新たに10億ドルの基金の計画も進んでいる。英BP(BP)の前CEOで、現在はエネルギー専門のプライベートエクイティ(未上場株)投資会社リバーストーン・ホールディングス(本社:米ニューヨーク)の共同経営者であるジョン・ブラウン卿は、12月9日マスダル幹部と会談し、提携の可能性を話し合った。リバーストーンは米投資ファンド大手カーライル・グループと密接な関係にある。カーライル株式の7.5%を保有するムバダラ・デベロップメントは、アブダビ政府が100%出資する投資会社でマスダルの親会社だ。
 アル・ジャベール氏は、再生可能エネルギーの分野で、研究から大規模生産まで手広く手がけていきたいと考えている。そうすれば代替エネルギー関連の企業が資金潤沢な投資家を求めて次々に集まってくることは間違いない。  マスダル幹部によると、これまでより安価な薄膜太陽電池パネルの生産に関する5億ドルの契約が間もなく成立する見込みだという。世界の太陽エネルギー産業の中心地ドイツとアブダビに“双子工場”を建設する。これは、マスダルが計画している約20億ドル規模の軽工業プロジェクトの第1弾となる。新都市に必要な300メガワットの太陽エネルギーを供給するためには、10億ドル以上の費用が必要になると見られている。  さらに緑化計画には別の利点もある。質の高い雇用機会の創出だ。アブダビの人口は現在わずか180万人だが、急速に増加しているためこうした機会が必要になるのは明らかだ。族長とその側近は、世界的な地球温暖化対策への貢献は、極めて重要で崇高な動機づけになると考えている。アブダビはこうした環境対策での実績を訴えようと、2008年1月下旬に3日間にわたる世界未来エネルギーサミットを開催する。  前途には数々の試練が待ち受けている。大きな問題は、十分な数の優れた科学者、技術者、起業家をアブダビに呼び寄せることができるかどうかだ。アブダビのわずかな人口では、技術的進歩に依存する産業を発展させていく有能な人材を確保することは難しい。人的資源を大幅に拡充しないと、マスダル・プロジェクトはアラブではよくある外見は立派だが中身は空っぽの建物になりかねない。
 だがアブダビがマスダル・プロジェクトを成功させれば、地球全体にとっても大きな利益となるだろうと外部の専門家は言う。  「このゼロエミッション都市の建設から、学べることは非常に多い」と言うのはロン・パーニック氏だ。サンフランシスコとオレゴン州ポートランドに拠点を持つコンサルティング会社、米クリーン・エッジの共同設立者である。アブダビによる努力の成果は、毎年マンハッタン2つ分に相当する都市が誕生している中国にも応用できると同氏は言う。  マスダル・プロジェクトは、ムハンマド・ビン・ザーイド・アル・ナヒヤンアブダビ皇太子の肝いりで2004年に始まった。皇太子は側近に命じて、活気を失っていたアブダビを活性化し、経済を多様化させるための方法を考案させたのである。  同時にこの計画は、隣国の競争相手ドバイから世間の注目を奪う機会にもなった。ドバイはアブダビとは異なり、金融サービスへの投資に力を入れている。両首長国同士のライバル意識は根が深い。例えば、12月7日に米国のポップスター、ジャスティン・ティンバーレイクがドバイでコンサートを予定していたが、アブダビ政府関係者が介入して開催地をアブダビに変更するということがあった。コンサートの主催者はマスダルの親会社だった。
 最高のアーティストだけではなく、最高の知性を呼び寄せることにもアブダビは熱意を注いでいる。既にマスダルは、米マサチューセッツ工科大学(MIT)と提携して、小規模な研究大学「マスダル科学技術研究所」の設立を計画している。再生可能エネルギー技術を専門とする同研究所は、新都市で先陣を切って活動を開始、2009年秋には学生100人、教職員30人を受け入れる計画だ。  MITがカリキュラムを作成し、米デラウェア大学の元学長ラッセル・C・ジョーンズ博士が教師陣を束ねる。ジョーンズ博士は、72歳で再び学長への就任を決意した理由として、「今の時代で最も困難で、最も重要な課題の1つと取り組んでいくためだ」と述べている。
© 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.




Nature Nanotechnology / Stanford
Photomicrographs show silicon nanowires before andafter charging (left and right, respectively).

Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2008 8:20 PM by Alan Boyle
If you've ever rushed to save your files before your laptop battery gave out, or scrambled to recharge your iPod, or wished out loud for the resurrection of the electric car ... relief is in sight.Yet another battery breakthrough is on its way to market, taking its place alongside improved hybrid-electric vehicles, the promise of ultracapacitor systems and even better AA power cells.
Next-generation batteries could well last several times as long as current power packs, thanks to nanotechnology."This idea will have a really high impact on battery technology," said Stanford chemist Yi Cui, who is the lead researcher behind a study appearing in this month's issue of Nature Nanotechnology. "This is really revolutionary."The key innovation involves using silicon nanowires instead of the usual carbon to store energy in a lithium-ion battery's anode.Silicon has more than 10 times as much charge capacity as carbon. If commercial batteries could live up to that performance level, you could theoretically be running your laptop for 20 to 40 hours straight rather than the typical two to four hours. An electric car could go 400 miles on a charge rather than 40 miles.Of course, the reality is more complex than the theory. But more about that later. The first question is whether this technology is actually for real. If silicon is that good at storing electrical energy, why isn't it being used already?That's where nanotechnology makes the difference: For years, engineers have been trying to harness silicon electrodes for battery applications. But the problem with silicon is that its volume bulks up by a factor of four when you add the lithium - and then shrinks by the same factor when power is extracted. That quickly pulverizes an electrode made of silicon film or particles, rendering the battery useless.Cui and his colleagues took a different approach: They grew nanowires of silicon directly on a stainless-steel plate. Each wire was about 90 nanometers wide, or a thousandth of the width of the typical human hair. When the filaments were filled with lithium-ion power, they thickened up and lengthened into curls, like tiny spongeworms - but they retained their resiliency through dozens of power cycles."This idea really made these silicon materials possible to be used in battery technology," Cui said.Challenges still lie ahead: First of all, Cui's team focused on retooling the anode, which is just one of the electrodes in a battery. To get the full tenfold improvement, Cui told me, "you would need to improve also the other electrode ... but with one electrode improvement, you can improve a lot already." For example, you could make the anode smaller, leaving more space for a bigger cathode.Cui's team also found that there was a one-time capacity drain after the first charge. But that's no biggie. The nanowires' storage capacity was still about eight times higher than carbon, Cui said. "This won't prevent this technology from going forward," he said.On the plus side, silicon-nanowire batteries wouldn't have to look like the battery bricks that are typically used in laptops or cell phones. "It's a fundamentally different structure from the current technology," Cui said. And that could result in batteries that are better-shaped to conform to the available space.Cui said a patent application has been filed for the technology, and he's considering starting up a company to commercialize the concept. So when might silicon-nanowire batteries hit the market? "I'm thinking in the next three to five years," Cui said.Some companies are already knocking on the lab door. Cui acknowledged that Tesla Motors, the company working on an all-electric sports car, is just one of the outfits expressing interest. "There are lots," Cui told me, "but it's better not to mention their names now."To learn more about Cui's work, check out this interview at and this story in The Stanford Daily. In addition to Cui, the authors of the Nature Nanotechnology paper include Candace Chan, Halin Peng and Robert Huggins of Stanford University, Gao Liu of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Kevin McIlwrath and Xiao Feng Zhang of Hitachi High Technologies.