Industrial Electronics

Video: Natural Heat Sources, Lockheed Martin Tidal Turbines, Industry 4.0, and More

01 November 2016

A college campus swaps out fuel oil for biofuel for heating. We’ll show you how an Indiana plant is adopting Industry 4.0. And Lockheed Martin dives deep to generate electricity. Rich Northrup brings you your weekly news brief.

A Keene Idea for Campus Heating

Keene State College in New Hampshire is heating its campus with 100% purified waste vegetable oil. The biofuel is a product of a refinement process used by a New England-based producer. The carbon-neutral vegetable oil currently heats about one-third of the campus, and administrators say they plan to increase use of the biofuel to heat a greater share of the campus in the coming years. College officials say the move to waste vegetable oil for heating purposes and away from No. 6 heating fuel oil is motivated both by the desire to meet campus sustainability and climate commitments and to cultivate a more diversified heating fuel portfolio. The college says the waste vegetable oil, with renewable energy incentives, is available at a cost on par with the fuel oil that was previously used. College officials are now making plans to recycle the campus' own cooking oil for use as heating oil.

Industry 4.0 at an Indiana Plant

For-ee-see-a recently opened a $64 million factory in Indiana that it says will take an Industry 4.0 approach production. The factory will make anti-pollution systems for truck engine maker Cummins, supplying a nearby plant. The data-driven, 400,000-square-foot manufacturing facility will employ 450 people and produce a high-tech emissions control product. The manufacturing process in the new facility will use autonomous intelligent vehicles that can move parts to the assembly line. The vehicles are self-learning and can pause and adjust their routes whenever objects or people are in the way. Other technologies that will be in use will include a laser scanning system to track parts and determine if they are being made to specifications; collaborative robots; and, radio frequency identification systems to track parts.

Lockheed Martin’s Deep Dive for Energy

A business unit of Lockheed Martin Corp. will create tidal turbines for energy production. Part of the idea behind developing the AR1500 tidal turbine is to apply Lockheed Martin’s military knowledge to civilian markets. Design of the turbine was completed by Lockheed Martin in 2014, according to a report from Bloomberg news. Tidal turbines resemble underwater windmills, except that rotors are driven by consistent, fast-moving currents. This causes the rotors to harness the power of the currents to drive generators, which produce electricity. The AR1500 will have a rated capacity of 1.5 megawatts at tidal flows of 3 meters per second. It is intended to withstand conditions likely to exist in the Pentland Firth in Scotland and the Bay of Fundy in Canada.

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