New videos: All about the Volt
Electric vehicles were the rage at the recent North American Auto Show in Detroit, but you might want to consider how to power one up before taking it home. An expert from General Motors demonstrates the procedure for charging the Chevy Volt's batteries at http://eetweb.com/video/applications/charging-chevy-volt-1118/. Other new videos delve into the Volt's hydrocarbon control and suspension, energy monitor, and braking and cooling systems.
Personal power for portable devices
From the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, a Texas Instruments engineer talks about new power-management techniques for charging portable devices with wireless and solar technologies. See it at www.engineeringtv.com/video/Alternative-New-Portable-Device.
Zero-Max has expanded its line of wind-turbine couplings. They are built to handle load spikes, remain torsionally stiff even when misaligned, with torque capacity is as high as 100,000 Nm. Composite disks electrically insulate the generator from the gearbox, and the units withstand moisture and environmental extremes from -40 to 70°C. Learn more at www.zero-max.com.
NEMA launches Vids for Grids
The National Electrical Manufacturers Assn. has launched its “Vids for Grids” program with two videos that introduce Smart Grid concepts to engineers. “Switchgear” explains how to efficiently control high voltage and large currents in industrial facilities; “Surge arresters” shows how distribution arresters and ground lead disconnectors improve grid reliability. They are available at www.youtube.com/vids4grids.
High-accuracy solar positioning
WAGO Corp.'s (www.wago.us) free solar positioning function block (SPFB) reportedly increases concentrator efficiency by letting mirrors track the sun's arc within 0.02°. The SPFB relies on inputs such as location, atmospheric pressure, elevation, and time, and outputs control motors to optimize mirror position. Also available is a function block that aligns PV panels with the sun.
Social network for photovoltaics
The Festo Engineering Network (http://fen.festo.com) helps photovoltaic specialists exchange ideas about trends and developments in the wafer-based solar industry. It facilitates contacts between leading manufacturers and scientists from Germany's Fraunhofer Institute, and a database provides up-to-date applications, reports, and studies available for free download.