September 2008

Automation by the Numbers


U.S demand for sensor products (sensors, transducers, and associated housings) will increase 4.3% annually to $12.7 billion in 2012. Motor vehicles will support a large portion of the increase. MEMS (micro electromechanical systems)-based and imaging sensors will see the fastest gains. Process variable sensors will continue to be the largest product type, although these sensors will grow at below-average rates.


In Primary Colors, John Travolta threw his cell phone out the window over connectivity frustration. State legislatures see phone usage so distracting that laws pass prohibiting the practice while driving. Enter hands-free electronic services. Ford Motor Co. has formed a new technology team to step up the automaker's efforts to give consumers more hands-free electronic services through their vehicles. The strategy builds on the success of its SYNC system that integrates a wireless cellular phone service with a variety of in-car music and GPS navigation systems. The cost is around $750.


Cow power could generate electricity for millions: Converting livestock manure into a domestic renewable fuel source could generate enough electricity to meet up to 3% of North America's entire consumption needs and lead to a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, according to U.S. research published in August.


Rising costs for fuel, feed, and fertilizer propelled grain prices to all-time highs in June, raising the overall price of crops and livestock by 16% this year compared to last year. Corn and soybeans hit record prices. Wheat slipped from historic highs in March but is still up steeply from last year, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report. Grain prices gained 42% for the year overall.


Countries and states around the world have set goals for how much renewable energy is to be a part of their total energy use budget. Renewable power generation covers a wide range of technologies including wind, solar (photovoltaic and thermal), biofuels, hydro, wave harvesting, geothermal, and even high-energy physics. Texas plans to have 10% of its power coming from renewable sources by year 2025. The European Union plans for 20% renewable by 2020. Sweden said a whopping 60% by 2020.