January/February 2012
Automation Update

Automation by the Numbers


Three industrial combustible dust accidents that killed five workers and seriously injured three over five months last year at a Tennessee manufacturer were entirely preventable and underscore the need for national dust regulations, concludes an investigative report released in January by the Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board (CSB). The facility manufactures a fine (45-150 µm) iron powder used to make parts for the auto industry. It employs 180 workers and is owned by GKN, a U.K. engineering firm. The board found combustible dust piled up to four inches deep at the factory in an environment that used hydrogen and found the facility even flared the explosive gas inside the plant. Among its recommendations, CSB urges OSHA to propose a national combustible dust standard for U.S. industries within one year.


Volkswagen is going after the heart of the hybrid market in the U.S. with the new Jetta Hybrid that will complement the existing Jetta TDI. The Jetta Hybrid makes uses of a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that generates 150hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. The gasoline engine is paired with a 27 kWh electric motor, lithium-ion battery pack, and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Total system output is a respectable 170hp. The Jetta Hybrid is capable of climbing to 60mph in less than nine seconds, can travel up to 1.2 miles on battery power alone, and can accelerate up to 44mph on battery power. Estimated combined fuel economy for the Jetta Hybrid is 45mpg.



ABB won an order worth around $160 million from Svenska Kraftnät, the national grid operator, to provide a new high-voltage underground cable system for the South-West Link power transmission project in southern Sweden. When completed in 2014, this will be the longest and most powerful underground cable link in the world. The main objective of the new transmission system is to enhance capacity and strengthen the reliability of the national power grid. ABB's underground high-voltage direct current cable system will have the capacity to transport 2 x 660 megawatts of electric power at a voltage level of 300 kilovolts across a distance of about 200 kilometers between Barkaryd and Hurva in southern Sweden.

-Courtesy of Automation.com


Scientists are reporting discovery of an improved way to remove carbon dioxide-the major greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming-from smokestacks and other sources, including the atmosphere. Existing methods for removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from smokestacks and other sources, including the atmosphere, are energy intensive, do not work well, and have other drawbacks. In an effort to overcome such obstacles, the group turned to solid materials based on polyethylenimine, a readily available and inexpensive polymeric material. Tests showed these inexpensive materials achieved some of the highest CO2 removal rates ever reported for humid air, under conditions that stymie other related materials. After capturing carbon dioxide, the materials give it up easily so the CO2 can be used in making other substances or permanently isolated from the environment. The capture material then can be recycled and reused many times over without losing efficiency.