Saturday, January 21, 2017

Programação API Autodesk Inventor

Programação API Autodesk Inventor

Forge DevCon 2017 - Change of date and venue

Posted: 20 Jan 2017 12:28 PM PST

The Autodesk Forge DevCon conference, originally scheduled for June 27-28 in San Francisco, will now be held on November 13-14 in Las Vegas.

One time. One location. Two great conferences.

We received feedback from many of last year's Forge DevCon attendees that it was hard to travel to two Autodesk conferences in a year. This change will allow you to attend Forge DevCon and Autodesk University in Las Vegas in a single trip. There will be DevCon-only, AU-only, and AU+DevCon ticketing options available.

Because the conference will now be held five months later, we have postponed the Call For Proposals and attendee registration.

New Date. New Location. Same Great Experience.

Last year, our first Forge DevCon offered two-days of the most up-to-date training, technologies, news, and insights around design, simulation, reality capture, AR, VR, and IoT. It was an indispensable experience for anyone working with the Forge platform.
At this year's event you can expect more of the same. Only more so.
Stay tuned for updates and please visit the Forge DevCon 2017 site to learn more.
If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact us at

Friday, January 20, 2017

“A digital transformation trailblazer in the High-Tech industry” plus 1 more

“A digital transformation trailblazer in the High-Tech industry” plus 1 more

A digital transformation trailblazer in the High-Tech industry

Posted: 20 Jan 2017 08:28 AM PST

By Olivier RIBET, VP, High-Tech Industry

Ever since the world discovered the first smartphone in 1992 (remember Simon?) the world has experienced 20 years of technology breakthroughs that have transformed the very nature of communications and exchanges. Mobile devices are proliferating at a dizzying pace enabling billions of people to interact with one other and with data in general. Machines communicate with other machines in the fast-growing age of the Internet of Things (IoT). The Cloud enables people and businesses to access shared resources, data and services on-demand, avoiding upfront IT investments, scaling up and down their information system. This hyper-connectivity is revolutionizing the way we work, play, shop, take the bus, plan a vacation, drive a car, entertain ourselves, eat, …. The implications are simply mind-boggling.

A hyper-connected world creates new opportunities to solve some of man's biggest challenges:

  • Growing urban populations require solutions to address life quality issues such as traffic management, environmentally-friendly constructions, intelligent mobility solutions, security,
  • Provide connectivity solutions for developing countries to aid in their progress,
  • Bring globally dispersed businesses closer together through efficient networking,
  • Reduce raw material consumption, waste and obsolescence of products.

A society to reach one's full potential

Swedish telecom giant, Ericsson, calls this the Networked Society where communication technologies create new possibilities and behaviors that empower people to reach their full potential. At the core of the Networked Society is a transformation of the way we interact with the world and the world with us. Information and communication technologies (ICT) developed by Ericsson are a driving force in this hyper-connected age. Consider some interesting facts:

  • 40% of all mobile traffic in the world uses networks supplied by Ericsson,
  • 5 billion mobile subscribers are supported by Ericsson,
  • Ericsson has 39,000 patents (it invented Bluetooth by the way).

Yet as technologies progress so do society's needs, giving rise to newer technologies. Businesses at every level are feeling the pressure of the digital disruption brought on by 5G, IoT and the Cloud pushing them to implement the necessary transformations in their companies to satisfy the world's rapidly changing demands.

ICT providers like Ericsson are facing stiff competition to develop and deliver products and services at such an accelerated pace. Moreover, the fact that mobile systems are governed by global standards (developed by Ericsson and the telecom industry together) forces product functionality to meet the standards. Plus, at the core of their innovation process, they need to continuously leverage the potential of their globally-dispersed teams, manage rich product portfolios, drive open innovation on a large scale, while securing Intellectual Property.

Carving the path to the telco industry's digital transformation

After an extensive period comparing and benchmarking thoroughly major PLM and IT vendors on the market, evaluating their products and the companies themselves from all angles, Ericsson decided to take its industry's lead with an ambitious and comprehensive digital transformation of its activities – internally and in the way it interacts with its ecosystem. Every company process will be impacted by this transformation – R&D, marketing, purchasing, sales, administration, as well as supplier and partner relationship management.

To drive this transformation, Ericsson is intensifying its partnership with Dassault Systèmes by adopting the 3DEXPERIENCE platform and the Business Operation Excellence industry solution experience as the company's product data foundation. This will replace its existing mainframe environment and disparate legacy solutions. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform will deliver and manage end-to-end digital continuity across all functions at Ericsson.

"We are talking about a business transformation," said Joakim Cerwall, PLM sponsor and head of PLCM operations at Ericsson. "What we are trying to do is create an end-to-end digital thread and the choice of Dassault Systèmes' 3DEXPERIENCE platform on the PLM side is a reflection of this."

"We're dealing with a core process of Ericsson," Johan Thorstensson, Ericsson CIO added. "We can't bet on new technology that doesn't work. We looked at many cases where companies are using this platform; references have been essential."

A great 30 min presentation Johan Thorstensson gave to Dassault Systèmes employees in October 2016 outlines the strategic choice for the strong partnership. This breakthrough decision will deliver numerous benefits for both sides:

  • Ericsson reduces its costs as legacy software is more expensive to maintain and upgrade,
  • Ericsson gains in efficiency and data continuity since everyone works with the same tools,
  • Ericsson benefits from a unified, digital environment that enables easy and secure access to hardware, software, and service information from anywhere and at any time improving transparency, traceability, reporting, and collaborative innovation,
  • Dassault Systèmes wins a major service reference in the telco industry that will showcase the power of its 3DEXPERIENCE platform to deliver ambitious and sustainable change.

Big bang

Ericsson's transformation will be a phased process with an initial milestone slated for July 2017. This is when 25,000 R&D employees will switch from the old system to the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. Following what Ericsson calls this "big bang", the company will progressively give access to a large part of its employees -technical and non-technical people – for a total of nearly 60 000 employees worldwide. Ericsson expects to profit primarily from IT savings in the first year with big business savings and improved efficiencies down the line in year two, three and four. This is when the telco giant expects to obtain the most value from its investment thanks to a more streamlined development process.

Dassault Systèmes will take the lead in implementing Ericsson's transformation, supported by IBM as services integrator. We are proud to accompany Ericsson in this journey and to partner with the company in its digital transformation, which will allow it to leverage the surge in the world's IoT data traffic and machine-to-machine communications. It's all about providing the world with more compelling and engaging experiences. With Dassault Systèmes' technologies, new solutions can be invented to make our cities and devices smarter, manufacturing more efficient and social networking more fluid. It is inspirational to see companies like Ericsson question the old way of doing things by digitally transforming its processes to face the challenges that lie ahead in this age of experience.

Watch the full story!

Inspire others to question the status quo. Why not share this story with your peers and partners?

Next-Generation Factories Need Next-Generation Engineers

Posted: 20 Jan 2017 05:51 AM PST


As manufacturers prioritize the search for new ways to eliminate waste and raise productivity, technology is a critical piece of the puzzle.  The Industrial Internet of Things, robotics and additive manufacturing – to name just a few – are increasingly vital to the success of both products and the bottom line.  Factories of the future – also known as Smart Factories or Industry 4.0 – are marked by humans and technology working together in a way that seamlessly combines the virtual and physical worlds.  But…are the humans in this equation up to the task?

Many experts argue that answer is not yet, and that engineering education needs a fresh approach in order to meet the skills demanded by this new environment.  Entirely new business models are emerging as the virtual world becomes more tightly integrated with the physical world.  The next generation of engineers must be taught in an interdisciplinary way, so that they understand not just their specific area of expertise, but how it fits into the other disciplines it takes to bring a product to market in the fastest and most effective way.  They also benefit from an approach that mimics that virtual collaboration and cross-cultural teams that are found in the working model of most organizations today.  If students are not educated in a way that considers the global, interdisciplinary teams that are a hallmark of the modern factory, they'll have to learn on the job which drags down productivity.

Compass magazine recently explored these challenges in an article entitled, Factory of the Future.  Check it out to read about innovative programs being established at educational institutions around the world – specifically Germany, France, India and the US – in order to turn out next-generation engineers.  It takes a look at how more school programs are bringing in current manufacturing practitioners to learn more about what is needed in their businesses, and help design learning environments that can best prepare students for the high-level technical skills as well as the collaboration mindset needed to excel in today's factory model.

Dassault Systèmes is proudly partnering with some of these institutions to help them train future engineers on the digital technologies and business processes that they'll need to work in these future factories.  Check out a recent program with l'Université de Lorraine.

What do you think tomorrow's engineers most need to learn before entering the workforce?  Are there some specific skills that should be taught that would benefit your organization or your country's manufacturing goals?  Let us know in the comments below!



Images © Ute Grabowsky /Getty Images) and ©iStock

Autocad Interface

Autocad Interface

Autodesk Neuchatel’s VR room will soon be open for business!

Posted: 20 Jan 2017 07:49 AM PST

The work is nearly complete on the VR showroom in Autodesk's Neuchatel office. Before the big unveiling – which will probably happen early next week, although it'll probably be a month before the last furniture shows up – I thought I'd share a few snaps taken during the complete build process. Here's a photo of the original space. The two adjoining walls in the far corner are just partition walls, at this stage. Independently of the room being built, the decision was made to make these walls more permanent. So the first phase was to build permanent walls on...

Programação API Autodesk Inventor

Programação API Autodesk Inventor

January 2017 Fusion Update

Posted: 19 Jan 2017 08:53 PM PST

There are several new enhancements in this update and a couple that open some new doors on what can be done with the Fusion API.

  1. The first of these is the ability to customize the context menu, or as it's called in Fusion, the marking menu. You do this by responding to the MarkingMenuDisplaying event which is fired just before the marking menu is shown to the user. Here, you have a chance to find out what's currently selected in the UI (which is what defines the context) and then add and remove commands from the linear and radial marking menus. Below is an example where a new custom "Design Notes" command is being added to the marking menu when the user right-clicks on the root component.

  2. There are a couple of breaking changes in this release that we decided to go ahead and make because the functionality being changed is new and/or we believe the likelihood of impact on existing code to be very low. These are:

    • The various add methods to create new sketch dimensions have a new "isDriving" argument to allow you to create driving or driven dimensions. This is an optional argument with the default value being True to create a driving dimension, which is the same as before. Because it's an optional argument that defaults to the same result as before, there is no impact to Python or JavaScript programs because they're interpreted and will automatically use the optional argument. C++ code will need to be recompiled.

    • In the last update we added some changes to bring the API in sync with the user-interface for creating extrusions. There were a couple of mistakes that we need to clean up in this update. The first is that the taperAngleOne and taperAngleTwo properties were typed to return a base.Core object. This has been corrected so they're typed to return a ModelParameter object.

      The second issue is that there were two settings to control the direction of a through-all extent extrusion which was confusing. We've removed the "isPositiveDirection" argument from the create method of the ThroughAllExtentDefinition class. If you've used this you'll need to update your code to remove setting that argument and continue to use the "direction" argument on the setOneSideExtent method of the ExtrudeFeatureInput object.

  3. With the recent changes to the Extrude feature the API to create extrusions got quite a bit more complicated. However, we recognized that even though the feature is more powerful and provides a lot more capabilities, the majority of the time people still create simple finite extrusions. To make this more common workflow easier, we've added a new addSimple. method to the ExtrudeFeatures collection. This makes creating an extrusion much simpler than it ever was before with a single API call.

  4. Fusion recently added the ability to choose which bodies will be affected when creating certain features; extrude, hole, loft, revolve, and sweep. The input objects for each of those features and the feature objects themselves all now support a "participantBodies" property that lets you specify the set of bodies that will participate in the feature. The default is that all visible bodies that intersect the feature will be used, which was also the previous default so existing programs shouldn't see any change of behavior.

  5. An entirely new feature in this update is the ability for an add-in to fire an event to itself. This may seem like a strange thing to do but it opens up some new capabilities for some add-ins. Because all add-ins run in the main thread of Fusion, when the add-in code is actively executing everything else is blocked. This behavior is typical of most applications that have a user-interface. Changes to Fusion data, (both interactively and through the API), is done by code running in the main thread. However, there are cases where an add-in wants to do some separate work outside of Fusion and doesn't want to block the user interacting with Fusion while this work occurs. It's possible to create a new thread where this separate work can happen so the main thread isn't blocked but it hasn't been possible for that worker thread to communicate back to the add-in in the main thread. This new event provides that capability. See the new Working in a Separate Thread topic in the user manual for more information.

  6. A new command input to allow the user to enter an angle, both in a command dialog and in the graphics window is now supported. The AngleValueCommandInput will allow you to create an input like that used to define the angle in the Revolve feature command, like shown below.


  7. In response to ross.korsky's question in the forum we've added a new deleteEntities method on the Design object. This takes in an array of entities and deletes them all at once which is much simpler and faster than deleting them one at a time, which is what you had to do before. This is similar to selecting several entities and pressing the Delete key in the user-interface.

  8. We've also fixed several issues we found in our testing and the following problems that were reported on the forum.

    • darinAZY43 reported a problem where the creation of Patch features was failing when the input curves were non-planar. This has now been fixed.

    • GeoffPacker7777 reported a problem where the setByDistanceOnPath method of the ConstructionPlaneInput object was not allowing a Path as input but only single entities. This has now been fixed.

    • It was reported that TableCommandInputs don't work correctly when your command dialog has tabs with tables on each tab. This has now been fixed.


Novidades GraphicSpeak

Novidades GraphicSpeak

Business applications will drive VR adoption

Posted: 19 Jan 2017 12:47 PM PST

WorldViz CEO Andrew Beall predicts industrial use will drive adoption of VR in 2018.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Are you ready for 3D-printed shoes?

Are you ready for 3D-printed shoes?

Are you ready for 3D-printed shoes?

Posted: 19 Jan 2017 10:42 AM PST

The footwear industry is no stranger to 3D printing.  Many shoe designers use the technology to experiment with prototypes and help visualize new – and often cutting-edge – designs. But how can 3D printing – also called additive manufacturing – be used in other parts of the industry, such as manufacturing and production?

This is the focus of a recent article in Compass, The Right Fit.

Could 3D printing allow for the easy manufacturing of personalized footwear?  This is a goal for many.  It's no secret that people's feet are not all the same.  We all have had that pair of shoes that we like that doesn't fit quite right, but we bear it because – well, what choice do we have?  According to recent research conducted by New-York based SOLS, 63% of those who buy its products had been wearing an incorrect shoe size.

3D printing could alleviate that compromise between comfort and fashion.  And it's not just the fit that can be easily adjusted, but consumers can change features at little to no cost.

Another benefit? Virtually eliminating industrial waste, since 3D printing involves adding layers of materials rather than cutting them out.  It can also address other issues in the footwear industry, such as creating too much inventory and manufacturing imperfections.

But no one claims this will easy or a quick migration.  Check out the full article to read more about the pros and cons of 3D printing in footwear, and then come tell us: are you looking forward to the day when you can design your own shoes, or would you rather stick with the ease of the traditional footwear shopping process?




Images © Julian Fournié and © SOLS

Autocad Interface

Autocad Interface

An update on Autodesk’s VR activities

Posted: 19 Jan 2017 05:59 AM PST

I received an email from a development partner yesterday checking in on Autodesk's VR offerings. It occurred to me that while I've spoken about them at the DevDays in the US and Europe, I haven't posted anything here. So here's some fairly up-do-date information on what technologies Autodesk has in the VR space. The way I've been tending to classify VR offerings in general is around the "distance from the metal": i.e. how much (relatively speaking) of the software stack does the executing code need to go through to get down to the display hardware. This is a somewhat...

Novidades GraphicSpeak

Novidades GraphicSpeak

Palatov Motorsport runs a lean operation with SolidWorks

Posted: 18 Jan 2017 02:21 AM PST

The small maker of high-performance cars for recreational racing created a new suspension system and improved aerodynamics with a team of four. Recreational auto racing is a small industry where enthusiasts and manufacturers form more of a community than is possible in professional racing. Palatov Motorsport of Portland, Oregon has become successful in recreational racing [...]

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Novidades GraphicSpeak

Novidades GraphicSpeak

Materialise and Siemens forge Additive Manufacturing partnership

Posted: 17 Jan 2017 02:54 AM PST

Siemens is fighting for leadership recognition in Industry 4.0 with GE; 3D printing is one battle in a larger war. 3D printing software specialist Materialise NV and Siemens PLM has entered into a partnership to improve the design and manufacture of parts using additive manufacturing. The two companies will work together to integrate Materialise technology [...]

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Autocad Interface

Autocad Interface

Autodesk University has a new neighbour, the Forge DevCon!

Posted: 17 Jan 2017 09:30 AM PST

The big news of the last week or so is that the Forge DevCon – which was held at Fort Mason in San Francisco in 2016 – is moving to Las Vegas for 2017. It will take place on November 13 & 14, i.e. Monday and Tuesday of the Autodesk University week (which in recent years has been when the DevDay and DevLab has happened). This is a good thing, in my opinion. Somewhat selfishly it'll mean less travel for those of us coming across from Europe, but it will also make AU a more compelling, developer-centric event. I've...

Novidades GraphicSpeak

Novidades GraphicSpeak

SolidWorks-based die design tool ports to BricsCAD

Posted: 16 Jan 2017 08:00 AM PST

3D direct modeling and constraints for the .dwg crowd, without a subscription to AutoCAD. A specialized mechanical CAD developer with roots in SolidWorks is now shipping a new version of its progressive die design toolset which works in .dwg-based BricsCAD. The SolidWorks version of DSTools allows tool designers to generate die set designs and a [...]

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Novidades GraphicSpeak

Novidades GraphicSpeak

MSC Software acquisition rumors flying

Posted: 13 Jan 2017 06:44 AM PST

Investors who stayed with MSC when it went private could get a nice payout, even though we think the rumored price is low. Business news sites are reporting officially unconfirmed claims that computer-aided engineering (CAE) developer MSC Software is in talks to be acquired. MSC was a public company from 1983 to 2009. The reports [...]

Thursday, January 12, 2017

“The Re-imagining of Cities” plus 1 more

“The Re-imagining of Cities” plus 1 more

The Re-imagining of Cities

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 08:00 AM PST

The last half-century has seen massive growth in urban populations.  This trend is expected to continue: experts predict 6.5 billion people will live in cities by 2050.  And with all cities covering less than 3% of Earth, overpopulation, overpollution and overburdened infrastructure create significant challenges.  To address this will require a radical rethinking of our relationship with, and to, urban environments, as well as a shift in mindset within the architecture, engineering and construction industries.

Whether you live in a city or a different type of area, most likely you've thought about things you wish you could change.  Maybe you think there should be a traffic light in a place that is missing one.  Or an easier way to find a parking space, or a new place to live.  Technology is now allowing everyday citizens to have this type of influence, and Singapore is leading the way.

Check out this 1-minute video to get a taste of what is happening in a project called Virtual Singapore:

In today's world, people are constantly generating data.  If planners can harness and analyze that data, they can create intelligent cities that better meet the ever-changing needs of citizens.

When completed in 2018, users of Virtual Singapore will be able to map and analyze big data points to simulate scenarios and solutions for everything from disaster evacuation to finding an apartment.  Virtual Singapore will help inform people about where to get the best mobile phone coverage, or allow disabled people to virtually plan an optimal route before venturing out into the streets.  Firms can use the information to create better buildings – not just by adding amenities for those living or working in them, but even to architect a specific design to improve air flow throughout the city.  Data can also help better identify sun patterns to create more sustainable green spaces.  And all of this can be tested (and retested) virtually to help get it just right.

Dassault Systèmes, in conjunction with CNBC Catalyst Content Studio, created an in-depth look at the future of cities, including the need to find equilibrium between government, private business and the public to make these areas successful.  The content – which includes interactive graphics, videos and articles – also explores how 3D printing is being applied to quickly build apartment buildings to meet the burgeoning urban populations.

Click here to get your imagination going about what tomorrow's cities might look like and how people like you can participate in the process.

Remodeling the Architectural Design Process

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 04:00 AM PST

The following article is excerpted from the Dassault Systèmes SHoP Architects customer case study

Chris Sharples, founding partner at SHoP Architects, believes that architects should think more like manufacturers and to try to pull as much off the construction site by getting things prefabricated and manufactured in a controlled environment and then assembling the modules on site.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “#Architects should think more like
manufacturers” – @SHoPArchitects #AEC @3DSAEC

“Generally, in architecture, there are many workflow inefficiencies, in the way disciplines, owners and trades interact with one another. A lot of time and effort is spent communicating intent between parties. With technology evolving all the time and computer processing power getting better, it is becoming more realistic to do real-time simulations and collaboration….

“Of course, we can approach projects in the traditional way but I think we can really blow the doors off the barn by taking advantage of a modular approach, which is very well developed in the 3DEXPERIENCE platform,” Sharples said.

He also believes in the power of technology and the determining role it has on the way his firm's practice has evolved.

"One of our biggest challenges is moving from the traditional way of working using plans and sections – dealing with space and all the things that go into a structure like air flow and environmental controls – to working with 3D models.

"A traditional plan-and-section approach often leads to misunderstandings when presenting information to clients, consultants or to the build team. Working with 3D models that represent all aspects of a design from a structural, mechanical and systems point of view enables us to manage that complexity in a more collaborative way. We can then create a more seamless relationship between all the different disciplines that go into constructing a building. Working with 3D models can improve the way we design and communicate because it is more open and transparent."


SHoP capitalizes its know-how and design practices with reusable templates in Design for Fabrication.

"Our designs often involve unique components, which would increase complexity and a duplication of information that could be a challenge to manage conventionally," said John Cerone, associate principal at SHoP Architects.

"We can demystify design complexity by capturing our knowledge in templates and using them when similar concepts arise from one project to the next. Concept and deliverables are of course unique to every project, but preserving the process in templates is invaluable for efficiency."

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: Concepts & deliverables are unique but preserving the process in templates is invaluable -@SHoPArchitects #Architecture @3DSAEC

In addition to templates, SHoP relies on 3D to accelerate the design to manufacturing process.

"We're going directly from digital model to fabrication," Cerone said.

"The machines develop NC code directly from our CATIA models for the fabrication of the façade. And since everything is on a single platform, there is no loss of information because we don't need to transfer data to and from heterogeneous systems. It's all compatible and in one place."

"If you look back to the renaissance or gothic periods, those who designed and those who built worked together," Sharples said. "Ironically, designers weren't using drawings in most cases, they were using models to explain the design to the craftspeople, who would look at those models and then climb up on the scaffolds to start building.”

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: Historically, those who designed & those who built
worked together -@SHoPArchitects #Architecture @3DSAEC

“The 3DEXPERIENCE platform allows for that kind of collaboration to happen, starting at the predesign stage and watching the model, which is actually organic, alive and changing, grow through to construction or manufacture. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform enables this evolutionary process because it is a flexible and open platform. And what's great about it is it not only covers design and construction, it covers a building's entire lifecycle. It's sustainable innovation."


Moreover, 3DEXPERIENCE has delivered a level of efficiency to SHoP's workflow, which just didn't exist before.

"People are engaging the project at the concept level and watching it mature through its lifecycle," Cerone continued.

"The 3DEXPERIENCE platform powered by ENOVIA allows us to create a social and collaborative environment around our projects. Anyone, with or without design experience, can access 3D representations, associate that with information posted on the platform by other disciplines, and create interrelationships between scheduled tasks and geometry. It allows more stakeholders to engage in the design process, which has changed the way we approach new projects. We find enormous benefit leveraging this technology at the conceptual level and seeing our concepts grow as we explore different options along the way. It's a real eye-opening experience."

SHoP uses the 3DEXPERIENCE platform's live dashboarding capabilities with ENOVIA to allow people with specific roles and interests to participate in the project at various stages and maturities.

SHoP uses the 3DEXPERIENCE platform's live dashboarding capabilities with ENOVIA to allow people with specific roles and interests to participate in the project at various stages and maturities.

"Stakeholders can tailor their dashboards so that they have a real-time view of the aspects of the project that interest them and to make informed and rapid decisions on issues as they arise," Cerone said.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: Remodeling the Architectural #Design
Process | @SHoPArchitects #AEC @3DSAEC


On any given project, SHoP Architects manages various disciplines and a vast amount of information. Using Dassault Systèmes' 3DEXPERIENCE platform on the cloud, including the Façade Design for Fabrication Industry Process Experience, SHoP designs and coordinates global stakeholders with a real-time, up-to-date view of project information. This enables stakeholders to make timely decisions, collaborate better and enhance innovation.

Download the full case study.

Watch the SHoP Architects team explain how they think about using technology to evolve the practice of architecture and construction:

Click here to view the embedded video.

See Also:

Industry Process Experience: Façade Design for Fabrication

Whitepaper: Technological Changes Brought by BIM to Façade Design

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Better Batteries Stabilize the Electric Grid

Better Batteries Stabilize the Electric Grid

Better Batteries Stabilize the Electric Grid

Posted: 11 Jan 2017 08:55 AM PST

By Catherine Bolgar

Energy storage for the electric grid is taking off as the technology improves and battery prices fall. The global capacity of storage connected to the grid is expected to grow to 15-fold to 21 gigawatt hours this year, compared with 2015.

Energy storage can take many forms: freezing ice, then using a fan to blow over it and cool a building, replacing air conditioning; melting salt, then splashing water on it to create steam that powers a turbine; compressing air or other substances; pumping water up a hill behind a hydroelectric dam; flywheels; rechargeable flow batteries that use liquids; and solid-state batteries.

"There are so many ways to store energy. All are viable in their own way. All have applications and scale that they are suited for," says Matt Roberts, executive director of the Energy Storage Association, a Washington, D.C.-based industry group. "The lion's share being installed today is lithium-ion batteries."

Industrial sites may use energy storage, often in the form of batteries, in order to reduce their peak power demand and cut their electricity bill by two-thirds to three-quarters, he says.

Most storage, though, is for controlling the frequency on the grid—60 Hertz in North America and 50 Hz elsewhere, which is achieved when supply and demand for electricity are in sync. If there is too much supply, substation transformers may be damaged; too much demand can cause brownouts.

Traditionally, the fluctuations in supply and demand have been smoothed out by peaking power plants, often fueled by natural gas. However, they may take three to five minutes to react, Mr. Roberts says. "In that time, the entire thing could swing in the other direction. Using a natural-gas plant for frequency control is like using a club for a surgical procedure."

By contrast, battery storage can react in 100 milliseconds or less, says Andreas Ulbig, research associate at the Power Systems Lab of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ) and co-founder of Adaptricity, a Zurich start-up that simulates active distribution grids. "Batteries are able to fill the gap with rapid response for balancing out renewables or reacting to any change in grid operations."

In Europe, ancillary services—regulating frequency—from conventional sources and batteries get paid the same, he says. But in the U.S., the PJM Interconnection, which coordinates wholesale electricity in 13 Midwestern and mid-Atlantic states, pays battery owners a bonus for providing frequency control because they are so much faster, and therefore higher quality.

Under the PJM system, "a gas-powered plant chasing the grid signal can run at 99.9% efficiency 100% of the time," Mr. Roberts says. "It means more profits, a better emissions profile, and less wasted energy on the grid."

Energy storage is key to making smart grids and super grids work by balancing fluctuations over wider areas, using automation and modeling.

However, "most modeling systems are based on outdated asset class systems"—electricity generators such as power plants and photovoltaic arrays—Mr. Roberts says. "An energy storage system doesn't generate electricity, but when it pushes energy onto the grid it looks like a provider. But it can also look like it's absorbing energy. Current simulation systems aren't sophisticated enough. They still model for the power plant spoke-and-hub model of the 1970s."

Models and simulations are improving. ETHZ and Adaptricity have created algorithms that allow battery owners to provide ancillary services that use less battery energy capacity while providing the same control services, Dr. Ulbig says. "It shows that smaller batteries can provide the same ancillary services as those with higher energy capacity." Energy capacity is the biggest factor in the cost of batteries, so being able to get the same results with smaller batteries can cut costs significantly.

The importance of energy storage is set to grow as renewables make up a bigger share of the energy mix. The way that conventional power plants generate electricity, with gigantic rotating masses, creates slower deviations in frequency. With more renewables on the grid, "changes in grid frequency may happen faster. So it will be particularly useful to have faster frequency control," Dr. Ulbig says.

Energy storage is set to grow, because it can "create a grid that integrates renewables, is flexible and resilient," Mr. Roberts says. "It's more cost effective and valuable."


Catherine Bolgar is a former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe, now working as a freelance writer and editor with WSJ. Custom Studios in EMEA. For more from Catherine Bolgar, along with other industry experts, join the Future Realities discussion on LinkedIn.

Photos courtesy of iStock