Solid-State Batteries Discussed for Future Electric Vehicles

Tomás Díaz de la Rubia leverages expertise in technology commercialization and energy innovation to serve as a director for the strategy and operations service line of Deloitte Consulting, where he leads the innovation practice for company’s Energy and Resources industry sector practice. Extremely active in the technology and research communities, Tomás Díaz de la Rubia maintains connections with numerous professional organizations, including the Materials Research Society (MRS).

MRS recently published an article in the Energy Quarterly section of the MRS Bulletin that discussed the use of all-solid-state batteries in electric vehicles as a replacement for lithium-ion batteries that use liquid electrolytes. The article asserts that the presently used lithium-ion batteries offer some progress in the mission to slow global warming, but also include a high price and a limited driving range between charges. Along with these downsides, the article notes that lithium-ion batteries present a fire risk because of flammable organic electrolytes.

The article, titled Solid-State Batteries Enter EV Fray, proposes that a transition to solid-state batteries could reduce or eliminate the fire hazards related to liquid electrolytes. According to the article, research has yielded improvements, like a greater volumetric energy density that expands the driving range. All-solid-state batteries also offer a longer shelf and cycle life. The article also notes that Toyota is already working to use solid-state batteries in vehicles by the 2020s.

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Considering the Future of Wearables in the Internet of Things

An experienced researcher, Dr. Tomas Diaz de la Rubia has focused on advanced computer technology for over a decade. As a director with Deloitte Consulting’s strategy sector, Dr. Tomas Diaz de la Rubia oversees efforts to capitalize on disruptive technologies.

At the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this past January, wearable devices were highly anticipated. However, a limited display of new devices prompted critical speculation about the appeal of wearables and their disruptive potential. While stylized fitness trackers and Android-based wristwatches fueled significant growth throughout 2014, experts cited issues such as battery life and limited functionality as major hurdles in the mainstream consumer electronics market.

So far, manufacturers have made little headway in terms of app availability and lifespan. According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers study, only about one in five Americans actively uses wearables. In spite of this criticism, early adopters and tech companies champion the sheer convenience of true 24/7 connectivity, as well as the form factor of luxury designer technology. Perhaps most importantly, the Apple Watch was noticeably absent from the convention, yet its release in March 2015 is highly anticipated. Given the company’s reputation for innovation and seamless integration with existing iPhone and iPad devices, the Apple Watch may be the one to finally deliver on the bold promises that have yet to come to fruition.

In spite of lukewarm opinions about wearables, one undeniable takeaway from CES 2015 is that the Internet of Things is just beginning to take off. As of 2014, there were more connected devices than people on the planet. Whether wearable devices are an agent of change for the new industry or merely a niche product for technophiles and fitness enthusiasts remains to be seen.

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Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin Hosts Tastevinage Session

Working as a Innovation leader of the energy and resources practice at Deloitte Consulting, LLP, in the Washington, DC, metro area, Tomas Diaz de la Rubia works on market-changing innovations in the energy sector. Prior to joining Deloitte, he worked as deputy director for science and technology at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). When not in the office, Tomas Diaz de la Rubia enjoys wine tasting, and in November, he received an induction into the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, which is a private Burgundy wine enthusiasts club.

Established in 1934, the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin is based in France. The club, translated to Brotherhood of the Knights of the Wine-Tasting Cup, maintains chapters worldwide. However, due to its headquarters in France, many of the ceremonial titles are in French.

Each year, the group hosts a Tastevinage session for its members to sample wine. The 2014 event, held on September 5, included 454 wines sampled by 220 wine industry professionals and other wine enthusiasts. Maxime Grunet, France’s best young sommelier in 2013 and head wine-waiter at the Hostellerie du Chapeau Rouge in Dijon, cohosted the event.

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New 3D printing “Ink” Could Further Innovation in Ceramic Fuel Cells

Since 2013, Dr. Tomas Diaz de la Rubia has been a director with Deloitte Consulting’s Energy and Resources practice. Prior to joining Deloitte, Dr. Tomas Diaz de la Rubia served a three-year term as an elected board member with the Materials Research Society.

Inexpensive materials and hardware have made 3D printing technology more accessible than ever, although consumer-level 3D printers have traditionally been largely limited to plastic compounds. However, a recent presentation at the Materials Research Society’s fall meeting last year suggested an innovative method of printing the components of ceramic fuel cell batteries.

Dr. Ramil Shah and her TEAM (Tissue Engineering and Additive Manufacturing) lab at Northwestern University debuted new “inks” to print the cathode, anode, electrolyte, and interconnects within the battery. Although fuel cells have been in use in various forms for decades, ceramic fuel cells are among the most efficient means of converting chemical energy to electrical energy. The ability to quickly and autonomously 3D-print ceramic materials in complex shapes enables designers to maximize the surface area of fuel cell components, potentially improving their efficiency while drastically reducing production costs.

The Materials Research Society is a consortium of more than 16,000 researchers from multiple disciplines. Since its inception in 1973, the organization has worked to build a global network to exchange information and technical expertise.

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The Future of Fusion Energy

Tomas Diaz de la Rubia leads efforts at Deloitte Consulting, LLP, to understand and anticipate new technological developments and their economic effects on his clients. For companies that focus on resources and energy, Tomas Diaz de la Rubia works with federal research facilities to identify and capitalize on innovation.

One technology that has significant promise is nuclear fusion. Fusion is the process that energizes the sun; it consists of hydrogen atoms joining to form helium atoms, releasing tremendous amounts of energy. The sun’s massive gravity creates the conditions for a controlled fusion reaction, but achieving the same thing on earth is far more difficult.

Self-sustaining fusion power promises to be a clean and safe energy. The isotopes required for its creation, tritium and deuterium, exist in virtually unlimited amounts, and fusion reactors would be less radioactive than fission reactors.

It was thought in the 1950s that fusion power was only 20 years off. This over-optimistic estimate has created skepticism, but today’s researchers maintain it is a real possibility, and are experimenting with two methods to create a fusion reaction that produces more energy than it consumes.

One technique involves firing lasers at fuel pellets, which would produce the required temperature of 100 million degrees Celsius. This has produced a small reaction, but not nearly enough to be self-sustaining.

The other method uses a powerful magnetic field to create heat. This led to the creation of a record 16 megawatts of power. Efforts are underway to improve on this output, but many scientists assert that fusion as a viable power source is still 40 to 50 years away.

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Takeaways from the 2014 AEMC Summit

A widely published authority in the field of energy security and technology, Dr. Tomas Diaz de la Rubia has remained closely involved with both public and private research sectors for several years, culminating in a directorship of Deloitte Consulting in 2013. As an advisor to the Advanced Energy and Manufacturing Competitiveness initiative of the Council on Competitiveness, Dr. Tomas Diaz de la Rubia also lends his insight into public policy regarding the U.S. energy market.

Established in 2013 as a three-year joint effort between the Council on Competitiveness and the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), the Second Annual AEMC Summit brought together individual and corporate leaders to bolster clean energy infrastructure and productivity. Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz served as a keynote speaker, and directed attention to one significant innovation in the automotive industry: the first-ever 3D-printed electric car.

Designed by Michele Anoé and supported by crowdfunding, the vehicle was printed out of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic in just 44 hours by Phoenix-based Local Motors. Dubbed the Strati, the two-seater is capable of speeds up to 50 mph with a range of approximately 62 miles, and is nearly 100 percent recyclable. Although it is not prepared to disrupt the traditional automotive market, Moniz notes that it is illustrative of the innovative cost-cutting applications of modern technology necessary to meet the AEMC’s broader goal of doubling energy productivity by 2030.

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The Council of Competitiveness on Exascale Supercomputers

Tomas Diaz de la Rubia, who has a doctorate from the University at Albany, State University of New York, has developed a focus in supercomputing and technological innovation over the past 25 years. Prior to his current role with Deloitte Consulting, LLP, Tomas Diaz de la Rubia was co-chair of the High Performance Computer Advisory Board with the Council on Competitiveness, a nonpartisan organization committed to bringing together scholars and business leaders.

It’s no secret that advanced computing is continually remolding the landscape of the U.S. manufacturing industry, but justifying large investments in advanced technology can be difficult when there is no simple way to quantify return on investment or long-term value. To that end, one of the primary missions of the Council on Competitiveness has been to assess the impact of high-performance computing and how to help businesses effectively utilize this powerful tool.

In a collaborative effort with market intelligence research firm Intersect360, the Council on Competitiveness recently published an in-depth report examining the effects of supercomputing on modern business models. For the past several years, exponential gains in computer speed have closely aligned with Moore’s law—that is, the observation that computer speeds will double approximately every two years—to the point that advanced “petascale” supercomputers have revolutionized research capabilities in energy, pharmaceutical, finance, and various other sectors, but exascale systems (with performance 1,000 times better than today’s petascale systems) are already on the horizon.

However, a pressing question remains: Do today’s businesses even require such advanced systems to perform effectively? According to a comprehensive survey involving more than 100 companies, upward of one-third of representatives believed that such systems could be effectively utilized in as little as five years.

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