Come Visit us at UNCC

Come Visit Us at UNCC

Hello everyone,

Below is the link to driving direction to CRI or Grigg building and also the address to use for GPS friendly address but for mail we normally use the university address and add the building name and room number. Hope this information helps.

UNC Charlotte
9320 Robert D. Snyder Road
Charlotte, NC 28223

Google Map Directions to Grigg Hall

Download Campus Directions & Parking

If you want to ship us something:

International ThermoDyne
Attn: Katie Hughes
9201 University City Blvd
Grigg 376
Charlotte, NC 28223

Someone Needs to Solve This

Someone Needs to Solve This

See if this sounds familiar.

It’s the end of the day, you need to meet someone at a specific date and time.  Something has changed – just slightly, you need to communicate with the other person – BUT your cellphone is all but dead.

So, that was me this last week.  I was with my daughter at college orientation (I won’t say which college – go Tigers) last week and 3 hours into orientation I was down to 60% battery on my phone.  By 5 o’clock my battery was down to 30%.  I knew I wasn’t gonna last the day.  Now, I saw plenty of folks who brought chargers and were living near the wall outlets to get that much needed 10 minute charge.  But, I was not that prepared.  Sure enough at the end of the day I had 1% charge and was desperate to try and talk to my daughter to let her know where I was.  Fate allowed us to connect – but no thanks to my iPhone battery. Ugh.  I wish PowerFelt was already in the market.  I could have easily lasted another 2 hours – if not longer.

As I tell my friends – PowerFelt is just a matter of WHEN.

Until then, keep your chargers handy.

There is some hope after all?

There is some hope after all?

Some encouraging news on what would otherwise be a tough day (9-11).  When we all pitch in to a common cause, saving the planet, we can actually make a difference.  What’s amazing is that the earth seems to be naturally recovering as well.  This is great news.  And for those of us trying to make a difference in the world of green energy, this is especially encouraging.  Why?  Because we are actively trying to not just change the world – but in some cases, hope and believe that it will recover some of what we lost.  Perhaps that sounds a bit corny – but it is certainly true that we at ITD want to change the world and how the world sees and uses energy.

Ozone layer showing ‘signs of recovery’

The ozone layer that shields the Earth from the Sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays is showing signs of thickening, after years of getting thinner.

The ozone layer is the part of the Earth’s upper atmosphere where ozone, a form of oxygen gas, is found.

It absorbs UV radiation, preventing most of it from reaching us on the ground. This is important as UV radiation can lead to skin cancer.

The largest hole in the ozone layer appears over Antarctica.

But this hole has also stopped getting bigger, suggesting the ozone layer is beginning to recover.

International ThermoDyne Wins Princeton Competition

International ThermoDyne Wins Princeton Competition: Closer to Unlimited, Free Energy

Recently, International ThermoDyne (a Charlotte, North Carolina based company) took home the grand prize at the 17th Annual Princeton Entrepreneur’s Network Business Plan Competition. International ThermoDyne has acquired the exclusive rights to lead the development of PowerFelt, a revolutionary new energy harvesting device that could turn batteries into an outdated technology.

Originally conceived at Wake Forest University, PowerFelt is a soft, durable, cloth-like material that utilizes the properties of carbon nanotubes to create electricity from the heat and motion that we are exposed to on an everyday basis. PowerFelt creates no emissions, is completely safe, and creates power from sources that you probably never thought possible. PowerFelt works by creating (and harnessing) a voltage when exposed to either a temperature differential or any type of motion, giving anyone the ability to create power completely separate from the grid. PowerFelt is still in the product development stage, but International ThermoDyne envisions the product being used in a variety of applications, potentially starting with the following industries:

  • Mobile Electronics
  • Transportation
  • Remote Sensors
  • Housing
  • Textiles

While thermoelectric (thermal) and piezoelectric (kinetic) generators are nothing revolutionary in the science world, PowerFelt is the first material of its kind that can harvest both thermal and kinetic energy in the same material. In addition, its flexible and lightweight composition opens the doors to many new applications for which previous energy generators were simply not practical.

At Princeton, International ThermoDyne brought one of their most recent samples to show off. The sample was about the size of a cell phone, and produced enough power to run a small electronic device such as a Fitbit. However, the company says that the sample was created for demonstration purposes only, claiming that commercial PowerFelt will only be a small fraction of the size and have a much higher output.

International ThermoDyne is currently working hard to increase the efficiency and move towards automated production of their novel product. We are moving rapidly,said Katie Hughes, PhD, Director of Product Development for International Thermodyne, and within two years, I expect there to be products on the shelves that use PowerFelt to harvest the heat and kinetic energy all around us.

At first it may be hard to imagine what exactly PowerFelt would be used for, but once you understand the material’s potential applications and its ability to change how we access electricity, the prospects are truly mind-boggling. A cell phone cover could charge your phone by harnessing the vibrations from walking or from the heat of your palm. A house with PowerFelt could completely eliminate your energy bill, simply from vibrations in the walls or the differential between a hot summer day and your air conditioned home. PowerFelt could even be the solution to a completely self-sustaining Internet of Things.

If development goes as planned, we could see PowerFelt in many devices you interact with everyday. Soon, you may never have to worry about dying batteries again.

International ThermoDyne is a Charlotte based company in the emerging energy harvesting industry that is heading the development and commercialization of PowerFelt. PowerFelt was initially invented at Wake Forest University’s Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials.

Michael Brisson

The airline of the future – PowerFelt seats perhaps

The airline of the future - PowerFelt seats perhaps

Fuel for thought…

In the last 40 years, aircraft fuel burn and CO2 emissions have been cut by more than 70 per cent.  Now it’s time for something a little bit alternative.

According to Airbus, their vision of a plane 50 years from now is to have energy harvesting seats.

Hmmmm.  How about 5 years from now.  PowerFelt!

Link from Airbus:

Elon Musk is going to help Steven Colbert charge his stuff anywhere without wires – PowerFelt!

Elon Musk is going to help Steven Colbert charge his stuff anywhere without wires - PowerFelt!

Last night Elon Musk was on the Colbert Show.  I’m not unique in my admiration of Mr. Musk.  He has boldness not often found.  Tell him it can’t be done and he get’s even more excited about taking on the big problems.  He looks at the world the way he thinks it should be and then says, what do we need to do to make that happen.  I love that.  He’s a true visionary.

At ITD we have visions too, hopefully we will have resources to match our vision and change the world.  That’s truly our goal here at ITD – to change the way people see and use power.  Yes, it’s a product, but we believe that there is no reason that working together with synergistic products, you shouldn’t be able to drive down the highway in a Tesla and have re-charging stations set up along the highway constantly sending wireless power to your car.  Effectively, never having to worry about running out of charge.

OR, why can’t you pull in front your favorite restaurant and have your car get charged, and all your devices be wirelessly charged while you have a coffee?  PowerFelt can harness the energy and other technologies can broadcast it back out.

It’s easy for us to see this as a possible reality.  Can you help us achieve this vision?

Watch the last minute of the Musk interview – Stephen nails our vision.

Time to start replacing bulbs?

Time to start replacing bulbs?

So, I want to take a minute and talk about lighting. I almost said “light bulbs” but realized that tends to imply traditional lighting. The fact is lighting is getting to be as high tech as anything in the market. It’s almost more than a standard consumer could handle. This morning I noticed that a light in my bathroom had “burned out.” I also noticed it was a 75W bulb. I spend most of my day thinking about numbers in the mW range and getting up to 4-5W, so the idea of 75W for a bulb really hit home. Obviously, it wasn’t the first time I’ve thought about how inefficient light bulbs are, but it did occur to me that this would be good fodder for this blog. I also decided it was time to kick-it-up-a-notch at the Risser house and start upgrading our house to become more energy efficient. Walk the walk.

But what are my options. Time to research and learn. The internet being what it is, it took all of 5 minutes to find some basic descriptions of the options and a cool video to educate myself on all things lighting.

Basic Lighting Options:

Incandescent bulbs have been around since 1810, using a filament that’s heated to the point where it glows. The glowing filament produces the bulb’s light and a good amount of heat.

Halogen bulbs operate on the same principle as incandescent bulbs. The evaporated tungsten mostly deposits onto the inner surface of the bulb. The halogen sets up a reversible chemical reaction cycle with the tungsten evaporated from the filament. The halogen cycle keeps the bulb clean, and the light output remains almost constant throughout life of the bulb. The halogen bulb operates at significantly hotter temperatures than the incandescent bulbs.

Compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL) have an electric current and a high voltage flow between electrodes at each end of a tube containing gases. The reaction produces ultraviolet (UV) light and heat. The UV light is transformed into visible light when it strikes a phosphor coating on the inside of the bulb. The bulbs contain 3-5mg of mercury per bulb.

Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs use a small electrical current passing through a semiconductor material to illuminate the tiny light sources called LEDs. The heat produced is absorbed into a heat sink, keeping the bulbs cool to the touch.


So, what am I going to do? Probably, I will try some options and see if my boss (Mrs. Risser) screams about the way the “light looks” She is VERY particular about the color of light, and also how fast it comes online. Stay tuned and I’ll let you know how it all turns out.


Race Weekend

Race Weekend

I can’t believe another Memorial Day weekend is upon us.  Of course, if you’re a racing fan this is one of the best weekends there is.  Formula One runs at Monaco.  There is the Indianapolis 500 and here in Charlotte we have NASCAR running the Coca-Cola 600.    Part of me loves the spectacle of it.  Another part of me wonders how many tons of CO2 these three events alone are responsible for.   Racing is definitely a part of world culture.  Ever since we discovered the wheel, we’ve been devising competitions of various forms to determine who is “the fastest”  Competition is part of what drives us to succeed (pardon the pun). Here at ITD we spend a lot of time thinking about how PowerFelt can be interwoven into cars and car “systems”  In some cases, we think about embedding it in the roads, or the track.  How much power could we harness?  How much could we feed that back to the cars themselves?  What other uses for that power can we find?  There is no doubt that energy from these closed systems is enormous.  I can’t wait to get some PowerFelt out these and testing to see the beginnings of what’s possible. Energy is everywhere….

McK: Finding the sweet spot for allocating innovation resources

McK: Finding the sweet spot for allocating innovation resources

Mounting evidence finds that the habit of allocating the same levels of resources to the same business units year after year undermines corporate performance—and even lowers the odds of a lengthy tenure for CEOs.1 Put another way, in a fast-changing competitive environment, companies that succumb to resource inertia will probably struggle to meet their strategic goals.

New McKinsey research paints a complementary, though more nuanced, picture for reallocating innovation and R&D resources. Our survey of senior executives at companies with revenues of more than $1 billion showed that the average level of annual R&D reallocation is relatively consistent—12.7 to 13.7 percent—regardless of a company’s innovation performance (see sidebar, “About the survey”). Parsing the data in a finer way to highlight the distribution of reallocation behavior further emphasizes the fact that when it comes to reallocating R&D expenditures, the message is subtler than “more is better.”

Reallocation sweet spots?

As the exhibit shows, top-quartile innovators may be identifying sweet spots where adequate (yet still substantial) levels of R&D reallocation are bolstering innovation performance: 75 percent of executives at top-quartile companies say they reallocated 6 to 30 percent of their R&D budgets in each of the past three years compared with 37 percent of the respondents at bottom-quartile performers.


Annual R&D reallocation, on average, is relatively consistent, yet top-quartile innovators may be identifying sweet spots where reallocation bolsters innovation performance.

Only 5 percent of the top-quartile innovators reallocated more than 30 percent of their R&D budgets each year. By contrast, 16 percent of the bottom-quartile innovators did so, and 9 percent of the bottom-quartile companies reallocated more than 40 percent of their R&D budgets. That’s a big adjustment for any large organization and a threshold none of the top-quartile companies breached.

The poorest performers, in fact, seem divided between two camps. At one extreme, there’s a near-majority of companies that are sleepwalking through their R&D-reallocation decisions, moving 5 percent or less of their R&D resources a year among businesses and divisions. At the other extreme, a second group is placing huge bets in an attempt to jump-start performance or perhaps to make drastic course corrections. Time—and further research—are needed to determine if these low-performing innovators have awakened in time or are in fact doing additional damage through panicky reallocations.

Take a hard look

The nuanced picture our research paints should not be surprising. After all, the right amount of annual R&D reallocation for an individual company depends on its industry, strategy, and competitive situation. Furthermore, shifts don’t necessarily translate into quick performance gains. However, the data suggest that any large company on the left-hand side of the chart (below 10 percent and certainly below 5 percent) should investigate its levels of R&D reallocation to make sure that its portfolio is aligned with its innovation strategy and that it isn’t nurturing stalled projects at the expense of more promising alternatives. And while operating closer to the sweet spot highlighted on the exhibit doesn’t guarantee success with innovation, a steady, consistent level of R&D reallocation year after year is highly consistent with successful innovation at scale.

For more about the practices associated with top innovators, download The Eight Essentials of innovation performance (PDF–458KB).

About the authors

Vanessa Chan is a principal in McKinsey’s Philadelphia office; Marc de Jong is a principal in the Amsterdam office, where Vidyadhar Ranade is an associate principal.

The authors wish to thank Peet van Biljon for his contribution to this article.

It’s not JUST about ZT

It's not JUST about ZT

Why is the first question every engineer ever ask is, “So, what’s your ZT?”  I understand WHY this is the case, in fact, it was one of the first questions I asked when I first discovered PowerFelt.  But the simple matter is that PowerFelt is made of many different materials with different harvesting capabilities that impact the ZT in many different ways,  Couple this with the fact that we combine non-heterogenous materials in a non-traditional format and all of a sudden a traditional ZT measurement doesn’t apply.

But wait, there’s more.  With PowerFelt, any change in motion non-linearly shifts that the TEG characteristics of the material.  So where in the traditional ZT calculation do you account for the frequency and amplitude of motion.  I guess ITD has discovered some new Physics.  Pretty cool!