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The essential information on facts, stories, and principles in the wire and cable industry.

6/2/2022 - Stories about installed or stored copper being stolen for its raw material value are so common that WJI seldom prints them, but thieves in South Africa platinum mines have stood out, and not in a fun or quirky way. This story is just tragic. Below are edited excerpts from multiple media reports about a story where everyone loses.

Copper cables thieves in South Africa have found a deep, dark place to swipe copper cable: South African platinum mines. A stream of media reports has outlined how gangs have sneaked in deep underground, and set up camp in the vast network of tunnels from which they strip metal from power cables. It is a remarkably deadly pursuit.

The gangs are syndicates of thieves known as “zama zamas,” a Zulu name that means “take a chance.” Illegal mining has long been a problem in South Africa, but the focus now is on stealing copper. When copper was stripped at Sibanye’s Thembelani shaft in March, it led to a fire that forced 140 workers to evacuate. The company had 120 theft incidents last year and recovered about 5.1 tons of stolen copper. Year to date, there have been 45 incidents/3.2 tons recovered.

The thefts are difficult to stop because of the vast warren of tunnels. Over time, the thefts became far more complex, with gangs setting up their own supply chains. Descent is often made via ropes or handmade ladders. The copper is stripped and hidden away in unused tunnels before being taken away at night using pre-arranged transport.

As many as 500 thieves may be in a given mine at any time. They can spend days underground, and some of the illegal miners have been known to set booby traps or ambushes for mining staff or even rival gangs. It can take a full week to replace some of the key copper cables, so the loss is not just in the cable but in mining of platinum, a key element for making catalytic converters.

Just as there is no lack of thieves, there is no lack of potential bad endings. Last October, owners of one mine sealed off a ventilation shaft that illegal miners had been using to come and go. Per reports, a trickle of trapped gang members tried to escape, helped by fellow members above ground. At one point the zama zamas clashed with police in a shootout that saw eight of the thieves die. Several months earlier, the decomposed bodies of some 20 gang members were found. They were believed to have been killed in a gas explosion underground.

Per reports, the gangs have not been deterred. What remains is a sad statement that transcends wire.

Last modified on June 2, 2022

4-/1/2022 - Responding to world events, the WAI Poland Chapter has changed the focus of its panel discussion for its 9th International Drawing Conference, to be held May 18-20 at the Hotel GALAXY in Cracow, Poland.

The panel discussion has evolved from a pure technical theme to one that addresses the European reality in dealing with Covid-19 and the war in the Ukraine. The panel discussion theme will be, “The economy of the
metal and drawing industry during the post-Covid crisis and the turbulent global geopolitical situation.”

The panel discussion, to be moderated by Piotr Milewski and Jakub Siemiński, directors and managers at DRUMET and TELE-FONIKA, will see panelists try to answer increasingly difficult questions in the metal sector that relate to the current situation of the world economy and where it is headed. Five participants selected from large and medium-sized companies in the metal sector, who together with the conference participants, will talk about the outlook for the metal and drawing industry after the current crises. Attendees will hear about important technological and economic issues for the metal and drawing sector that relate to the development of principles and methods for wire and
cable companies to better function during the difficult conditions caused by the pandemic and war.

“It is sad that such topics should be the focus of a technical conference, but they are realities for the industry, and not just in Europe,” said WAI Chapter President Jan Pilarczyk. He noted that this will be the second time that there has been a discussion panel, the first held in 2019, where all participants shared their observations on the new directions needed to maintain the continuous development of the metal and drawing industry both in Europe and in the world. The panel discussion will be the final educational event at the conference.  

Pilarczyk said that he was pleased with the support the event has had so far from industry. The main sponsors are Drumet, a member of WireCo World Group; Schlatter; WiTechs; the MFL Group; Vassena; and Lubrimetal. Other sponsors include MET-PRIM Sp. z.o.o.; TELE-FONIKA Kable S.A.; CMC Poland Sp. z o.o., operating in Poland, a member of the CMC Commercial Metals Group; Witels Albert; and Wilhelm Tatje KG.

The focus for the conference is “Modern methods of metal forming and drawing processes and production of wire rod and wire.” Topics include: selected issues from the theory and technology of the drawing process and
other plastic forming processes; directions of drawing technology development in the field of devices, tools, accessories, lubricants and cooling agents; quality problems for production of charge materials, wires and final
products; new materials and new application areas for drawn products; and operational issues – ropes, cables, wires, welding wires, springs, etc. 

Event participants are expected from: CMC Poland, Arcelor Mittal Poland, TELE-FONIKA Kable, DRUMET Wire Corp. Poland and MET-PRIM Radomsko, WIŚNIOWSKI Sp. z o.o., ITALMEC Sp. zo.o., Fabryka Drutu Gliwice., all from Poland; the MFL Group, Vassen and Lubrimetal, all from Italy; WAFIOS and Witels Albert, Germany; Bekaert Bohumin and ZBD AS, Czech Republic.; and Schlatter, Switzerland.

The co-organizers of the conference include Pilarczyk; Knych, the 2015 winner of the WAI’s Mordica Memorial Award; and Prof. Adam Zieliński, of the Institute for Ferrous Metallurgy. It will also include a plant tour of TELE-FONIKA. The Conference Honorary Patronage is by Prof. Norbert Sczygiol, rector of the Czestochowa University of Technology. 

Of note, the event is being held in May, which marks the 20th anniversary of the creation of the Poland Chapter. For more information, visit the Poland Chapter website at www.msc.wip.pcz.pl.

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Last modified on April 1, 2022

From Wire Journal International's February 2022 Feature

Thomas J. Rosen, president and CEO of Wire & Cable Consulting, LLC, has nearly 40 years in the industry, holding executive positions with companies such as IWG High Performance Conductors, Phelps Dodge Corporation and Nesor Alloy Corp. Below, he shares his thoughts about the supply chain. He can be contacted at tel. 973-228-5589, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., www.wirecableconsulting.com.

We are living in new times. Nobody foresaw what was coming in terms of Covid and labor issues, the great resignation wave and everything else that’s happened the last few years. The days when you could depend on overseas suppliers to deliver in five or six weeks are gone. That same timeframe can be four or five months. That causes problems for our customers, which I want to make clear here make value-added products.

The supply chain and the wire and cable industry need to understand how to handle the ebbs and flows of the business. But first I want to address something that is part of the equation, even if it might not seem so. The industry will always have issues—and sometimes, like now, they may be quite harsh—but I have learned over the years that you cannot overestimate how important it is to value the human element.

People are extremely important, and we need to offer or meet issues on the physical and mental health that help keep them together. People need more family time. Working 60-plus hours a week is not a long-term solution. People need more time off pursuing things that bring them a sense of purpose. If they achieve short-term and long-term success as individuals, that will help them in their work roles. They become part of your solution that you won’t find in a spreadsheet. Think about it.

Now for the supply chain. First off, it won’t come as a surprise when I say that there are no easy solutions, but that does not mean you can’t take some measure of control. You know what you need and when, but how well do you know what your suppliers can and cannot do? Relying on them just to “do” or “not do” is not enough. You have to work with good suppliers, and that means companies that are investing in their businesses.

You have to work the supply chain all the way back. Capacity obviously is a key issue, but so is their personnel. Is the company stable? Does it have the cash flow and resources to invest in its future? Some may not be strong enough, so sticking with a supplier without knowing more about them is not wise. Learning more about suppliers may ultimately force you to look elsewhere. If you don’t want to do this, then find another business, because your future maybe in doubt.

Beware of suppliers that stick to the outdated 80/20 principle. One of our clients had such a supplier, which had contracts and agreements, and took care of the 20% clients first. They didn’t like minimum quantities, specials or anything “out of the norm.” Our client, who started manufacturing cable assemblies for Steinway, could not get product from his supplier. We found him a new one. We explained the business and provided the specs to the new supplier that had not been active in this niche, and was interested. Both our client and the customer benefitted.

We encourage our clients to develop new suppliers. You hear a lot about supply not being available, but generally speaking, I have found that materials can be found, even in small quantities. I have one client that will, and he’s very good at it. He also gets paid well for it. And guess what? He’s getting more and more business because the big guys don’t want to do small quantities anymore.

There’s a flip side to this too. How well do you treat your suppliers? A lot of big companies don’t excel at that. I always made sure that I personally engaged suppliers, and enjoyed meeting them and seeing their operations. That’s changed in the last two years, but it’s still possible through zoom and the like. If you keep in close contact, you may find opportunities. Also, keep in mind that the wire and cable industry is a supply chain unto itself, as many companies sell to cable manufacturers, who in turn sell to OEMs.

It’s a difficult time for companies that need rod and metals that either require large sizes or require special technology for different applications, as they are not as easy to source overseas as they are in North America. There are limited places people can go, so such manufacturers are basically held hostage, which is why high value product makers are better off.

I have one client that buys redraw and fine wires, and silver-plated wires and alloys. Those products are limited in the supply chain, but because we were able to show the supplier our needs six months out, we were able to get what we needed. That takes planning. If you cannot show vendors your plan, you can’t expect them to commit to late requests. You want to ask the supplier what they can do to help.

I don’t see conditions changing much in the next year. I think we’re stuck in a conundrum here. We all know the symptoms of the supply chain, but I keep thinking about the one element that gets lost in the discussion of what needs to be done, and that goes back to people. They make it all possible.

I spend a lot of time helping clients with their long-term plans. Anyone who isn’t—or thinks that conditions will revert back to what they were, and that we can all go back to walking our dogs the way we used to—is dreaming. This is the new norm. We have to figure out how to navigate it, to be flexible, quick and nimble.


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Last modified on March 31, 2022

3/4/2022 –

In January, WJI presented the 10 Stage 1 winners in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Conductivity-enhanced materials for Affordable, Breakthrough Leapfrog Electric applications (CABLE) conductor manufacturing initiative. Below, Francisco Flores, senior materials engineer, NanoAL, LLC, discusses the focus of his team’s winning entry. For more about the company, go to www.nanoalllc.com.

WJI: How did your team form?
Flores: NanoAL is a materials research and technology company that designs, develops, and commercializes high-performance aluminum alloys. The company was founded by two Northwestern University professors and a post-doc in 2013 after 17 years of research on advanced aluminum alloys.

WJI: What is your contest focus?
Flores: Our contest focus is designing and developing a new conductive aluminum alloy with specific strength equal to that of high-strength steel. This advanced aluminum alloy would potentially be a direct substitution for the typical high-strength steel used in applications carrying heavy loads. In the case of traditional steel-reinforced conductors for power transmission, this substitution would significantly boost the overall conductivity of the power lines.

WJI: How did the collaboration with the Prysmian Group help?
Flores: Through its subsidiary company, General Cable, Prysmian Group has been one of our long-term R&D partners. NanoAL and Prysmian Group have jointly developed multiple advanced aluminum alloys and conductors for overhead cable, automotive and industrial applications. The people we have worked with from Prysmian understand both the science and the applications, and have been a champion of research and innovation in the wire and cable industry. They have helped us define customer and application requirements for a new product, evaluate performances of lab-scale and prototype samples, and implement scale-up processes.

WJI: Where do you see your CNTs most benefiting wire and cable?
Flores: We see this technology playing an essential role in improving the efficiency of electrical energy transmission and distribution systems. Our ultra-high-strength, highly conductive aluminum alloy achieves a tensile strength of 500 MPa and electrical conductivity of approximately 48% of standard annealed copper. Its specific strength is higher than the traditional steel core, while its conductivity is nearly eight times greater than steel. The potential aluminum/steel substitution in a transmission cable’s core can significantly increase the conductor’s efficiency. As a result, it saves money and reduces carbon footprint by reducing energy loss from the power grids.

WJI: Can your process be commercialized on a large scale?
Flores: Our aluminum alloys and processes are highly scalable. However, since replacing steel with a high-strength aluminum alloy in a traditionally steel-enforced conductor is highly disruptive, we need to achieve several more product development and application milestones to achieve commercial success. This is why the CABLE competition is such a good opportunity for us to advance and mature this technology further toward commercialization.

Prysmian Group perspective
Aluminum is ideal for electricity transmission/distribution, but its inherent low emissivity retains heat, leading to energy losses and conductor sag. The U.S. has more than 450,000 miles of active overhead transmission lines, most over 50 years old. The Prysmian Group supports innovative materials to enhance transmission efficiency. NanoAL’s development through the CABLE prize has the potential to create a sustainable and high-performance solution for energy products. Dr. Sathish Ranganathan, North America R&D Director, Prysmian Group.

Last modified on March 3, 2022

1/31/2022 – CABLE contest winner: Clean Carbon Conductors/DexMat

Last issue, WJI presented the 10 Stage 1 winners in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Conductivity-enhanced materials for Affordable, Breakthrough Leapfrog Electric applications (CABLE) conductor manufacturing initiative. One winner, Clean Carbon Conductors/DexMat, focuses on carbon nanotubes. Below, DexMat CEO Dimitri Tsentalovich discusses his work. A second winner will be presented in March.

WJI: How did your team form?
Tsentalovich: DexMat began commercializing Galvorn Carbon NanoTube (CNT) conductors in 2015 and teamed up with Rice University to solve critical R&D challenges for scaling the production of CNT materials over the years. The DexMat/Rice team that has substantial combined experience in academic research, engineering, and product development. In 2021, DexMat and Rice partnered with Prysmian to form the Clean Carbon Conductors team and take advantage of Prysmian’s significant expertise in the development and introduction of new materials in their wire and cable products. Rice University Professor Matteo Pasquali is a cofounder of DexMat.

WJI: What is your contest focus?
Tsentalovich: The objective of the Clean Carbon Conductors effort is to produce higher conductivity Galvorn CNT conductors. DexMat has a low-cost, scalable fluid phase process for manufacturing CNT conductors out of raw CNTs. By partnering with Rice University and Prysmian to deliberately focus on enhancing electrical conductivity, we believe that within the next 10 years, our team can produce CNT fibers and yarns with >65 MS/m electrical conductivity (over 112% IACS) through a process that will be cost-competitive with Cu wire production, but with a substantially reduced climate impact.

WJI: How did the collaboration with the Prysmian Group help?
Tsentalovich: The Prysmian Group has been a tremendous resource for our team. Prysmian’s R&D team has contributed valuable insights to the importance of considering factors such as manufacturing costs, product life-cycle environmental impact and the commercialization pathway for enhanced conductivity Galvorn conductors.

WJI: Where do you see your CNTs most benefiting wire and cable?
Tsentalovich: CNTs are positioned as the most promising solution for reducing the weight of aircraft wiring. DexMat has already demonstrated a 50% weight reduction by replacing the Cu braid EMI shielding layer of an RG-316 cable with Galvorn CNT film. Enhanced conductivity Galvorn CNT conductors would enable a 70% reduction in the mass of most electrical cabling on any commercial aircraft, resulting in a total weight reduction of several hundred kilograms per aircraft; this would result in significant fuel savings, and thus a reduced climate impact as well.

WJI: Can your process to be commercialized on a large scale?
Tsentalovich: Galvorn CNT fibers, yarns, and films are commercially available and can be purchased directly from DexMat. Over the next few years, we plan to scale-up Galvorn conductor production by a factor of at least 100, while continuing to work on increasing conductivity and other properties. Working with institutions like Rice University and companies like Prysmian is sure to help accelerate the path to both large scale production and enhanced conductivity. For more information, contact DexMat at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., www.dexmat.com.

Prysmian Group perspective
For the past decade, we have been exploring and testing engineered nanocarbons that offer great potential as strength members and electrical conductors. The holy grail is a lightweight material, with high electrical & thermal conductivity, high tensile strength and low coefficient of thermal expansion, produced with a minimal environmental impact. We believe DexMat has made significant strides with their Galvorn CNT fiber technology in this regard, both in terms of product performance and process scalability. Luca De Rai, vice president of Energy R&D.

Last modified on February 1, 2022

1/7/2022 – ArcelorMittal Global R&D was tasked with exploring and identifying alternative ways to capture dust emissions that resulted from the transport of sinter and other materials within blast furnace operations. This was an extremely complex issue as conventional aspiration and filtration units were not available nor applicable due to the configuration of the operations and equipment.

ArcelorMittal’s research center in Asturias, Spain took the lead in testing alternative technologies capable of reducing secondary sinter dust. The objective was three-fold: improve working conditions for fine particulate matter, decrease dust emissions that release through openings of buildings and appropriately manage humidity levels in order to protect the sinter and its performance in the blast furnace.

The initial dust suppressant alternatives were based on water injection. The use of water was poor for humidity levels and was rejected by the blast furnace as a potential solution. ArcelorMittal Global R&D proposed and optimized the application of a potato-based, biodegradable dust suppressant applied as foam to minimize the water impact.

Last year trials were developed and implemented at ArcelorMittal Gijon, where the foam was applied over conveyor belts to cover the raw materials and prevent the dust emissions that occurred during the transport and transfer of material to the bunkers. Adjustments were made to the quantity of the foam as well as the water needed to create the foam. Both qualitative and quantitative analysis was used to assess the impact of the dust suppressant.

Dust emissions were dramatically reduced after the foam application with no significant impact in the humidity of the sinter to the blast furnace. The results of the R&D trials showed a more than 80 percent reduction of inhalable particulate matter (PM10) and a reduction of more than 85 percent for fine inhalable particulate matter (PM2.5).

"The use of a biodegradable product allowed us to suppress the diffuse dust emissions without any negative impact on the process or the product. Additionally, the solution avoided costly investments that had no guarantee of success. And, perhaps most importantly, the solution has had a significant impact on the environment, eliminating emissions from ventilation openings of the tower and improving the ambient air quality and visibility of the area, thereby offering better working conditions,” said Beatriz Gonzalez Fernandez, R&D engineer, ArcelorMittal Global R&D.

As a result, ArcelorMittal Global R&D Asturias, where the trials were developed, industrialized the solution for all the belts in the tower of the blast furnace hoppers in Gijon. The diffuse dust emission problem at Gijon has been resolved with no impact on the blast furnace due to humidity. This new formulation is now available to other operations with similar conditions and constraints.

Last modified on January 7, 2022

12/6/21 – If you have a loved one who is an audiophile and money is no object, The Cable Company, a supplier of premium cables, can provide just what you need: a pair of two-meter-long Emperor Double Crown Speaker Cables from Siltech Cables. The cables start at $50,000 ($74,000 for a three-meter model) and go up an additional $5,000 for a Biwire option. Below, the manufacturer explains why the emperor cables deserves your respect (and loot).

For over 25 years, Siltech Cables have been made exclusively in Holland. Siltech pioneered the use of silver as their primary cable conductor, now combined in their top models with gold which is impregnated to smooth silver's crystal boundaries. The Siltech Royal Signature Emperor Double Crown (Mono X-tal Ag + G7 technology) high-end loudspeaker cables embody every last ounce of Siltech’s knowledge and technology.

The twisted twin co-axial construction used in the Classic Anniversary and Explorer series delivers a perfect balance of performance, price and practicality, its elegant self-shielding topology eliminating both unnecessary elements and the performance compromises that go with them. But once performance becomes paramount, the rules change. An external, circumferential shield can produce even better results – but only if you can space it far enough away from the conductors. Thick and stiff external insulation imparts added mechanical isolation. That means cables that are heavy and less flexible, but once heard we think you’ll agree, that’s a small price to pay given the performance on offer.

Those substantial casings contain our latest G7 silver/gold alloy or, in the Crown Series cables, our revolutionary (and incredibly costly) S8 silver mono-crystal conductors, combined with advanced insulation materials and precision manufacturing techniques to create a genuinely state-of-the-art family of eight interconnects, five speaker cables, three power cords and no fewer than eight digital cables, including USB and FireWire. Breathtakingly accurate and musically involving, the Royal Signature Series are the best cables that Siltech can make: in a world of uncertainty, history suggests that that makes them the best cables you can buy.

For more details, or perhaps to make this the most memorable Christmas ever for a certain person, go to www.thecableco.com, and to learn about the cables, go to www.siltechcables.com.

Last modified on January 4, 2022

11/4/21 – We take rapid communication for granted with 5G cell phone service and high-speed Internet. But all technological marvels tend to have modest but ambitious beginnings.

The first transatlantic telegraph cable was laid in 1858 by the Anglo-American Telegraph Company, which was founded just for this project by businessman Cyrus West Field. The cable connected Newfoundland to Ireland and had a capacity of transmitting a few words per hour. The first official communication was a message in Morse code from Queen Victoria to President James Buchanan. 

The cable broke down a few weeks later, and two more attempts were made to provide a successful, lasting connection, which was achieved in 1866. That’s when the speed improved to 6–8 words per minute. But this “faster” rate came at the high price of $10 per word for a 10-word minimum. $100 back then was about two months’ pay for a skilled laborer. The primary users were entities with big pockets, such as the British and American governments and large corporations.

In 1956, TAT-1, the first transatlantic telephone cable system with a total cable length of 326 nautical miles, had a capacity of 36 telephone channels. The inaugural call linked AT&T and FCC company officials in New York with officials in Ottawa and London. By 1976, cables carried 4,000 telephone channels, and in 1996 the capacity was 2 x 5 Gbit/s. Expanding exponentially, by 2001 the Atlantic VSNL (TGN) had a capacity of 2 x 2,520 Gbit/s.

Those early growth years of technology were essential to being where we are now, and yes, advances come with a heady price, but what we take for granted today would have long been considered totally unimaginable. 

Last modified on November 4, 2021

11/4/21 – You may recall seeing reports such as the one in the New York Post about irate Tesla owners fuming over rats chomping on the wiring in their $70,000 cars. Owners of Hondas, Toyotas, Hyundais and Kias have also reported chewed wires.

So who is at fault? The topic led to a legal matter, one that has yet to be completely resolved, but it does conjure up a colorful image: a judge in a courtroom with car makers at one table, car owners at the other, and the audience packed with rats with a, “Who, me?” look on their faces. 

A suit was filed against Toyota blamed the auto maker for using wires made with soy-based materials that rodents like to chew on. The plaintiffs claimed that the car maker's choice of materials had created a "defect," while the Toyota countered that it was all about rats being rats, and rats have always like to chew wires.  

In 2018, District Court Judge Andrew Guilford dismissed the case because Toyota’s warranty doesn’t specifically cover wiring damage from rodents. He dismissed claims pressed in 13 states. The plaintiffs appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In August 2020, it found that Guilford misidentified the rats as the problem, when the class action alleged that it was the soybean-based wired coating.

In May 2021, U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney ruled that the court was bound by the Ninth Circuit’s previous findings in the case, which ruled that expressed warranty claims could progress, but California Unfair Competition Law claims remained dismissed. The case continues. From various media reports, it seemed unlikely that the class action lawsuit filed by 21 people car owners would see them recoup their losses even if they prevail.

Throughout the proceedings, the rats have had no comment.

 

Last modified on November 5, 2021

10/6/21  The debate on whether to bury power lines continues to gain attention. Proponents say burying lines protects them from weather-related damage while opponents counter that the cost is too prohibitive, and that it would be a regulatory nightmare to get all the needed approvals. 

Burying power lines has to be done on a case-by-case assessment. Places prone to flooding are not ideal, and accessing buried lines for repair are more costly than fixing above ground lines. Either way, a lot is at stake: to pay up front to go underground, or to have to suffer later when there are more crippling power outages.

The sentiment following major powers outages may be strongly for burying the cables, but seldom does it result in action ... until a company decides that it has no other choice. Pacific Gas & Electric, which has had horrendous problems from firestorms, announced in July that it plans to bury 10,000 miles of its power lines (about 10% of its total grid) at a projected cost of about $20 billion. 

Per a report from the Institute for Energy Research, PG&E has more than eight million trees near the company’s power lines. PG&E plans to spend $1.4 billion this year to trim over a million trees and remove more than 300,000 of them. The company was scheduled to lay 70 miles of power lines underground this year, so 10,000 miles would be a mammoth task.

The timeline for laying the underground cable is projected at two years. PG&E's 16 million California customers, which already pay some of the highest electricity rates in the U.S., will likely will see their monthly bills go up. When this project is completed, it promises to be one of the largest case studies ever done.

Last modified on October 6, 2021

10/6/21  Do you have a junk drawer full of different chargers for every device you own? Are they tangled up like last season’s holiday lights? Did you buy a new phone with yet another different charger model? The EU has a simple solution that will cut down on all that electronic waste and reduce consumer frustration – harmonize mobile phone chargers by establishing an industry standard. The European Commission will soon introduce legislation to decouple the sale of chargers from devices and will require all smartphones sold in the EU to use USB-C chargers by 2024.

USB-C is a logical and versatile choice because it is compatible with USB 2.0 micro-B and USB 3.0, it transmits data and power on a single cable, it runs faster data transfer, it is smaller and thinner than the USB port, and it is already the format used for all new Android devices.

But not everyone is on board with conformity. Apple has its own Lightning connector port for its iPhone. The company claims that forcing connectors to conform will hurt technological innovation, create more electronic waste, and confuse customers.

The EU’s legislation is part of the push for “a Europe fit for the digital age” that will make charger conformity “a matter of urgency in order to avoid further internal market fragmentation,” according to the European Parliament. The Commission’s 2019 Impact Assessment Study found that half of chargers sold in 2018 used USB micro-B, 29% were USB-C, and 21% were Lightning.

Last modified on October 6, 2021

9/8/21 – When you think of data transmission, your first thought might be of optical fiber, but a team of Chinese researchers thinks there may be an even better medium: ice.

 In the journal Science, researchers Peizhen Xu of Zhejiang University and colleagues discussed how they have studied the use of ice to transmit light. They want to transition ice from a normal state to Ice II, which is a highly ordered rhombohedral crystalline structure. The key is the creation of ice “hairs” can be created that have high optical quality because they are extraordinarily clear and can allow efficient light transmission. The nearly perfect ice hairs are devoid of imperfections, like cracks, that cause ice to break.

 The researchers used a needle with an electrical charge to attract water vapor and freeze it. At cryotemperatures between –70° and –150°C, strands of single-crystal ice microfibers (IMFs) ranging from 10 micrometers to less than 800 nanometers could bend or curve up to 11% and then spring back to their original shape. They can transmit whispering-gallery light waves, which are able to travel around a concave surface. Those waves can be used in evaluating material properties, such as viruses from infected samples; lasers; cooling; sensing; and astronomy.

 Theoretically, using ice as a transmission mode can provide low-loss optical waveguiding, which guides light on integrated circuits for optical communication. And yes, if it pans out, it could be an alternative to optical fiber made from glass. So, ice could someday be the “next-gen” for industry, but for now one can still appreciate it for how well it sits in a gin and tonic.

Last modified on September 8, 2021