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IBM and shipping giant Maersk launch blockchain company for global logisics

IBM and Danish transport conglomerate Maersk announced today they are launching a joint venture to redefine the global shipping industry for the blockchain age. The new company, which hasn’t yet been named, will focus on simplifying the complex process of moving goods across different trade zones.

The company initially plans to market two capabilities built on IBM Blockchain: a shipping information pipeline that provides a real-time, transparent view of merchandise movement, and smart contracts to replace what is today a slow and paperwork-heavy process.

“More than $4 trillion in goods are shipped each year, and more than 80 percent of the goods consumers use daily are carried by the ocean shipping industry. The maximum cost of the required trade documentation to process and administer many of these goods is estimated to reach one-fifth of the actual physical transportation costs. According to The World Economic Forum, by reducing barriers within the international supply chain, global trade could increase by nearly 15 percent, boosting economies and creating jobs,” Maersk said in a press release.

Assuming the new company is able to get regulatory clearance for its offerings, they should be available within six months, according to the release. The company will be headquartered in New York City.

Maersk and IBM have been working on the platform since June 2016. Companies that have piloted the solution include DuPont, Dow Chemical, Tetra Pak, Port Houston, Rotterdam Port Community System Portbase, the Customs Administration of the Netherlands, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

“The pilots confirmed our expectations that, across the industry, there is considerable demand for efficiency gains and opportunities coming from streamlining and standardizing information flows,” said Michael J. White, former president of Maersk Line in North America and CEO of the new company. “Now this work has progressed to a point that a beta version involving all players of the ecosystem along a specific trade lane can be launched. That is why we intend to create the joint venture — to take these solutions to market.”

Procter & Gamble, Agility Logistics, the Peruvian customs agency, global terminal operator APM Terminals, and the Guangdong Inspection, and Quarantine Bureau are a few of the companies and agencies planning to explore the technology, according to the press release.

Maersk and IBM will also be assembling industry experts for an advisory board to guide further development of the platform and open standards.

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Existing EV batteries could be recharged five times faster

Lithium-ion batteries have massively improved in the last half-decade, but there are still issues. The biggest, especially for EVs, is that charging takes too long to make them as useful as regular cars for highway driving. Researchers from the University of Warwick (WMG) have discovered that we may not need to be so patient, though. They developed a new type of sensor that measures internal battery temperatures and discovered that we can probably recharge them up to five times quicker without overheating problems.

Overcharging a lithium-ion battery anode can lead to lithium buildup, which can break through a battery's separator, create a short-circuit and cause catastrophic failure. That can cause the electrolyte to emit gases and literally blow up the battery, so manufacturers impose strict charging power limits to prevent it.

Those limits are based on hard-to-measure internal temperatures, however, which is where the WMG probe comes in. It's a fiber optic sensor, protected by a chemical layer that can be directly inserted into a lithium-ion cell to give highly precise thermal measurements without affecting its performance.

The team tested the sensor on standard 18650 li-ion cells, used in Tesla's Model S and X, among other EVs. They discovered that they can be charged five times faster than previously thought without damage. Such speeds would reduce battery life, but if used judiciously, the impact would be minimized, said lead researcher Dr. Tazdin Amietszajew.

Faster charging as always comes at the expense of overall battery life but many consumers would welcome the ability to charge a vehicle battery quickly when short journey times are required and then to switch to standard charge periods at other times.

There's still some work to do. While the research showed the li-ion cells can support higher temperatures, EVs and charging systems would have to have "precisely tuned profiles/limits" to prevent problems. It's also not clear how battery makers would install the sensors in the cells.

Nevertheless, it shows a lot of promise for much faster charging speeds in the near future. Even if battery capacities stayed the same, charging in 5 minutes instead of 25 could flip a lot of drivers over to the green side.

Via: Clean Technica

Source: University of Warwick