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UF engineer, two colleagues invent sensor to extend electric car battery

INNOVATION

Longer Battery Life

Three UF engineers invent a sensor that generates its own power using external magnetic fields.

Cars today have multiple sensors that perform all manner of tasks, from alerting drivers to vehicles in their blind spots to warning of low tire pressure or a door that’s ajar. Minimizing the drain on the car’s battery from those sensors is crucial, particularly in electric vehicles.

University of Florida engineering professor Jennifer Andrew and two engineering colleagues, David Arnold and Matthew Bauer, have developed a sensor that doesn’t run off a car’s battery, which would extend the range of an electric vehicle.

The device consists of nanowires that use ambient magnetic fields near the sensor to generate power. Each wire is made of layers of barium titanate and cobalt ferrite, which changes shape when it’s exposed to a magnetic field, such as that generated by the turning of gears in a car engine. This shape change causes a similar response in the barium titanate, which, in turn, creates voltage that powers the sensor.

“It’s one thing to drive an electric vehicle around a city. But if you want to go on a road trip, you have to think, ‘Where am I going to charge it?’ ” Andrew says. “The less we drain the battery with sensors, the more we can extend the vehicle’s range.”

UF has secured a provisional patent for the technology, and the researchers’ industrial partner, New Hampshire-based Allegro Micro-systems, has licensed the patent for the sensor.

GOVERNMENT

  • Jacksonville’s municipal utility, JEA, chose a city-owned site on West Adams Street downtown for its new headquarters. Minneapolis-based Ryan Cos. has proposed building a 207,810-sq.-ft. office tower and an 850-space garage for JEA, which is looking to move for the first time in 31 years. Ryan plans to buy the property from the city and finalize a lease agreement with JEA by the end of this summer. The project is to be completed in fall 2021.
  • April Green, COO of Baxter Technology and CFO/COO for Bethel Baptist Institutional Church in Jacksonville, is JEA’s new board chair.
  • Former local TV newscaster Nikki Kimbleton joined the city of Jacksonville as director of public affairs. Her predecessor, Marsha Oliver, left the job to oversee community outreach for The Players/PGA Tour.

REAL ESTATE

  • Atlanta-based Fuqua Development unveiled plans for a mixed-use project on 67 acres near I-295 in Jacksonville. The $300-million project, called the Exchange at Jacksonville, will include shops, restaurants, offices, apartments, a movie theater and hotels. Fuqua plans to begin construction in early 2020. J
  • Jacksonville's Downtown Investment Authority will seek development ideas for the former city hall and Duval County courthouse properties on East Bay Street. The city had considered putting a convention center on the 8.3-acre site, but Mayor Lenny Curry rejected the idea, saying downtown should focus first on developing more hotel space and “lifestyle and entertainment” amenities.
  • Pollack Shores Real Estate Group is building a 175-unit apartment complex, called Olea at Nocatee, in Ponte Vedra. The project, to be completed in summer 2020, will be marketed to Baby Boomers.

EDUCATION

  • John Avendano, president of Kankakee Community College in Illinois, is the new president of Florida State College at Jacksonville. With more than 30 years of community college experience, Avendano has led Kankakee since 2009. He replaces interim FSC President Kevin Hyde, who stepped in a year ago after the retirement of former President Cynthia Bioteau. Avendano has a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology and a master’s in adult continuing education from Northern Illinois University and a doctorate in educational administration from Illinois State University.

HEALTH CARE

  • Orange Park Medical Center will build a 60,000-sq.-ft. medical office building in Clay County.
  • Memorial Hospital Jacksonville paid Gate Petroleum $3.7 million for 4 acres near the Duval-St. Johns County line. Memorial plans to build primary and specialty care clinics on the site.
  • Waltham, Mass.-based Thermo Fisher Scientific bought Alachua biotech company Brammer Bio for $1.7 billion. Brammer, which employs 250, develops gene therapies using technology spun out of UF.

BANKING

  • Former VyStar executive Joe Nowland became president and CEO of Jax Federal Credit Union, succeeding Gerri Sexsion, who retired.

MANUFACTURING

  • Contact lens maker Johnson & Johnson Vision will expand its Jacksonville manufacturing facility by 9,600 square feet.
  • School supply company Cra-Z-Art plans to open a manufacturing and distribution center in north Jacksonville and hire 21 people at an average annual salary of $53,298 by the end of 2021.

TECHNOLOGY

  • Kishore Khandavalli succeeded Jason Cory as CEO of Jacksonville-based SharedLabs. Cory, who founded the technology company in 2016, resigned to pursue other opportunities. Khandavalli founded iTech, which SharedLabs acquired for $17 million in 2017.

RETAIL

  • Kroger and Ocado will build a warehouse in Groveland to handle online grocery orders. The facility is to open in 2021 and create 400 jobs.
  • Atlanta-based Dewberry Group plans to expand and renovate the 58-year-old Roosevelt Square shopping center in Jacksonville.
  • The city of Jacksonville will spend $1.5 million to help retail tenants whose leases will be terminated when the Jacksonville Landing shopping and entertainment complex closes.

 

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