IBM sharpens focus on business and battery efficiency

IBM launches two initiatives today that aim to make businesses, energy grids and lithium ion batteries more efficient.

The first involves the creation of the Green Sigma Coalition to integrate IBM's Green Sigma consulting service with the products and services of several big-name partners. A second project will take aim at the development of tomorrow's lithium ion batteries.

IBM unveiled its Green Sigma consulting service last summer to address environmental impacts of a company's operations, ranging from the data center and office facilities to retail space and manufacturing plants. The service is based on the Lean Six Sigma management strategy.

The company will incorporate the service with the products of other charter members of the newly formed Green Sigma Coalition, which includes Johnson Controls, Honeywell Building Solutions, ABB, Eaton, ESS, Cisco, Siemens Building Technologies Division and Schneider Electric. The coalition will give customers a range of expertise to tackle energy and water consumption, waste and carbon footprint.

IBM will also embark on a long-term research program that will focus on next-generation lithium ion batteries for use in electric vehicles while also lending support to smarter power grids. The batteries have the potential to store 10 times the energy as today's batteries.

"High density, scalable energy storage technologies are emerging as the greatest game changer for this new era of renewable energy sources and smarter grids," Sharon Nunes, vice president of IBM's Big Green Innovations, said in a statement.

The research and development initiative will also include partnerships with academia and industry players to collaborate on the research, which could one day lead to the licensing of battery cell intellectual property; IBM has no plans to manufacture the battery cells itself. IBM will kick off the battery initiative with a gathering of researchers in August at its annual Almaden Institute held in San Jose.

The initiatives are part of a larger wave of announcements from the company today and demonstrate how IBM is lending its expertise to a wide variety of applications, including a high-performance computer that uses water for cooling. In 2006, IBM launched its overarching Big Green Innovations initiative, a platform of services focused on water management, alternative energy and carbon management.

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