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Measuring, Drop by Drop

As an engineer, you know that air safety has never been better. As a passenger, you may think, in the deep recesses of your mind, otherwise. Fortunately, there are companies like Droplet Measurement Technologies, which are in the business of engineering even safer skies and calmer passengers.

Droplet, founded 25 years ago by two engineers and an atmospheric scientist, makes complex systems used to measure particles of all sizes and shape in the atmosphere. Part of what it does is instrumentation for icing research. Icing is suspected as one of the causes of the Air France Flight 447 crash over the Atlantic on June 1, 2009.

Lloyd Banta, an engineer with the company (pictured, right, with colleague Larry Blair), invited us — early in the Drive for Innovation — to stop by, and so we did to see an array of amazing instruments that operate in nasty environments and measure particles as small as 1/10th of a micron for everything from icing to cloud seeding to pollution applications.

Banta, who separately took time out of engineering to sail around the world, gave us an in-depth tour of Droplet's measurement technology:

This article was originally published on Drive for Innovation.

101 comments on “Measuring, Drop by Drop

  1. FLYINGSCOT
    November 24, 2013

    As someone who flies a lot of miles each year it is great to know that there are cool companies out there doing this type of design engineering.  It still amazes me when the A380 lifts so effortlessly into the sky….and stays there 😉

  2. ahdand
    November 25, 2013

    Indeed it's a magic if you look from outside but that shows the power of technology. Technology can do wonders and with things which science cannot do or even predict to. True technology is a combination of science but still technology is far more cooler than science for me  

  3. t.alex
    November 25, 2013

    Amazing instruments. This is wear engineering and science truly meet.

  4. Daniel
    November 26, 2013

    “Droplet, founded 25 years ago by two engineers and an atmospheric scientist, makes complex systems used to measure particles of all sizes and shape in the atmosphere. Part of what it does is instrumentation for icing research. Icing is suspected as one of the causes of the Air France Flight 447 crash over the Atlantic on June 1, 2009.”

    Brain, whether any of the aviation company or airport authorities making use of their expertise to avoid air accidents? If none of them using, who is going to get benefit out of this.

  5. SunitaT
    November 26, 2013

    Making the skies safe and passengers would be less tense. This is more than a welcome notion to get rid of icing on the wings of planes and hence ensure passenger safety. They can also integrate high levels of defrosting technology on the wings of the plane

  6. Ashu001
    November 26, 2013

    Jacob,

    I share your scepticism entirely here.

    What's the point of Doing revolutionary research if Users can't benefit from it in the Real world?

    All one has to do is look all the Reams of Research papers that come out of most of our Univerities today(most of which ends up  stored in some Archive for Posterity somewhere);to realize this Vital fact.

    I hope the Company can achieve concrete Results which are Widely adopted by the Airline Industry Globally.

    for that it also has to be Cost-effective too.

     

  7. Ashu001
    November 26, 2013

    Tirlapur,

    Could you kindly share more information with us about how you will establish this Defrosting Technology on Metal (or Ceramic in the case of the latest 787 ) Wings?

    Its one thing to do this inside an enclosed Space like a Fridge (or even the insides of a Car);but to do the same at such High Altitudes and at such Extremely Low Temperatures is a totally different story.

    Lets also not forget the Low Pressure outside either.

  8. Ashu001
    November 26, 2013

    FlyingScot,

    You should be!

    Looking at all the Crazy things that are happening to the Dreamliner today(Windows shattering,Fueselages falling out of the Sky,Batteries blowing up,etc);It really is a miracle to see the kind of advancements one sees constantly in Commercial Aviation today.

  9. Ashu001
    November 26, 2013

    Nimantha,

    Undoubtedly!

    There is massive Magic in Technology.But one should never forget that Technology originates from Science and so if there were no Science(especially the Basic Sciences) Technology would have a very-very rough ride going ahead.

     

  10. Daniel
    November 26, 2013

    “All one has to do is look all the Reams of Research papers that come out of most of our Univerities today(most of which ends up  stored in some Archive for Posterity somewhere);to realize this Vital fact.”

    Ashish, as an R&D engineer I know that only researchers are referring such research papers or journals. Unless and until, it will get productized or applied to certain level in process flow as a corrective mechanism; it's not going to be useful.

  11. Ashu001
    November 27, 2013

    Jacob,

    You know I share the same opinion as you do here.

    Frequently one sees and hears that some smart Engineer or Researcher has achieved some sort of Major Technological Brakthrough but when it comes to Monetizing that Development(themselves or via some other Firm) its usually a massive struggle.

    Also a lot of founders are too Possessive about their Idea/Invention.

    They need to get less emotional and more practical in their approach here.

     

  12. Ashu001
    November 27, 2013

    Guys,

    This just in on Bloomberg-The Dreamliner is experiencing more Trouble now.

    When will these series of Troubles ever end for the Dreamliner?

     

    http://www.bloomberg.com/video/boeing-warns-of-ice-risk-on-ge-powered-dreamliners-lhcT2lgpQie3PyXEWZwqqQ.html

    What was once a Fine IDea now looks like a Costly-Costly Experience.

    Looks like Airbus is making the most of Boeing's Mishaps here!

  13. ahdand
    November 28, 2013

    @tech4people: Yes but it's a totally different thing altogether isn't it ? Certain facts in science are being proved wrong by IT itself so how come that happens ?        

  14. Daniel
    November 28, 2013

    “but when it comes to Monetizing that Development(themselves or via some other Firm) its usually a massive struggle.  Also a lot of founders are too Possessive about their Idea/Invention. They need to get less emotional and more practical in their approach here”

    Asish, if they are not able to productize it, can do a TOT (Transfer of Technology) either on royalty base or outright sell.

  15. Daniel
    November 28, 2013

    “Yes but it's a totally different thing altogether isn't it ? Certain facts in science are being proved wrong by IT itself so how come that happens ?”

    Nimantha, we won't be able say any of the previous inventions are totally wrong or misleading. But later due to the advancement in research methodology and technology, corrections can be suggested.

  16. Ashu001
    November 29, 2013

    Nimantha,

    Kindly please share which Basic Sciences facts have been proved wrong by IT.

    I happen to agree entirely with Jacob here on this Issue.IT can add/augment to Basic Sciences results not disprove them entirely.

  17. Ashu001
    November 29, 2013

    Jacob,

    This is precisely where the Ego of the Founders of the Companies comes into play.

    They don't want to let go off their Research/technology.

     

  18. Daniel
    December 1, 2013

    “This is precisely where the Ego of the Founders of the Companies comes into play. They don't want to let go off their Research/technology.”

    Ashish, I won't think it's because of any ego clash. But it can be something else like finance or manpower and even lack of enough skill sets.

  19. Ashu001
    December 15, 2013

    Jacob,

    I disagree(Strongly).

    I have seen Founders display such an intense amount of Protection/Love for their Technology/Company that it routinely boggles the Mind(as Far as I am concerned).

    So many Entrepreneurs routinely give up on the Oppurtunity to achieve Commercial Closure for the Tech that they Develop because they want to remain Involved with the Whole Process (Even if it means Losing Large Amounts of Money in the process).

    Its much more widespread than you can imagine today.

  20. Daniel
    December 16, 2013

    “disagree(Strongly). I have seen Founders display such an intense amount of Protection/Love for their Technology/Company that it routinely boggles the Mind (as Far as I am concerned).”

    Ashish, very rare case. In most of the cases I had seen that sacrifice many things for the benefit of company.

  21. Ashu001
    December 17, 2013

    Jacob,

    In that case lets just agree to disagree here.

    LOL!

    Its true that they are ready to Do anything for their Business/technology as long as they are one of the Key Decision-makers involved with it.

    If you ask them to take a back-seat;that's where the Trouble starts.

    They tend to get Over-possessive.

  22. Daniel
    December 17, 2013

    “ts true that they are ready to Do anything for their Business/technology as long as they are one of the Key Decision-makers involved with it.  If you ask them to take a back-seat; that's where the Trouble starts. They tend to get Over-possessive.”

    Asish, in partnership business, why such decisions?

  23. Ashu001
    December 19, 2013

    Jacob,

    What about in Situations where you need More Equity(sweat or Capital)?

    does'nt that give the Provider who comes in Later more of a Say in the Business?

    Even in Partnership Businesses this changes considerably from Situation to Situation.

     

  24. Ashu001
    December 19, 2013

    Jacob,

    What about in Situations where you need More Equity(sweat or Capital)?

    does'nt that give the Provider who comes in Later more of a Say in the Business?

    Even in Partnership Businesses this changes considerably from Situation to Situation.

     

  25. Daniel
    December 19, 2013

    “What about in Situations where you need More Equity(sweat or Capital)? does'nt that give the Provider who comes in Later more of a Say in the Business?”

    Ashish, I think in partnership business, there should be some concrete agreement in black and white. So chances for such arguments are very minimal.

     

  26. Daniel
    December 19, 2013

    “Even in Partnership Businesses this changes considerably from Situation to Situation.”

    Ashish, I personally feel that chances are at minimal level because percentages of equities are well defined before registering the partnership firm. So its difficult to change it later, without a unanimous decision among partners.

  27. Ashu001
    December 22, 2013

    Jacob,

    Those Agreements are very much there.

    But its one thing on Paper and another thing in practice!

    Things change a lot once Sweat Equity comes into play.Everything becomes very different.Unfortunately for the Founders they pretend as if everything is one and the same!

     

  28. Ashu001
    December 22, 2013

    Jacob,

    As a Practicing Entrepreneur what I have personally noticed is things are more Fluid in the real world.

     

  29. Daniel
    December 22, 2013

    “As a Practicing Entrepreneur what I have personally noticed is things are more Fluid in the real world.”

    Ashish, may be you are right. What I learned is all the partners have a fixed share of equities and if any of the share holders are planning to sell, it can be acquired by others.  

  30. Daniel
    December 22, 2013

    “Those Agreements are very much there. But its one thing on Paper and another thing in practice! Things change a lot once Sweat Equity comes into play. Everything becomes very different. Unfortunately for the Founders they pretend as if everything is one and the same!”

    Ashish, am not sure about such things.

  31. Ashu001
    December 24, 2013

    Jacob,

    Yes that is a Fair enough and Reasonable comment to make.

    Especially in those parts of the World where the Court System is Heavily overloaded things usually don't work simply in Black and White so to speak.

  32. Ashu001
    December 24, 2013

    Jacob,

    Yes that is a Fair enough and Reasonable comment to make.

    Especially in those parts of the World where the Court System is Heavily overloaded things usually don't work simply in Black and White so to speak.

  33. Ashu001
    December 24, 2013

    Jacob,

    Yes but it need not be limited to just the Founders.

    Anyone who has the Cash or the Sweat Equity can acquire that stake if they so desire.

    Its just a question of applying themselves to the task at hand.

  34. Daniel
    December 29, 2013

    “Yes but it need not be limited to just the Founders.  Anyone who has the Cash or the Sweat Equity can acquire that stake if they so desire. Its just a question of applying themselves to the task at hand.”

    Ashish, it can happen if both parties are willing and not forcefully.

  35. Daniel
    December 29, 2013

    “Especially in those parts of the World where the Court System is Heavily overloaded things usually don't work simply in Black and White so to speak.”

    Ashish, court proceedings make take time because lots of similar cases may in pending state. But they have the procedure of arbitrator; where amicable settlement can happen outside the court through mediation cell.

  36. Ashu001
    December 30, 2013

    Jacob,

    It all depends on the Kind of Powers that Mediatation Cell has and how receptive are the Warring Parties to its judgement.

    What about in Areas where such Cells don't exist(for whatever reason)?

    Who is Going to deliver the Ultimate Judgement there?

    It will have to be the Courts only-No Matter how overloaded they are currently.

  37. Ashu001
    December 30, 2013

    Jacob,

    Forced Takeovers happen all the time.

    You just need to want something badly enough and have the right resources in place.

     

  38. jbond
    December 30, 2013

    @tech4people

    “Jacob,

    Forced Takeovers happen all the time.

    You just need to want something badly enough and have the right resources in place”

     

    You are absolutely correct. This happens more then people realize.

  39. ahdand
    December 30, 2013

    @Jbond: Well don't you think its based on the requirements and how rapidly it changes ?   

  40. ahdand
    December 31, 2013

    @tech: If the resources are there for you, why do you have to worry on it ?        

  41. ahdand
    December 31, 2013

    @tech4people: Good question. IMO judgement should be given by the users. They are the ones who get to feel the real heat of it.         

  42. jbond
    December 31, 2013

    Yes, I agree.

  43. Ashu001
    December 31, 2013

    Nimantha,

    That is how it usually is.

    If your Product sucks automatically Sales will fall(its a Given);when that happens The Company has no choice but to respond by improving their Product or SHutting Shop.

    Is'nt the Free-market system wonderful?

  44. Ashu001
    December 31, 2013

    jbond,

    Yes I agree Once again.

    Its really astounding how folks fail to realize how Often this occurs nowadays.

    There is unbelievable amount of Power in Money;which not many folks realize.

    WHile at the sametime simply throwing Money at an Issue does'nt solve all the world's problems it can buy you a lot more than one imagines routinely.

  45. Ashu001
    December 31, 2013

    Nimantha,

    Not very clear what exactly you are referring to here.

    What resources do you have in Mind?

    Without the right resources in place you can't do even 10% of what needs to be done in most Jobs today.

     

  46. Daniel
    December 31, 2013

    “Forced Takeovers happen all the time.  You just need to want something badly enough and have the right resources in place.”

    Ashish, its doubtful in equity or shares in partnership because stake holders interest has to be protected.

  47. Daniel
    December 31, 2013

    “It all depends on the Kind of Powers that Mediatation Cell has and how receptive are the Warring Parties to its judgement. What about in Areas where such Cells don't exist (for whatever reason)? Who is Going to deliver the Ultimate Judgement there? It will have to be the Courts only-No Matter how overloaded they are currently.”

    Ashish, I think all most all court have a panel of judges, attorneys and advocates for mediation. From case to case court will select some expert members from this panel and appoint for mediation or arbitration.

  48. Ashu001
    January 2, 2014

    Jacob,

    Are you sure you can think of no way in which Money can buyout the Stakes via Hostile Takeovers?

    Even if say the Shareholding is Pledged with a Bank?

     

  49. Ashu001
    January 2, 2014

    Jacob,

    Here as well big issue is that both Parties have to agree to the Mediation process.

    What do you do if they Don't?

  50. Daniel
    January 5, 2014

    “Here as well big issue is that both Parties have to agree to the Mediation process. What do you do if they Don't?”

    Ashish, if both parties are not agreed, then mediation becomes failure and court will continue with normal proceedings like taking evidence and arguments based on facts.

  51. Daniel
    January 5, 2014

    “Are you sure you can think of no way in which Money can buyout the Stakes via Hostile Takeovers? Even if say the Shareholding is Pledged with a Bank?”

    Ashish, I won't think it can happen forcefully.

  52. Ashu001
    January 8, 2014

    Jacob,

    In most countries Court Cases can take forever to deliver FINAL Verdicts(after you go through the WHole Appeals Process).

    What should Companies do in the interim?

    They decide everything in the Market-place;where the fellow with the most Cash Wins-Usually.

  53. Ashu001
    January 8, 2014

    Jacob,

    Forced Take-overs happen all the Time in the Corporate World(in just about every field you can imagine).

    Its a way of life in the Real world.

  54. Daniel
    January 9, 2014

    “Forced Take-overs happen all the Time in the Corporate World(in just about every field you can imagine). Its a way of life in the Real world.”

    Ashish, No idea about it and I believe chances are less.

  55. Daniel
    January 9, 2014

    “In most countries Court Cases can take forever to deliver FINAL Verdicts(after you go through the WHole Appeals Process). What should Companies do in the interim? They decide everything in the Market-place;where the fellow with the most Cash Wins-Usually.”

    Ashish, that's a big question and even I don't know. But I believe that 'they will maintain statisco'

  56. Ashu001
    January 13, 2014

    Jacob,

    As the saying Goes-“Time usually Does'nt stand Still”.

    So Maintainence of Status-Quo is Equivalent to letting the Guy with More Cash in Hand win.

    Its Hard reality of the Way the Business World works today.

  57. Ashu001
    January 13, 2014

    Jacob,

    Believe me it usually does happen like this only.

  58. Daniel
    January 14, 2014

    “Believe me it usually does happen like this only.”

    Ashish, I have to because am not sure about such proceedings.

  59. Daniel
    January 14, 2014

    “As the saying Goes-“Time usually Does'nt stand Still”. So Maintainence of Status-Quo is Equivalent to letting the Guy with More Cash in Hand win. Its Hard reality of the Way the Business World works today.”

    Ashish, maintain the Status-Quo means continuing with the previous condition.

  60. Ashu001
    January 15, 2014

    Jacob,

    In Business especially in Today's Cut-throat super-competitive world that position(Status-Quo) is equivalent to Attrition which is basically what I said previously[Letting the Guy with the Most Cash Win].

    Its a fact of life and Business.

  61. Daniel
    January 15, 2014

    “In Business especially in Today's Cut-throat super-competitive world that position(Status-Quo) is equivalent to Attrition which is basically what I said previously[Letting the Guy with the Most Cash Win]. Its a fact of life and Business.”

    Ashish, hopeless and pathetic situation.

  62. Ashu001
    January 17, 2014

    Jacob,

    Yes that is undeliable reality.

    Can't Do much about it.

  63. Daniel
    January 19, 2014

    “Yes that is undeliable reality. Can't Do much about it.”

    That's true Ashish.

  64. Ashu001
    January 20, 2014

    Jacob,

    Does'nt it feel sad and Helpless when we really don't have much Control/Power over our Circumstances?

    Its a sad-sad state of Reality.

    This is why one is always pushing to encourage people to take charge,Take Action and be Accountable for their actions.

    Its the only way to achieve real  and lasting success.

     

  65. Daniel
    January 20, 2014

    “Does'nt it feel sad and Helpless when we really don't have much Control/Power over our Circumstances?  Its a sad-sad state of Reality.  This is why one is always pushing to encourage people to take charge,Take Action and be Accountable for their actions. Its the only way to achieve real  and lasting success.”

    Asish, that's a helpless situations where none of them can help us including the law and order department.

  66. Ashu001
    January 21, 2014

    Jacob,

    More often than not the Law is owned by those with the most Cash.That's the sadder part here.

     

  67. itguyphil
    January 21, 2014

    If the law's not on your side, then it's going to be against you. That breeds much room for contempt & corruption, which benefits no one.

  68. Daniel
    January 21, 2014

    “More often than not the Law is owned by those with the most Cash.That's the sadder part here.”

    Asish, Law and Order through local police station is usually favors for those who spent more cash. But when it comes to judicial system, no compromise and everything is based on the evidence provided.

  69. Daniel
    January 21, 2014

    “If the law's not on your side, then it's going to be against you. That breeds much room for contempt & corruption, which benefits no one.”

    Pocharle, there is no such questions and nobody can question it too. Law is always with evidences and proofs. Judgments are based on such documents in front of them.

  70. Ashu001
    January 22, 2014

    Jacob,

    I can show you many incidents in the Western Hemisphere where Justice can be influenced in many ways using Cash/Pressure Tactics.

    As for China,if you against the Communist Party there you are Doomed.Its as simple as that.

     

  71. Daniel
    January 22, 2014

    “I can show you many incidents in the Western Hemisphere where Justice can be influenced in many ways using Cash/Pressure Tactics. As for China,if you against the Communist Party there you are Doomed.Its as simple as that.”

    Asish, it's a pathetic situation and there won't be any justice. They are doing justice only to the bribed amount.

  72. itguyphil
    January 28, 2014

    I'm not sure I follow…

  73. Daniel
    January 28, 2014

    “I'm not sure I follow…”

    Pocharle, thanks for your innocence.

  74. Ashu001
    January 31, 2014

    Jacob,

    I agree the situation is very hard.You have to just adapt to the Different Reality and work with it.

    No way around it in so many Situations like that today.

  75. Ashu001
    January 31, 2014

    pocharle,

    We are basically discussing the Unprecedented Hold and Power that Money has most Decision-making in the Western World today.

    Even in China its the same old story.

  76. Daniel
    February 2, 2014

    “I agree the situation is very hard.You have to just adapt to the Different Reality and work with it. No way around it in so many Situations like that today.”

    Ashish, that's a bad situation and peoples are tempted to get corrupted.

  77. Ashu001
    February 10, 2014

    Jacob,

    Yes,it all boils down to the Kind of Self-esteem and Self-Discipline you have today.

    Otherwise its very easy to fall under these destructive influences today.

  78. Daniel
    February 13, 2014

    “Yes,it all boils down to the Kind of Self-esteem and Self-Discipline you have today. Otherwise its very easy to fall under these destructive influences today.”

    Asish, it's a very difficult situation and how many can withstand from these temptations?

  79. itguyphil
    February 18, 2014

    In the Western world only? Where in the world isn't it the main sticking point?

  80. ahdand
    February 18, 2014

    @pochale: I don't think it affects only towards the western world. All the countries (most of them) do have some sort of an affect to it. 

  81. Ashu001
    February 20, 2014

    pocharle,

    Scandinavia is one such area.

    You can see the results of transparency International for a better idea of what is corrupt and what is'nt.

    Also in most industries which are Hyper-Competitive Corruption tends to be on the lower side(that does'nt mean it is'nt there).

     

  82. Ashu001
    February 20, 2014

    Jacob,

    Self-Discipline is the only way this can be done effectively.

    Everything else is just noise and Bueracracy.

  83. itguyphil
    February 20, 2014

    Most? I think money's a major effect in ALL places. If not money, then what is?

  84. itguyphil
    February 20, 2014

    I had to google 'transparency international' to find out what it is since I've never heard of it. But from what I read, it seems like a good thing. Nice to see how they have profiles of the pros & cons for each country. Even more 'funny' reading the challenges that the US faces. You can see that all of them are man-made.

  85. ahdand
    February 20, 2014

    @tech4people: Yes it's something which should be encouraged actually but starting will be very tough at the beginning. I think we have to allocate some time for it but time too is very essential.     

  86. Daniel
    February 20, 2014

    “Self-Discipline is the only way this can be done effectively. Everything else is just noise and Bueracracy.”

    Ashish, yes self discipline and motivation for that.

     

  87. Ashu001
    February 22, 2014

    pocharle,

    Don't tell me you had no idea about Transparency International?

    I am most surprised.

    Its a brilliant-brilliant initiative that helps to clarify what issues most countries and Companies face Globally.

    Corruption has always been a Man-Made issue;make no mistake about that one.

     

  88. Ashu001
    February 22, 2014

    Nimantha,

    That's where the teething troubles usually lie.

    Which Department should allocate resources here?

    What about  Time?

    Who spends more time here?

    Should it be HR?

    Should it be CEO?

    what about CFO?

    Its not an easy situation to solve.

  89. itguyphil
    February 24, 2014

    I've actually never heard of it. I've been reading a lot on their website since the other day. It's good stuff. It's sad that with the 24/7 news coverage, I haven't once heard of it or seen any articles on the major online channels.

  90. Ashu001
    February 25, 2014

    pocharle,

    Just trust me on this issue.

    Transparency International are like the Greenpeace of the world of Truth and Transparency.

     

  91. ahdand
    February 26, 2014

    @tech4people: Do you mean to say that they are not transparent at all is it ?  

  92. itguyphil
    February 26, 2014

    tech4people,

    I believe you. I just wish I knew about it sooner.

  93. ahdand
    February 27, 2014

    @pocharle: Good things do take time and its always better not to rush things. Even for information     

  94. Ashu001
    February 27, 2014

    Nimantha,

    No You are mistaken here.

    I meant that they manage to expose more things than what most Ordinary Folks know about today.

    That's the power of Transparency International for You!

     

  95. Ashu001
    February 27, 2014

    pocharle,

    Now you do!

    Better late than Never!

     

  96. itguyphil
    March 18, 2014

    Agreed. It also helps to get beyond the fray & avoid the dreaded INformation Overload.

  97. tollyorg
    January 23, 2015

    really nice article 🙂

  98. jinumm
    August 20, 2015

    I believe you. I just wish I knew about it sooner.thanks

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    July 14, 2019

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