GE ranks among the world’s 100 most innovative companies and institutions in a new study released by the information firm Thomson Reuters.
The Thomson Reuters 2012 Top 100 Global Innovators list includes companies with the broadest reach and the highest volume, success, and influence of their patents and patent applications. Nearly half of the companies on the list are American (47 percent), followed by businesses from Asia (32 percent) and Europe (21 percent).
The U.S. Department of Commerce recognized innovation as “the key driver of competitiveness and job growth, and long term economic growth.” An analysis by Thomson Reuters found that the companies on its innovators list added more than 124,000 new jobs and outperformed the S&P 500 stock market index in several important metrics.
IP IQ: GE’s innovative Durathon battery contains 30 patents.
Last year GE spent nearly $6 billion on research and development, or 6 percent of its industrial revenues, and filed more than 3,600 patent applications.
GE’s next-generation Durathon battery, for example, contains 30 patents. The sodium battery can recharge 3,500 times over its 20-year lifetime, ten times more often than standard lead acid batteries. It is also non-toxic and fully recyclable. Ten new customers from Africa, Asia and the U.S. have placed Durathon orders valued at more than $63 million since its launch last summer.
In aviation, GE’s advanced LEAP jet engine has parts manufactured from revolutionary new materials called ceramic matrix composites (CMCs). The parts are one-third lighter than identical components made from superalloys, and extremely durable. They work in temperatures as high as 2,400F, well beyond metals, and make the engine more fuel efficient.
CMCs also find applications in gas turbines for power plants. GE’s new FlexEfficiency 60 combined cycle power plant, which is using technology originally developed for jet engines, can convert a record 61 percent of natural gas energy into electricity. Customers from the U.S., Europe, Japan, and Saudi Arabia have ordered the power plant and its sister technology, the FlexEfficiency 50.
GE, of course, has a long history innovation starting with Thomas Edison. Two GE scientists have received Nobel prizes for inventions that revolutionized medical imaging. Others Nobel laureates, like Richard Feynman, who coined the word nanotechnology, and Ernest O. Lawrence, who invented the cyclotron and whose name graces two U.S. national laboratories (Lawrence Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley), spent time at GE as research fellows. GE labs now employ 3,000 workers, including 1,125 PhDs, at research headquarters in Niskayuna, New York, and in labs in San Ramon, California, Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro, Bangalore, and Munich.