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London and Paris launch car scoring initiative based on real-world emissions; ICCT the technical lead

29 March 2017

Mayor of Paris and Chair of C40 Cities Anne Hidalgo and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced they are working together to create schemes to score new cars based on their real-world emissions and their impact on air quality and to provide that data in an accurate and accessible form to the public. Other cities have committed to work with the C40 Cities toward adoption of similar schemes.

The initiative announced today by Paris and London is supported by The Real Urban Emissions (TRUE) Project, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the FIA Foundation, and the Joshua and Anita Bekenstein Charitable Fund. This new undertaking will capture detailed information on pollutants from vehicle exhaust using remote-sensing equipment and portable emissions monitoring systems. The ICCT will be the lead technical organizational partner managing vehicle testing and data analysis in the TRUE Project.

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Ascend Energy and Atrex Energy demo tubular SOFC electric ATV, fueled by natural gas

29 March 2017

Ascend Energy, in collaboration with solid oxide fuel cell manufacturer Atrex Energy, released the results of a joint project to demonstrate a newly developed tubular solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) in an electric all-terrain vehicle (ATV). The project was supported by a $146,283 Energy Innovations Small Grant (EISG) from the California Energy Commission.

Ascend worked with Tructronics Inc., idea Solutions Design, and JB Mechanical to integrate and install a commercial 1000 Watt Atrex Energy fuel cell power generator fueled with compressed natural gas in an all-electric Polaris Ranger ATV. ATVs are in common use in California farms, ranches and orchards as a utility vehicle but the gasoline-fueled versions make a significant contribution to poor air quality in the farm regions of the state.

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DOE BETO report provides overview of current state of alternative aviation fuels; overcoming technical and commercial barriers

29 March 2017

The US Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) has published a report titled Alternative Aviation Fuels: Overview of Challenges, Opportunities, and Next Steps. The report provides an overview of the current state of alternative aviation fuels, as reported in findings by recent working groups, and also presents findings from the Alternative Aviation Fuel Workshop hosted by BETO in September 2016.

Unlike other liquid fuels (e.g., diesel or gasoline) with developed alternatives (such as electrical power), alternatives to current aviation jet fuels are at the early stages of development. In the near term, the most promising option is bio-derived aviation fuel. Bio-based jet fuels also present a tremendous opportunity to transition away from fossil fuels towards domestically produced aviation biofuel that would further reduce US reliance on foreign oil and create jobs, BETO notes.

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National Academies report finds EPA’s controlled human exposure studies of air pollution are warranted

29 March 2017

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carries out controlled human inhalation exposure (CHIE) studies in which volunteer participants agree to be intentionally exposed by inhalation to specific pollutants at restricted concentrations over short periods to obtain important information about the effects of outdoor air pollution on human health.

A new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine finds these studies are warranted and recommends that they continue under two conditions: when they provide additional knowledge that informs policy decisions and regulation of pollutants that cannot be obtained by other means; and when it is reasonably predictable that the risks for study participants will not exceed biomarker or physiologic responses that are of short duration and reversible.

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Opinion: What A Westinghouse Bankruptcy Could Mean For U.S. Utilities

29 March 2017

by Leonard Hyman and Bill Tilles for Oilprice.com

International news services now report that Japan’s Toshiba Corporation (9502.T) is preparing to make a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in the US for its Westinghouse Electric subsidiary. For most of our readers this news evokes little surprise. This is merely another chapter of a slow moving financial and accounting train wreck involving nuclear design and construction firm Westinghouse and its troubled Japanese parent, Toshiba. But like an old, leaky garbage scow, there is much to clean up in its wake.

The two U.S. utilities with the most at risk are Southern Company and SCANA Corp. Westinghouse is presently constructing two unit, AP 1000 nuclear power stations for each utility. These projects are over-budget and behind schedule. It appears that Westinghouse offered both utilities a fixed price contract for these new nuclear plants. Our best guess is that this fixed price construction guarantee has doomed Westinghouse and prevented other potentially willing buyers from stepping in. No one it seems is willing to take on this seemingly open-ended nuclear construction liability.

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Ford investing $1.2B in 3 Michigan plants; focus on trucks, SUVs, big data & mobility services

28 March 2017

Ford Motor Company is investing $1.2 billion in three Michigan manufacturing facilities to strengthen its leadership in trucks and SUVs and support the company’s expansion to an auto and mobility company.

Ford is investing $850 million in Michigan Assembly Plant to retool the plant to build the all-new Ford Ranger and Ford Bronco. Employees at Michigan Assembly Plant will begin building Ranger at the end of 2018 and Bronco in 2020.

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Hermes to deploy 1500 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Vito electric vans by 2020; pilot project in 2018

28 March 2017

Hermes and Mercedes-Benz Vans have agreed on a wide-ranging strategic partnership to electrify the courier service’s vehicle fleet. The companies are to start using battery-electric vehicles in the logistics provider’s normal operations in a pilot phase in Stuttgart and Hamburg in early 2018.

The focus will be on the economy, sustainability and practicality of tailpipe emission-free delivery vans when used for the last mile. By the end of 2020, Hermes Germany intends to deploy 1,500 Mercedes-Benz Vito and Sprinter electric vans in urban areas across Germany.

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AeroVironment and eMotorWerks partner to offer smart advanced electric vehicle charging solutions

28 March 2017

AeroVironment and eMotorWerks, a provider of intelligent and cloud-connected smart-grid charging solutions, are partnering to deliver smart advanced EV charging solutions. By integrating eMotorWerks’ JuiceNet smart-grid EV charging platform into AeroVironment’s line of consumer and OEM EV charging solutions, both companies aim to provide increased charging capabilities to customers and electric demand load aggregation for utilities.

AeroVironment charging solutions with integrated eMotorWerks’ JuiceNet will enable EV drivers to gain benefits that include smartphone, web and Amazon Alexa voice control over charging, real time and historic energy usage for cars, notifications of charging status, load balancing two or more EVSEs on the same electrical circuit to share the load while avoiding tripping breakers, and setting charging schedules that correspond to lower utility rates, saving customers money on charging.

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Tencent buys 5% stake in Tesla for $1.8 billion

28 March 2017

China-based Tencent Holdings Ltd. has acquired a 5% stake (8,167,544 shares) in Tesla for an aggregate price of $1,777,842,836 (including commission), according to a Schedule 13G form filed by Tesla with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Tencent acquired the shares through Tesla’s latest registered offering of common stock (17 March 2017, earlier post) and through open market purchases.

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Aachen team develops framework for model-based formulation of biofuel blends with tailored properties

28 March 2017

A team at RWTH Aachen University has developed a framework for the model-based formulation of biofuel blends with tailored properties by considering the fuel’s molecular composition as the fundamental design degree of freedom. A paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.

The researchers envision that the model-based approach can (i) guide fundamental experimental investigations of the combustion behavior of blended biofuels toward the most favorable mixtures and (ii) identify promising conversion pathways for further elaboration by means of reaction engineering and conceptual process design. The latter is ultimately needed to bridge the gap from a mass- and energy-based molecular level analysis to a process level analysis addressing the economics of the involved conversion and separation steps.

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SAIC-GM Connectivity Strategy 2025 lays out roadmap to cloud-based connectivity, autonomy

28 March 2017

SAIC-GM, GM’s Chinese joint venture with SAIC, announced its Connectivity Strategy 2025, which lays out a roadmap for its connectivity development from 2017 through 2025. The strategy will take advantage of its extensive customer base and global resources with a focus on vehicle information, infotainment and intelligent driving.

SAIC-GM will speed up the creation of a cloud-based platform and services, improve its vehicles’ connectivity to build a “people-vehicle-life” ecosystem, and aim to lead the development of a future intelligent vehicle society and lifestyle. In this effort, SAIC-GM is leveraging OnStar’s more than 20 years of experience. The high-level timeline is:

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Vattenfall contracts with BMW for up to 1,000 new 33 kWh Li-ion batteries this year for storage projects in wind farms

28 March 2017

Vattenfall and the BMW Group have signed a contract for the delivery of up to 1,000 lithium-ion batteries this year. The batteries—each with a capacity of 33 kWh—are equipped with a BMW-owned battery management system and are also used by the car manufacturer in the BMW i3.

Vattenfall will purchase the new batteries from the BMW plant in Dingolfing and use them in all storage projects. The first energy storage from the BMW-i3 batteries is being built at the 122 MW onshore wind farm “Princess Alexia” near Amsterdam. With a capacity of 3.2 megawatts (MW), it is Vattenfall’s first large storage project in the Netherlands.

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