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Mercedes-Benz to set up EV production in US, battery plant; $1B investment in Alabama

21 September 2017

Mercedes-Benz will set up electric vehicle production in the United States. The company plans to produce EQ-branded SUV models at MBUSI (Mercedes-Benz US International), its Tuscaloosa, Alabama facility. At the time being launched, the EQ models will feature the latest status of automated driving—always under the premise of safety and in compliance with the statutory regulations.

In addition, a battery plant will also be built near the existing passenger-car plant ensuring availability of advanced technology for future generations of Mercedes-Benz vehicles built in the US. In total, Mercedes-Benz plans to invest $1 billion in the expansion of its industrial footprint in the region, most of which is slated for the electric initiative.

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ArcelorMittal S-in motion seat study cuts weight by up to 18.3% with AHSS; introduction later this year

21 September 2017

In 2010, leading global steelmaker ArcelorMittal launched its S-in motion range of lightweight steek solutions. (Earlier post.) Since then, the company has steadily expanded the range of solutions, which now cover many other types of vehicles and vehicle parts, including hybrid and electric vehicles, pick-up trucks, mid-size sedans and SUVs.

Front seats are the latest vehicle component to be examined as part of the ongoing development of lightweight S-in motion solutions, with a reduction in weight of up to 18.3%. The S-in motion Front Seats project identified where advanced high strength steels (AHSS) could be used to optimize and lightweight components while maintaining safety and performance. The scope of the study was a typical front seat for a C-segment passenger vehicle.

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Cornell team uses indium coating to enable use of high-capacity lithium metal anodes

21 September 2017

Researchers at Cornell led by Professor Lyndon Archer, in collaboration with Professor Ravishankar Sundararaman at Rensselaer Polytechnic, have demonstrated a new technique for enabling the use of high-capacity lithium metal anodes in rechargeable batteries.

In a paper in the journal Angewandte Chemie the team shows that the indium (In) coatings stabilize the Li metal via multiple processes, including exceptionally fast surface diffusion of lithium ions and high chemical resistance to liquid electrolytes. Indium coatings also undergo reversible alloying reactions with lithium ions, facilitating design of high-capacity hybrid In-Li anodes that use both alloying and plating approaches for charge storage. The resultant In-Li anodes exhibit minimal capacity fade in extended galvanostatic cycling when paired with commercial-grade cathodes.

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HRL engineers 3D print high-strength aluminum, solve welding problem using nanoparticles of nucleants

21 September 2017

HRL Laboratories researchers have developed a technique for successfully 3D printing high-strength aluminum alloys—including types Al7075 and Al6061—that opens the door to additive manufacturing of engineering-relevant alloys. These alloys are very desirable for aircraft and automobile parts and have been among thousands that were not amenable to additive manufacturing—a difficulty that has been solved by the HRL researchers.

An added benefit is that the method can be applied to additional alloy families such as high-strength steels and nickel-based superalloys difficult to process currently in additive manufacturing. A paper on the technique is published in the journal Nature.

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Tulane, SACHEM collaborate on SSZ-39 zeolite for improved SCR systems

21 September 2017

Members of Tulane University’s Shantz Lab will collaborate with scientists from chemical science company SACHEM to develop next-generation materials to reduce automotive emissions. SACHEM is funding the effort.

Under the direction of Daniel Shantz, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and the Entergy Chair of Clean Energy Engineering, the lab members and SACHEM scientists will collaborate to improve the performance of the zeolite SSZ-39 in the selective catalytic reduction of NOx in automotive exhaust.

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U. Houston-led project looking for new exhaust treatment catalysts for low-temperature lean-burn combustion engines

21 September 2017

A chemical engineer from the University of Houston is leading a $2.1-million project to find new catalytic materials that work at lower exhaust temperatures, allowing automakers to build vehicles that operate more efficiently while retaining the ability to clean emissions before they leave the tailpipe.

Michael Harold, chairman of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at UH, will serve as principal investigator on the grant, funded by the US Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory (DOE NETL). The project also includes researchers from the University of Virginia (UVA); Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL); and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI). Engineers from Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles Inc. and Johnson Matthey Inc. also will be involved in the project.

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Delphi and Blackberry partner: QNX operating system for Delphi autonomous driving system

21 September 2017

Delphi Automotive PLC signed a commercial partnership agreement with BlackBerry Limited under which Blackberry will provide the QNX operating system for Delphi’s autonomous driving system. Delphi and BlackBerry QNX will collaborate to bolster software performance and safety in their operating system to advance autonomous driving technology.

Delphi’s fully integrated automated driving solution, Centralized Sensing Localization and Planning (CSLP), to launch in 2019, provides car manufacturers and Automated Mobility on Demand (AMoD) a best in class turnkey automated driving solution. The BlackBerry QNX OS for Safety will facilitate Delphi’s proprietary Ottomatika software algorithms and middleware, to enhance performance and safety.

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Navigant forecasts transportation demand for hydrogen to accelerate Power-to-Gas growth

20 September 2017

Navigant Research forecasts that the transportation segment, with hydrogen demand as a catalyst, will jump-start power-to-gas (P2G) demand and further drive down electrolyzer and other infrastructure costs.

P2G—the conversion of electrical power into gaseous energy carriers—has been held back from mass adoption by high costs, regulatory hurdles, and difficulties with infrastructure. However, Navigant suggests, as the levelized cost of renewable energy falls and as electrolyzer technologies improve and decline in price, P2G business models are taking shape.

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thyssenkrupp and Tata Steel sign MoU to combine European steel activities in 50/50 joint venture

20 September 2017

thyssenkrupp and Tata Steel signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to combine their European steel activities in a 50/50 joint venture. Their aim is to create a leading European flat steel player to be positioned as quality and technology leader. The new entity is set to have pro-forma sales of about €15 billion (US$18 billion) and a workforce of about 48,000, currently at 34 locations. Shipments are envisioned to be about 21 million tons a year.

To be named thyssenkrupp Tata Steel, the planned joint venture will be managed through a lean holding company based in the Netherlands. It is to have a two-tier management structure comprising a management board and a supervisory board. Both boards are to have equal representation from thyssenkrupp and Tata. The codetermination structures in Germany, the Netherlands and Great Britain will be retained.

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Initial order from Sinotruk for UQM Powerphase DT drive systems for pilot trials; beginning of commercial partnership

20 September 2017

Hong-Kong-based Sinotruk has made an initial purchase of UQM PowerPhase DT (drivetrain) systems (earlier post) for implementation and evaluation in their commercial vehicles. This is the first step towards the long term strategy of utilizing UQM electric drive products across Sinotruk’s portfolio of commercial vehicles.

The UQM PowerPhase DT pairs any of UQM’s PowerPhase HD propulsion systems with a two-speed Eaton transmission and Pi Innovo’s transmission control unit—an application-specific variant of the OpenECU M220 controller, with model-based controls developed by Pi Innovo’s systems engineering team. The PowerPhase DT provides a greater speed and torque range than direct drive systems, allowing smaller electric motors to drive large vehicles. In addition, the 2-speed transmission keeps the electric motor operating in the highest efficiency region for a greater portion of the drive cycle.

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DOE launches new high performance computing initiative to develop materials for severe environments: HPC4Mtls

20 September 2017

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced a new high-performance computing (HPC) initiative to help US industry accelerate the development of new or improved materials for use in severe environments.

The High Performance Computing for Materials (HPC4Mtls) program will will initially focus on challenges facing the development of new or improved materials that can sustain extreme conditions—including extreme pressure, radiation, and temperature, corrosion, chemical environment, vibration, fatigue, or stress states. Challenges include materials and structures discovery and design; predicting behavior in specific severe environments; scaling up production from grams to kg; and better understanding detailed processes in areas such as oxidation, corrosion, other electrochemical interactions, matter-matter, matter-energy, and matter-plasma interactions, and behavior under multiple fields and loads.

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Renault, Nissan, Mitsubishi 6-year plan sees 12 pure EV models launched on common platforms, 40 models with autonomous drive

20 September 2017

The Alliance of Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi announced their six-year plan—Alliance 2022—which sets a new target to double annual synergies to €10 billion by the end of the plan. To achieve this, said Carlos Ghosn, chairman and chief executive officer of the Alliance, the three automakers will accelerate their collaboration on common platforms, powertrains and next-generation electric, autonomous and connected technologies.

The Alliance is forecasting total annual sales to exceed 14 million units with $240 billion in revenue by the end of the plan—up more than 30% on the $180 billion aggregate revenues achieved in 2016. Under Alliance 2022, the member companies will increase their use of common platforms, with nine million units based on four common platforms. The plan will also extend the use of common powertrains to 75% of total sales. Alliance 2022 plans a major expansion in shared electric vehicle technologies, alongside the development and deployment of advanced autonomous drive systems, vehicle connectivity and new mobility services.

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