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ARPA-E to award $60M to 2 programs: enhancing biomass yield and dry-cooling for thermoelectric power

2 October 2014

ARPA-E’s vision of advanced phenotyping to enhance biomass yield. Click to enlarge.

The US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) will award up to $60 million to two new programs ($30 million each). The Transportation Energy Resources from Renewable Agriculture (TERRA) program (DE-FOA-0001211) seeks to accelerate biomass yield gains (especially energy sorghum) through automated, predictive and systems-level approaches to biofuel crop breeding. The Advanced Research In Dry cooling (ARID) program (DE-FOA-0001197) aims to develop low-cost, highly efficient and scalable dry-cooling technologies for thermoelectric power plants.

TERRA. ARPA-E posited that there is an urgent need to accelerate energy crop development for the production of renewable transportation fuels from biomass. While recent advances in technology has enabled the extraction of massive volumes of genetic, physiological, and environmental data from certain crops, the data still cannot be processed into the knowledge needed to predict crop performance in the field. This knowledge is required to improve the breeding development pipeline for energy crops.

Continue Reading “ARPA-E to award $60M to 2 programs: enhancing biomass yield and dry-cooling for thermoelectric power”

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Lamborghini’s first plug-in hybrid super sports car demonstrator debuts at Paris

2 October 2014

Automobili Lamborghini (part of the Volkswagen Group) unveiled its first plug-in hybrid (PHEV) technology demonstrator, the Lamborghini Asterion LPI 910-4, at the 2014 Paris Mondial de l’Automobile.

Conceived and developed entirely in-house by Lamborghini, Asterion’s hybrid system combines a V10 5.2-liter naturally aspirated engine with three electric motors for total power of 669 kW/910 hp, enough for acceleration of 0-100 km/h in 3.0 s and a top speed of 320 km/h (199 mph), or up to 125 km/h (78 mph) under pure electric power. All-electric range is 50 km (31 miles). Fuel consumption is 4.12 l/100 km (57 mpg US) combined cycle (NEDC).

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Volkswagen XL1-based XL Sport concept powered by Ducati V2 joins Passat GTE plug-in hybrid on Paris stage

1 October 2014

Volkswagen XL Sport concept. Click to enlarge.

On the evening before the Paris Motor Show, the Volkswagen Group presented not only the production-bound Passat GTE plug-in hybrid (earlier post), but also staged the world premiere of the XL Sport—a highly efficient sports car concept based on Volkswagen’s XL1 diesel plug-in hybrid (earlier post). The XL Sport is a sister model of the XL1; both share the same basic design—although not the same powertrain. The main element they have in common is the body, many parts of which are manufactured in carbon-reinforced polymer (CFRP), with a monocoque featuring slightly offset seats for the driver and passenger.

The XL Sport concept car is a sports car with 200 PS (197 hp, 147 kW) of power and a top speed of 270 km/h (168 mph) that was created based on the hyper-fuel-efficient XL1. Operating at the rear of the XL Sport—and the technical highlight of the powertrain—is a modified V2 engine from the new Ducati 1199 Superleggera—the world’s most powerful two-cylinder motorcycle engine. (Ducati is also part of the Volkswagen Group.) This engine, together with a 7-speed DSG, launches the sports car from zero to 100 km/h in 5.7 seconds and revs up to 11,000 rpm.

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New “2-in-1” EV unit integrates traction motor and A/C compressor for increased range in hot climates

1 October 2014

Engineers from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) have designed a “2-in-1” electric motor unit which can increase the range of electric vehicles in hot climates. This innovative electric machine integrates the A/C compressor, the compressor drive motor and the traction motor into a single housing physically clutching with the compressor during braking events.

The approach unifies the EV traction and compressor drives into a single housing which drive together during braking events. Based on simulations and analysis, the team expects the system to reduce battery consumption by at least 3% compared to existing mechanisms while improving the regenerative energy capturing capacity of the system by 8%. Overall, the novel design could increase the range of electric vehicles by an additional 15 to 20% with other modifications, the researchers suggested.

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Westport updates HPDI 2.0 dual fuel system with new Delphi injectors, upgraded LNG storage and supply

1 October 2014

1st-generation Westport HPDI Injector and next-generation injector. (CNW Group/Westport Innovations Inc. Click to enlarge.

Westport Innovations Inc. is updating its second-generation Westport high pressure direct injection (Westport HPDI 2.0) (earlier post) development program with a new family of high-pressure fuel injectors, co-developed with Delphi Automotive PLC. The new injectors are designed to provide lower cost, smaller size and improved packaging compared to prior generation Westport HPDI injector designs.

The new generation injectors are running in engine tests today and are on display at the Delphi booth at the IAA Commercial Vehicles Show in Hanover, Germany.

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GMZ Energy announces new, high-power thermoelectric module: TG16-1.0

1 October 2014

TG16. Click to enlarge.

GMZ Energy, a developer of high temperature thermoelectric generation (TEG) solutions, has introduced the TG16-1.0, a new thermoelectric module capable of producing twice the power of the company’s first product, the TG8-1.0. By doubling the power density, GMZ’s new module substantially increases performance while maintaining a minimal footprint.

GMZ has been using TG8 modules in developing vehicular thermoelectric generators for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle (1 kW TEG) as well as to design and to integrate a light-duty vehicle TEG into a Honda Accord as part of a DOE-funded project. (Earlier post.)

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DOE will award up to $25M to reduce costs of algal biofuels to less than $5/gge by 2019

30 September 2014

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $25 million in funding to reduce the cost of algal biofuels to less than $5 per gasoline gallon equivalent (gge) by 2019. (Earlier post.)

The release of the new funding opportunity announcement (DE-FOA-0001162) occurred on the first full program day for the Algae Biomass Summit in San Diego, at which algae entrepreneurs, researchers, investors, producers and end-users are gathering to share developments, as well as to explore the ongoing challenges of technology, financing and commercialization. DOE Assistant Secretary EERE David Danielson, the opening keynote speaker for the summit, said that the agency is “all in” on algae fuels.

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Chrysler’s Ram Truck increases EcoDiesel mix to 20% of Ram 1500 production; double expectations

30 September 2014

Chrysler’s Ram has decided to increase the 3.0-liter V-6 EcoDiesel powertrain mix to 20% of the total Ram 1500 production volume—double the initial expectation. The EcoDiesel delivers 240 hp (179 kW), 420 lb-ft (569 N·m) of torque with up to 9,200 pounds (4,173 lbs) of towing capability and 28 mpg highway (8.4 l/100 km) in the full-size half-ton pickup. (Earlier post.)

When the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel opened for orders earlier this year, Ram Truck received more than 8,000 requests within three days, which quickly filled the initial allocation for the powertrain.

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Study finds solo hybrid drivers in California HOV lanes amplify congestion, create up to $4,500 per car in adverse social costs annually

30 September 2014

Allowing single-occupant low-emission cars in California to use high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on congested highways exacerbates the congestion and causes up to about $4,500 per car in adverse social costs annually, including increased commute times and carbon dioxide emissions, according to a new study in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.

The authors, from Cornell University, University of Colorado, UC Irvine and UC Berkeley, calculated that the Clean Air Vehicle Stickers (CAVS) policy results in a best-case cost of $124 per ton of reductions in greenhouse gases; $606,000 per ton of nitrogen oxides reduction; and $505,000 per ton of hydrocarbon reduction—exceeding those of other options readily available to policymakers.

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Honeywell Global Turbo Forecast projects 49M turbocharged vehicle sales, $12B revenue per year by 2019

30 September 2014

The automotive turbocharging industry will generate $12 billion in revenue by equipping 49 million vehicles with turbochargers annually by 2019, according to Honeywell Turbo Technologies’ 2014 Global Turbo Forecast. The continued growth of turbocharging technologies will be driven by requirements for manufacturers to meet global environmental emissions regulations and bolstered by strong demand in emerging markets.

Automakers are turning to downsized turbocharged engines to satisfy more stringent global fuel economy and emission regulations and customer demand for better-performing vehicles. Turbochargers can help downsized engines improve fuel economy as much as 20 to 40% in gasoline and diesel engines, respectively, when compared with larger naturally aspirated engines and still provide the same or better engine performance. In addition to improving fuel efficiency, downsized turbocharged engines also reduce harmful exhaust emissions.

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Topsøe researchers analyze hydrotreating catalyst at single-atom level; potential for more efficient catalysts for cleaner fuels

30 September 2014

Cover courtesy of S. Nygaard, Haldor Topsøe A/S. Click to enlarge.

Researchers from Haldor Topsøe A/S have analyzed an industrial-style MoS2-based hydrotreating catalyst at the single-atom level using electron microscopy. With this method, the sites of single cobalt atoms, which are responsible for promoting sulfur removal from oil distillates, are resolved. The study is published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

Co-Mo-S is the active part in Haldor Topsøe’s series of TK catalysts; the cobalt serves as a promoter of the functional properties of the transition metal dichalcogenide (TMD) MoS2. The researchers obtained images—achieved following decades of attempts—disclosing detailed knowledge about the structure of the catalyst. The research could mean more efficient catalysts for oil refineries in the near future, promoting a cleaner environment and helping industry to deal with increasingly tight and more stringent environmental legislation.

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Promised VW Passat plug-in hybrid to debut at Paris show; both sedan and wagon

29 September 2014

Passat GTE sedan. Click to enlarge.

In his remarks before the opening of the Geneva Motora Show in March 2014, Volkswagen Group Chairman of the Board of Management Prof. Dr. Winterkorn said that a plug-in hybrid version of the Volkswagen Passat would join the Group’s range of low-CO2 vehicles “soon.” (Earlier post.)

Accordingly, at the Paris Motor Show, Volkswagen will introduce the new Passat GTE plug-in hybrid, the Volkswagen brand’s third plug-in hybrid (after the XL1, earlier post and Golf GTE, earlier post) and its first plug-in hybrid offered in both sedan and wagon styles. The Passat GTE leverages the Volkswagen Group’s MQB-based plug-in hybrid powertrain, also seen in the VW Golf GTE and the Audi A3 e-tron. (Earlier post.) The Passat GTE will be launched in the second half of next year in Europe.

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