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Lawrence Livermore graphene aerogels could improve performance of carbon-based superconductors by more than 100%

18 October 2014

Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) are developing modified graphene aerogels for application in supercapacitor electrodes. LLNL’s graphene aerogel material could potentially improve on the performance of commercial carbon-based supercapacitors by more than 100%, said LLNL’s Dr. Patrick Campbell, lead author of a paper on the technology published in the RSC journal Journal of Materials Chemistry A.

In the paper, the LLNL team reports a 2.9-fold increase in electrical energy storage capacity (up to 23 Wh kg−1) of their graphene materials by modifying them with anthraquinone. These hybrid electrodes demonstrate battery-like energy density, supercapacitor-like power performance, and superb long-term stability, the researchers said.

Continue Reading “Lawrence Livermore graphene aerogels could improve performance of carbon-based superconductors by more than 100%”

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Nissan leads with transfer of California ZEV credits out for year ending 30 Sep 2014

17 October 2014

Nissan led with California ZEV credit transfers out during the last report period. Click to enlarge.

Between 1 October 2013 and 30 September 2014, Nissan transferred out 663.6 ZEV (zero emission vehicle) credits from its balance account, according to the latest report by the California Air Resources Board (ARB)—just edging out Tesla with 650.195 credits. The next closest was Fiat, with 235.2 ZEV credits transferred out; followed by Ford with 38.738.

This latest credit balance report reflects ZEV regulation compliance through model year 2013, representing a total of 3.5 million vehicles including: more than 500 fuel cell vehicles; 38,000 battery electric vehicles; 29,300 neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs); 30,000 plug-in hybrids; 570,000 hybrids; and 3 million gasoline vehicles. As of September 2014, more than 100,000 ZEVs and plug-in hybrids are on California roads.

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MIT/Stanford team refines TREC battery for harvesting low-grade waste heat

17 October 2014

In May, researchers at MIT and Stanford University reported the development of new battery technology for the conversion of low-temperature waste heat into electricity in cases where temperature differences are less than 100 ˚Celsius. The thermally regenerative electrochemical cycle (TREC) uses the dependence of electrode potential on temperature to construct a thermodynamic cycle for direct heat-to-electricity conversion. By varying the temperature, an electrochemical cell is charged at a lower voltage than discharged; thus, thermal energy is converted to electricity. (Earlier post.)

Now, in a paper in the ACS journal Nano Letters, the team reports a refinement of the earlier Prussian blue analog-based system system, which although it operated with high efficiency, used an ion-selective membrane which, in turn, raised concerns about the overall cost. The refined system is a membrane-free battery with a nickel hexacyanoferrate (NiHCF) cathode and a silver/silver chloride anode. When the battery is discharged at 15 °C and recharged at 55 °C, thermal-to-electricity conversion efficiencies of 2.6% and 3.5% are achieved with assumed heat recuperation of 50% and 70%, respectively.

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Abengoa opens cellulosic ethanol plant in Hugoton; 1st commercial deployment of Abengoa enzymatic hydrolysis

17 October 2014

The Hugoton cellulosic ethanol plant covers 400 acres, more than 380 of which will be used to store biomass from local farmers. Click to enlarge.

Abengoa held the grand opening of its cellulosic ethanol plant in Hugoton, Kansas, located about 90 miles (145 km) southwest of Dodge City. Abengoa’s new biorefinery finished construction in mid-August and began producing cellulosic ethanol at the end of September with the capacity to produce up to 25 million gallons (94.6 million liters) per year. Abengoa received a $132.4-million loan guarantee and a $97-million grant through the Department of Energy to support construction of the Hugoton facility.

The plant utilizes only “second generation” (2G) biomass feedstocks for ethanol production—i.e.non-edible agricultural crop residues (such as stalks and leaves) that do not compete with food or feed grain. The facility also features an electricity cogeneration component allowing it to operate as a self-sufficient renewable energy producer. By utilizing residual biomass solids from the ethanol conversion process, the plant generates 21 megawatts (MW) of electricity—enough to power itself and provide excess clean renewable power to the local Stevens County community.

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Siemens integrates EV motor and inverter in single housing; common cooling and SKiN

17 October 2014

Siemens has developed a solution for integrating an electric car's motor and inverter in a single housing. Click to enlarge.

Siemens has developed a solution for integrating an electric car’s motor and inverter in a single housing. The motor and the inverter, part of the power electronics which converts the battery’s direct current into alternating current for the motor, have up to now been two separate components. The new integrated drive unit saves space, reduces weight, and cuts costs.

The solution’s key feature is the use of a common cooling system for both components. This ensures that the inverter’s power electronics don’t get too hot despite their proximity to the electric motor, and so prevents any reduction in output or service life.

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New WSU palladium-iron catalyst could improve drop-in biofuels production from pyrolysis oils

17 October 2014

The addition of palladium (Pd) prevents deactivation (addition of oxygen, red spheres) of an iron catalyst in the reaction that removes oxygen from biofuel feedstock. Credit: ACS, Hensley et al.. Click to enlarge.

Washington State University researchers have developed a new palladium-iron hydrodeoxygenation catalyst (Pd/Fe2O3) that could lead to making drop-in biofuels cheaply and more efficiently. Their work is described in two papers in the October issue of the journal ACS Catalysis and is featured on the cover.

The first WSU paper (Hong describes the synthesis of a series of Pd/Fe2O3 catalysts and their performance for the hydrodeoxygenation of m-cresol—a phenolic compounds used as a model compound in the HDO research, as it can be derived from pyrolysis of lignin. The second (Hensley et al.) reports on a combined experimental and theoretical approach to understand the potential function of the surface Pd in the reduction of Pd/Fe2O3.

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Solazyme and Amyris receive Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge awards

16 October 2014

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the 5 winners of the 2014 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards, including biotechnology companies Amyris and Solazyme, Inc. Solazyme received the award for Greener Synthetic Pathways for its tailored oils produced from microalgal fermentation. Amyris received the Small Business award for its renewable hydrocarbon farnesane for use as diesel and jet fuel.

Amyris has engineered yeast to make the hydrocarbon farnesene via fermentation instead of ethanol. Farnesene is a building block hydrocarbon that can be converted into a renewable, drop-in replacement for petroleum diesel without certain drawbacks of first-generation biofuels. A recent lifecycle analysis estimated an 82% reduction in GHG emissions for farnesane, compared with the EPA baseline fossil diesel—including indirect effects.

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Novel bi-metallic palladium-tungsten nano-alloy an efficient low-cost fuel cell catalyst; simple microwave synthesis

16 October 2014

Swedish and Chinese researchers have fashioned a novel nano-alloy composed of palladium nano-islands embedded in tungsten nanoparticles supported on ordered mesoporous carbon as an efficient fuel cell catalyst. In a paper in the journal Nature Communications, they reported that despite a very low percentage of noble metal (​palladium:tungsten=1:8), the hybrid catalyst material exhibits a performance equal to commercial 60% platinum/Vulcan for the oxygen reduction reaction in a fuel cell.

The researchers attributed the high catalytic efficiency to the formation of small palladium islands embedded at the surface of the ​palladium–tungsten bimetallic nanoparticles, generating catalytic hotspots. The ​palladium islands are ~1 nm in diameter, and contain 10–20 palladium atoms that are segregated at the surface. The results, they said, may provide insight into the formation, stabilization and performance of bimetallic nanoparticles for catalytic reactions.

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DEINOVE and MBI partner on cellulosic biofuels using DEINOL and AFEX

16 October 2014

France-based DEINOVE and US-based MBI have formed a technological partnership to demonstrate the effectiveness of the DEINOVE’s DEINOL technology for producing biofuels based on lignocellulosic biomass (2G biofuels) using MBI’s AFEX (ammonia fiber expansion) pretreatment system.

DEINOL uses Deinococcus bacteria to break down the complex sugars contained in pre-treated lignocellulosic biomass and then to convert them into ethanol in a single operation, replacing the microorganisms that are traditionally used and a large part of the enzyme treatment that precedes fermentation. (Earlier post.) MBI, in close collaboration with Michigan State University (MSU), has developed and is scaling up its AFEX pretreatment technology. (Earlier post.)

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Nissan begins testing combination of LEAF EVs and “LEAF to Home” for grid demand response services

16 October 2014

Nissan Motor Corporation has begun testing in Japan of a system to use electric vehicle technology to help power grids cope with peaks in demand.

Nissan is using Nissan LEAF EVs paired with the LEAF to Home power supply system (earlier post) for demand response testing at several of its sales outlets run by subsidiary Kanagawa Nissan Co., Ltd. to assess the effectiveness of EV batteries when used for energy management. The tests are being conducted by ENERES Co., Ltd.

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Report: Toyota to begin sales of fuel cell sedan in Japan this December

15 October 2014

The Nikkei reports that Toyota will begin sales of its new hydrogen fuel cell vehicle (FCV), reportedly named Mirai, in Japan in December. The company had earlier said the fuel cell sedan would be on sale in Japan before April 2015, and in the US and Europe by summer 2015. (Earlier post.)

The Nikkei said that Toyota had planned to make 700 of the fuel cell cars annually, but that initial demand is already reaching close to 1,000. The company will consider raising output based on the progress of the deployment of the refueling infrastructure required.

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ORNL team uses 3D printing and WBG semiconductors to make smaller, more powerful inverter (update w/ metrics)

15 October 2014

Prototype inverter. Click to enlarge.

Using 3-D printing and novel silicon carbide (SiC) wide band gap (WBG) semiconductors, researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have created a prototype power inverter for electric vehicles that achieves a much higher power density than currently available along with a significant reduction in weight and volume—almost meeting, and in terms of efficiency, beating, DOE’s 2020 targets.

The prototype stems from a two-year $1.45-million DOE-funded project to integrate wide bandgap (WBG) technology and novel circuit architectures with advanced packaging to reduce cost, improve efficiency, and increase power density.

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