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DOE seeking information on clean energy manufacturing technologies

1 September 2014

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) has issued a request for information (DE-FOA-0001158) on mid- Technology Readiness Level (TRL) research and development (R&D) needs, market challenges, supply chain challenges and shared facility needs in addressing advanced manufacturing development challenges impacting clean energy manufacturing. Submissions are due by 3 October.

Within the manufacturing sector, energy-intensive manufacturing industries account for nearly 75% of all the energy used (more than 20% of national energy use) and offer one of the largest opportunities for potential energy reductions. These industries produce and process basic materials and chemicals that go into many end-use consumer and industrial products. Energy intense industries include primary metals (e.g., steel, aluminum, metal-casting), chemicals/petrochemicals, oil and gas refining, bio-manufacturing (e.g., pulp and paper), and nonmetallic minerals (e.g., glass, cement).

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EPA staff policy assessment recommends reduction in ozone standard from 75 ppb to 60-70 ppb

31 August 2014

The staff of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards (OAQPS) has released the final version of the policy assessment (PA) for the review of the ozone (O3) National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).

Among the staff recommendations are to further reduce the primary ozone standard from the current 75 ppb (parts per billion) to a revised level within the range of 70 ppb to 60 ppb—and preferably below 70 ppb.

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Researchers propose new class of high-temperature alloy; eutectic high-entropy alloys with both high ductility and high strength

29 August 2014

High-entropy alloys (HEAs), which represent an emerging effort in materials science and engineering, are multi-principal-element (at least four) alloys that are promising for high-temperature applications due to their high resistance to softening at elevated temperatures and sluggish diffusion kinetics.

However, HEAs so far have either high strength or high ductility; achieving both has been a challenge. Further, the inferior castability and compositional segregation of HEAs have been obstacles for commercialization. Now, researchers in China are proposing a new strategy for designing high-entropy alloys using the eutectic alloy concept to accomplish both attributes. As reported in a paper in Nature’s open access journal Scientific Reports, an eutectic high-entropy alloy (EHEA) showed an “unprecedented” combination of high tensile ductility and high fracture strength at room temperature. The excellent mechanical properties could be kept up to 700 °C.

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Shanghai GM launches Buick Envision; new 6-speed with start/stop standard, new AWD system

29 August 2014

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Buick Envision. Click to enlarge.

Shanghai GM officially launched the Buick Envision premium midsize SUV today in Chengdu. Four variants are being offered: the AWD Elite, AWD Luxury, AWD Versatile Flagship and AWD Versatile Sporty Flagship.

The Envision comes with GM’s latest-generation 2.0T direct injection turbocharged engine, named one of Ward’s 10 Best Engines for 2013. It generates maximum power of 191 kW (256 hp) at 5,500 rpm and peak torque of 353 N·m (260 lb-ft) at 5,300 rpm, with power per liter reaching 95.5 kW/L. The Envision accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 8.4 seconds; with engine start/stop standard across the lineup, combined fuel economy is 8.8L/100 km (26.7 mpg US).

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TfL to test IPT wireless charging technology on 4 extended range diesel electric hybrid buses next year

29 August 2014

TfL (Transport for London) will trial inductive charging systems provided by IPT Technology on up to four extended range diesel electric hybrid buses in east London from next year.

The specially built hybrid double deck buses will operate on route 69 between Canning Town and Walthamstow bus stations. The Alexander Dennis double-deck Enviro400H E400 buses will be fitted with technology enabling on-board batteries to receive a wireless charge boost at bus stands at either end of the route. It is hoped this will enable the buses to operate in pure electric mode for a significant period of the time they are in passenger service.

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Study finds external effects negate Hong Kong local efforts to reduce ozone pollution; multiregional policies needed

29 August 2014

Researchers from Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong’s Environmental Protection Department and UC Irvine present in a paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology direct evidence that increasing regional effects have negated local control efforts for O3 (ozone) pollution in Hong Kong over the past decade.

The researchers analyzed the daily maximum 8 h average O3 and Ox (=O3+NO2) concentrations observed during the high O3 season (September–November) at Air Quality Monitoring Stations. They found that the locally produced Ox showed a statistically significant decreasing trend over 2002–2013 in Hong Kong. Analysis by an observation-based model confirmed this decline in in situ Ox production, which the team attributed to a reduction in aromatic hydrocarbons.

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ORNL team tailors the structure of carbon black from waste tires to create higher performance carbon anode material for Li-ion batteries

28 August 2014

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have tailored the microstructural characteristics of carbon black recovered from discarded tires to produce a higher performance, low-cost carbon anode material for Li-ion batteries.

Electrochemical studies reported in their paper published in the journal RSC Advances showed that the recovered-carbon-based anode had a a reversible capacity of nearly 390 mAh/g of carbon anode after 100 cycles—exceeding the best properties of commercial graphite. Researchers attribute this to the unique microstructure of the tire-derived carbon. Anodes made with the sulfonated tire-rubber-derived carbon and a control tire-rubber-derived carbon exhibited an initial coulombic efficiency of 71% and 45%, respectively.

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Renault introduces 3rd-gen Twingo city car

28 August 2014

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New Renault Twingo. Click to enlarge.

Renault has introduced its new, third-generation Twingo, which was developed in partnership with Daimler (earlier post). The latest generation of the city car is 10cm shorter than its predecessor, yet the interior of its cabin is 33cm longer; its turning circle is 4.30 meters (14 feet).

New Twingo comes with a choice of two three-cylinder gasoline engines (naturally aspirated or turbocharged): the 1.0L SCe 70 (along with a stop/start-equipped version) and the turbo 0.9L TCe 90. Combined cycle fuel consumption is as low as 4.2 l/100 km (56 mpg US) for the SCe 70 with stop/start.

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Study: open trash burning worldwide significantly worsening air pollution; unaccounted for in emission inventories

28 August 2014

Unregulated open trash burning around the globe is pumping far more pollution into the atmosphere than shown by official records. A new study led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) estimates that more than 40% of the world’s garbage is burned in such fires, emitting gases and particles that can substantially affect human health and climate change.

The new study provides the first rough estimates, on a country-by-country basis, of pollutants such as particulates, carbon monoxide, and mercury that are emitted by the fires. Such pollutants have been linked to serious medical issues. The researchers also estimated emissions of carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas produced by human activity. Their paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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Nissan to begin production of Pathfinder hybrid in Russia; importance of Russian market

27 August 2014

Nissan launched its Pathfinder range in the Russian market at the Moscow Motor Show. The Pathfinder made its debut alongside the new Russian-built Sentra sedan.

Nissan’s all-new fourth-generation Pathfinder—which will be built in Russia—will be available with a standard 3.5L gasoline engine as well as the hybrid drive system. (Earlier post.) Production of Pathfinder’s hybrid engine variant will make the St. Petersburg plant Russia’s first to produce a hybrid. The plant currently builds the Teana, Murano and X-Trail, and Qashqai will be added in 2015.

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Volvo reveals new XC90; limited diesel, gasoline First Edition on sale only online

27 August 2014

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The new XC90, with “Thor’s hammer” DRL lights. Click to enlarge.

Volvo Cars revealed the XC90, its new 7-seat SUV, at an event in Sweden. Three years in the making and part of an $11-billion investment program, the new XC90 leverages the new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) technology, and will offer a range of two-liter, four-cylinder Drive-E powertrains. The two launch engines are the D5 twin turbo diesel and the T6 supercharged and turbocharged gasoline unit. Top of the model range will be the XC90 Twin Engine—a plug-in hybrid delivering around 400 hp (298 kW) with carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of around 60 g/km (NEDC driving cycle). (Earlier post.)

Volvo Cars also announced the release of a limited First Edition of its new flagship; the 1,927 individually numbered cars celebrate the year Volvo was founded and will only be available for sale online at www.volvocars.com, beginning 3 Sep.

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Johnson Controls invests in IHU-TUT project to combine aluminum and steel in laser-welded tailored tubes for seats

27 August 2014

Johnson Controls is investing in a German automotive research project working to combine steel and aluminum in laser-welded tailored tubes for use in seats for the first time. The result could be a 10 to 20 percent reduction in weight, which would be beneficial for fuel and emissions balance.

Tailored tubes are already used to a great extent in the large series production of vehicle seats, but in this project, they consist of steel and aluminum of various wall thicknesses. As part of the research project “Hydroforming of laser-brazed tailored hybrid tubes of a steel-aluminum blend for automotive lightweight construction” (Innenhochdruckumformen laserstrahlgelöteter Tailored Hybrid Tubes aus Stahl-Aluminium-Mischverbindungen für den automobilen Leichtbau, IHU-TUT), which runs until 31 January 2016, the project partners are researching the opportunity to make use of the significant weight advantages of aluminum by combining it with steel in the hollow components.

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