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WSU team engineers fungus to produce jet-range hydrocarbons from biomass

6 May 2015

Carb3
Aspergillus carbonarius. Source: JGI MycoCosm. Click to enlarge.

Researchers at Washington State University have engineered the filamentous fungus Aspergillus carbonarius ITEM 5010 to produce jet-range hydrocarbons directly from biomass. The researchers hope the work, reported in the journal Fungal Biology, leads to economically viable production of aviation biofuels in the next five years.

The team led by Birgitte Ahring, director and Battelle distinguished professor of the Bioproducts, Sciences and Engineering Laboratory at WSU Tri-cities, found that the production of hydrocarbons was dependent on the type of media used. Therefore, they tested ten different carbon sources (oatmeal, wheat bran, glucose, carboxymethyl cellulose, avicel, xylan, corn stover, switch grass, pretreated corn stover, and pretreated switch grass) to identify the maximum number and quantity of hydrocarbons produced.

Continue Reading “WSU team engineers fungus to produce jet-range hydrocarbons from biomass”

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Cummins Westport introducing new ISB6.7 G mid-range natural gas engine

6 May 2015

At the opening reception at ACT Expo in Dallas, TX, Cummins Westport Inc. will unveil the ISB6.7 G, a 6.7-liter medium-duty, factory-built dedicated natural gas engine for school bus, shuttle bus, medium-duty truck and vocational applications. (Earlier post.) The new ISB6.7 G is currently in field trials with full production expected to commence in mid-2016.

The ISB6.7 G natural gas engine is based on the Cummins ISB6.7 diesel engine platform, the industry leader in the Cummins medium-duty engine family. The ISB6.7 G will operate exclusively on natural gas (CNG or LNG) utilizing Cummins Westport’s proprietary spark-ignited, stoichiometric combustion with cooled exhaust gas recirculation (SEGR) technology, first introduced with the 8.9-liter ISL G.

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Freightliner Inspiration truck receives autonomous vehicle licensing from Nevada DMV

6 May 2015

Nevada has granted the first license for an autonomous commercial truck—the Freightliner Inspiration—to operate on an open public highway in the United States to Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA). The Freightliner Inspiration Truck is equipped with the Highway Pilot sensors and computer hardware is based upon a series production Freightliner Cascadia Evolution, fully certified to meet all US Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

The Highway Pilot links together a set of camera technology and radar systems with lane stability, collision avoidance, speed control, braking, steering and other monitoring systems. This combination creates a NHTSA Level 3 autonomous vehicle operating system that can perform safely under a range of highway driving conditions. In total, two trucks with this equipment exist.

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Volkswagen moving MAN and Scania into an integrated commercial vehicles group

6 May 2015

Volkswagen is moving MAN and Scania into an integrated commercial vehicles group and thus putting in place a structured framework for business with mid-sized and heavy trucks and buses. Truck & Bus GmbH is the new Volkswagen Group holding for the MAN und Scania commercial vehicle brands. Shares in Scania AB held by Volkswagen AG will be transferred to Truck & Bus GmbH. The wholly-owned Volkswagen subsidiary already holds 75.28% of the voting rights in MAN SE.

Truck & Bus GmbH will establish processes specific to the commercial vehicles business, thus leveraging the full synergy potential between the brands. The company will be led by Andreas Renschler, member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG. The Supervisory Board, composed on a parity basis, will be chaired by Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen AG.

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2016 Ford F-150 offers ability to run on compressed natural gas, propane

5 May 2015

Ford will offer the 2016 F-150 with an available gaseous-fuel prep package that enables 5.0-liter V8-powered models to run on compressed natural gas or propane, making Ford the only manufacturer of a CNG/propane-capable half-ton pickup.

The 2016 Ford F-150 with 5.0-liter V8 engine will be available to order this summer with a factory-installed, gaseous-fuel prep package that includes upgraded intake and exhaust valves and valve seats.

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OEMs shifting towards onboard chargers > 6 kW for EVs; lower output chargers to remain dominant through 2020

5 May 2015

Most battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) manufacturers in Europe and the US have been adopting onboard chargers with a power output between 3 to 3.7 kilowatts (kW). Now, EV manufacturers are moving towards onboard chargers with a power output greater than 6.6 kW to reduce charging time.

While high-end PHEVs are contributing to this trend, lower-end models in this segment are still using 3.7 kW onboard chargers. Consequently, onboard chargers with power ratings between 3 to 3.7 kW are expected to remain dominant, accounting for 62% of sales even in 2020, according to new analysis from Frost & Sullivan.

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UPS enters agreement with Clean Energy Fuels for renewable natural gas (biomethane) in the US

5 May 2015

UPS has entered into an agreement to purchase renewable natural gas (RNG) for its delivery vehicle fleet from Clean Energy Fuels Corp. RNG (biomethane) can be derived from many abundant and renewable sources, including decomposing organic waste in landfills, wastewater treatment and agriculture.

The deal signifies UPS’ plan to expand significantly its use of renewable natural gas for its alternative fuel and advanced technology fleet. The company has a goal of driving one billion miles using its alternative fuel and advanced technology fleet by the end of 2017. Clean Energy Fuels, co-founded by T. Boone Pickens, is the exclusive producer of Redeem, the first RNG made available in commercial quantities.

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Volkswagen Group to offer more than 20 electric vehicle models in China “in near future”

5 May 2015

The Volkswagen Group plans to offer more than 20 electric vehicle models—from small cars to large sedans and SUVs, plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles—to Chinese customers “in the near future,” according to Prof. Dr. Jochem Heizmann, Member of the Group Board of Management with responsibility for China, in a special essay published in the Environment section of the company’s newly released sustainability report.

The Chinese government has set guidelines to reduce CO2 emissions in China to a fleet fuel consumption of 5 l/100 km (47 mpg US) as measured on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) by 2020. The expected fleet average this year is 6.9 l/100 km (34 mpg US). Thus, the government is requiring an overall reduction of about 28%, or 6.2% per year, between 2015 and 2020. Meeting this target will be even more challenging than meeting the 95 g/km target for 2020 set by the European Union, writes Dr. Heizmann, explaining:

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Momentum Fuel Technologies introduces CNG storage system for Class 6-8 trucks

5 May 2015

Newly launched Momentum Fuel Technologies, a division of Rush Enterprises, which operates the largest network of commercial vehicle dealerships in North America, introduced a complete compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel storage system for Class 6 to Class 8 trucks, offering support from design and manufacturing, to sales and ongoing service throughout the product life cycle.

The company plans to offer both side-mount and back-of-cab mount systems. Side-mount systems include a 40DGE (diesel gallon equivalent) with a range of 176-220 miles (283-354 km) and 45DGE with a range of 198-248 miles (319-399 km). The initial back-of-cab mount system will be 110DGE with a range of 506-633 miles (814-1,019 km). The company expects to offer another back-of-cab mount system, 150DGE with a range of 660-825 miles (1,062-1,328 km) in fall 2015.

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BIO: RFS policy instability has chilled advanced and cellulosic biofuel investments; $13.7B shortfall

4 May 2015

EPA’s delays in rulemaking for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) over the past two years have chilled necessary investment in advanced and cellulosic biofuels just as they reached commercial deployment. The industry has experienced an estimated $13.7-billion shortfall in investment as a result, according to a new analysis released by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).

To reach the 2015 RFS goal of producing 5.5 billion gallons of advanced biofuels (including 3 billion gallons of cellulosic and 2.5 billion gallons of advanced biofuel or biodiesel), Bio Economic Research Associates (bio-era) estimated the need for 110 operating plants requiring $20.34 billion dollars in cumulative investment. The research and advisory firm also estimated that more than $95 billion in cumulative capital investments would be needed by 2022 for construction of nearly 400 advanced biofuel biorefineries with the capacity to produce 23 billion gallons of advanced biofuel.

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Wrightspeed unveils new turbine range extender for medium- and heavy-duty electric powertrains; 30% more efficient than current microturbine generators

4 May 2015

Wrightspeed Inc., a developer of range-extended electric vehicle powertrains for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (earlier post), has unveiled the Fulcrum, a new proprietary turbine generator for use in its Route family of electric powertrains (Route for Class 3-6, Route HD for Class 7-8). The new 80 kW Fulcrum is a radial inflow, axial turbine, intercooled and recuperated. Fulcrum is a single shaft machine, the generator runs at turbine speed (~100,000 rpm). Weighing in at 250 lbs (113.4 kg), the Fulcrum is approximately 1/10th the weight of its piston generator counterparts and it is designed to have a 10,000-hour lifetime.

The Route extended range electric powertrains incorporate a range-extending genset designed to recharge the high-power battery pack (currently from A123 Systems) and Wrightspeed’s own geared traction drive (GTD) (earlier post). Wrightspeed, founded by Ian Wright, one of the original co-founders of Tesla Motors, has used a 65 kW Capstone microturbine in earlier Route powertrains. The 65 kW Capstone unit weighs 300 lbs (136.1 kg), for a power-to-weight ratio of 478 W/kg; by comparison, Wrightspeed’s new Fulcrum microturbine offers a power-to-weight ratio of 750 W/kg. With Fulcrum, on which the company has been working for about 3 years, Wrightspeed now owns 100% of the Intellectual Property of its powertrain products.

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Cooper Tire completes work on $1.5M DOE project to develop fuel efficient tires, exceeding targets

4 May 2015

Cooper Tire & Rubber Company completed work under a $1.5-million government grant to develop advanced tire technology aimed at increasing vehicle fuel efficiency. The grant, awarded by the US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, called for Cooper to develop technology for light vehicle tires that delivered a minimum 3% improvement in vehicle fuel efficiency while lowering average tire weight by at least 20%, all without sacrificing performance.

Cooper was successful in developing technologies that exceeded the project’s goals, delivering an average fuel efficiency improvement of 5.5% and weight reduction ranging from 23% to 37% in concept tires.

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