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Lightning Hybrids secures order for 35 hydraulic hybrid systems from Kiessling Transit

5 March 2015

Lightning Hybrids, developer and manufacturer of hydraulic hybrid systems for medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses (earlier post), announced an agreement with Kiessling Transit to supply 35 hydraulic hybrid systems. The sale marks Lightning Hybrids’ largest order to date. The company’s system demonstrated improvements of 30% in fuel efficiency and significantly reduced NOx emissions during a year-long pilot program with the leading Massachusetts-based transportation company.

Kiessling Transit’s vehicles, featuring new 2015 and 2016 model year Ford E450 chassis and Elkhart Coach bodies, will have the Lightning Hybrids patented parallel hybrid system installed prior to delivery this summer. The technology, which has no electric batteries, applies a hydraulic system to the driveline of a vehicle to regenerate braking energy. Hydraulic pumps and a lightweight accumulator store braking energy and use the stored energy to power the wheels. The application of this technology will result in improved emissions, less fuel use, longer brake life, better low-end torque, and lower maintenance and operational costs.

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LLNL-led team gains insight into electronic structure changes in supercapacitor electrodes; research could lead to more efficient electrical energy storage

5 March 2015

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers and their colleagues from Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and the Nanosystem Research Institute in Japan have identified electrical charge-induced changes in the structure and bonding of graphitic carbon electrodes that may one day affect the way energy is stored. The research could lead to an improvement in the capacity and efficiency of electrical energy storage systems, such as batteries and supercapacitors, needed to meet the burgeoning demands of consumer, industrial and green technologies.

The LLNL-led team developed a new X-ray adsorption spectroscopy capability that is tightly coupled with a modeling effort to provide key information about how the structure and bonding of graphitic carbon supercapacitor electrodes are affected by polarization of the electrode – electrolyte interfaces during charging. A paper describing their work is published in the journal Advanced Materials.

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Neste Oil now the world’s largest producer of renewable fuels from waste and residues

5 March 2015

Over the last few years, Neste Oil has become the world’s largest producer of renewable fuels from waste and residues. In 2014, the company produced nearly 1.3 million tonnes (1.6 billion liters, 423 million gallons US) of renewable fuel from waste and residues. In practical terms, this is enough to power for two years all the 650,000 diesel-powered passenger cars in Finland with NEXBTL renewable diesel manufactured from waste and residues.

Examples of Neste Oil’s waste and residue-based raw materials include animal and fish fats; used cooking oil; and various residues generated during vegetable oil refining such as palm fatty acid distillate (PFAD) and technical corn oil. These raw materials accounted for 62% of Neste Oil’s renewable inputs in 2014 (52% in 2013, 35% in 2012).

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Mobileye unveils Gen4 system-on-chip EyeQ4; visual processing for ADAS and automated driving; design win for 2018

5 March 2015

Mobileye N.V., a designer and developer of camera-based Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) for the automotive industry, introduced its 4th-generation system-on-chip, the EyeQ4. Leveraging the company’s more than 15 years of expertise in designing computer-vision specific cores, the EyeQ4 consists of 14 computing cores out of which 10 are specialized vector accelerators with extremely high utilization for visual processing and understanding.

The first design win for EyeQ4 in series production has been secured for a global premium European car manufacturer for production to start in early 2018. The EyeQ4 would be part of a scalable camera system starting from monocular processing for collision avoidance applications, in compliance with EU NCAP, US NHSTA and other regulatory requirements, up to trifocal camera configuration supporting high-end customer functions including semi-autonomous driving. The EyeQ4 would support fusion with radars and scanning-beam lasers in the high-end customer functions.

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New engineered metabolic pathways in yeast enable efficient fermentation of xylose from biomass

5 March 2015

Researchers with the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), a partnership that includes Berkeley Lab and the University of California (UC) Berkeley, have introduced new metabolic pathways from the fungus Neurospora crassa into the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to increase the fermentative production of fuels and other chemicals from biomass. An open access paper on the work is publised in the journal eLife.

While S. cerevisiae is the industry mainstay for fermenting sugar from cornstarch and sugarcane into ethanol, it requires substantial engineering to ferment sugars derived from plant cell walls such as cellobiose and xylose. The new metabolic pathways enable the yeast to ferment sugars from both cellulose (glucose) and hemicellulose (xylose)—the two major families of sugar found in the plant cell wall—efficiently, without the need of environmentally harsh pre-treatments or expensive enzyme cocktails.

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Opinion: Here’s what will send oil prices back up again

5 March 2015

by Martin Tillier of Oilprice.com

Oil’s rapid decline since August of last year has been dramatic. To listen to some commentators you would also think it is unprecedented and irreversible. Those claiming that oil will continue to fall from here and remain low for evermore, however, are flying in the face of both history and common sense. The question we should be asking ourselves is not if oil prices will recover, but when they will.

From June of 2014 until now, the price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil has fallen approximately 57 percent. As the chart below shows, there have been drops of a similar percentage five times in the last 30 years. The rate of recovery has been different each time, but recovery has come. In addition, since 1999 the chart shows a consistent pattern of higher lows. In other words, oil is a volatile market, but prices are in a long term upward trend.

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NanoSteel expands material capabilities for additive manufacturing powder portfolio

4 March 2015

The NanoSteel Company (earlier post) has expanded its additive manufacturing (AM) material capabilities to support metal 3D printing of complex high-hardness parts and the ability to customize properties layer-by-layer through gradient material design. The company’s targeted markets for its AM powder portfolio are tool & die, energy, auto, and agriculture.

In September 2014, Nanosteel announced the expansion of the company’s engineered powders business into additive manufacturing. By leveraging the uniform metal matrix microstructures in the laser-sintering process, the company was able to build a crack-free, fully dense bulk sample. The company then leveraged this breakthrough in AM wear materials to print a bearing and impeller using the powder bed fusion process.

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Renault boosts ZOE EV’s range by almost 15% to 149 miles with new motor unit

4 March 2015

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The new R240 motor unit with integrated PEC. Click to enlarge.

Renault has extended the range of its battery-electric ZOE to 149 miles (240 kilometers)—a boost of 19 miles (31 km), or 14.6%—in the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) by using a new lighter and more compact R240 electric motor and an optimized electronic management system. (Earlier post.)

The R240 is a synchronous electric motor with rotor coil, with a power output of 65 kW and torque of 220 N·m (162 lb-ft). It also features a built-in Chameleon charger (earlier post) which allows faster charging at home (3 kW and 11 kW). The R240 is an all-Renault motor, designed by Renault engineers at the Technocentre R&D facility outside Paris and at the Cléon plant where the motor is made—close to Flins, where the ZOE is produced.

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Toyota introduces facelifted Auris; revamped powertrains including new Otto/Atkinson 1.2L gasoline engine

4 March 2015

At the Geneva Motor Show, Toyota introduced the facelifted Auris. With the launch of the Auris Hybrid in 2010, Toyota became the first manufacturer to offer a choice of three powertrains (gasoline, gasoline-electric hybrid, and diesel) in the C-segment.

Reflecting both changes in the highly-competitive C-segment market and Toyota customer feedback, the 2015 Auris range features significant improvements in five key areas: Design; Sensory Quality; the Hybrid model; Safety; and, improving the model’s segment coverage by some 40%, Powertrains. As part of the change, an all-new, 1.2 liter direct injection turbocharged engine from Toyota’s new family of efficient engines announced last year (earlier post) joins the existing gasoline line-up.

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Nissan launches 7-seat version of the electric e-NV200 van

4 March 2015

Due to growing requests from companies and fleets alike, Nissan hasadvanced the introduction of the latest iteration in its electric vehicle line-up—a seven-seat version of the all-electric e-NV200 van, and launched it at the Geneva Motor Show. (Earlier post.)

The e-NV200’s electric drivetrain, based on that used in the LEAF, is combined with the cargo volume of the NV200 to create a practical and versatile vehicle capable of carrying people or goods. Since the inception of the e-NV200, a seven-seat version of the electric van has always been part of Nissan’s plans, fulfilling an unmet need for an electric vehicle that can move a larger number of people.

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Silica-coated sulfur nanoparticles with mildly reduced graphene oxide as Li-S battery cathode

4 March 2015

One of the main obstacles to the commercialization of high-energy density lithium-sulfur batteries is the tendency for lithium polysulfides—the lithium and sulfur reaction products—to dissolve in the battery’s electrolyte and travel to the opposite electrode permanently. This causes the battery’s capacity to decrease over its lifetime.

To prevent this polysulfide shuttle, researchers in the Bourns College of Engineering at the University of California, Riverside have fabricated SiO2-coated sulfur particles (SCSPs) for cathode material. With the addition of mildly reduced graphene oxide (mrGO) to the material, SCSPs maintain more than 700 mAh g−1 after the 50th cycle. A paper on their work is published in the RSC journal Nanoscale.

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$8.7M in FY 2015 funding available from USDA and DOE for bioenergy feedstocks, biofuels and bio-based products

3 March 2015

The US Department Agriculture in collaboration with the Energy Department announced that up to $8.7 million in funding in fiscal year 2015 will be made available through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) to support feedstock development, biofuels and biobased products development, or biofuels development analysis. (USDA-NIFA-9008-004957)

The projects funded through BRDI—a joint program through the Department of Agriculture and the Energy Department—will help develop economically and environmentally sustainable sources of renewable biomass and increase the availability of renewable fuels and biobased products that can help reduce the need for gasoline and diesel fuels.

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