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EPRI, 8 automakers and 15 utilities to create an open grid integration platform for plug-in electric vehicles

29 July 2014

The Electric Power Research Institute, 8 automakers and 15 utilities are working to develop and to demonstrate an open platform that would integrate plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) with smart grid technologies enabling utilities to support PEV charging regardless of location. The open platform will simplify and streamline V2G (vehicle-to-grid) communications, enabling PEVs to provide grid services and increasing the overall value proposition of plug-in vehicles.

The goal of this program is to develop a cloud-based, central server that would receive grid requests from a utility—such as Demand Response—and then translate and standardize that request so it could be relayed to all appropriate plug-in vehicles in the designated area. Automakers would be expected to develop and deploy technologies compatible with these smart grid communications.

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GKN to supply 500 electric flywheel hybrid drive systems to Go-Ahead Group for buses

29 July 2014

UK transport operator Go-Ahead Group has ordered 500 electric flywheel Gyrodrive systems from GKN Hybrid Power for use in buses. The Gyrodrive Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) system (featured in Audi’s LeMans-winning R18 e-tron quattro) harvests braking energy normally lost as heat.

When the driver brakes, a traction motor on one of the axles slows the vehicle, generating electricity at the same time. This electricity is used to charge the flywheel, spinning it at up to 36,000 rpm. When the driver accelerates, the system works in reverse. The energy is drawn from the flywheel and converted back into electricity to power the traction motor, which helps accelerate the bus back up to speed, generating fuel savings of more than 20% at a significantly lower cost and weight (60 kg, 132 lbs) than battery hybrid alternatives. Useable stored energy is 1.2MJ, with peak power of 120kW.

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Jaguar: aluminum-intensive XE will feature fuel consumption lower than 4L/100km; structure is 75% aluminum

29 July 2014

The aluminum body of the XE. Click to enlarge.

In the second of four technology previews leading up to the introduction of the new Jaguar XE on 8 September, Jaguar outlined its extensive use of aluminum in the new model. Designed around Jaguar’s modular vehicle architecture, the XE is the only car in the class to use an aluminum-intensive monocoque, with lightweight aluminum accounting for 75% of the structure.

The new aluminum-intensive SE will be paired with engines from the new Ingenium family of efficient diesel and gasoline engines (earlier post)—powertrains specifically designed and calibrated to complement reduced-weight vehicles. Jaguar projects that the resulting XE will achieve fuel consumption of less that 4.0 l/100 km (59 mpg US) on the NEDC combined cycle (subject to certification) and CO2 emissions of less than 100 g/km.

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Mercedes-Benz introduces new Vito mid-size van; up to 41.3 mpg US, new front-wheel drive option

29 July 2014

New Vito. Click to enlarge.

Mercedes-Benz introduced its new Vito model series for the mid-size van (2.5–3.2 t GVW) segment. Among the variants is the Vito 116 CDI BlueEfficiency, offering fuel consumption of 5.7 l of diesel per 100 km (41.3 mpg US).

The new Vito is also the first van in the mid-size segment to offer three different drive system variants—rear-wheel, all-wheel, and, new, front wheel drive systems. The Vito also and incorporates a broad range of innovative safety and assistance systems.

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BMW introduces compact i DC Fast Chargers; ChargeNow DC Fast program for no-cost 30-min charge through 2015

28 July 2014

BMW of North America launched its BMW i DC Fast Chargers, which can charge the BMW i3 all-electric vehicle’s battery up to 80% in 30 minutes, at the Plug-In 2014 conference. The fast chargers are a joint development between BMW and Bosch Automotive Service Solutions.

BMW also announced its new ChargeNow DC Fast program in cooperation with NRG eVgo, in which BMW i3 drivers in California can enjoy no-cost unlimited 30 minute DC fast charging, at NRG eVgo Freedom Station sites equipped with DC Combo Fast Charging, through 2015.

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Google and IEEE launch $1M challenge for downsized inverters

28 July 2014

Google and the IEEE have launched the Littlebox Challenge—an open competition to design and build a small kW-scale inverter with the highest power density (of at least 50 W/in3, or 3.05 kW/L) in an enclosure of less than 40 in3 in volume (0.66L). The winning inverter, which will receive a $1-million prize, will be the unit which achieves the highest power density while meeting the required specifications under testing for 100 hours. In the event of a tie on volume, efficiency will be used to determine the grand prize winner. The grand prize winner will be announced sometime in January, 2016.

Google and IEEE are emphasizing size reduction in their challenge, without targeting a specific application area such as automotive. As a few points of comparison, the Bosch INVCON 2.3 inverter used in the Fiat 500e has a volume of about 5 liters, while the motor inverter used in the 2010 Prius drivetrain has a volume of about 5.4L (according to a DOE deconstruction.) The peak power density of the 2010 Prius motor inverter is 11.1 kW/L (while the peak PD for the Lexus 600h 6.4-liter unit reaches up to 17.2 kW/L.)

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Navigant forecasts global road transportation energy consumption to increase 25% by 2035; 84% from conventional fuels

28 July 2014

In a new report (Transportation Forecast: Global Fuel Consumption), Navigant Research forecasts total road transportation energy consumption will grow from 81.1 quadrillion Btu in 2014 to 101.7 quadrillion Btu in 2035—an increase of 25.4%. Approximately 84% of that will be provided by conventional fuels. The United States is currently the largest consumer of energy in the road transportation sector, with nearly 23.1 quadrillion Btu projected to be consumed in 2014.

Navigant also projects that investments in alternative fuel and fuel efficiency improvements will reduce annual energy consumption in the United States year-over-year. Most developed countries in Western Europe and parts of Asia Pacific will also exhibit similar decreases in energy consumption. In contrast, energy consumption will grow in developing regions, particularly in Eastern Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East & Africa. Brazil, Russia, India, and China (the BRIC nations) will represent the largest increases, as the percentage of global road transportation energy consumed by these nations is forecast to grow from 20% in 2014 to 36% in 2035.

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U Mich professor finds fuel cycle analysis for evaluating CO2 impacts of liquid fuels is fatally flawed; calls for focus on CO2 removal

28 July 2014

Fuel cycle analysis (FCA)—or “well-to-wheels analysis”—is a type of lifecycle analysis (LCA) that examines fuel products and their supply chains, and that has greatly influenced climate-related research priorities and public policies for transportation fuels.

However, in a major review of methods for evaluating the net CO2 impacts of liquid transportation fuels, Professor John DeCicco at the University of Michigan Energy Institute (UMEI) compared FCA to other methods of analysis, and found “flaws fatal enough to raise serious concerns about the role of FCA in shaping fuel-related CO2 mitigation strategies. Instead, DeCicco proposes “setting the lifecycle paradigm aside” and focusing on the problem of carbon dioxide removal.

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Stanford team reports progress toward stable Li-metal anode for high-energy-density batteries

28 July 2014

Dr. Yi Cui and colleagues at Stanford University—including Dr. Steven Chu, Nobel Laureate and the former Secretary of Energy, now a professor in the Physics department at Stanford—report progress toward a stable lithium metal anode for use in high-energy-density batteries such as Li-sulfur or Li-air systems.

Lithium metal is a very promising anode material for rechargeable batteries due to its theoretical high capacity (3,860 mAh g−1—i.e., ~10x that of the 372 mAh g−1 of graphite anodes in Li-ion batteries), but it fails to meet cycle life and safety requirements due to electrolyte decomposition and dendrite formation on the surfaces of the lithium metal anodes during cycling. Thus, numerous efforts are being made to develop a safe, extended cycling lithium-metal electrode and/or supporting electrolyte (Earlier post, earlier post.)

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U Tokyo team proposes new high-capacity rechargeable battery system based on oxide-peroxide redox reaction

27 July 2014

(a) Charge and discharge voltage curves in repeated charge/discharge cycles at 45 mA g−1. (b) Charge and discharge voltage curves at various current densities (13.5–1080 mA g−1). Click to enlarge.

Researchers at the University of Tokyo, led by Dr. Noritaka Mizuno (“oxygen rocking”, earlier post), in collaboration with Nippon Shokubai Co., Ltd. are proposing a new sealed rechargeable battery system operating on a redox reaction between an oxide (O2-) and a peroxide (O22-) in the cathode. As described in a paper in the Nature open access journal Scientific Reports, the proposed battery system would have a theoretical specific energy of 2,570 Wh kg-1 (897 mAh g-1, 2.87 V)—about on par with Li-sulfur’s very high theoretical energy density of ~2,600 Wh kg-1 (based on lithium-sulfur redox couple, e.g., earlier post).

The team showed that a cobalt-doped Li2O cathode exhibited a reversible capacity above 190 mAh g-1, a high rate capability, and good cyclability with a superconcentrated lithium bis(fluorosulfonyl)amide electrolyte in acetonitrile. The present specific capacity of the Co-doped Li2O cathode is lower than its theoretical capacity of 556 mAh g−1 (based on the weight of Li2O in the Co-doped Li2O).

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Delphi to debut new Tech Truck at IAA CV show; new high-pressure fuel injection system and new HPDI injector for natural gas

27 July 2014

Delphi Automotive PLC will unveil the second generation of its Technology Truck concept highlighting future technologies at the upcoming IAA Commercial Vehicles show being held 25 Sept - 2 Oct in Hannover, Germany.

Among the technologies Delphi will unveil is the next-generation fuel injection system for commercial vehicles applications. The system, which builds on the performance of its 2700 bar F2 common rail technologies, includes a patented fuel injector and will help vehicle manufacturers meet future legislated emissions and fuel efficiency levels. Also at IAA, Delphi will showcase the new second-generation High Pressure Direct Injection (HPDI) natural gas injector for heavy-duty engine applications. Delphi co-developed the new HPDI injector with Westport.

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Audi to demonstrate automated driving technology in Florida

26 July 2014

Audi will be the first to test its automated driving technology on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway in Tampa, Florida—which recently was designated as an automated driving and connected car test bed—using an Audi A7 equipped to handle piloted driving functions on freeway conditions up to 40 mph (64 km/h).

Audi believes this initial version of piloted driving—Traffic Jam Pilot—could be available to consumers within five years. As Audi outlined this type of piloted driving functionality at CES in 2013 (earlier post), the system is based on the functionality of Audi adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go, extended by adding the component of lateral guidance.

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