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University of Maryland team creates solid-state Li-ion battery out of one material

29 May 2015

UMD Engineers made a battery of all one material simply by sprinkling carbon (red) into each side of a new material (blue) that forms the electrolyte and both electrodes at the ends of the battery. Credit: Maryland NanoCenter Click to enlarge.

Engineers at the University of Maryland have created a solid-state Li-ion battery that is made entirely out of one material. Chunsheng Wang, a professor in the University of Maryland’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and his team have made a single material that incorporates the properties of both electrodes (cathode and anode) and electrolyte.

The new material consists of a mix of sulfur, germanium, phosphorus and lithium (Li10GeP2S12). This compound is used as the ion-moving electrolyte. At each end, the scientists added carbon to form electrodes that push the ions back and forth through the electrolyte as the battery charges and discharges. The Li–S and Ge–S components in Li10GeP2S12 act as the active centers for its cathode and anode performance, respectively.

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USDA to invest up to $100M to boost infrastructure for renewable fuel use; seeks to double number of higher blend ethanol fuel pumps

29 May 2015

US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will invest up to $100 million in a Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership to support the infrastructure needed to make more renewable fuel options available to American consumers. USDA will post a Notice of Solicitation of Applications in June.

Specifically, USDA will administer competitive grants to match funding for state-led efforts to test and evaluate innovative and comprehensive approaches to market higher blends of renewable fuel, such as E15 and E85. States that are able to provide greater than a one-to-one ratio in funding will receive higher consideration.

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EPA proposes volume requirements for Renewable Fuel Standard for 2014-2016

29 May 2015

Adhering to a schedule in a proposed consent decree (earlier post), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its long-awaited proposed volume requirements (renewable volume obligations, RVO) (earlier post) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, and also proposed volume requirements for biomass-based diesel for 2017. The period for public input and comment on the proposal will be open until 27 July. EPA says it will finalize the volume standards in this rule by 30 November.

EPA is proposing to establish the 2014 standards at levels that reflect the actual amount of domestic biofuel used in that year; the standards for 2015 and 2016 (and 2017 for biodiesel) increase steadily over time, with the most aggressive growth projected for the problematic area of cellulosic biofuels: from 33 million gallons in 2014 to 206 million gallons in 2016.

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Daimler enters stationary energy storage market with ACCUmotive battery systems; 500 kWh unit already on line for grid stabilization

29 May 2015

Daimler is entering the commercial and residential stationary energy storage system (ESS) market with its wholly-owned subsidiary Deutsche ACCUmotive. The announcement comes four weeks after Tesla Motors announced its own entry into the ESS market with the home PowerWall Li-ion battery system (earlier post), although Daimler has been considering the move for several years.

Daimler’s first industrial-scale lithium-ion unit is already on the grid and is being operated by the partner companies The Mobility House AG and GETEC Energie AG. The 96-module ESS currently has a total capacity of more than 500 kWh; it will be increased step-by-step to 3000 kWh by the partners in the coming weeks. Daimler AG is planning to collaborate with EnBW AG for distribution to customers in Germany. Daimler is also aiming to enter into cooperation with other sales and distribution partners both in Germany and at international level.

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Toyota revamps Auris powertrain lineup, including hybrid; debut of new 1.2L turbo with Otto/Atkinson technology

29 May 2015

Toyota’s 2015 Auris range in Europe 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. Toyota had introduced the facelifted Auris at the Geneva show earlier this year. (Earlier post.)

Reflecting changing trends in the C-segment market which call for further reductions in fuel consumption, emissions and cost of ownership without detriment to performance or driving pleasure, Toyota has both extended and extensively revised the Auris full hybrid, gasoline and diesel powertrain line-up. Included in the revised lineup is the new 1.2-liter Turbo with Otto/Atkinson cycle technology. (Earlier post.) Every engine in the range now meets Euro 6 emissions regulations.

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Sandia RAPTOR turbulent combustion code selected for next-gen Summit supercomputer readiness project

28 May 2015

RAPTOR, a turbulent combustion code developed by Sandia National Laboratories mechanical engineer Dr. Joseph Oefelein, was selected as one of 13 partnership projects for the Center for Accelerated Application Readiness (CAAR). CAAR is a US Department of Energy program located at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility and is focused on optimizing computer codes for the next generation of supercomputers.

Developed at Sandia’s Combustion Research Facility, RAPTOR, a general solver optimized for Large Eddy Simulation (LES, a mathematical model for turbulence), is targeted at transportation power and propulsion systems. Optimizing RAPTOR for Summit’s hybrid architecture will enable a new generation of high-fidelity simulations that identically match engine operating conditions and geometries. Such a scale will allow direct comparisons to companion experiments, providing insight into transient combustion processes such as thermal stratification, heat transfer, and turbulent mixing.

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DOE announces $26.6M SBIR/STTR FY15 Phase 1 Release 2 awards; fuel cells, batteries, power electronics and efficient combustion engines

28 May 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected 162 projects to receive about $26.6 million in the 2015 Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Phase I Release 2 Awards. (Earlier post.) Of these, 16 are vehicle-related, encompassing projects developing batteries, power electronics and improved combustion engine technology including on-board reformers, and two are specifically hydrogen fuel cell-related.

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) are Federal programs in which agencies with large research and development (R&D) budgets set aside a small fraction of their funding for competitions among small businesses only. Small businesses that win awards in these programs keep the rights to any technology developed and are encouraged to commercialize the technology. While the original charter of the program focused on technological innovation, the current programs have evolved to have a greater focus on commercialization.

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U Waterloo team identifies key reaction in sodium-air batteries; implications for improving Li-air

28 May 2015

Chemists at the University of Waterloo have identified the key reaction that takes place in sodium-air batteries. The researchers from the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology, led by Professor Linda Nazar who holds the Canada Research Chair in Solid State Energy Materials, have described a key mediation pathway that explains why sodium-oxygen batteries are more energy efficient when compared with their lithium-oxygen counterparts.

Understanding how sodium-oxygen batteries work has implications for developing the more powerful lithium-oxygen battery, which has been proposed by some as the “holy grail” of electrochemical energy storage.

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DENSO invests in truck platooning company Peloton; platooning as managed service

28 May 2015

DENSO International America, Inc. has entered into an investment agreement with Peloton Technology, a developer of platooning systems for large truck transportation fleets. Peloton’s truck platooning system is an integrated safety, efficiency and analytics platform that builds on advanced safety technologies such as collision mitigation and adaptive cruise control systems.

DENSO and Intel Capital co-led the $16-million oversubscribed Series A investment round, which will help accelerate Peloton’s development and deployment of platooning technology. Volvo Group Venture Capital, a subsidiary of the Volvo Group, has also invested in Peloton. (Earlier post.) The deal was finalized late last month.

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California providing incentives up to $12K to help low-income families afford the cleanest cars

28 May 2015

In coordination with local air officials, the California Air Resources Board is initiating a retire-and-replace pilot program in the Greater Los Angeles area and San Joaquin Valley to help people of low income replace old, polluting cars with cleaner, more fuel efficient vehicles that also cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The air district-administered program provides incentives on a sliding scale, with larger cash payments for the lowest-income families moving up to the cleanest cars. The lowest-income recipient purchasing the very cleanest car receives the highest incentive amounts. Under the program, it is possible for a family that meets income guidelines to receive as much as $12,000 toward the purchase of an electric car.

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Ford opens portfolio of patented technologies to competitors to accelerate industry-wide electrified vehicle development

28 May 2015

Ford Motor Company is offering competitors access to its electrified vehicle technology patents in a move to help accelerate industry-wide research and development of electrified vehicles. In 2014, Ford filed more than 400 patents dedicated to electrified vehicle technologies. This is more than 20% of the patents the company filed, totaling more than 2,000 applications.

Ford currently offers six hybrid or fully electrified vehicles including Ford Focus Electric; Ford Fusion Hybrid; Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid; Ford C-MAX Hybrid; Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid; and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. In total, Ford has more than 650 electrified vehicle patents and approximately 1,000 pending patent applications on electrified vehicle technologies.

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Ford partners with Haier, Trina Solar and Delta Electronics to launch MyEnergi Lifestyle in China

27 May 2015

At Consumer Electronics Show Asia, Ford launched a strategic collaboration with Haier (home appliance), Trina Solar (solar power) and Delta Electronics (power management) to introduce MyEnergi Lifestyle (earlier post) to China, a holistic approach for lowering the energy costs and carbon footprint of Chinese families.

MyEnergi Lifestyle, designed to address China’s energy needs and air quality concerns, showcases how combining renewable energy sources, efficient home appliances and a plug-in vehicle can significantly reduce energy costs and carbon footprint. Ford introduced a MyEnergi Lifestyle collaboration for the US in 2013, working with Whirlpool, SunPower and Eaton.

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