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California ARB releases discussion draft of plan to cut GHG by 40% by 2030

2 December 2016

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) released its initial draft plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030—the most ambitious target in North America. The 2030 Target Scoping Plan Discussion Draft builds on the state’s efforts to reach its more immediate goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and outlines the most effective ways to reach the new 2030 goal, including continuing California’s Cap-and-Trade program.

In his January 2015 inaugural address, California Governor Jerry Brown identified five key climate change strategy “pillars,” which recognize that several major areas of the California economy will need to reduce their emissions to meet California’s ambitious climate change goals. These five pillars are:

Continue Reading “California ARB releases discussion draft of plan to cut GHG by 40% by 2030”

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New ORNL hardware-in-the-loop capability to integrate advanced combustion, new fuels, and electrification pathways

2 December 2016

A multi-disciplinary team of researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has developed a new testing capability which integrates a driver model, full vehicle model, and hardware to explore the synergies of advanced combustion, new fuels, and emerging hybrid vehicle architectures over real-world drive cycles. This new facility is focused on low temperature combustion engines but builds upon the powertrain-in-the-loop expertise established with the Vehicle Systems Integration Laboratory (VSI) at ORNL.

The transient advanced combustion laboratory is initially supporting research on the potential of low temperature combustion modes with new fuel and vehicle technologies. The hardware-in-the-loop setup includes a transient dynamometer cell (AVL 300 kW AC) with a low-temperature combustion (LTC) multi-cylinder engine instrumented for combustion and emissions analysis. The light-duty diesel engine used in these experiments (earlier post) was modified for dual-fuel use for port fuel injection of low-reactivity fuel (i.e. gasoline, ethanol etc.) and a high-reactivity fuel (i.e. diesel, biodiesel etc.).

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Continental presenting eHorizon swarm intelligence system for two-wheelers at CES 2017

2 December 2016

Continental will use the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this coming January as the venue to present the eHorizon system for two-wheelers. The eHorizon system interconnects bikers, offers a shared platform to motorcyclist communities, and allows motorcyclists to share important route information. eHorizon for two-wheelers is based on swarm intelligence, which continuously supplies the digital map in the backend with accurate and up-to-date information.

Continental first introduced eHorizon at the 62nd IAA Commercial vehicles event in 2008 as a concept for a control unit providing other vehicle systems with a digital map preview. The eHorizon constantly sent small data packages via vehicles’ data network (CAN bus); the packets contained information about the stretch of road ahead as well as topographic information. Using this information, the engine control unit, the transmission control device or the driver assistance systems optimized their respective functions.

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DOE BETO to issue $8M funding opportunity for algae-based biofuels

2 December 2016

The US Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) plans (DE-FOA-0001708) to issue a funding opportunity announcement (DE-FOA-0001628) for up to $8 million, subject to appropriations, for the development of algae-based biofuels.

The FOA, entitled Productivity Enhanced Algae and Tool-Kits (PEAK), will support innovative technologies and approaches to help advance bioenergy and bioproducts from algae. These projects will support the development of cost-competitive biofuels from algal biomass by focusing on breakthroughs in advanced biology, as well as biology-based tools to improve algae cultivation productivity. Selected projects will also accelerate future innovations through data sharing within the research and development community.

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Eco-Motive reveals prototype H-Motor dual fuel engine; road testing to begin soon

2 December 2016

Eco-Motive, a startup developing what it calls the first dual-fuel “H” engine (earlier post), revealed photos of a full-scale prototype of the Eco-Motive H-Motor. The prototype was completed in February 2016 and was built to reflect the engine configuration when installed in a vehicle; testing in driving applications will begin soon.

The H-shaped engine has parallel left-side and right-side vertical inline piston banks, each with a crankshaft and pistons, cylinder head, and individual fuel feeds, but sharing a common power transmission system. The H-motor—essentially two separate engines housed within the same engine block—can be powered by either gasoline or compressed natural gas (CNG), at the driver’s decision.

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2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid PHEV minivan EPA-rated at 84 MPGe in electric-only mode; role of eFlite dual-motor/one-way clutch strategy

1 December 2016

Exceeding its initial program targets, the plug-in 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid (earlier post) has earned an electric-mode fuel economy rating of 84 miles-per-gallon-equivalent (MPGe) from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). No other minivan has ever come close to this rating. (As examples of SUV/MPV-style electric vehicle fuel efficiency, the 2016 Tesla Model X AWD - 75D is EPA-rated at 93 MPGe combined city/highway; the Model X AWD - P90D is EPA-rated at 89 MPGe; and the 2016 BYD e6 compact MPV is EPA-rated at 72 MPGe. All figures from

The new benchmark reflects the Pacifica Hybrid’s combined city- and highway-cycle performance in electric-only mode, as tested by the EPA. FCA US had estimated the vehicle would achieve 80 MPGe, which represents the distance a vehicle can travel using a quantity of fuel with the same energy content as a gallon of gasoline.

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BMW Group expands BMW i Ventures role with new €500M fund; widened scope of investment, greater independence

1 December 2016

The BMW Group is expanding the remit of its BMW i Ventures venture capital unit and creating a new fund of up to €500 million (US$531 million) over ten years to support it. The new fund will allow BMW i Ventures to make investments in a wider range of areas, such as autonomous driving and digitalization, and to secure continued access to the technologies of the future.

BMW i Ventures’ previous focus on mobility services and electro-mobility will be expanded to cover the BMW Group’s full innovation spectrum in all areas of Strategy Number ONE > NEXT, even those outside of the traditional automotive value chain. Future topics for exploration will focus on “Enabling Technology and Digital Vehicle Technology”, “Mobility and Digital Services”, “Customer Experience” and “Advanced Production Technology”.

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ORNL study finds even low penetration of CAVs delivers significant fuel economy benefits, but increases travel time slightly

1 December 2016

A new study by a team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) suggests that low penetration rates of connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) can deliver significant fuel consumption benefits, but that the total travel time increases slightly. The study, presented presented at the 9th ACM SIGSPATIAL on Computational Transportation Science, also found that benefits in travel time increase with higher penetration rates of CAVs.

The study—one of the first that captures the impact of different penetration rates of CAVs on fuel consumption and travel time—builds off of earlier work done by the team of Jackeline Rios-Torres and Andreas Malikopoulos to develop an optimization framework and an analytical closed-form solution that addresses the problem of optimally coordinating connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) at merging roadways to achieve smooth traffic flow without stop-and-go driving. (Earlier post.)

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SGL Group is development partner for GDLs in high-performance fuel cells in the automotive sector

1 December 2016

Carbon specialist SGL Group is a development partner in the European joint development project INSPIRE (Integration of Novel Stack Components for Performance, Improved DuRability and LowEr Cost), which has been funded with a €7-million (US$7.4-million) award from Europe’s Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) and will run for three years. (Earlier post.)

The aim of INSPIRE is to develop a new generation of fuel cells with higher performance and longer lifetime. SGL Group brings its long-established expertise as a component developer to the project, and is responsible for the development of the gas diffusion layers (GDL), which will be manufactured based on carbon fibers.

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US FTA to award up to $2.75M for zero-emissions public transportation tech

1 December 2016

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced the availability of $2.75 million of funding for its Zero Emission Research Opportunity (ZERO) (FTA-2017-001-TRI). The ZERO program is to facilitate the advancement, production, and deployment of zero-emission public transportation vehicle technology and related infrastructure.

FTA intends to select, and enter into cooperative agreements with, multiple (up to three) nonprofit consortia to build on past research innovation and development efforts to facilitate the deployment of zero-emission vehicles and associated advanced technology. Eligibility for future ZERO funding opportunities in fiscal years 2017-2020 will be limited to those nonprofit consortia selected under this fiscal year 2017 notice.

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NREL report finds hydrogen fuel cell bus fuel economy up to 1.4x that of diesel, 1.9x CNG

1 December 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Fuel Cell Technology Office (FCTO) has released the latest edition of an annual report showing that the average fuel economy of fuel cell electric buses from three fleets is 6.8 miles per diesel gallon equivalent (DGE) (ranging from 5.56 - 7.71 DGE), 1.4 times higher than conventional diesel buses (~4.2 miles per DGE) from one fleet and up to 1.9 times higher than compressed natural gas buses (~3.3 miles per DGE) in another fleet.

This demonstrates significant fuel economy improvement toward the DOE and Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) target of 8 miles per DGE. FCEB durability has reached 23,000 hours, surpassing FCTO’s 2016 target of 18,000 hours, and range has reached up to 340 miles (547 km), more than 13% above the 2016 target of 300 miles (483 km).

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Geographers provide new insight into commuter megaregions of the US

1 December 2016

Geographers from Dartmouth College and the University of Sheffield have provided new insight into the economic geography of commuter megaregions in the US by using an empirical approach that combines visual interpretation with statistical analysis. The findings appear in an open-access paper in PLOS One and shed light on an old geographic problem: how to divide space into coherent unit areas.

These emerging megaregions reflect the economic links woven by millions of commuters traveling to and from work each day. They map out complex networks in which economic systems, natural resources and infrastructure are linked. Understanding the way functional geographic connections cross over the existing borderlines of states and regions is key for developing institutional forms that match the patterns of the contemporary world.

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