September 30, 2006
|One component of the micro gas-turbine. Source: MIT|
MIT researchers are developing a gas-turbine engine the size of a quarter. The MIT micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS)-based micro turbine is a 1 cm diameter by 3 mm thick silicon heat engine designed to produce 10-20 W of electric power.
The resulting device could run 10 times longer than a battery of the same weight, with the potential to power laptops, cell phones, radios and other electronic devices.
A study published earlier this year by researchers at MIT’s Center for Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems (CANES) concluded that producing synthetic transportation fuels from nuclear hydrogen and captured carbon dioxide would be technically viable.
Based on a reference year 2025 case, the report found that 43.1% of the CO2 projected to be emitted from coal plants could serve to produce the 6.6 billion barrels of ethanol required to displace gasoline use in the US. For the production of that much ethanol, there would need to be between 700 and 900 GWth (gigawatts thermal) of nuclear power to produce the needed hydrogen and energy for the synthesis of the fuel.
September 29, 2006
From being a concept known mainly only by a close few even as recently as several years ago, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) are now being seen by an increasing number of transportation technologists and policy-makers as a near-term solution for reducing petroleum consumption and emissions of greenhouse gases.
The just-released Climate Change Technology Program Strategic Plan from the Department of Energy, for example, highlights plug-ins as one of the promising near-term solutions in the transportation sector. (Earlier post.)
BMW Introduces Intelligent Alternator Control with Regenerative Braking; Reduces Fuel Consumption by About 4%
At the Paris Auto Show, BMW introduced a system it calls Intelligent Alternator Control (IAC) to generate electric power for a car’s on-board network exclusively in overrun and during braking—IAC thus also incorporates a system for regenerating brake energy.
The system is part of a larger BMW initiative to improve the overall efficiency of a vehicle by decreasing ancillary loads on the engine and recuperating more of the waste heat energy. (BMW is currently involved in one of several projects tackling the development of a thermoelectric waste heat recovery system targeted to deliver a 10% improvement in fuel economy. More on this below.)
Volvo has unveiled its new C30, the smallest car in Volvo’s model range, at the Paris Auto Show. For the European market, Volvo will offer the C30 with a range of gasoline, flex-fuel and diesel engines that can deliver fuel consumption as low as 4.9 liters/100km (48 mpg US).
Volvo has announced that it will bring the car to the US market as well, although no earlier than the 2008 model year. The C30’s primary markets will be in Europe, with the largest markets being Italy, the UK, Germany and Spain. Volvo Cars estimates global sales of the C30 at 65,000 units annually. Pricing and volume expectations for the US-bound C30 have not yet been set.
Toyota Introduces Eco Drive Indicator to Encourage Better Driving; Up to 4% Improvement in Fuel Economy
|Eco Drive Indicator. Click to enlarge.|
Beginning in October, Toyota Motor (TMC) will equip its new Japanese-market vehicle models using automatic transmissions with an Eco Drive Indicator, a feature intended to encourage environmentally considerate driving.
The indicator is designed to help reduce CO2 emissions through helping drivers increase their vehicles’ fuel efficiency through better operation.
The energy companies Shell Hydrogen and Total France, along with automakers BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Ford Motor, GM, MAN Nutzfahrzeuge, and Volkswagen AG have issued a common position paper defining a joint approach to advance hydrogen as a fuel for road transport in Europe.
The companies have decided that a joint approach between energy companies and vehicle manufacturers is required to bridge the gap between the present individual demonstration activities and future commercially available hydrogen vehicles including the corresponding refueling infrastructure.
|The proposed Cook Inlet Coal-to-Liquids Project. Click to enlarge.|
The Alaska Commerce Journal reports that Chinese Petroleum Corp. (CPC) of Taiwan will kick in $1.5 million to co-fund a preliminary feasibility study for an 80,000-barrel-per-day coal-to-liquids fuels plant near the Beluga coal fields on the west side of Cook Inlet, in Southcentral Alaska.
CPC is working with the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) and Alaska Natural Resources-to-Liquids, LLC (ANRTL), an Alaska Fischer-Tropsch firm.
September 28, 2006
|LS 600h L.|
At the Paris Auto Show, Lexus provided more details on the powertrain and performance of its luxury hybrid flagship, the LS 600h L, introduced earlier this year at the New York International Auto Show. (Earlier post.)
The Lexus Hybrid Drive in the LS 600h L combines a new 5.0-liter gasoline direct-injection V8 with large, high-output electric motors and a newly-designed battery pack to deliver more than 330 kW (442 hp) of total system power. Fuel consumption is rated at less than 9.5 liters/100km (more than 25 mpg US), and CO2 emissions are less than 220 g/km.
|The Dodge Avenger concept car.|
Chrysler took the wraps off its Dodge Avenger concept car at the Paris Auto Show this week. The Avenger uses a 2.0-liter turbo diesel engine and offers a lower rear diffuser to reduce vehicle drag and improve fuel efficiency.
If the D-segment (mid-size) vehicle goes into production, the Dodge Avenger will be sold in markets outside North America.