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November 2007

November 30, 2007

Oak Ridge Lab and FEV Join Plug-in Hybrid Development Consortium

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and FEV Engine Technology have joined the Plug-in Hybrid Development Consortium. The Consortium is made up of a growing number of automotive suppliers, manufacturers and other organizations working together to accelerate the commercial production of Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs).

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, houses the Power Electronics and Electric Machinery Research Center (PEEMRC). The center (PEEMRC) is the US Department of Energy’s premier broad-based research center for power electronic and electric machinery development. During this decade, the Center has dramatically advanced the technology of soft-switched inverters, multilevel inverters, DC-DC converters, motor control techniques, and efficient, compact electric machines.

Oak Ridge is leading the development of power electronics for electric motors and drive systems. We look forward to working with Raser Technologies and the other members of the Hybrid Consortium in several key areas that we feel are important to the next generation of hybrid vehicle electric drives.

—Laura Marlino, FreedomCAR Program Technical Manager - Power Electronics and Electric Machinery (PEEM) Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Oak Ridge and the Hybrid Consortium plan to work together cooperatively to advance electric motor and power electronics for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Oak Ridge is also a participant in the US FreedomCar & Fuel Partnership.

FEV Engine Technology is part of the worldwide FEV Group, headquartered in Aachen, Germany, with technical centers located in Aachen, Auburn Hills, Michigan and Dalian, China. FEV works with OEMs worldwide to develop and prototype new powertrain and vehicle systems that can be integrated into OEM production vehicles. FEV brings powertrain, vehicle, prototyping, and system integration and engineering services to the Consortium.

November 30, 2007 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

EC Issues Calls For Research Proposals Under FP7

The European Commission, which manages the EU’s 7th Research Framework Programme (FP7), has issued calls for proposals in 32 research areas, making available about €1.75 billion (US$2.6 billion) in funding. The research areas range from environmental science to sustainable transport, from biotechnology to nanotechnology.

The FP7-Transport theme, which encompasses both air and surface transport, has as its stated objective the development of safer, “greener” and “smarter” pan-European transport systems that will benefit all citizens, respect the environment, and increase the competitiveness of European industries in the global market. Over the full course of FP-7, research under the transport theme will have a total of €4.1 billion (US$6 billion) in funding.

FP-7 puts an emphasis on funding the following types of activities:

  • Aeronautics and air transport

    • Reduction of emissions, work on engines and alternative fuels;

    • Air traffic management, safety aspects of air transport; and

    • Environmentally efficient aviation

  • Sustainable surface transport: rail, road and waterborne

    • Development of clean and efficient engines and power trains;

    • Reducing the impact of transport on climate change;

    • Inter-modal regional and national transport;

    • Clean and safe vehicles; and

    • Infrastructure construction and maintenance, integrative architectures.

  • Support to the European global satellite navigation system

    • Galileo and EGNOS;

    • Navigation and timing services; and

    • Efficient use of satellite navigation.

November 30, 2007 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

New EcoCAR Engineering Challenge Uses California ARB ZEV Requirements as Framework

GM, the US Department of Energy, Natural Resources Canada and others are sponsoring a new national collegiate competition series to re-engineer a GM vehicle to achieve improved fuel economy and reduce emissions while retaining the vehicle’s performance and consumer appeal. EcoCAR: the NeXT Challenge will begin in the Fall of 2008.

Students will design and build advanced propulsion solutions that emulate the vehicle categories from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) requirements. Students will be encouraged to explore a variety of solutions including electric, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fuel cells.

In addition, they will incorporate lightweight materials, improve aerodynamics and utilize alternative fuels and energy carriers such as ethanol, biodiesel, hydrogen and electricity.

EcoCAR will follow the successful student engineering competition, “Challenge X: Crossover to Sustainable Mobility,” also sponsored by GM and the US Department of Energy, along with other government, automotive and technology industry partners.

The Challenge X student engineering competition, which began in 2004 and concludes in May 2008, includes 17 North American universities, which have re-engineered a Chevrolet Equinox with alternative propulsion systems to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions.

EcoCAR will launch in the 2008-2009 academic year as a three-year program with General Motors providing production vehicles and parts, seed money, technical mentoring and operational support. The US Department of Energy and its research and development facility, Argonne National Laboratory, will provide competition management, team evaluation and technical and logistical support.

EcoCAR is a reflection of GM’s philosophy that there is no single silver bullet that will solve the world’s energy challenges. “Our approach is based on energy diversity and customer choice, using advanced propulsion technologies that play a significant role in displacing large amounts of petroleum and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

—Tom Stephens, group vice president of GM Global GM Powertrain and Quality

In the first year teams develop their vehicle designs through the use of GM’s Global Vehicle Development Process—the modeling simulation process currently used to develop all of GM’s vehicles. Sophisticated hardware in the loop (HIL) and software in the loop (SIL) systems will be designed, and teams challenged to model and engineer the subsystems into their design.

During Years Two and Three, students will build the vehicle and continue to refine, test, and improve vehicle operation. At the end of Years Two and Three, the re-engineered student vehicle prototypes will compete in a week-long competition of engineering tests. These tests will be similar to the tests GM conducts to determine a prototype’s readiness for a production decision.

A selection process open to all accredited engineering schools in the US, Canada and Mexico will begin 3 December 2007, and approximately 16 teams will be selected in April 2008 for the competition.

EcoCAR: the NeXt Challenge will have its own web site at www.ecocar.us.com. Until that site is complete, updates on the program will be posted on the ChallengeX site (www.challengex.org).

November 30, 2007 in Conferences and other events, Electric (Battery), Emissions, Fuel Cells, Fuel Efficiency, Hybrids, Plug-ins | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Valence Technology Introducing New Large Format Li-Ion Battery Technology at EVS-23

Valence Technology will unveil its new large-format lithium-ion battery technology at the International Electric Vehicle Symposium and Exposition (EVS-23) starting Sunday at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The new generation of phosphate-based lithium-ion battery systems, branded Epoch, are equipped with an advanced management system that will monitor and adjust cell performance so battery packs will always operate at their optimum performance capacity.

Epoch batteries present a safe, powerful and reliable energy solution designed to be low maintenance, cost competitive and environmentally friendly, according to Valence.

By definition, “epoch” means a period marked by radical changes and new developments. hat was our goal with this new suite of products—to provide the industry with a new level of power storage that changes the way customers approach the design and deployment of electric powered vehicles. Moreover, we wanted the Epoch brand to be more than a concept, so we made sure Valence had the sourcing capability, manufacturing capacity and start-to-finish infrastructure to produce systems now and in the future in commercial quantities.

—Robert L. Kanode, president and CEO of Valence

The Epoch brand of customizable battery packs will be available in 12.8 volt and 19.2 volt modules and will allow users scalability up to 390 kWh. Additional Epoch battery system benefits include a fail soft capability that will eliminate system failure and a life cycle comprising more than 2,000 charge cycles.

Valence manufactures lithium-ion polymer batteries, utilizing an electrolyte that plasticizes the polymer, producing a solid electrolyte that is safe and leak resistant. The company uses manganese, cobalt or phosphate cathode material based on the requirements of the application.

November 30, 2007 in Batteries | Permalink | Comments (17) | TrackBack

Altair Nanotechnologies Completes $40M Private Placement with UAE Commercial Group

Altair Nanotechnologies Inc., provider of advanced nanomaterial-based products and technology for a range of applications including lithium-ion batteries for transportation, has completed a $40 million private placement of its common stock to Al Yousuf LLC.

Al Yousuf LLC was founded in Dubai in 1953 and since that time has steadily grown to become one of the leading commercial groups in the United Arab Emirates. Al Yousuf operates in a wide range of industries including automobiles, marine, manufacturing, real estate, information and communication technology, electronic goods and chemicals.

We see the tremendous global growth opportunity for Altairnano’s innovative battery technology in both the transportation and stationary power markets. Given our transportation expertise, we believe these markets are ready for Altairnano’s clean, powerful and scaleable energy storage systems.

—Iqbal Al Yousuf, President of Al Yousuf LLC

Under the purchase agreement, Altairnano has agreed to issue an aggregate of 11,428,572 shares of common stock to Al Yousuf LLC at a purchase price of $3.50 per share. The shares will be contractually restricted from resale for at least two years, with one-third of the shares being released from this restriction on the second, third and fourth anniversaries respectively.

The funding is intended to support manufacturing growth, working capital and general corporate purposes as we expand the production of our advanced power and energy storage products. The strategic investment partnership with Al Yousuf allows us to continue to have an impact on the dynamics of the transportation and stationary power markets.

—Alan J. Gotcher, Altairnano President and CEO

J.P. Morgan Securities Inc. acted as the exclusive agent in the private placement. The share purchase is set to close in stages, with a closing for $10 million in shares having occurred on November 30, 2007 and a closing for the remaining shares scheduled to occur on December 10, 2007. Altairnano agreed to register the resale of the shares prior to the expiration of the two-year lockup period and granted the investor the right to demand a subsequent underwritten re-sale registration.

November 30, 2007 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Neste Oil to Build 245M Gallon/Year NExBTL Renewable Diesel Plant in Singapore

Neste Oil plans to invest approximately €550 million (US$812 million) to build a plant in Singapore to produce NExBTL Renewable Diesel. The plant will have a design capacity of 800,000 t/a—about 245 million gallons US annually—making it the world’s largest facility producing diesel fuel from renewable feedstocks to date.

The plant will be based on Neste Oil’s proprietary NExBTL technology for the high-pressure hydrotreatment of fatty acids—a second-generation biofuel process that produces a pure hydrocarbon fuel (bio-hydrocarbon). The process can use a flexible input of any vegetable oil or animal fat and produce a product with characteristics similar to Fischer-Tropsch output. (Earlier post.) The first NExBTL facility was commissioned in Finland at Neste Oil’s Porvoo refinery in summer 2007, and a second is due to come on stream there in 2009.

NExBTL Renewable Diesel is a premium fuel that outperforms conventional petroleum diesel fuel, and can be used in existing vehicles and distributed in existing logistics systems. When produced from sustainably sourced raw materials, its total lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions are 40-60% less than those of conventional diesel fuel. In addition, NExBTL has lower tailpipe emissions, contributing to better air quality.

Based on tests performed, use of NExBTL diesel can deliver emissions reductions such as the following:

  • 10% less nitrogen oxides

  • 28% less small particle emissions

  • 50% less hydrocarbons

  • 28% less carbon monoxide

  • 40-45% less aldehydes

  • 40-45% less benzene

The main raw material planned for the Singapore plant will be palm oil. Neste Oil has committed itself to only using palm oil certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil as soon as sufficient quantities are available. Palm oil complying with the RSPO certification system, which was approved in November 2007, will probably be available from the early part of 2008 onwards.

Singapore is the world’s third-largest center of oil refining, and occupies a central location in terms of product and feedstock flows and logistics. This also gives Singapore excellent potential to develop into a center for Asian biofuel production, according to Neste. Singapore is a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol and has committed itself to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The government of Singapore played an important role in promoting Neste Oil’s investment, and the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) assisted Neste Oil at every stage of the preparations for the project. The EDB will also support the investment through e.g. R∓D support and assistance with recruiting and training personnel.

Construction of the Singapore plant will begin in the first half of 2008, and the facility is due to be completed by the end of 2010. The plant will be built in the Tuas industrial zone in the southwest of the island, around 30 minutes from the centre of Singapore. The plant will be integrated into the area’s existing industrial infrastructure, and will make use of local site utilities and port and storage services.

November 30, 2007 in Bio-hydrocarbons, Biomass, Diesel, Fuels | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

San Francisco Launches First City-Wide Program to Collect FOG for Biodiesel

San Francisco, California, known for its atmospheric fog, recently launched the nation’s first citywide program to collect fats, oil and grease (FOG) as a feedstock for biodiesel for use in the city fleet.

SFGreasecycle is a program that was developed by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) as a sustainable alternative to combat sewer blockages caused in part by excess cooking oils and fats discharged down drains from restaurants and homes. Each year, the SFPUC estimates that 50% of sewer emergency calls are related to backups caused by grease blockages costing their ratepayers $3.5 million a year in repairs.

We’re taking a serious City problem and using the best available technology to save our ratepayers’ money and do something good for the environment. For every 5 gallons of grease we collect and keep out of our sewers, we displace 5 gallons of petroleum diesel. That is a net 100 pound reduction in carbon emission.

—SFPUC General Manager Susan Leal

San Francisco has a City fleet of more than 1,600 diesel vehicles. In 2006, Mayor Newsom signed an executive directive mandating that the entire city fleet be converted by December 31, 2007. The City is currently on pace to meet that goal. Initially, biodiesel for the City fleet will be purchased through an existing city contract, with the future plan to procure all biodiesel generated from San Francisco’s restaurant waste oil stream.

Recycled FOG from San Francisco restaurants is estimated to generate 1.5 million gallons of biofuel each year.

November 30, 2007 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

China’s Energy Intensity Fell in First Three Quarters 2007

People’s Daily. China’s energy intensity—its energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product—dropped three percent year-on-year in the first three quarters of 2007.

China has vowed to cut the energy consumption used to generate per unit of GDP by 20 percent and major pollutants emissions by ten percent between 2006 and 2010.

The nation will take economic, legal and necessary administrative measures to reach the mandatory targets, a government’s solemn promise to the people, Xie Zhenhua, deputy chief of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), told a press conference in Beijing.

November 30, 2007 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 29, 2007

EPA Issues Plans for New Emissions Standards for Ocean Vessels

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued plans for new emission standards for diesel engines on board large ocean-going vessels. The agency is considering standards for achieving large reductions in oxides of nitrogen (NOx), particulate matter, as well as sulfur oxides (SOx) through the use of technologies such as in-cylinder controls, aftertreatment, and low-sulfur fuel.

The advance notice of proposed rulemaking targets emissions from the largest marine diesel engines. These Category 3 marine engines (those with per-cylinder displacement of 30 liters or greater) are used primarily for propulsion power on ocean-going vessels such as container ships, tankers, cruise ships and bulk carriers.

The advance notice of proposed rulemaking reflects the approach set out in the US Government’s recent proposal to the International Maritime Organization and would require the use of high-efficiency aftertreatment technology and lower sulfur marine fuels to reduce NOx and PM emissions.

In its advance notice of the proposed rulemaking, the EPA notes that many of the nation’s most serious ozone and PM2.5 nonattainment areas are located along our coastlines where vessels using Category 3 marine engine emissions are found in ports that are often located in or near urban areas where significant numbers of people are exposed to these emissions.

The contribution of these engines to air pollution is substantial and is expected to grow in the future. Based on our newly completed emission inventory analysis, we estimate that these engines contributed nearly 6 percent of mobile-source NOx, more than 10 percent of mobile-source PM2.5, and about 40 percent of mobile-source SO2 in 2001. We estimate that their contribution will increase to about 34 percent of mobile-source NOx, 45 percent of mobile-source PM2.5, and 94 percent of mobile-source SO2 by 2030 without further controls on these engines. Reducing emissions from these engines will lead to significant public health benefits.


The approach described in both the domestic and international initiatives would consist of performance-based standards for new and existing Category 3 engines, including:

  • Tier 2 NOx limits for new Category 3 engines beginning in 2011 that would achieve a 15 to 25% NOx reduction.

  • Tier 3 NOx limits for new Category 3 engines beginning in 2016 that would apply when ships are operating in US ports and coastal areas and that would require the use of high efficiency catalytic aftertreatment emission control technology capable of reducing NOx emissions by 80% or more.

  • NOx limits for existing engines (those built before 1 Jan 2000) that would achieve a 20% NOx reduction; these standards would phase-in beginning 2010/2012.

  • PM and SOx performance standards beginning in 2011 that would apply to all vessels when they are operating in US ports and coastal areas and that could be achieved through the use of low sulfur fuel or the use of exhaust gas cleaning technology.

EPA is providing 60 days for comments on the advance notice of proposed rulemaking. The rulemaking has a scheduled completion date of 17 Dec 2009.


November 29, 2007 in Emissions, Ports and Marine | Permalink | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Firefly Energy Earns Continued R&D Funding for Microcell Carbon-Foam Lead-Acid Battery

Firefly Energy is obtaining a $3.2 million appropriation from the 2008 defense bill for further development of “3D Advanced Battery Technology”. Firefly Energy is developing a version of its award-winning 3D Microcell carbon-foam lead-acid battery technology for the US Army.

Firefly Energy is slated to begin shipping prototypes of the 3D battery by mid-2008 for testing by the US Army for key applications including its “Silent Watch” program.

Using the batteries, electronic reconnaissance can be conducted from military ground vehicles while noisy engines are off, thus helping avoid detection while saving fuel. The goal of the program is to provide consistent power for four to 72 hours.

The carbon foam-based battery technology delivers a performance associated with NiMH but for one-fifth the cost, and can be both manufactured as well as recycled within the existing lead acid battery industry’s vast infrastructure.

The company recently announced that the first pre-production versions of the new BCI Group 31 carbon-foam lead-acid truck battery—to be marketed under the new name “Oasis”—will be available for review and testing during the first quarter of 2008. Initial availability of the Oasis battery will be in the summer of 2008, with full production scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2008. (Earlier post.)

November 29, 2007 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

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