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December 2007

December 31, 2007

Altairnano-Powered Dragster Sets New EV World Elapsed Time Record (corrected)

Dennis “Kilowatt” Berube set a new National Electric Drag Racing Association (NEDRA) elapsed time electric vehicle world record driving an electric dragster powered by Altairnano battery packs, achieving 7.956 seconds for the quarter-mile run.

The elapsed time results edged out the prior record holder, the KillaCycle (earlier post) at 7.991 seconds. The top NEDRA speed record remains with the KillaCycle (160.69 mph). Berube’s dragster reached 159.85 mph on its 7.956-second run.

(In November 2007, the KillaCycle made a quarter-mile run in 7.824 seconds and hit 168 mph. (Earlier post.))

Using Altairnano’s lithium-titanate battery packs, Berube’s electric dragster, named the Current Eliminator V, achieved the elapsed time record at the Southwestern International Raceway in Tucson, AZ on Sunday, 30 December. Requirements for setting the world record include two record-breaking times on the same day under the same conditions.

With runs rapidly decreasing in time, Berube began with 9.0 seconds, followed by 8.4, then 8.009 seconds. On the fourth run of the day, Berube broke into the 7-second category reaching 159.65 mph in 7.956 seconds. Dennis then followed with a consecutive run of 7.963 seconds while reaching 160.65 mph for the quarter mile.

December 31, 2007 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Report: Nissan Targeting 15% Reduction in Vehicle Weight for 10% Improvement in Fuel Consumption

The Nikkei reports that Nissan Motor Co. is targeting an average 15% reduction in the weight of its vehicles by 2015, compared to the 2005 lineup, to reduce fuel consumption by 10%.

Toyota has also set a weight-reduction goal for midsize cars set at approximately 10%.

To achieve significant weight reductions, Nissan aims to leverage its close ties with materials and autoparts manufacturers and re-examine materials selection and parts design when remodeling vehicles. This effort is expected to result in increased use of new materials, such as carbon fiber compounds, fiberglass-reinforced plastic, magnesium alloys, and ultrahigh-tensile steel sheet.

According to the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, a 100kg reduction in the weight of a 1- to 1.5-ton car improves mileage by 1 km per liter.

December 31, 2007 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Peabody Energy Joins China’s GreenGen Near-Zero Emissions Coal Plant Project

US-based Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private-sector coal company, recently became the only non-Chinese equity partner in China’s US$1-billion “GreenGen” project—the first near-zero emissions coal-fueled power plant with carbon capture and storage in China.

Overview of GreenGen process flow. Click to enlarge.

Led by managing partner China Huaneng Group, the GreenGen Company will design, develop and operate an integrated gasification combined cycle power plant near the town of Tiajin, southeast of Beijing. Construction is expected to begin early in 2008, with the first phase of GreenGen—generating 250 MW—expected on line in 2009. The project includes multiple phases for additional generation and carbon capture, expanding to 650 megawatts in later phases.

Initially, the syngas resulting from gasification will power the turbine; in subsequent phases, the syngas will be converted to hydrogen for combustion in the turbine and for use in a fuel cell system for power generation. Hydrogen could also be provided as a separate product.

GreenGen believes the site is in an optimum location near a number of chemical facilities that create opportunities to utilize the project’s syngas, heat and byproducts and power, while storing carbon dioxide to provide enhanced oil recovery.

China Huaneng is the majority shareholder in GreenGen. Peabody will own 6% of the initiative. Huaneng is one of the top 10 power companies in the world, and the largest power generator in the People’s Republic of China. Both Huaneng and Peabody also are members of the FutureGen Alliance, which includes the world’s largest coal companies and utilities partnering with the US Department of Energy to develop and site a 275-megawatt technology prototype that also would achieve near-zero emissions with carbon capture and storage. (Earlier post.)

Additional partners represent some of China’s largest utility and coal companies and include the China Datang Corporation, the China Huadian Corporation, the China Guodian Corporation, the China Power Investment Corporation, the Shenhua Group, the China National Coal Group and the State Development and Investment Corporation.

China is the world’s largest and fastest-growing coal-consuming nation, using coal to power nearly three-fourths of its electricity.


December 31, 2007 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Adelaide Introducing Solar-Charged Bus

The Adelaide (South Australia) City Council is introducing a solar-powered electric bus. Called Tindo—the Kaurna Aboriginal word for sun—the bus is to be recharged using 100% solar energy to be generated by a solar photovoltaic (PV) system installed on the roof of the new Adelaide Central Bus Station.

Lord Mayor Michael Harbison says the bus will be used every day as a free service for the people of Adelaide through the Adelaide City Council’s free Adelaide Connector Bus service.

The bus is made by Designline International and the solar PV panels are supplied by BP Solar. The solar PV system at the new Adelaide Central Bus Station will generate almost 70,000 kWh of electricity each year, making it currently the largest grid-connected system in Adelaide.

Much of the funding for the $550,000 solar PV system has been provided by the Adelaide Solar City program, with the Adelaide City Council also committing significant funding.

The bus has an operational range of 200 kilometers (124 miles) between charges under typical urban conditions, and is able to carry 27 passengers, with 25 seated and two wheelchair spaces. The bus uses 11 Zebra sodium/nickel battery modules.

December 31, 2007 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

SunPine Developing Tall Oil Refinery for Production of Biodiesel or Renewable Diesel Feedstock

SunPine’s tall oil process produces either crude tall diesel for hydroprocessing at a refinery or standard biodiesel. Click to enlarge.

SunPine AB is planning to build a production plant in Piteå, Sweden to convert crude tall oil (CTO) either to “crude tall diesel” for subsequent hydroprocessing at a refinery into a renewable diesel component or, via purification, into standard EN14214 biodiesel. The plant will have a capacity of up to 100,000 m3 of crude tall diesel per year. Construction work is planned to start early in 2008 and production in 2009.

Crude tall oil is a byproduct of the kraft (sulfate) processing of pinewood for pulp and paper. Crude tall oil starts as tall oil soap separated from recovered black liquor in the kraft pulping process. The tall oil soap is acidified to yield crude tall oil. Crude tall oil contains 40-50% fatty acids such as oleic and linoleic acids; 5-10% sterols, alcohols, and other neutral components.

Conventionally, CTO is first depitched and then upgraded by distillation to produce more valuable products such as tall oil fatty acids (TOFA) and tall oil rosin (TOR).

The Canada Center for Mineral and Energy Technology (CANMET) sponsored the development by the Saskatchewan Research Council of a process to convert tall oil into higher value products, involving the simultaneous catalytic hydrogenation and cracking of the depitched tall oil (DPTO). This results in a product called SuperCetane. (Earlier post.)

The SunPine process stops at an earlier point; the resulting crude tall diesel could then be used as a feedstock in a variety of the renewable diesel via hydroprocessing initiatives in the petrochemical industry.

SunPine is one of the participants in the Solander Science Park (SSP) in Piteå, a pulp mill-based R&D biorefinery cluster in Piteå, Sweden. The vision of SSP is to create a world class center for research and business development around the kraft pulp mill based biorefinery.

Current forest biorefinery projects at the Solander Science Park in addition to SunPine include:

  • Chemrec, black liquor gasification

  • BioXylane, hemicellulose recovery

  • BioLime, new lignin-based fuel


December 31, 2007 in Biodiesel, Biomass, Diesel, Fuels | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

December 30, 2007

Continental Automotive to Begin Series Production of Li-Ion Packs in 2008

Continental Automotive will begin series production of automotive lithium-ion packs in 2008, according to CEO Manfred Wennemer in an interview with auto motor und sport.

It will not be a hundred thousand units a year, but certainly a few thousand.... This is the battery of the future: for both full- and mild-, as well as plug-in hybrid drive and pure electric cars.

—CEO Manfred Wennemer

In addition to being one of the providers to GM for battery packs for the Volt (earlier post), Continental is also a development partner with VW and Daimler. Wennemer declined to name customers for the batteries.

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

Bosch Looking for Sales of Almost $1.5B in Low-Price Vehicle Segment by 2010

In an interview with Germany’s auto motor und sport magazine, Bosch India Managing Director Dr. Albert Hieronimus said that the company wants to supply components and systems to manufacturers of low-price vehicles (LPV) such as Tata Motors in India, and that the company expects revenue from the LPV segment to exceed €1 billion (US$1.47 billion) by 2010.

Tata Motors will introduce its $2,500 “People’s Car” on 10 January at 9th Auto Expo in New Delhi. The company plans to begin production of the low-priced vehicle in 2008. (Earlier post.)

Bosch expects the global market for low price vehicles (LPVs)—vehicles with a net price below a threshold of €7,000 (US$9,400), to grow annually at 5%, twice as fast as the overall car market. (Earlier post.)

By 2010, LPVs are projected to have a 13% share of the new car market worldwide. Sales of LPVs are expected to increase especially rapidly in China and India, which combined are expected to account for one half the LPV market in the future.

December 30, 2007 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Japan Aiming for 30% of Households to Have Solar Panels by 2030

Kyodo. The Japanese government will aim for 30% of all households to have solar panels installed by 2030 as part of its efforts to fight global warming. Under the target, the number of solar-powered households would increase to 14 million from the current 400,000, and the capacity of such generation would expand 30-fold from the current 1.3 million kilowatts.

The target will be incorporated into a program for innovative technologies to cut greenhouse gas emissions to be announced at the Group of Eight summit in July at the Lake Toya resort area of Hokkaido, they said.

In a bid to develop new, low-cost solar panels so ordinary households can install them, the government plans to convene experts from home and abroad to set up an international research institution in fiscal 2008, and is seeking 2 billion yen [US$18 million] for the project in the fiscal 2008 budget, they said.

December 30, 2007 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack

New Mexico Car Dealers File Suit Against State’s Adoption of California Vehicle CO2 Standards

Las Cruces Sun-News. Three New Mexico car dealerships have sued the state Environment Department and other agencies, seeking to overturn New Mexico’s “Clean Car” regulations—which adopt the California CO2 emissions standards—before they go into effect.

Zangara Dodge Inc. of Albuquerque, Auge Sales and Service Inc. of Belen and Phil Carrell Chevrolet-Buick Inc. of Carlsbad, in a 20-page lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court, seek to block enforcement of the regulations, which would apply to the 2011 model year.

The dealers contend the tougher vehicle emissions standards for greenhouse gases conflict with the federal Clean Air Act and are pre-empted by federal law because they would “supplant and conflict with federal law and regulations governing the fuel economy of new motor vehicles.”

The New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board and the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board adopted the California standards on 27 November. (Earlier post.)

Similar suits have been struck down in Vermont (earlier post) and California (earlier post).

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has rejected the waiver requested by California for the implementation of the standards. California and other states that have adopted the measures are suing to overturn that decision. (Earlier post.)

December 30, 2007 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

December 29, 2007

NASA Sponsoring 2008 General Aviation Technology Challenge; First Green Prize for PAVs

NASA and the non-profit CAFE Foundation have partnered to create a new Personal Air Vehicles (PAVs) Challenge for 2008 to advance five vital General Aviation Technologies: noise reduction, fuel efficiency, speed, safety and ease of use of the PAVs.

As part of the $300,000 General Aviation Technology Challenge next summer in Santa Rosa, California, NASA will fund the first Green Prize for PAVs. The CAFE Foundation is the flight test agency selected by NASA to conduct the event, and has published details and the official competition rules on its website.

The competition organizers expect to attract a showcase of innovative experimental and roadable aircraft (flying cars) as well as vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (VTOL). The leading examples of Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) will also compete in this year’s event.

Envisioned are 50+ MPG, easy to fly and near-all-weather personal aircraft that offer trip speeds 3-5 times faster than cars and that can land on very short runways. Such self-operated PAVs with advanced computerized cockpits can provide safe, affordable, eco-friendly, on-demand transportation, says the CAFE Foundation.

NASA aeronautics developed the PAV concept to provide a more distributed and less centralized system of air travel that could contribute to a more efficient transportation system. NASA has predicted that up to 45% of all miles traveled in the future could be in PAVs, thereby relieving congestion at metropolitan hub airports and the freeways that surround them, reducing the need to build new highways and saving much of the 6.8 billion gallons of fuel wasted in surface gridlock each year.

To stimulate rapid innovation and progress in PAV performance, NASA Centennial Challenges has funded $2M in cash prizes for a multi-year flight competition called the PAV Challenge, modeled after the X Prize. The 2008 GAT Challenge is the second instance of the competition.

The major prizes of the 2008 competition are:

  • Community Noise Prize: $150,000

  • Green Prize: $50,000

  • Aviation Safety Prize (safety and ease of use): $50,000

  • CAFE 400 Prize (400 mile race for speed): $25,000

  • Quietest LSA Prize: $10,000

The Green Prize.To win the Green Prize in the PAV Challenge, the competing aircraft must score the highest MPGe, or equivalent miles per gallon, based upon fuel price, fuel density and the payload carried. MPGe is evaluated after the aircraft flies the CAFE 400 race course.

The floor of the prize winning starts at 30 MPGe for a 2 seat aircraft carrying 400 pounds of payload during its CAFE 400 race. The winning aircraft must also average at least 100 statute mph during the race, including allowance for its GTT or ground travel time.

GTT respects the time required to park the aircraft and then walk, bike or drive to and from the destination doorstep. GTT is proportioned according to the aircraft’s takeoff distance, and is shortest for those with the ability to takeoff vertically (VTOL). Long takeoff distances imply using long runway airports that are usually farther from town and require longer GTTs to reach the destination doorway.

Prices for fuels and electricity in the Green Prize have been selected from national averages. They reflect some subsidy for biofuel as well as a slight premium for obtaining mogas at an airport location. All fuels must be approved and inspected by CAFE.

Each aircraft competing in the Green Prize will be carefully weighed on the CAFE scales before and after its CAFE 400 race flight in order to determine its fuel burn. The CAFE 400 race course is a VFR cross-country flight over beautiful Northern California that includes several climbs and descents, with some pylon check-points as high as 7000 feet MSL. Teams competing for the Green Prize must optimize every facet of their aircraft’s cross-country performance—aerodynamic, thermodynamic, structural and propulsive efficiency, as well as navigational accuracy, use of wind, weather and upslope effect.

Teams comprised of designers and craftsmen from the Experimental Aircraft Association, aerospace engineers, graduate students, venture capitalists and aircraft manufacturers are expected to compete. The CAFE Foundation website provides teams with a library of NASA research and expert consultants to help them prepare for the event. CAFE is now accepting discounted early bird team registrations for the competition and will offer select sponsors the opportunity to participate in the naming of the main prizes.


December 29, 2007 in Aviation | Permalink | Comments (19) | TrackBack

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