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March 2008

March 31, 2008

BMW Shows Demonstration Mono-Fuel Version of the Hydrogen 7; Next Engine Version Will Use Charging for 2-3X Increase in Power Density

BMW introduced a new mono-fuel version of its Hydrogen 7 vehicle at the 2008 National Hydrogen Association Conference in Sacramento, CA today. The BMW Hydrogen 7 mono-fuel is a demonstration production vehicle, not a prototype, and was created to showcase the zero CO2 and low emissions potential and feasibility of a dedicated hydrogen internal combustion engine (ICE).

Based on the BMW Hydrogen 7 bi-fuel version (gasoline and hydrogen) (earlier post), the BMW Hydrogen 7 mono-fuel is equipped with a 6.0-liter V12 internal combustion engine (ICE) which has been engineered to run exclusively on hydrogen. The hydrogen storage system in the mono-fuel version is the same as in the bi-fuel version: a cryogenic tank that holds approximately 8 kg (17.6 lbs) of liquid hydrogen.

The hydrogen engine uses fully variable VALVETRONIC valve management and variable double-VANOS camshaft control. Hydrogen is delivered with a hydrogen supply pipe integrated in intake manifold. Under full load, the engine runs under stoichiometric conditions: a complete balance of oxygen and hydrogen (lambda = 1). This mixture ratio also provides the highest level of performance and output on low emissions in the hydrogen mode.

Although unlike fossil fuels, the combustion of hydrogen generates neither hydrocarbons (HC) nor carbon monoxide (CO), it does produce NOx at high combustion temperatures. To reduce NOx, the Hydrogen 7’s engine runs with a lean burn under partial load (lambda > 2). The lean burn keeps temperatures in the combustion process are relatively low, keeping NOx emissions to a minimum.

Such a lean burn mode can be maintained throughout a particularly wide range of operation in the engine control map. And since hydrogen offers particularly broad ignition limits and burns at a fast rate, only a small amount of fuel is required in the mixture to generate a high level of efficiency, according to BMW. As the engine moves to a richer burn to boost engine output (reaching a max of lambda = 1), the engine management system helps to reduce the engine-out NOx. Remaining NOx is handled by a regular three-way catalyst.

Compared with the bi-fuel version, this vehicle achieves lower emissions, and slightly increased engine performance, reduced consumption and greater hydrogen range (140 miles versus 125 miles).

The Hydrogen 7’s V12 mono-fuel ICE produces no CO2 and near-zero emissions, as recent testing by Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), confirmed. ANL conducted emission tests on BMW Hydrogen 7 mono-fuel vehicles in early March 2008.

The mono-fuel Hydrogen 7 will also appear at the upcoming 2008 SAE World Congress in Detroit, MI (14 - 17 April). BMW and ANL will hold a joint press conference about the results of the emission testing at the event.

Next steps. The next step for BMW, which is maintaining its focus on the hydrogen combustion engine as a solution for almost zero emission vehicles, is to develop a charged version of the engine. According to Tobias Brunner of BMW, who also discussed BMW’s approaches to hydrogen storage at the NHA conference, shifting to a charged engine with about 8-10 bar of pressure will increase the power density of the hydrogen engine by between two to three times: from a density of 33 kW/liter in the current mono-fuel V-12 to a density of between 70-90 kW/liter in the future engine.

The charged engine will be applied in a smaller vehicle than the 7 Series model, and will likely be paired with a cryo-compressed hydrogen storage system (CcH2), assuming development and proof-of-concept work on those systems proceeds according to plan.

Cryo-compression is one of the approaches being pursued to increase the gravimetric and volumetric storage capacities of compressed gas tanks from their current levels. At fixed pressure and volume, gas tank volumetric capacity increases as the tank temperature decreases. Cooling a tank from room temperature to liquid nitrogen temperature (77 K) will increase its volumetric capacity by a factor of four, although system volumetric capacity will be less than this due to the increased volume required for the cooling system.

March 31, 2008 in Engines, Hydrogen, Hydrogen Storage | Permalink | Comments (19) | TrackBack

DOE Selects Quantum and Boeing for Advanced Hydrogen Storage Project

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected for final negotiations for a contact a joint project by Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide, Inc. and Boeing to develop next-generation manufacturing technologies for hydrogen storage vessels. Total value of the project is $5.6 million over three years. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LNNL) and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) will also contribute to the project.

The overall goal of this project is to leverage the advances in precision composite material processing technologies in the aerospace sector to develop innovative manufacturing techniques for hydrogen storage tanks, with the intent to drive down costs significantly.

The specific objective is to develop and demonstrate an innovative hybrid process which integrates the most optimal features of high precision aerospace and high-speed commercial manufacturing techniques.

Boeing is a leader in advanced composite manufacturing technologies, which utilize lightweight, high-precision composite structures for performance advantage. Quantum’s hydrogen storage systems utilize carbon-fiber reinforced composite structures for volumetric and gravimetric efficiency.

As the prime contractor, Quantum will provide overall coordination and leverage its experience in hydrogen systems. Boeing Phantom Works, the company’s advanced research and development organization, will adapt composite manufacturing technologies that it developed for the aerospace industry. The Quantum-Boeing team has partnered with the LNNL and PNNL to enhance and expand this development program.

Hydrogen pressure vessels are typically made by winding carbon fiber wetted in adhesive around a liner made of either plastic or metal. This “wet winding” process is slow because the winding speed is limited by diffusion processes that control the adhesion of subsequent layers of fiber. Slow winding increases the cost of the pressure vessels because it requires continuous operation of a dedicated, expensive machine. Oven curing of the finished vessel is often required.

LLNL has developed a dry tape winding process that considerably reduces the time required for pressure vessel winding (15 minutes vs. 3 hours for wet winding), and does not require oven curing. For the Quantum project, LLNL will develop a unique high speed composite processing technique, which will be validated by PNNL. The program will be executed in three phases, starting in 2008.

March 31, 2008 in Hydrogen Storage | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

SAIC-GM-Wuling Opens Second Production Facility in Qingdao

SAIC-GM-Wuling, GM’s mini-vehicle joint venture in China, began production at its second vehicle manufacturing facility in the coastal city of Qingdao. Its initial product is a new mini-commercial vehicle that is powered by a 1.2-liter double overhead cam gasoline engine.

The facility, which has an annual production capacity of 300,000 vehicles, leverages GM’s global systems and processes and is capable of manufacturing multiple vehicles on the same line.

SAIC-GM-Wuling was launched in 2002. GM China holds a 34.0% stake, while SAIC holds 50.1% and Wuling Motors holds 15.9%. The joint venture sold 552,788 vehicles in 2007. It ended the year with a 43% share of the mini-vehicle segment in China, making it the segment leader for the second consecutive year.

March 31, 2008 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Hybrid Truck Users Forum WG Selects Electric and Hydraulic Hybrid Suppliers

Rexroth hydrostatic regenerative braking system (HRB) reduces fuel consumption by up to 25% and can be retrofitted as an add-on system even in vehicles without hydraulics. Click to enlarge.

The members of CALSTART’s Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF) Refuse Working Group have selected the supplier team of Crane Carrier/ISE/Bosch Rexroth to negotiate with for validation and testing of Class 7 & 8 heavy-duty electric hybrid and hydraulic hybrid refuse vehicles.

The hybrid trucks are expected to yield 30% to 50% reductions in fuel use with an accompanying reduction in emissions, to be demonstrated in chassis dynamometer and field testing. The working group members taking part in the hybrid refuse truck pilot project include the Department of Sanitation, City of New York; Solid Waste Management Department, City of Houston; and the City of Chicago.

Electric hybrid. Crane Carrier Company, working in conjunction with ISE Corporation, proposed a series hybrid electric refuse vehicle (HEV) using a self-contained hybrid drive assembly that can be easily mounted between the frame rails in most truck chassis. It replaces the conventional manual or automatic transmission assembly in the Crane Carrier LET2 chassis. The proposed HEV system uses components that have already been developed by ISE for the transit market in heavy 60 ft. articulated bus applications.

The HEV will use nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries or ultra-capacitor packs to store energy recovered from the high number of braking cycles experienced by refuse collection vehicles during their normal operation. The HEV will also employ an onboard GPS and Remote Diagnostic Unit (RDU) providing the capability for real time performance monitoring and remote troubleshooting. The RDU conveys location, vehicle status and offers web-based access.

Hydraulic hybrid. Crane Carrier and Bosch Rexroth Corporation have proposed using Rexroth’s Hydrostatic Regenerative Brake (HRB) parallel hydraulic hybrid system to power their LET2 chassis. The HRB system will be integrated with the Heil refuse body hydraulic system for weight savings and more efficient packaging.

The HRB system uses a hydraulic pump/motor, connected to the driveline, to capture kinetic energy during vehicle braking. When braking, the pump/motor acts as a pump, absorbing energy from the driveline and imparting a retarding force on the drive wheels. The absorbed energy pumps hydraulic fluid into a nitrogen-pressurized accumulator. During acceleration the pressurized gas pushes fluid out of the accumulator and the pump/motor now acts as a hydraulic motor, assisting the engine and reducing the fuel required to launch the vehicle.


March 31, 2008 in Heavy-duty, Hybrids, Hydraulic Hybrid | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

ConocoPhillips, NREL and Iowa State University to Establish Research Alliance to Advance Biofuels Research

ConocoPhillips and the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are forming a strategic research alliance with Iowa State University (ISU) to identify promising cellulosic biomass conversion technologies. The collaboration will bring three independently established programs together to help identify the most efficient and cost-effective methods for making liquid transportation fuels from plants.

The research collaboration will examine processes including gasification, pyrolysis and fermentation. The collaboration could lead to projects that could provide publicly available, peer-reviewed papers and models. Each party is providing its own time and resources and the collaboration is expected to produce an initial report by January 2009.

ConocoPhillips entered into a number of biofuel and synthetic fuel research partnerships in 2007:

  • An eight-year, $22.5 million research program at Iowa State University dedicated to developing technologies that produce biorenewable fuels. ConocoPhillips made an initial $1.5 million grant in 2007 to support Iowa State researchers, with additional grants of $3 million per year for seven years. (Earlier post.)

  • ConocoPhillips and Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) are collaborating on the development of renewable transportation fuels from biomass. The alliance will research and seek to commercialize two components of a next-generation biofuel production process: the conversion of biomass from crops, wood or switchgrass into biocrude, a non-fossil substance that can be processed into fuel; and the refining of biocrude to produce transportation fuel. (Earlier post.)

  • ConocoPhillips and Tyson Foods Inc.  formed a strategic alliance to produce renewable diesel from the refinery-based processing of waste animal fat. The refinery-based process, developed by Conoco-Phillips,  uses a proprietary thermal depolymerization technology, and processes animal fats with hydrocarbon feedstocks to produce a high-quality diesel fuel that is chemically equivalent to petroleum-derived diesel, and meets all federal standards for ultra low-sulfur diesel. (Earlier post.)

  • The US Department of Energy (DOE) and Conoco-Phillips are providing US$2.9 million in funding for a research effort by Louisiana State University, Clemson University and Oak Ridge National Laboratories to convert coal-derived syngas to ethanol. The coal-derived syngas will be produced using Conoco-Phillips’ EGAS technology. (Earlier post.)

March 31, 2008 in Biomass, Fuels | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Quantum to Supply Modular Hydrogen Refueling Station to Shell Hydrogen

Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide, Inc. has been awarded a contract from Shell Hydrogen LLC for a modular and transportable hydrogen refueling station together with a hydrogen storage cascade.

The system incorporates an oil-free gas compression system to deliver hydrogen at high-pressure from the storage cascade. This refueling appliance will provide both 35 MPa (5,000 psi) and 70 MPa (10,000 psi) fill capabilities.

The unit will be sited by Shell Hydrogen at a yet to be determined location within the United States.

March 31, 2008 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tata Motors to Spend $1.5B to Expand Manufacturing Capacity in India

Tata Motors will spend 60 billion rupees (Rs. 6,000 crore, US$1.5 billion) over four to five years to expand its manufacturing capacity in India and to set up vehicle testing facilities.

Tata Motors is India’s largest vehicle maker, with revenues of US$7.2 billion in 2006-07. With more than 4 million Tata vehicles plying in India, it is the leader in commercial vehicles and the second largest in passenger vehicles. It is also the world’s fifth largest medium and heavy truck manufacturer and the second largest heavy bus manufacturer.

Last week, Tata announced it will buy Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford for approximately US$2.3 billion in cash. (Earlier post.)

March 31, 2008 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Petrobras, Mitsui, and Camargo Correa Create Ethanol Pipeline Company

Brazil’s Petrobras, Mitsui & Co. Ltd., and Camargo Correa S/A created the PMCC Projetos de Transporte de Álcool S.A., a corporation aimed at executing the ethanol pipeline project to be built between Senador Canedo (GO) and Paulínia (SP) in Brazil, in addition to the section that will interconnect the Tietê-Paraná Waterway to the Paulínia Terminal.

The ethanol pipeline is part of the Ethanol Exports Corridor, which begins at the Senador Canedo Terminal, in Goiás, goes through Uberaba, in Minas Gerais, and extends to Ribeirão Preto, Paulínia and then Guararema, in São Paulo.

From the Guararema Terminal, the pipeline goes on to the São Sebastião Terminal, on the Northern Coast of São Paulo, and to the Ilha d’Água Terminal, in Rio de Janeiro, via the existing OSRIO polyduct, which will start being used solely to transport ethanol.

March 31, 2008 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

DOE Awarded $18.3M to Nuclear Industry Consortia for GNEP Studies

The US Department of Energy (DOE) last week awarded $18.3 million to four industry teams to further develop plans for an initial nuclear fuel recycling center and advanced recycling reactor as part of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP). (Earlier post.)

The awards include $5.9 million to EnergySolutions; $5.7 million to the International Nuclear Recycling Alliance, led by AREVA and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries; $5.5 million to General Electric-Hitachi; and $1.3 million to General Atomics.  These firms will further develop detailed studies that build on conceptual design studies, technology development roadmaps, business plans submitted earlier this year by these four industry consortia.

DOE will use the information and recommendations provided by these studies, as well as other information and analyses, to determine the cost, feasibility and technical aspects of proposed GNEP activities.  In January 2008, the four consortia presented their analysis to DOE, which helped determine where additional studies were needed and provided the basis for the awards.  DOE may make another round of awards for additional GNEP studies later this year.

March 31, 2008 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 30, 2008

Report: Toto’s Home-Use Solid Oxide Ceramic Fuel Cell To Be 1/3 Price Of Others

The Nikkei reports that major sanitary ceramics manufacturer Toto Ltd. has developed a home-use solid oxide fuel cell that will sell for about ¥1 million (US$10,000) per kW output—less than a third the cost of other models from companies such as Toshiba, Matsushita and Ebara.

The firm applied its production technologies to manufacture a solid oxide fuel cell that uses heat-resistant ceramic materials. Materials costs for the device are low because it does not use expensive catalysts such as platinum. In addition, Toto found a low-cost way to mass-produce the cells.

After starting trials soon, the firm hopes to put a product that generates power and heats water on the market in fiscal 2011. Before selling household models, it plans to provide 75- and 200-watt versions to US power generation equipment manufacturers starting as early as April.

March 30, 2008 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (21) | TrackBack

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