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DOE and USDA to Award More than $10 Million for Bioenergy Plant Feedstock Research

The US Departments of Energy (DOE) and Agriculture (USDA) plan to award 10 grants totaling more than $10 million to accelerate fundamental research in the development of cellulosic biofuels. The grants will be awarded under a joint DOE-USDA program begun in 2006 which aims to accelerate fundamental research in biomass... Read more →

San Francisco Issues RFI for Infrastructure Projects to Make City Plug-In Ready

The Office of the Mayor and the Department of the Environment of the City and County of San Francisco are reviewing opportunities have issued a Request for Information (RFI) to solicit information and conceptual ideas from commercial vendors, service providers, non-profit organizations and other interested parties capable of assisting San... Read more →

Researchers at MIT Develop New Water-Splitting Catalyst That Works Under Benign Conditions; a “Giant Leap”

Researchers at MIT—Prof. Daniel Nocera and Dr. Matthew Kanan—have developed a new water-splitting catalyst that is easily prepared from earth-abundant materials (cobalt and phosphorous) and operates in benign conditions: pH neutral water at room temperature and 1 atm pressure. A report on their discovery was published online 31 July 2008... Read more →

DOE to Provide $36 Million to Advance Carbon Dioxide Capture from Coal-Fired Power Plants

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will provide $36 million for 15 projects aimed at furthering the development of new and cost-effective technologies for the capture of carbon dioxide from the existing fleet of coal-fired power plants. Research areas supported in the award include membrane technology; solvents; solid sorbents; oxycombustion,... Read more →

Nuvera Fuel Cells to Open Hydrogen Refueling Station in Massachusetts

Nuvera Fuel Cells will unveil a hydrogen refueling station in Massachusetts on 11 August. The station, located at company headquarters in Billerica, is separate from a Nuvera hydrogen refueling system in place at Logan Airport as part of a Federal Transit Authority (FTA) hydrogen bus project. (Earlier post.) The Billerica... Read more →

DOE Awards $1.6M for Investigation of Hydrogen Production by Thermotoga Bacteria

Thermotoga maritima (green/yellow rods) growing in co-culture with Methanococcus jannaschii (red spheres). T. maritima ferments sugars to hydrogen and M. jannaschii converts hydrogen to methane. The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $1.6 million to a team led by North Carolina State University to learn more about the microbiology,... Read more →

US Fuel Ethanol Production Up 47% in May from Year Prior

US production of fuel ethanol reached 18.543 million barrels (778.8 million gallons US) in May 2008, up 47% from May 2007 and up 10% just from the preceding month, according to the latest Oxygenate Production report from the US Energy Information Administration. US monthly ethanol production. Click to enlarge. Total... Read more →

Large Field Trial Shows Miscanthus Could Meet US Biofuels Goals With Less Land

In field trials in Illinois, researchers grew Miscanthus x giganteus and switchgrass in adjoining plots. Click to enlarge. Credit: University of Illinois Researchers at the University of Illinois have concluded that the perennial grass Miscanthus×giganteus could produce enough ethanol to offset 20% of current US gasoline use, while requiring 9.3%... Read more →

Roush Optimizing Wrightbus Series Hybrid Drive Based on 2.4L Diesel

Wright is making both single-deck and double-deck series hybrid buses. Engine development and engineering services provider Roush Technologies is supporting Northern Ireland-based Wrightbus in optimizing its new series hybrid drive which uses a Ford 2.4-liter diesel engine as the genset. An earlier generation of the Wrightbus hybrid drive used a... Read more →

BP-Rio Tinto JV Files Application for Hydrogen Power Station with CCS in Kern County, California

Hydrogen Energy International LLC, a joint venture of BP Alternative Energy and Rio Tinto (earlier post), is filing an AFC (Application for Certification) before the California Energy Commission for a proposed hydrogen fuel production facility and power plant with carbon capture and storage in Kern County, California. The project had... Read more →

Researchers Suggest Changes to Biofuels Incentives Rather Than Rollbacks or Moratoria

Over the last six months, the focus of the biofuel debate in Europe and the United States has shifted from emphasizing the potential contribution of biofuels to increase energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to concern about the impact on food prices, possible increase in greenhouse gas emissions and... Read more →

Report Assesses Energy and Carbon Efficiency of Canadian Oils Sands Projects

Oil sands projects vary widely in carbon intensity. Click to enlarge. Trucost Plc, an UK-based environmental research company, has analyzed carbon data from Canadian oil sands projects to identify which oil producers are more exposed to financial risk from energy and carbon costs. Oil sands production is, in general, 3-4... Read more →

New House Bill Would Require Use of “Realistic” Fuel Pricing for CAFE Requirements

US Representatives Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Todd Russell Platts (R-PA) introduced a bill, the “Accuracy in Fuel Economy Standards Act,” requiring the Department of Transportation to use “realistic and rational” gas price assumptions as it calculates the maximum feasible fuel economy standards for the coming years as required by... Read more →

Connecticut Governor Seeks to Ensure State Ready for Plug-in Vehicles

Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell asked the Chairman of the Department of Public Utility Control to work closely with automakers and the state’s electric utilities to make sure Connecticut encourages and can accommodate grid-charged electric vehicles. EVs have enormous promise for helping us reduce our dependence on gasoline and cut... Read more →

Capstone to Develop a Solar-Powered Microturbine

Capstone Turbine Corporation has received an order from HelioFocus for the development and modification of Capstone Turbine’s C65 (65 kW) MicroTurbine to operate on solar energy. The Capstone micro-turbine. Click to enlarge. Founded in 2007 and headquartered in Ness Ziona, Israel, HelioFocus Ltd. is engaged in the development of modular,... Read more →

Leading Chinese Bus Manufacturer Selects Maxwell Ultracaps for Hybrid Transit Buses

Golden Dragon Bus Co. Ltd., one of the world’s leading producers of medium- and heavy-duty buses, has selected Maxwell’s BOOSTCAP ultracapacitors for braking energy recuperation and torque assist in fuel-efficient, low-emission, diesel-electric hybrid buses Golden Dragon is producing for the Hangzhou, China, Public Transport Group Co., Ltd. Golden Dragon delivered... Read more →

New Honda Hybrid System Likely to Cost 50% Less than Civic Hybrid’s

Tech-On. The cost for the hybrid system in Honda’s coming dedicated hybrid model (earlier post) is likely to be about 50% lower than that of the Civic Hybrid, according to Honda’s Executive Vice President Koichi Kondo. Kondo made this announcement at the company’s financial results meeting for the first fiscal... Read more →

EEStor Certifies Key Materials Production Milestones and Enhancement of Chemical Purity

EEStor, Inc., the publicly taciturn developer of a promised high-power-density ceramic ultracapacitor (the Energy Storage Unit—EESU), says that it has met critical certified production milestones for the EESU component materials in three areas: particle crystallization, purity, and size. The company said that it expected that meeting these certified materials production... Read more →

China Lake Researchers Develop Potential Biobutanol Pathway for Synthetic Jet Fuel

Researchers at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD) at China Lake, California have developed an efficient batch catalysis process for the conversion of 1-butene (C4H8)—easily derived from butanol (C4H10O)—to a new class of potential synthetic jet fuel blends, with a specific focus on the requirements for the Navy’s... Read more →

Australia and Korea Partner on BioButanol for Chemical Industry

The University of Queensland (UQ), Australian sugar company CSR and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have formed the Korea-Australia Bio-Product Alliance to assist the A$1.5 trillion chemical industry to switch its dependence from fossil fuels to renewable biomass. With a specific focus on sugarcane as the... Read more →

Enova Delivers Plug-in Hybrid Bus to National Park

Enova Systems has delivered a plug-in hybrid bus to Denali National Park for use in transporting visitors. The IC Bus includes Enova’s post-transmission parallel charge-depleting hybrid drive technology. (Earlier post.) Enova is the exclusive supplier of hybrid electric drive systems to IC Bus, an affiliated division of Navistar. The Enova... Read more →

US DOT Proposes Overhaul of Federal Approach to Transportation

US Transportation Secretary Mary Peters unveiled a plan to “refocus, reform and renew” the national approach to highway and transit systems in America. The new plan outlines increased federal attention on maintaining and improving the Interstate highway system, rather than applying funds for programs clearly not federal priority areas. Addressing... Read more →

Metabolon and LS9 Partner to Apply Metabolomics to Bio-Hydrocarbons Research and Production

Metabolon, Inc., a metabolomics-driven biomarker discovery and analysis company, will test materials developed by LS9, Inc., a synthetic biology company targeting the commercial development of hydrocarbon biofuels. (Earlier post.) Applying Metabolon’s global biochemical profiling services, researchers will seek to identify changes in metabolites occurring during biofuel production. Metabolon’s technology will... Read more →

HEVT Showcases Converted F-150 PHEV

Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technologies, Inc. (HEVT) introduced a prototype plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) version of the Ford F-150 pickup truck at the Plug-In 2008 Conference and Exposition in San Jose, California last week. Converted with a proprietary adaptive controller and using a scaled-down version of a proprietary drivetrain HEVT... Read more →

US Vehicle Miles Traveled Dropped 3.7% in May; Largest May Drop Ever

Travel on all roads and streets in the US dropped to an estimated 254.7 billion miles for May 2008—a decrease of 3.7% compared with May 2007, according to the US Federal Highway Administration (FHA). This was the seventh straight month of decline. Cumulative calendar year VMT through May 2008 is... Read more →

Fisher Coachworks Launches With 40' Lightweight PHEV Bus

Fisher Coachworks LLC formally launched this month and highlighted its plans to manufacture energy optimized lightweight hybrid vehicles using advanced materials and propulsion systems as well as new manufacturing technologies. Fisher’s launch product will be a 40’ Transit Bus that is nominally half the weight and gets twice the fuel... Read more →

Plug-In Supply Inc. Introduces Lead-Acid PHEV Prius Conversion System for $4,995

Plug-In Supply, Inc unveiled its PbA10 Conversion System last week at the Plug-in 2008 conference in San Jose. The PbA10 Conversion System, based on the CalCars Open Source design, turns a standard 2004-2008 model year Prius into a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) with an all-electric range of 10-15 miles... Read more →

Hitachi Maxell Develops New Separator For Enhanced Li-ion Safety

Nikkei. Hitachi Maxell Ltd. has developed a new polyolefin separator coated with a nanolayer of a metal oxide that increases the safety of lithium ion batteries. The new separator exhibits less than one-tenth of the normal amount of thermal shrinkage, reducing the chance that shorts will develop, causing fire. The... Read more →

JM Energy Introduces Lithium-ion Capacitor

The energy and power densities of the Lithium Ion Capacitor compared to other storage technologies. Click to enlarge. JM Energy, originally a 50-50 joint venture between MIPOX and JSR Corporation formed in August 2007 (now 100% owned by JSR Corporation), has developed a new lithium-ion capacitor (LIC) that combines the... Read more →

CONSOL Energy and Synthesis Energy Systems Form JV for Coal-to-Liquids Plant to Produce Methanol and Gasoline

Conceptual rendering of the Benwood CTL plant. Click to enlarge. CONSOL Energy Inc., the US’ largest producer of bituminous coal, and Synthesis Energy Systems Inc. (SES) have formed a joint venture—Northern Appalachia Fuel LLC (NAF)—to develop their first US coal gasification and liquefaction plant to be located near Benwood, West... Read more →

Ricardo Introduces New Technology Enabling Low-cost Automated Manual and Dual Clutch Transmissions

Ricardo’s eAMT transmission, with detail of the electromagnetic linear actuation technology. Click to enlarge. Ricardo has unveiled a research prototype vehicle that demonstrates the company’s patent-pending electromagnetic linear actuation technology. This technology offers a low-cost route to robust and efficient Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) and dry Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT)... Read more →

Report: Emissions of Criteria Pollutants Down in Europe; Transport Remains Main Source of NOx, CO and NMVOCs

Road transport’s contribution to NOx, CO and NMVOCs in the Eu-27. Click to enlarge. A new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) shows that road transport remains the single main source of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO) and non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs), and the second-most important... Read more →

Damon Hill to Drive Tesla Roadster in Capital Arrive ‘N’ Drive 2008

Damon Hill, 1996 Formula One World Champion, will drive the Tesla Roadster in the GreenFleet Capital Arrive ‘N’ Drive 08 event, which will start on London’s Horse Guards Parade on 31 July 2008. The challenge aims to promote the latest innovations to reduce emissions and improve air quality in the... Read more →

UK Prime Minister Pledges £90m for Electric, Hybrid Car projects

The Sunday Times. UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown pledged £90m (US$179 million) to help make Britain “the European capital for electric cars” last week at the British International Motor Show last week. He said the money would be available over five years to support electric, hybrid and other environmentally clean... Read more →

Green Transporter Introduces Plug-in Hybrid Scooter

Green Transporter, based in Encinitas, California, has introduced a plug-in hybrid electric scooter—the PI Hybrid—powered by a 50cc engine and a 500W electric hub motor. At speeds less than 22 mph, the vehicle will operate solely on battery power. At speeds over 20 mph, the vehicle uses blended electric and... Read more →

Researchers Develop Approach to Optimize Refinery Production of H2

Researchers at Simón Bolivar University in Venezuela have developed an approach to redesigning catalytic naptha-reforming units in refineries—used to produce hydrogen—to obtain an additional ~0.1 million of standard cubic metric per day of hydrogen while fulfilling the 15 ppm sulfur specification with the refurbished naphtha hydrotreater. A report on their... Read more →

Report: Toyota Plans 4.5% Cut in Global Production For This Year

The Nikkei reports that Toyota Motor Corp. plans to lower its worldwide output target 4.5% this year from 9.95 million units to as low as 9.5 million as sales of large vehicles slump in the US. The automaking giant had increased worldwide production annually by 500,000 to 800,000 vehicles since... Read more →

New Zealand Awards NZ$45.6M for Alternative- and Bio-Fuel Research; LanzaTech NZ$12M Low-Carbon Gasoline Project Leads

New Zealand’s Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (FRST) recently approved NZ$45.6 million (US$33.8M) in contracts for alternative- and bio-fuels research as part of a record NZ$785 million (US$582 million) in funding with more than two dozen research organizations in the foundation’s main 2008 investment round. At the top of... Read more →

Report: Toyota Focusing on Metal-Air Cells for Next-Generation Battery Technology

The Nikkei reports that Toyota’s newly established department for battery research (earlier post) is focusing on metal-air cells as the next-generation battery technology for its vehicles. In June at Toyota Environmental Forum in Tokyo, Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe said that the company was setting out to develop an innovative next-generation... Read more →

KERS Stumbles on Fast Path to F1 2009 Season

Several recent incidents have highlighted the development challenges associated with some of the Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) under development for the 2009 F1 racing season. The Red Bull factory was evacuated last week as a precaution after a battery vented, and a BMW mechanic suffered an electric shock. In... Read more →

US DOE Awards $7.3 million for “Deep-Burn” Nuclear Technology Research & Development

One of the unique features of the high temperature gas-cooled reactor is the TRISO fuel used for the fission reaction. Click to enlarge. The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected teams led by Idaho National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory to advance the technology of nuclear fuel “Deep-Burn” in... Read more →

FAO and Scientists Call for Increase in Cassava R&D for Biofuels

The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), together with cassava scientists at a global conference in Gent, Belgium, called for a significant increase in investment in research and development needed to boost farmers’ yields and explore promising industrial uses of cassava, including production of biofuels. The scientists, who have formed... Read more →

Tata Motors Developing EV; Rollout in Norway Likely This Year

Newstrack India. India’s Tata Motors is developing an electric car in collaboration with a Norway-based company. The EV is likely to roll out in Norway this year, according to Ratan Tata, the Chairman of Tata Group at the annual general meeting (AGM). Describing about the e-car, [Ratan Tata] said, “We... Read more →

Scientists Determine Structure of Third Hydrogenase Enzyme; Insights Could Lead to Better Hydrogen Catalysts

Superimposed active-site structure of the three phylogenetically unrelated hydrogenases: [NiFe]-hydrogenase, [FeFe]-hydrogenase, and [Fe]-hydrogenase. Click to enlarge. Credit: Shima et al. (2008), Science Some microbes use hydrogenases (enzymes) in their energy metabolism to catalyze H2/H+ interconversion reactions (H2 ⇋ 2H+ +2e–); these hydrogenases are more efficient catalysts than platinum, which is... Read more →

Toray, Nissan, Honda Partner on Carbon Fiber for Cars

The Nikkei reported that Toray Industries Inc., Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. will work together to develop a new carbon fiber material for use in auto bodies, with the goal of developing mass-market carbon fiber cars. The group aims to establish mass production technology for the new material... Read more →

US MMS Moves Forward With Alternative Energy Leases on the Outer Continental Shelf

The US Minerals Management Service (MMS) is proceeding with the consultation and analyses necessary to move toward the issuance of limited leases under its interim policy for authorizing alternative energy data collection and technology testing activities on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). MMS announced its interim policy in November 2007... Read more →

Lysanda Eco-Log Mobile Source Predictive Emissions Monitoring Technology

Lysanda, developers of the Eco-Log mobile source emissions monitoring technology, is expanding following the recent completion of a £1.25M (US$2.5M) venture capital funding led by Logispring, a Geneva-based Venture Capital fund and as it moves into production. Sample Eco-Log on-board display screen. Click to enlarge. The Eco-Log technology uses a... Read more →

GM Dedicates New $400M Global Powertrain Engineering Development Center

The Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle range extender engine being readied for testing at the new global Powertrain Engineering Development Center. Click to enlarge. General Motors officially opened its new US$400-million, 450,000 ft2 global Powertrain Engineering Development Center adjacent to Powertrain headquarters in Pontiac, Mich. Combined with other global powertrain development... Read more →