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October 2009

October 31, 2009

EU-Funded Project Targets Sustainable Production of Ethyl Levulinate from Biomass as Diesel Miscibile Biofuel

Representation of DIBANET processes, products and linkages. Source: Carbolea. Click to enlarge.

An EU-funded research project is seeking to develop new technologies that will enable the sustainable production of diesel miscible biofuels (DMB) from cellulosic biomass wastes in Europe and Latin America.

Specifically, the DIBANET (Development of Integrated Biomass Approaches Network) project will advance the art in the production of ethyl levulinate from organic wastes and residues. Ethyl levulinate (EL) is a novel diesel miscible biofuel (DMB) produced by esterifying ethanol with levulinic acid. The project will also use fast pyrolysis to convert the residue left over from biofuel production to bio-oil for subsequent upgrading to DMB.

EL has an oxygen content of 33%; a blend of 20% EL, 70% petroleum diesel and 1% co-additive has a 6.9% oxygen content, resulting in a significantly cleaner burning diesel fuel. The fuel has high lubricity, reduced sulfur content, meets all the ASTM D-975 diesel fuel specifications, and experiences no significant losses in fuel economy, according to Prof. Michael Hayes of the Carbolea Research Group at the University of Limerick in Ireland, the DIBANET co-ordinator.

The DIBANET project has received €3.73 million (US$5.5 million) under the Energy Theme of the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). In addition to the Carbolea Research Group, the DIBANET consortium comprises partners from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Denmark, Greece, Hungary and the UK.

DIBANET aims to:

  • Optimize the yields of levulinic acid from the conversion of biomass.

  • Improve the energy balance and the total biofuel yields possible from a feedstock by sustainably utilizing the residues in pyrolysis processes to produce a bio-oil that will be upgraded to a DMB.

  • Reduce the energy and chemical costs involved in producing ethyl levulinate from levulinic acid and ethanol.

  • Select key biomass feedstocks for conversion to levulinic acid, analyse these, and develop rapid analytical methods that can be used in an online process.

  • Analyze the DMBs produced for their compliance to EN590 requirements and, if non-compliant, suggest means to achieve compliance.

The envisioned production process for the optimized production of DMBs entails six main steps (see diagram above):

  1. Optimization of the sourcing, selection and preparation of the feedstock.

  2. The hydrolysis and subsequent degradation of biomass. This can produce (i) levulinic acid, (ii) furfural (which can be converted to levulinic acid via hydrogenation), (iii) formic acid, and (iii) solid residues (SR).

  3. The esterification of levulinic acid with (sustainable) ethanol to produce the DMB ethyl-levulinate.

  4. Pyrolysis of some or all of the SR to produce a bio-oil and a biochar. Pyrolysis can be enhanced by using the formic acid produced in (2) as a co-feed.

  5. Catalytic upgrading of the bio-oil to produce an upgraded bio-oil (UBO) that is miscible with diesel.

  6. Utilization of the biochar as a soil-amender for plant-growth promotion or to fuel the processes. (The Carbolea Group suggests that a configuration of the DIBANET process chain may provide a means for obtaining carbon negative biofuels through using biochar as a soil amender.)

Levulinic acid (LA) can also be used to produce methyltetrahydrofuran (MTHF), an oxygenated fuel extender for gasoline. Produced via the hydrogenation of LA, MTHF has an octane value of ~87, and a low Reid Vapor Pressure. It is hydrophobic, and has a LHV of 32 MJ/kg—somewhat higher than that of ethanol. Gasoline has an LHV of about 44 MJ/kg.


October 31, 2009 in Biomass, Diesel, Fuels | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

GE Technology Selected for Hydrogen Energy IGCC Project in California

GE Energy has signed a technology licensing agreement with Hydrogen Energy (HEI) for a proposed 250-megawatt power plant that would use integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) technology. The plant, to be located near Bakersfield, in Kern County, Calif., would be designed to capture up to 90% of its carbon dioxide for enhanced oil recovery and sequestration in an adjacent oil field. (Earlier post.)

HEI is a joint venture of BP Alternative Energy and multinational mining company Rio Tinto Hydrogen. In 2007, GE and BP formed a global alliance to jointly develop and deploy technology for at least five IGCC power plants that could significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation. The Hydrogen Energy California County project would be the first power plant built under that alliance.

IGCC plants gasify solid fuels into syngas, which then is used by a gas turbine combined-cycle system to generate electricity, providing a cleaner, economical coal-to-power option. IGCC also significantly reduces criteria emissions—sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide, mercury and particulate matter—and decreases water consumption by up to 30% (as compared to a conventional coal plant).

The technology proposed for the Hydrogen Energy California plant would convert petroleum coke, coal or a combination of each into syngas. Chemical scrubbers would filter out pollutants and would separate CO2, leaving a hydrogen-rich fuel to power the gas turbine combined-cycle system. The carbon captured from the plant would be piped to an adjacent oil field, where it would be used for enhanced oil recovery and sequestration operations.

GE Energy has been developing IGCC technology for more than two decades. GE technology was involved in several milestone projects, including the pilot IGCC plant, Coolwater, in Barstow, Calif., and the Polk Tampa Electric IGCC plant in Florida, that helped demonstrate the commercial feasibility of IGCC. GE also is supplying IGCC technology for Duke Energy’s plant in Edwardsport, Ind., that is expected to be the world’s largest IGCC facility when it reaches commercial operation in 2012.

There are nearly 70 GE-licensed gasification facilities operating around the world today and approximately 40 of these plants use commercial technology to separate carbon.

October 31, 2009 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Cyclone Power Technologies Successfully Completes Engine Tests for Raytheon Company; > 30% Thermal Efficiency

Cyclone Power Technologies Inc. successfully completed performance tests of its external combustion engine for Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems (IDS). The tests demonstrated that Cyclone’s prototype water-cooled Mark II engine achieved thermal efficiencies of more than 30%, results that exceeded original engineering calculations.

Operating at temperatures of 1,000 °F (538 °C) and steam pressures of 1,150 psi (8 MPa), the compact 98 lbs Mark II ran at 2,133 rpm and produced 13.4 hp (10 kW) and 33 lb-ft (45 N·m) of torque at a diesel fuel burn rate of 0.8 gal/hr.

Raytheon IDS and Cyclone are currently in discussions regarding the next phases of this project, the details of which have not been finalized at this time.

The demonstration of these new technologies was in fulfillment of an Independent Research and Development (IR&D) contract from Raytheon IDS signed last year. In February, Cyclone announced the completion of the first stage of testing, which involved running the Cyclone Engine by the combustion of an environmentally friendly monopropellant called Moden Fuel. When burned, Moden Fuel produces pure water and carbon dioxide.

A team of engineers and technicians from Cyclone, Raytheon IDS, James R. Moden Inc. and Advent Power Systems pioneered, performed and monitored the tests.

Raytheon IDS is a business of Raytheon Company. Moden Fuel, a monopropellant able to burn in the complete absence of air, was originally developed by James R. Moden, Inc. of Richmond, RI, to power US Navy torpedoes. Advent Power Systems, based in Coconut Creek, FL, is the exclusive licensee for US military applications of the Cyclone Engine technology.

October 31, 2009 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Michigan State University Receives $2.5M ARPA-E Award to Build Wave Disc Engine/Generator for Series Hybrid Applications

Schematic model of a wave disk engine, showing combustion and shockwaves within the channels. Source: MSU. Click to enlarge.

Researchers from Michigan State University have been awarded $2.5 million from the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E program (earlier post) to complete its prototype development of a new gasoline-fueled wave disc engine and electricity generator that promises to be five times more efficient than traditional auto engines in electricity production, 20% lighter, and 30% cheaper to manufacture.

The wave disc engine, a new implementation of wave rotor technology, was earlier developed by the Michigan State group in collaboration with researchers from the Warsaw Institute of Technology. About the size of a large cooking pot, the novel, hyper-efficient engine could replace current engine/generator technologies for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

The award will allow a team of MSU engineers and scientists, led by Norbert Müller, an associate professor of mechanical engineering, to begin working toward producing a vehicle-size wave disc engine/generator during the next two years, building on existing modeling, analysis and lab experimentation they have already completed.

Our goal is to enable hyper-efficient hybrid vehicles to meet consumer needs for a 500-mile driving range, lower vehicle prices, full-size utility, improved highway performance and very low operating costs. The WDG also can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 95 percent in comparison to modern internal combustion vehicle engines.

—Norbert Müller

The Wave Disc Engine. The wave disc engine is a new implementation of wave rotor technology (also called Pressure Wave Machines or Pressure Exchangers). Wave rotors are unsteady-flow devices that utilize shock waves to transfer energy directly between a high-energy fluid to a low-energy fluid, thereby increasing both temperature and pressure of the low-energy fluid. Wave rotor technology has shown a significant potential for performance improvement of thermodynamic cycles.

Hyprex pressure wave charger. Source: Swissauto Wenko. Click to enlarge.

Wave rotor technology has been explored since 1906, although its first significant application was in 1940 by Brown Boveri Company (BBC, today ABB) which used it as a high pressure stage for a gas turbine locomotive engine. In 1986, Mazda introduced the Mazda 626 Cappela model, which had a 2-liter diesel engine equipped with a Comprex wave rotor (from BBC) used as a supercharger. Mazda produced 150,000 Comprex diesel cars. Other car manufacturers including Opel, Mercedes, Peugeot and Ferrari used the Comprex. Swissauto Wenko AG of Switzerland produces a modern version of the Comprex—the Hyprex—designed for small gasoline engines.

Earlier wave rotor implementation were mainly axial flow. In axial-flow configurations, noted Müller and co-authors in a 2004 paper, pure scavenging is a challenging task. Although it is possible to achieve a full scavenging process for both through and reverse- flow configurations, the solutions lead to more complex configurations. The wave disc technology, however, uses a radial and circumferential flow.

This can substantially improve the scavenging process by using centrifugal forces...Compared with straight channels, curved channels provide a greater length for the same disc diameter, which can be important to obtain certain wave travel times for tuning. With curved channels also the angle against the radius can be changed freely. This allows modulating of the inflow direction acting accelerating component of the centrifugal force and also to choose the inlet and outlet angle independently.

The latter enables independent matching with the flow direction through the stationary inlet and outlet ports or the use of a freely chosen incidence angle for a self-driving configuration. Furthermore, curved channels may be more effective for self-propelling and work extraction in the case of a wave turbine or work input for additional compression, analogous to the principle of turbomachines.

—Piechna et al. (2004)

The earlier MSU investigations of wave rotor and radial wave rotor technology were exploring gas turbine applications in addition to supercharging or refrigeration. In a gas turbine application, the team noted, positioning the combustion process internally in the wave rotor could simplify porting between the turbo-compressor and the wave disc “enormously”. This led to a proposed concept of a Radial Internal Combustion Wave Rotor—the precursor to the wave disc engine.

Piechna   Early concept of an internal combustion wave disc engine. The fuel supplies (green) are located at the inner inlet port. The mixture in the channel is ignited either by a stationary igniter acting through holes in the channel (yellow) or by rotating electrical igniters activated only in a certain angular position of the mixture-filled channel.

The air-fuel mixture can be radially stratified. Combustion starts in the central part of the channel, where the fuel/air mixture is rich and flame propagates to inner and outer end of the cell. Since heat release increases pressure inside the channel, opening the outer channel end generates an outflow of the exhaust gases. For curved channels, torque is given to the disc during the flow scavenging.

This can be used for self-driven rotation or for external work extraction through a shaft or a generator. The outflow of the burned gases can induce an inflow of air and air-fuel mixture into the channels, refilling and cooling the cell before the cycle starts again.

Source: Piechna, 2004. Click to enlarge.


October 31, 2009 in ARPA-E, Concept Engines, Engines, Hybrids, Plug-ins | Permalink | Comments (22) | TrackBack

October 30, 2009

US Ethanol Demand Continued to Exceed Production in August

US ethanol demand, as calculated by the Renewable Fuels Association, continued to exceed production in August. According to RFA calculations, demand was 734,000 bpd in August, up 11% from 661,000 b/d a year ago.

US ethanol production in August was 727,500 barrels per day (b/d), according to data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA)— an increase of 80,000 b/d from August 2008. EIA also reports fuel ethanol imports of 38.7 million gallons in August.

According to the RFA the US has 630 million gallons of fuel ethanol stocks—about 20.4 days of reserve.

October 30, 2009 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

NASA GISS Study Finds That Methane Has an Elevated Warming Effect Due to Interactions With Aerosols

The 100-year global warming potentials (GWPs) for methane, CO, and NOx (per Tg N) as given in the AR4 and in this study when including no aerosol response; the direct radiative effect of aerosol responses; and the direct+indirect radiative effects of aerosol responses. Source: Shindell at al. Click to enlarge.

New research by a team at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York suggests that gas-aerosol interactions can amplify the global warming impact of some greenhouse gases. In particular, the study led by Drew Shindell found that methane emissions have a larger warming impact due to those interactions than accounted for in current carbon-trading schemes or in the Kyoto Protocol.

Among other conclusions, they found that the 100-year global warming potential (GWP) of methane is ~10% greater (~20 to 40%, including aerosol indirect effects AIE) than earlier estimates that neglected interactions between oxidants and aerosols. Calculations for the shorter 20-year GWP, including aerosol responses, yielded values of 79 and 105 for methane, including direct and direct+indirect radiative effects of aerosols, respectively. The UNIPCC AR4 estimates the 100-year GWP for methane at 25, with a value of 72 for the 20-year GWP.

As a result of their findings, published in the 30 October issue of the journal Science, the authors argue that assessments of multigas mitigation policies, as well as any separate efforts to mitigate warming from short-lived pollutants, should include gas-aerosol interactions.

Despite their limitations, GWPs are widely used for comparison among long-lived gases, forming the basis for worldwide political agreements on climate and carbon trading. Because the latter was a $126 billion/year market in 2008, even small differences in GWPs can have large economic consequences. Our results suggest that gas-aerosol interactions play an important role in methane’s GWP, and hence our larger value would allow better optimization of climate change mitigation policies. Methane’s GWP may also change with time as air quality regulations alter the background state of tropospheric chemistry. Finally, our results demonstrate that improving our knowledge of aerosol-climate interactions is important not only for better understanding the aerosol contribution to past and future climate change, but even for correctly evaluating the effects of long-lived greenhouse gas emissions from methane-oxidant-aerosol interactions.

—Shindell et al.

When vehicles, factories, landfills, and livestock emit methane and carbon monoxide into the atmosphere, they are doing more than just increasing their atmospheric concentrations. The release of these gases also have indirect effects on a variety of other atmospheric constituents, including reducing the production of particles called aerosols that can influence both the climate and the air quality. These two gases, as well as others, are part of a complicated cascade of chemical reactions that features competition with aerosols for highly reactive molecules that cleanse the air of pollutants.

Aerosols can have either a warming or cooling effect, depending on their composition, but the two aerosol types that Shindell modeled—sulfates and nitrates—scatter incoming light and affect clouds in ways that cool Earth. They are also related to the formation of acid rain and can cause respiratory distress and other health problems for those who breathe them.

“We’ve known for years that methane and carbon monoxide have a warming effect, but our new findings suggest these gases have a significantly more powerful warming impact than previously thought.”
—Drew Shindell

Human activity is a major source of sulfate aerosols, but smokestacks don’t emit sulfate particles directly. Rather, coal power production and other industrial processes release sulfur dioxide—the same gas that billows from volcanoes—that later reacts with atmospheric molecules called hydroxyl radicals to produce sulfates as a byproduct. Hydroxyl is so reactive scientists consider it an atmospheric detergent or scrubber because it cleanses the atmosphere of many types of pollution.

In the chemical soup of the lower atmosphere, however, sulfur dioxide isn’t the only substance interacting with hydroxyl. Similar reactions influence the creation of nitrate aerosols. And hydroxyls drive long chains of reactions involving other common gases, including ozone.

Methane and carbon monoxide use up hydroxyl that would otherwise produce sulfate, thereby reducing the concentration of sulfate aerosols. It’s a seemingly minor change, but it makes a difference to the climate.

More methane means less hydroxyl, less sulfate, and more warming.

—Drew Shindell

The team’s modeling experiment, one of the first to rigorously quantify the impact of gas-aerosol interactions on both climate and air quality, showed that increases in global methane emissions have caused a 26% decrease in hydroxyl and an 11% decrease in the number concentration of sulfate particles. Reducing sulfate unmasks methane’s warming by 20 to 40% over current estimates, but also helps reduce negative health effects from sulfate aerosols.

“The bottom line is that the chemistry of the atmosphere can get hideously complicated. Sorting out what affects climate and what affects air quality isn’t simple, but we’re making progress.”
—Drew Shindell

In comparison, the model calculated that global carbon monoxide emissions have caused a 13% reduction in hydroxyl and 9% reduction in sulfate aerosols.

Nitrogen oxides—pollutants produced largely by power plants, trucks, and cars—led to overall cooling when their effects on aerosol particles are included, said Nadine Unger, another coauthor on the paper and a climate scientist at GISS. That’s noteworthy because nitrogen oxides have primarily been associated with ozone formation and warming in the past.

Although our calculations are more complete than previous studies, additional processes should be included as they become better understood. These include mixing between aerosol types, formation of secondary organic aerosols, which are sensitive to both organic aerosol emissions and oxidant levels, and interactions between pollutants and ecosystems. The latter includes suppression of CO2 uptake by increased surface ozone concentrations, aerosols enhancing the ratio of diffuse to direct radiation reaching the biosphere leading to increased CO2 uptake (at least for some plant types when aerosol loading is not so large as to dramatically reduce total surface irradiance), and the effects of nitrogen and sulfur deposition on ecosystems. These effects may be important but are highly uncertain at present.

Ecosystem-chemistry interactions add both positive and negative forcing terms to the GWP of NOx (NOx leads to increased ozone, causing increased CO2, but also leads to increased aerosol, causing decreased CO2), adding to an already complex set of multiple, sometimes opposing, forcings. For CO and methane, however, increased emissions lead to increased CO2 from both the ozone-ecosystem interactions and the aerosol-ecosystem interactions, so would simply increase their positive GWPs still further. Hence, the uncertainty in quantifying these processes implies only that the larger estimates of CO and methane GWPs presented here may still be too low.

—Shindell et al.

Radiative forcing by greenhouse gases from 1750 to 2000. The “abundance-based” values reflect the conventional approach without consideration of gas-aerosol interactions. The “emissions-based” values factor in gas-aerosol interactions. Source: Shindell et al. Click to enlarge.

Abundance-based vs. Emissions-based modeling. To determine the climate impact of particular greenhouse gases, scientists have traditionally relied on surface stations and satellites to measure the concentration of each gas in the air. Then, they have extrapolated such measurements to arrive at a global estimate.

The drawback to that “abundance-based approach,” explained Gavin Schmidt, another GISS climate scientist and coauthor of the study, is that it doesn’t account for the constant interactions that occur between various atmospheric constituents. Nor is it easy to parse out whether pollutants have human or natural origins.

You get a much more accurate picture of how human emissions are impacting the climate—and how policy makers might effectively counteract climate change—if you look at what’s emitted at the surface rather than what ends up in the atmosphere.

—Drew Shindell

The GISS team used the emissions-based approach as the groundwork for their modeling project.

However, the abundance-based approach serves as the foundation of key international climate treaties, such as the Kyoto Protocol or the carbon dioxide cap-and-trade plans being discussed among policymakers. Such treaties underestimate the contributions of methane and carbon monoxide to global warming, Shindell said.

Implications. According to Shindell, the new findings underscore the importance of devising multi-pronged strategies to address climate change rather than focusing exclusively on carbon dioxide.

Our calculations suggest that all the non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases together have a net impact that rivals the warming caused by carbon dioxide.

—Drew Shindell

In particular, the study reinforces the idea that proposals to reduce methane may be an easier place for policy makers to start climate change agreements. “Since we already know how to capture methane from animals, landfills, and sewage treatment plants at fairly low cost, targeting methane makes sense,” said Michael MacCracken, chief scientist for the Climate Institute in Washington, DC

This research also provides regulators insight into how certain pollution mitigation strategies might simultaneously affect climate and air quality. Reductions of carbon monoxide, for example, would have positive effects for both climate and the public’s health, while reducing nitrogen oxide could have a positive impact on health but a negative impact on the climate.


  • Shindell, D.T., G. Faluvegi, D.M. Koch, G.A. Schmidt, N. Unger, and S.E. Bauer (2009) Improved Attribution of Climate Forcing to Emissions. Science 326, 716 - 718 doi: 10.1126/science.1174760

  • Arneth, A., N. Unger, M. Kulmala, and M.O. Andreae (2009) Perspectives: Clean the air, heat the planet? Science, 326, 672-673, doi: 10.1126/science.1181568

October 30, 2009 in Climate Change, Climate models, Emissions, Policy | Permalink | Comments (16) | TrackBack

Navistar, JAC to Explore Diesel Engine Joint Venture in China

Navistar, Inc. and Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Co. Ltd. (JAC) will explore a potential engine joint venture to develop, build and market advanced diesel engines for commercial vehicles in China. The potential joint venture, if formed, would have a 50/50 ownership between Navistar, and JAC, a leading China-based maker of commercial and consumer vehicles and engines.

The proposed JV would establish a research and design center in China’s Anhui province for application engineering development, product design and technology advancements. Diesel engines produced by the new venture would primarily be used in China, as well as certain export markets.

Formation of the joint venture is subject to the completion of due diligence, approval by each party’s board of directors, negotiation of definitive agreements, corporate and regulatory approvals. Management structure would consist of eight directors, four from JAC and four from Navistar.

Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Co. Ltd. (JAC) is principally engaged in the development, manufacture and sale of sport recreational vehicles, passenger cars, commercial vehicles and related parts. The company offers business vehicles under the brand name of Refine, light and heavy trucks, sports recreation vehicles (SRVs) under the brand name of Rein, carriage chassis and cars.

October 30, 2009 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ford and Smith Terminate Partnership on Electric Transit Connect Project for US; Ford Now Partnering with Azure Dynamics to Deliver the Vehicle in 2010; Smith Partnering with AM General on Electric Vans for USPS

Ford Motor Company and Smith Electric Vehicles US (SEV US) have mutually agreed to terminate the development project of an electric car-derived van based on Transit Connect. (Earlier post.)

In a trading statement issued today, UK-based Tanfield Group, SEV US’ parent, said that given the growth in demand for its production-ready Smith Newton, the forecast volumes of the electric Transit Connect did not, in the short- to medium-term, justify the investment requirement to deliver the vehicle, and also limited the working capital available to support the growth of Newton. SEV US has commenced production of the Smith Newton electric truck platform at its assembly facility in Kansas City, Missouri, and currently has an order book of 255 trucks.

Tanfield said that SEV US Corp believes that investing in the existing Smith platforms represents a better use of its financial resources, allowing it to take full advantage of a potentially very sizeable market and to gain market traction more quickly. It was concerned that the market for electric car-derived vans would become increasingly competitive. Tanfield remains Ford of Europe’s official collaborator on commercial electric vehicles, initially focused solely on the Ford Transit platform, which is marketed as the Smith Edison.

Ford and Azure. Ford Motor Company will now partner with Azure Dynamics Corporation to deliver a pure battery electric Ford Transit Connect van for the United States and Canadian markets in 2010.

Oak Park, Mich.-based Azure Dynamics will integrate its proprietary battery electric drivetrain (branded Force Drive) into the Transit Connect BEV, which will have a targeted range of 80 miles minimum on a full charge. Force Drive components have previously been deployed in more than 40 vehicle integrations and have more than 25 million miles of on-the-road experience. The vehicle will be badged with both the Ford Blue Oval and Azure’s Force Drive logo.

Azure Dynamics has selected Johnson Controls-Saft as the supplier for lithium-ion battery cells and battery packs for the Transit Connect BEV. Azure Dynamics and Ford both currently utilize Johnson Controls-Saft battery technology for other products. The Transit Connect BEV will use the same proven cell technology that is currently deployed in the Ford Escape plug-in hybrid fleet that is on the road today.

In addition, Azure had previously announced it would use Johnson Controls-Saft lithium-ion batteries for its E- 450 Balance Hybrid Electric beginning in the second half of 2010.

The collaboration with Azure Dynamics for the Transit Connect BEV will build on the existing business relationship between Ford and Azure as well as their shared experience with battery supplier, Johnson Controls-Saft. Azure Dynamics develops hybrid electric and electric drive technology for shuttle buses and commercial trucks, such as the Balance Hybrid Electric, which is built on the Ford E-450 cutaway and strip chassis for the medium duty commercial vehicle segment.

The Transit Connect BEV will be built on Ford’s global commercial vehicle platform as part of the company’s One Ford global product vision. It is the first of four electrified vehicles from Ford that will become available over the next three years in the US and Canada including:

  • Battery electric Transit Connect van in 2010
  • Battery electric Ford Focus passenger car in 2011
  • Next-generation hybrid vehicle in 2012
  • Plug-In hybrid vehicle in 2012

The opportunity to work with Ford on the Transit Connect BEV is a breakthrough advancement for us at Azure and for the light commercial vehicle market. For Azure, it’s an important evolution of our existing relationship with Ford. From an industry standpoint, we are seeing delivery fleet and utility vehicle operators move to smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles. The Transit Connect BEV will come to market at an ideal time to meet this growing trend.

—Scott Harrison, Azure Dynamics CEO

The final manufacturing location for the Transit Connect BEV has not yet been determined.

SEV US and AM General. SEV US Corp, together with AM General, a leading manufacturer of military and commercial vehicles, headquartered in South Bend, Indiana, USA, is developing a prototype electric version of the gasoline-powered Long Life Vehicle for the United States Postal Service (USPS).

There are currently approximately 178,000 Long Life Vehicles in service with the USPS. AM General will manufacture the chassis and SEV US Corp will supply the electric drive train, including the motor, battery pack, electronics and ancillary systems.

With AM General we combine a global leader in specialist vehicles with a world leader in electric vehicle integration. The goal is to deliver an electric vehicle that is perfect for the United States Postal Service; a vehicle that is energy efficient, cost-effective, reduces US reliance on oil and lowers greenhouse gas emissions.

—Darren Kell, CEO of The Tanfield Group Plc

On 6 August 2009, SEV US Corp won $10 million in grant funding from the US Department of Energy (DOE), to facilitate its growth towards volume production and to build a demonstration fleet of electric trucks. In addition, SEV US Corp customers have been awarded funding for 65 Smith Newton electric trucks, amounting to $4.5 million, through the US Clean Cities Program. SEV US Corp is applying for more funding through the US Government green vehicles programs.

October 30, 2009 in Batteries, Electric (Battery) | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

New 2010 Opel Corsa ecoFLEX Offers More Power, Drops Fuel Consumption to 3.7L/100km, 98 gCO2/km

The new Opel Corsa ecoFLEX debuts in January 20109. Click to enlarge.

Starting in January 2010, the new Opel Corsa ecoFLEX will offer improved fuel economy with increased power compared to its model year 2009 predecessor. (Earlier post.) Powered by a 70 kW/95 hp 1.3 CDTI diesel engine boosted by a turbo with a variable geometry, the new Corsa ecoFLEX offers 28% more power than the previous generation Corsa ecoFLEX even though fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are cut by some 10%. The price is the same as the standard 90 hp Corsa 1.3 CDTI.

With N·m 190 of torque available between 1750 and 3250 rpm, the new Corsa ecoFLEX needs only 3.7 L/100 km (63.6 mpg US), releasing just 98 g/km CO2 as a three-door. The five-door Corsa emits 99 g/km. The 2009 model year Corsa ecoFLEX has a fuel consumption rating of 4.1 L/100km (57.4 mpg US), with CO2 emissions of 109 g/km.

Both three-door and five-door versions are equipped with a standard Diesel Particulate Filter. With this Corsa ecoFLEX, fleet and private drivers in many European countries may benefit from special eco tax advantages without polluting the air with diesel particulates.

The engine of the new Corsa ecoFLEX combines low CO2 and high performance. Opel engineers achieved this by using a turbo with variable turbine geometry, which significantly improves the engine’s performance. To support the higher turbo pressure, engineers slightly reduced the compression ratio from 18 to 16.8:1.

Opel engineers optimized the calibration on the engine; they greatly increased low-end torque and the peak power, making a new transmission set-up possible: A longer transmission gear ratio was selected for the five-speed unit. The new 95 hp has a top speed of 177 km/h (110 mph) and accelerates to 100 km/h from a standstill in 12.3 seconds.

Aerodynamics has been improved by lowering the car by 20 mm and optimizing the air flows via the air intakes. Wheels are fitted with newly designed, more efficient wheel caps. The Corsa ecoFLEX is equipped with special, 175/70 tires that are roll-resistance-optimized and fitted to lighter, flow formed , 14” steel wheels—15” wheels are optional.

October 30, 2009 in Diesel, Fuel Efficiency | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Michigan Approves Li-ion Maker Johnson Controls-Saft for Tax Credits, $20M Pack Credit

The Michigan Economic Growth Authority (MEGA) board approved Johnson Controls-Saft Advanced Power Solutions LLC (JCS) for an Anchor Jobs incentive. Under this designation, a company that attracts or influences a supplier or customer to locate or expand in Michigan can qualify for tax credits. The company was also approved for a Plug-In and all-electric traction battery pack credit valued at up to $20 million over three years to support the manufacture of battery packs using lithium-ion technology.

Last April, the MEGA board approved a battery cell manufacturing MBT credit valued at up to $100 million over four years and a high-tech MEGA credit over 15 years for the construction of an advanced-battery manufacturing facility. (Earlier post.)

In total, JCS will invest approximately $220 million and create up to 1,096 new jobs, including over 2,000 indirect jobs.

October 30, 2009 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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