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November 2009

November 30, 2009

Eni-BP Joint Venture Awarded Coal-Bed Methane Project in Indonesia; Potential for First Integrated CBM to LNG Project

A consortium led by BP-Eni 50:50 joint venture VICO has signed a production sharing contract (PSC) with the Government of Indonesia for the exploration and development of coalbed methane (CBM) resources on the Sanga-Sanga block in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. VICO has been producing conventional gas resources from the Sanga-Sanga block for more than 40 years, and the signature of this PSC is expected to mark the first significant development of CBM in Indonesia.

The PSC covers an area of around 1,700 km2 (656 mi2) in the Kutai Basin, East Kalimantan. Preliminary studies on the block suggest it has a CBM resource potential of at least 4 trillion cubic feet (113 billion cubic meters) of gas—further appraisal will closer define this potential. The Sanga-Sanga CBM PSC, which will be connected to the Bontang LNG, has the potential to become the first “CBM to LNG” integrated project, enabling rapid gas commercialization.

The PSC overlays the same acreage as the existing Sanga-Sanga conventional PSC, which has extensive gas production infrastructure already in place with access to markets internationally through the Bontang LNG plant as well as to local customers. This existing infrastructure is expected to allow rapid and efficient development of CBM to production.

The Sanga-Sanga CBM PSC was awarded to a consortium comprising VICO (7.5% and operatorship); BP (26.25%); Eni (26.25%); VIC (15.625%); Opicoil, a Houston-based subsidiary of Taiwan’s CPC (20%); and Universe Gas and Oil (4.375 %). VICO and VIC are joint ventures owned 50:50 by BP and ENI, giving each company a total 37.8% interest in the contract.

The award of the contract follows two years of joint efforts by VICO and its partners, including a joint study of the PSC area. An appraisal program will determine the CBM production capacity of the block. The consortium will pay a signature bonus of US$4 million, and will now start work towards delivering the US$38 million work programme commitment.

Indonesia has extensive coal reserves which have been estimated to hold up to 450 trillion cubic feet of coalbed methane by consulting firm Advanced Resources International Inc. As yet there is no commercial CBM production in the country.

BP pioneered the development of CBM technology and has more than 30 years of operating experience as the largest CBM producer in San Juan Basin, Colorado, USA, with about 650 mmscfd (gross) production from approximately 1,300 company-operated wells.

Coalbed methane (CBM) or coal seam gas (CSG) is natural gas that is extracted from coal beds. The presence of this gas has long been known from its occurrence in underground coal mining. In the USA, CBM contributes approximately 9% of domestic production and represents roughly 4% of gas resource. In recent years, CBM production has commenced in Canada, Australia, China and India. Indonesia also has significant but as yet untested CBM potential across the country.

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

All 2010 Chevy and GMC V8 Trucks Feature Variable Valve Timing

All 2010 Chevrolet and GMC V-8 powered trucks now feature variable valve timing (VVT), a technology that enables continuous control of valve opening and closing that result in better engine breathing, fewer emissions and improved fuel economy.

The addition of VVT to the 4.8L and 5.3L truck V-8s completes the rollout in the truck small block V-8 lineup which includes the 6.0L and 6.2L V-8s. The component that makes VVT possible is a cam phaser&mash;a simple and reliable device that attaches to the end of the camshaft. The dual equal cam phaser electro-hydraulically controls cam position with the help of a sensor and the engine control module.

When working with Active Fuel Management (cylinder deactivation) on the 5.3L V-8, variable valve timing helps deliver segment-leading fuel economy in the 2010 GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado pickups.

The Sierra and Silverado are EPA estimated at 15 mpg city and 22 mpg highway—better than the less powerful 2010 trucks from Ford and Toyota, GM points out. (Toyota Tundra 4.6L V-8 EPA estimates 15 mpg city and 20 mpg highway. Ford F-150 292 hp 4.6L V-8 EPA estimates are 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway.)

The majority of Chevrolet and GMC trucks have engines available with variable valve timing.

November 30, 2009 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Air Products Building New Hydrogen Plant in Rotterdam, Signs Long-Term Hydrogen Contracts with ExxonMobil and Shell

Air Products recently announced a long-term hydrogen supply contract with ExxonMobil’s (Esso) Rotterdam refinery in The Netherlands and will build a new world-scale hydrogen production plant to serve that refinery and additional customers in the region, including Shell.

The plant will feature technology advancements to maximize facility energy efficiency and emission reductions. It will be connected to Air Products’ extensive Rotterdam hydrogen pipeline network system and is expected to be on-stream in the second half of 2011.

The Rotterdam project builds on two previous announcements in the past year involving Air Products and ExxonMobil in the United States. Air Products is building a new world-scale hydrogen production facility which will supply ExxonMobil’s Baton Rouge, Louisiana facility, and also announced a hydrogen pipeline supply agreement from Air Products’ Gulf Coast network to ExxonMobil’s Baytown, Texas refinery. Both projects are to come on-stream in 2010.

Air Products’ hydrogen facility in Rotterdam will be built through the global alliance between Air Products and Technip, which has built more than 30 hydrogen production facilities worldwide.

Air Products will supply Shell the hydrogen via pipeline and add an over six-mile extension to its existing 80+ mile pipeline system. The supply is due to be on-stream in 2011.

Besides Rotterdam, Air Products operates the largest hydrogen pipeline network in the United States Gulf Coast and routinely operates hydrogen pipeline systems worldwide including in California in the US and in Canada.

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

EnerDel To Deploy AeroVironment Advanced Electric Vehicle Power Cycling and Test Systems at Indiana Facility

Automotive lithium-ion battery maker EnerDel will be using a portion of its recent federal stimulus grant to purchase eight AeroVironment (AV) advanced electric vehicle power cycling and test systems.

The addition of AV’s 170 kW ABC-170CE cyclers and its 250 kW AV-900 heavy-duty cyclers will expand the advanced battery testing capabilities at EnerDel’s Indiana facility. Both test systems are programmed to simulate real world driving conditions by repeatedly charging and discharging EnerDel’s hybrid and electric vehicle batteries to replicate actual operating conditions.

The ABC-170CE is designed to facilitate high voltage and high current battery and fuel cell charge and discharge testing with a full 170 kW sinking power. The AV-900 is capable of up to 250 kW charge and discharge testing and is used to test larger applications, such as plug-in and full battery electric buses, trucks and military equipment. The addition of the ABC-170CE and AV-900 systems enables complete advanced power cycling of EnerDel’s hybrid and electric vehicle batteries.

In August EnerDel was awarded a $118.5 million grant to expand its domestic manufacturing capacity under the Advanced Battery Manufacturing Initiative (ABMI), part of the federal stimulus package enacted last February.

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

BP and DuPont Form Kingston Research Ltd to Focus on Commercializing Biobutanol

BP and DuPont have formed Kingston Research Ltd, which will focus on the commercialization of advanced biofuel technology—specifically biobutanol—at a £25-million (US$41-million) purpose-built development and demonstration facility at BP’s Saltend site, near Hull.

Kingston Research will construct a facility to scale-up technology to manufacture biobutanol from renewable feedstocks. The technology package will then be provided to Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC, also a BP-DuPont joint venture based in the United States, which has been formed to commercialize and market biobutanol. (Earlier post.)

Biobutanol is a new lower-carbon fuel and we are excited about demonstrating this technology in the Humberside region. Biobutanol is a biofuel that can be made from all the same crops as bioethanol and can be blended into petrol at higher levels, which means that we’ll be able to introduce biofuels more quickly. In the future, it will be possible to convert bioethanol refineries to produce biobutanol, allowing this industry to make an even larger contribution to meeting the world’s energy needs.

—Luc Van Den Hemel, Kingston Research Limited General Manager

The BP site at Hull is also home to Vivergo Fuels, a joint venture between BP, British Sugar and DuPont. Vivergo is constructing a world-scale bioethanol facility that will begin producing bioethanol in 2010 and will play a major role in meeting the UK’s requirements for biofuels.

November 30, 2009 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Capstone Turbine To Unveil Prototype Microturbine Range-Extended Electric Supercar at LA Auto Show

The CMT-380. Click to enlarge.

Capstone Turbine Corporation is introducing a prototype range-extended electric supercar using one of its 30 kW C30 microturbines as the generator unit. The CMT-380, currently in the design and test phase, is being developed in partnership with Electronic Arts Chief Creative Director Richard Hilleman.

The CMT-380 features a lithium-polymer battery pack that supports an all-electric range of up to 80 miles. When the batteries reach a predetermined state of discharge, the Capstone C30 microturbine fires up and recharges the batteries on the fly to extend the driving range up to 500 miles.

The prototype hybrid electric supercar with microturbine technology, based on a Factory Five Racing GTM body, will accelerate from 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds and has a top speed of 150 mph. The CMT-380 will debut at the LA Auto Show 2-13 December.

The concept for the high-performance hybrid electric microturbine vehicle was developed by Electronic Arts Chief Creative Director Richard Hilleman, creator of popular video games, with support from Capstone Turbine.

Capstone’s CMT-380 is just now finishing up the conceptual design and first article testing stage. We plan to finalize very soon a limited production plan, in part, based on interest received at the LA Auto Show. We anticipate customers will be a select group of individuals who appreciate its many innovative high-performance and high-technology driving characteristics, long driving range and ultra-low emissions.

—Darren Jamison, Capstone President and CEO

Capstone’s 30 kW microturbines have been installed in hybrid electric buses, trolleys and transit shuttles around the world. The C-30 microturbine in the CMT-380 features an electric generator and turbine components mounted on a single shaft, which is supported by air bearings. No oil or other lubricants are needed, so maintenance is extremely low and the need to dispose of hazardous materials is eliminated.

A patented combustion system achieves extremely low exhaust emissions that do not require expensive exhaust after treatment to meet stringent California Air Resources Board and EPA 2010 requirements. A patented recuperator (air-to-air heat exchanger) extracts energy from the exhaust stream and recycles it to preheat air coming into the combustion chamber, thus increasing efficiency.

Earlier this year, a C30 liquid-fueled microturbine was successfully integrated into a Ford S-Max people carrier in the United Kingdom by Langford Performance Engineering Ltd. (Earlier post.)

Although it is not in Capstone's business plan to start manufacturing complete cars, the limited production CMT-380 and Langford Whisper hybrid demonstration vehicle are intended to showcase the technology and demonstrate value proposition of microturbines as electric vehicle range extenders. Both Capstone and Langford have been in discussions with automotive industry companies, and these concept and demonstration vehicles help showcase the technology and generate public awareness of the benefits of microturbine technology.

—Darren Jamison

(ETVM), an Israeli start-up, is also developing a range-extended electric vehicle (REEV) technology combining a novel dual-power micro-turbine and a new high-voltage lithium-ion battery chemistry. That company closed a US$12-million Series A investment round in April, led by The Quercus Trust of Newport Beach, California. New York-based 21Ventures LLC co-invested. (Earlier post.)

Capstone has shipped more than 5,000 microturbines worldwide which are able to produce energy ranging from 30 kilowatts up to 5 megawatts and are supplying power at sites around the world, including office buildings, hospitals, hotels, universities, oil and gas applications, landfills, waste water treatment plants, farm digesters, industrial manufacturing operations and others.

Capstone microturbines can run on a variety of fuels, including natural gas, waste methane from landfills, biodiesel, diesel, kerosene and propane. Microturbine efficiency increases when used in Combined Heat and Power (CHP) and Combined Cooling Heat and Power (CCHP) applications that utilize waste heat energy produced by the microturbines to recapture and heat water or buildings, or run through an absorption chiller to create air conditioning.

DOE and BIRD Grants. Separately, Capstone announced that it received notice of grant awards from the US Department of Energy (DOE) and from Israel’s Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation to participate in two separate clean energy product development projects valued in excess of $3 million.

  • Capstone Flexible Fuel Microturbine. The first DOE grant is to develop a more fuel flexible microturbine capable of operating on a wider variety of biofuels—mostly on syngas produced by gasifying from biomass feedstock. The two-year project will total almost $3.8 million, with the DOE supporting the project with $2.5 million which includes the support of Argonne National Laboratory. Capstone is the prime contractor for this project and will rely on support from Argonne National Laboratory, University of California at Irvine, and Packer Engineering, Inc.

    The project will focus on both the development of a clean syngas combustion system for the Capstone microturbine and a demonstration phase of this new microturbine using the fuel output of a farm waste gasifier being developed by Packer Engineering under a separate US Department of Agriculture grant.

    Argonne will characterize the output of the Packer gasifier for a variety of feed stocks and will host the demonstration phase of the microturbine and gasifier system. The University of California at Irvine and Argonne will assist Capstone in the development and testing of the fuel delivery system for the microturbine. Capstone will provide the design and production expertise for the new fuel delivery system and will manufacture the new syngas microturbine product for sale to the general market. The initial focus is on Capstone’s C65 microturbine with integral heat recovery to achieve high overall efficiency as well as low emissions.

  • Microturbine Powered Solar Concentrator System. The US DOE and BIRD selected a product development effort by Capstone Turbine and Israel’s HelioFocus Ltd. The award of up to $800,000 is to further the development and commercialize a microturbine to produce electric power from concentrated solar energy.

    HelioFocus has previously developed a proprietary solar receiver to convert concentrated solar energy into superheated air. That superheated air will be used to drive a specially-designed externally fired C65 Capstone microturbine to produce efficient solar power. The system will be designed with the option to use natural gas to provide continuous power to supplement the solar energy when it is not available.

Both of these awards are subject to completion and execution of contracts and sub-contracts with the various parties involved in carrying out the product development programs. Failure to complete these agreements could preclude Capstone from participating in one or both awards.

November 30, 2009 in Electric (Battery), Engines, Hybrids, Plug-ins | Permalink | Comments (39) | TrackBack

HyBoost Project Aiming for 30-40% CO2 Reduction Without Performance Compromise

The HyBoost project (earlier post), a two-year collaborative research program led by Ricardo in partnership with Controlled Power Technologies, the European Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium, Ford, Imperial College London, and Valeo, aims to demonstrate a very cost-effective, ultra-efficient gasoline engine in a C-segment passenger car.

The vehicle is to offer the performance of a 2.0 liter model but with a real-world 30-40% reduction in CO2 emissions to below 100 g/km. This is to be achieved through the synergistic application of an extremely downsized gasoline engine coupled with electrified boosting and exhaust gas energy recovery; micro-hybrid functionality with stop/start, torque assist and regenerative braking; and a novel energy storage technology.

The technologies to be incorporated in the HyBoost demonstrator vehicle will be restricted to innovations which are capable of practical production implementation in the near term; they must be constructed with readily available and affordable materials, and have the high scalability required by the automotive sector.

The £3 million (US$4.9 million) HyBoost project is supported by a £1.5 million investment from the UK Government-backed Technology Strategy Board with balancing resources provided by the project partners.

HyBoost aims to demonstrate the very significant benefits that can be achieved using an intelligent combination of innovative technologies to deliver low carbon transport solutions. The stated targets of this research would enable a consumer-attractive “average car” to be offered with CO2 emissions well below the mandated future target set for the European fleet average without compromising vehicle performance.

—Neville Jackson, Ricardo group technology director

Controlled Power Technologies (CPT) is responsible on the project for the electric supercharger and exhaust gas energy recovery system. (Earlier post.) Valeo will support the project with innovative solutions on the air intake loop including a cooled EGR system, an integrated watercooled charge air cooler and a low-voltage recovery system based on Valeo’s BSG (belt-starter-generator) StARS (stop/start system) machine with associated electrical energy management electronics.

Recent research by the Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium members into the use of valve-regulated lead-acid batteries in hybrid vehicle applications, has resulted in the development of batteries with a capacitive function in the negative plate. A program of work is being developed to ascertain whether the use of these batteries can lower the cost of the Valeo StARs + X approach—a supercapacitor-based extension to StARS (StARS + X) to support regenerative braking and thus enable a greater reduction in fuel consumption than is possible with the stop-start system alone. (Earlier post.)

November 30, 2009 in Batteries, Engines, Fuel Efficiency, Hybrids, Vehicle Systems | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

New 3.7L V6 for 2011 Mustang Features Ti-VCT System Also Slated for 2.0L EcoBoost

Ti-VCT components. Click to enlarge.

Ford is introducing its 2011 Mustang with a new 3.7-liter, dual-overhead-camshaft (DOHC) 24-valve V-6 using Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT), also featured in the 2.0L EcoBoost engine announced in July (earlier post). The new V6 can produce 305 hp (227 kW) of power and 280 lb-ft (380 N·m) of torque.

Coupled with a six-speed automatic transmission, the 3.7L engine delivers 19 mpg US city/30 highway—a 19% improvement on city fuel economy and a 25% improvement on highway fuel economy compared to the 2010 model (16 mpg city/24 highway). With a six-speed manual, the 2011 Mustang delivers 18 mpg city/29 highway, up from 18 mpg city/26 highway on the 2010 model with manual. Ti-VCT can account for up to a 4.5% fuel economy improvement over non-VCT-equipped engines, according to Ford.

Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT) uses electronic solenoid valves to direct high-pressure oil to control vanes in each of the camshaft sprocket housings. Click to enlarge.

The high output is due largely to Ti-VCT, which allows variable control of valve operation across the rev range. The variable cams operate on a Direct Acting Mechanical Bucket (DAMB) valvetrain using polished buckets and roller finger followers to reduce friction. The end result is as much as a 3% improvement in fuel economy and a 10% improvement in power output versus traditional engines without these advanced features.

Ti-VCT enables extremely precise variable control of valve overlap—the window of time in which both the intake and exhaust valves in the engine are open simultaneously. By adjusting overlap continuously, an engine can operate at optimum settings for peak fuel economy or peak power output as conditions demand. Ti-VCT also facilitates an “internal EGR” effect, reducing NOx and hydrocarbon emissions throughout the engine’s operating range.

This overlap control via Ti-VCT helps us eliminate compromises in the induction and exhaust systems. Drivers are going to notice improved low-speed torque and increased fuel economy and peak horsepower. Plus, there are benefits they won’t notice, too, such as reduced emissions overall, especially at part-throttle.

—Jim Mazuchowski, Ford manager of V-6 powertrain operations

As a DOHC design, the 3.7-liter V-6 uses two camshafts per cylinder bank—one to open the intake valves and one to open the exhaust valves. Traditionally, camshafts only have been able to open the valves at a fixed point defined during engine design and manufacturing. But with modern variable cam timing systems, the camshafts can be rotated slightly relative to their initial position, allowing the cam timing to be advanced or retarded.

Ti-VCT takes this technology and applies it to both the intake and exhaust camshafts of its DOHC design, using electronic solenoid valves to direct high-pressure oil to control vanes in each of the camshaft sprocket housings. By using one valve per camshaft, controlled by the Electronic Control Module (ECM), each intake and exhaust cam can be advanced or retarded independently of the other as engine operating conditions change, providing an exceptional degree of valve timing control.

Ti-VCT is complemented by special-tuned composite upper and lower intake manifolds for efficient air delivery and lighter weight. Ignition power is delivered by a high-energy coil-on-plug design, while piston-cooling jets and a lightweight die-cast aluminum cylinder block improve the durability and efficiency of the 3.7-liter V-6 design.

In addition to the six-speed transmissions, other system improvements enhancing fuel economy include:

  • A new Electric Power Assist Steering (EPAS) system which eliminates the drag of an engine-operated hydraulic power steering pump.

  • Aerodynamic improvements such as a new front fascia, tire spats on the rear wheels, modified underbody shields, a taller air dam and an added rear decklid seal.

November 30, 2009 in Engines, Fuel Efficiency, Vehicle Systems | Permalink | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Scania and Vale Soluções em Energia S.A. to Collaborate on New Ethanol- and Gas-powered Industrial Engines for Brazil

Scania and Vale Soluções em Energia S.A. (VSE) have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on the development of new technology for ethanol- and gas-powered industrial engines for the Brazilian market.

VSE is planning to develop and manufacture a series of single-speed engines for stationary operation using Scania’s basic engines as the starting point. The engines will be used for generating electricity and driving pumps and compressors in machinery, for example in the mining industry and agriculture.

The Brazilian market for stationary engines in these segments is estimated at 3,000 engines per year, so a successful partnership between Scania and VSE has major commercial potential.

—Robert Sobocki, Senior Vice President and head of Scania Engines

In addition to supplying basic engines, Scania—which has more than 20 years of experience with ethanol-powered engines—will contribute its expertise in testing and evaluating the new technology.

Vale Soluções em Energia is part of the Brazilian-based Vale Group, one of the world’s largest mining companies. VSE focuses on developing new technological solutions targeting the cleaner utilization of coal as well as renewable fuels.

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

EU Parliament Approves 2012 Tire Efficiency Ratings

Members of the European Parliament last week approved regulations that will require replacement tires for cars as well as light- and heavy-duty vehicles (C1, C2, and C3 tires) to carry energy efficiency labels as of 1 November 2012. The new label does not have to be mounted on the tire as long as the seller shows it to the consumer prior to purchase and includes the label with proof of purchase.

The label will follow the familiar “A to G” classification system which is used on European energy labels in a wide range of applications, from appliances to buildings and aircraft. The most efficient tires will be awarded an “A” rating, and member states will only be allowed to legislate purchasing incentives for tires with an energy efficiency rating of “C” or better.

In addition to the tire’s energy efficiency, the label will provide information about its performance in wet conditions, as well as the tire’s rolling noise in decibels. The label will include a “noise pictogram” to graphically indicate the level of external rolling noise, indicated by ascending numbers of black “waves” emitted from a speaker symbol. Automobile tires that produce noise below 68 decibels, for example, will be labeled with one black and two white “waves” next to the value in decibels.

Energy-efficient tires are more commonly referred to as low rolling resistance (LRR) tires in North America. The US Department of Energy maintains a webpage devoted to low rolling resistance tires.

In 2003, the State of California passed Assembly Bill 844, requiring the California Energy Commission, in consultation with the California Integrated Waste Management Board, to adopt and implement a tire energy efficiency program for replacement tires for passenger cars and light-duty trucks. That program is still under development.

A recent cover story in Chemical & Engineering News highlights the efforts of different chemical companies to stretch the “magic triangle of tire technology”—a principle which holds that an improvement to rolling resistance has to come at the expense of wet-road grip and durability.

—Jack Rosebro


November 30, 2009 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

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