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January 2010

January 31, 2010

New Coaxial Nanocables Show Enhanced Rate, Energy and Cycling Performance as Li-ion Electrode Materials; “Yin-Yang Principle” Extensible to Other Electrochemical Storage Devices

Comparison of the rate performance of CNT@TiO2, TiO2-free CNT, and CNT-free TiO2 sample between voltage limits of 0.01-3 V. Shaded areas represent the capacity contribution from TiO2 or CNT in the nanocables. Credit: ACS, Cao et al. Click to enlarge.

Researchers in China and Germany have coated carbon nanotubes (CNT) with a nanoporous layer of TiO2 to create coaxial nanocables for use as electrode materials in Li-ion batteries (LIB). The CNT@TiO2 coaxial nanocables show excellent rate capability, energy and cycling performance compared with both pure CNT and pure TiO2 when used as anode materials for LIBs.

Both the specific capacity in the CNT core and that in the TiO2 sheath are much higher than that of the TiO2-free CNT and that of the CNT-free TiO2 sample, respectively. A paper on the work was published online 22 January in the ACS journal Chemistry of Materials.

While the carbon nanotubes assist the storage in TiO2 by providing electrons, the nanoporous TiO2 sheath assists the storage in the carbon nanotubes by enabling rapid access of Li+ from the liquid electrolyte. As the roles of ions and electrons are very different but complementing (compare acid-base activity with redox activity), the mutually beneficial role of the two intimately connected components TiO2 (providing Li+ for CNT) and CNT (providing electrons for TiO2) finds a picturesque metaphor in the Chinese yin-yang principle.

—Cao et al.

HRTEM images of the nanocable. Credit: ACS, Cao et al. Click to enlarge.

A key problem in Li-battery research is guaranteeing sufficiently rapid transport of both ions and electrons, the researchers say, noting that only “a few exceptional materials” such as Ag2S provide fast ionic and electronic conduction even at room temperature that is sufficient to enable rapid chemical transport even in big crystals. Carbon provides sufficient electronic conductivity but lacks sufficient ion conductivity.

Among the many different approaches under investigation to addressing this problem is the use of carbon nanotubes (CNT).

CNT is also a fine Li-storage host as well as a fast Li insertion-extraction host at a low voltage, which makes it an attractive anode material for lithium-ion batteries. However, the practical applications suffer from a high level of irreversibility (low columbic efficiency) and poor cycle life because of the pronounced surface reactions between CNTs and electrolyte.

The basic point in our paper is the mutually beneficial, i.e., symbiotic, role of the two intimately connected phases CNT and TiO2. CNT is not just a metallizer for the storage material TiO2, it efficiently stores Li as well. In turn, for the storage of Li in CNT, the TiO2 proves helpful, too. It allows for a rapid access of ions to the CNT.

—Cao et al.

Among the results of the testing of the material, the researchers found a total reversible capacity (per total mass) of about 406 mAh g-1 in the voltage range of 0.01-3 V for the CNT@TiO2 nanocables under a current density of 50 mAg-1; acid-treated CNTs showed a total reversible capacity of around 367 mAh g-1 under the same experimental condition.

At a current density of as much as 3,000 mA g-1, CNT@TiO2 can still deliver a specific capacity of 244 mAh g-1 between the voltage limits of 0.01 and 3 V. CNTs without TiO2 coating layers deliver 74 mAh g-1, and the CNT-free TiO2 has nearly no capacity under those conditions.

...our results demonstrate that very effective synergism could be introduced by using two-phase structures such as the coaxial nanocables reported here. They can be used for designing superior electrode materials with improved performance in terms of power (rate), energy, and cycling behavior. The cable morphology also allows for a dense packing of electroactive materials.

...In the specific case of CNT@TiO2 core/porous-sheath coaxial nanocable, on one hand, the benefit of CNT for TiO2 storage consists in the electronic wiring principle (i.e., the CNT core providing sufficient e- for the TiO2 sheath). On the other hand, the benefit of nanoporous TiO2 for CNT is the almost unperturbed Li+ supply for the CNT core, most probably because of the porosity and the small thickness of the passivation layer. It is the synergism of the two parts that leads to a high, fast and stable lithium storage material. The strategy is simple, yet very effective; because of its versatility, it may also be extended to other electrode materials for future electrochemical energy storage devices (LIBs, supercapacitors, or hybrid) combining high-power and high-energy densities.

—Cao et al.

Their work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, National Key Project on Basic Research, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Max Planck Society in Germany.


  • Fei-Fei Cao, Yu-Guo Guo, Shu-Fa Zheng, Xing-Long Wu, Ling-Yan Jiang, Rong-Rong Bi, Li-Jun Wan and Joachim Maier (2010) Symbiotic Coaxial Nanocables: Facile Synthesis and an Efficient and Elegant Morphological Solution to the Lithium Storage Problem. Chem. Mater., Article ASAP doi: 10.1021/cm9036742

January 31, 2010 in Batteries | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Brazil “Ready to Cooperate” With Iran on Sugarcane Ethanol, Other Technology

FNA. In a meeting between Head of Iranian Industries Development and Renovation Organization (IDRO) Seyed Majid Hedayat and Deputy Brazilian Science and Technology Minister Czar Gadella in Tehran, Gadella said that Brazil is ready to cooperate with Iran in sugarcane ethanol and other fields of technology, including oil, gas, nanotechnology, microelectronics, information technology and biotechnology.

Hedayat said that IDRO is now working on projects for utilizing plant fuel, and added, “The existence of vast cane farms in southern (Iran), fuel, engine and vehicle research centers and auto-making companies indicates that the organization enjoys the required capability for research, production and supply of plant fuel.”

Brazil is the world’s second largest producer of ethanol fuel and the world’s largest exporter. Together, Brazil and the United States lead the industrial production of ethanol fuel, accounting together for 89% of the world’s production in 2008.

January 31, 2010 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

China’s Largest Euro-5 Diesel Engine Plant Comes Online; 300,000 Units in Phase 1, 1M Units Targeted

CCTV reports that the Haw Tai Motor Plant, China’s largest Euro-5 diesel engine plant, has gone into production in Inner Mongolia. Initial capacity for the plant, which is a subsidiary of Haw Tai Automobile, is 300,000 units in its first phase, with planned production to reach 1 million units.

It’s China’s first clean diesel engine for autos. And could reduce energy consumption by a quarter, compared with gasoline engines of the same size. Xu Hengwu, Director of Haw Tai Motor Plant, said, “Considering the national energy strategy and the urge to cut carbon dioxide emissions, diesel motor markets will experience rapid growth in the near future.”

Cars powered by diesel engines make up over 50-percent of market share in Europe and the figure is increasing in North America, Japan and South Korea. However, China has lagged behind with a market share close to zero...Zhao Jingguang, Dep. Party Secretary of Foton Motor Co., said, “It is a trend that traditional engines will develop into low-emission and environmentally-friendly motors. At present, new energy vehicles only account for a small percentage in China.”

—CCTV report

Haw Tai Automobile has been cooperating with Italy-based VM Motori on the development of its diesels. Features of the Haw Tai diesels include:

  • Electronically controlled high pressure common-rail direct injection technology, to achieve a cycle of repeated spraying to control the fuel injection time of 1-2 milliseconds.

  • Use of variable geometry turbo and air-cooling technology that can effectively improve the engine compression ratio and air density, effectively raising the engine power.

  • Use of exhaust gas recirculation to improve the quality of exhaust emissions.

  • Use of a belt transmission, and dual overhead cam system.

  • Cylinder block use of the tunnel-type structure, and greatly improved cylinder block stiffness.

  • Trapezoidal piston ring structure and hard chromium plating process to improve the life of the piston.

Screenshot from CCTV video on Haw Tai plant. Click to go to original.

January 31, 2010 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

UK Climate Secretary Declares a “Battle” Against Climate Deniers

In an exclusive interview with the UK Guardian’s Observer, UK climate secretary Ed Miliband declared a “battle” against the “siren voices” who denied global warming was real or caused by humans, or that there was a need to cut carbon emissions to tackle it.

“It’s right that there’s rigour applied to all the reports about climate change, but I think it would be wrong that when a mistake is made it’s somehow used to undermine the overwhelming picture that’s there,” he said.

“We know there’s a physical effect of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere leading to higher temperatures, that’s a question of physics; we know CO2 concentrations are at their highest for 6,000 years; we know there are observed increases in temperatures; and we know there are observed effects that point to the existence of human-made climate change. That’s what the vast majority of scientists tell us."

...The danger of climate scepticism was that it would undermine public support for unpopular decisions needed to curb carbon emissions, including the likelihood of higher energy bills for households, and issues such as the visual impact of wind turbines, said Miliband, who is also energy secretary.

January 31, 2010 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Jon Bereisa to Join Aker Wade Board of Advisors with Focus on Fast Charging

Aker Wade Power Technologies (earlier post) announced that Jon Bereisa has accepted a position on its Board of Advisors.

Bereisa led GM’s EV1 project as chief engineer. He was responsible for the technology development and production design of the EV1 electric traction system, power inverter, battery pack and charger. Bereisa is also the inventor of the EV1 Inductive Charging System, and he led the original development of GM’s VOLTEC propulsion system (used in the Chevrolet Volt extended-range vehicle).

Bereisa currently serves as president and CEO of Auto Lectrification, LLC, a company which focuses on electric vehicle propulsion systems and infrastructure engineering.

At this year’s Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA) meeting in Washington, Bereisa was inducted into the EDTA Hall of Fame by Roger Stempel, former GM and Energy Conversion Devices (ECD) CEO. (Stempel, who oversaw the introduction of the EV1 when Chairman and CEO of GM, is a past EDTA Hall of Fame inductee.)

We couldn’t be more pleased to welcome Jon to our company. Jon brings an incredible depth of technical knowledge, a long history of championing the benefits of the electric vehicle, and unique insight into the infrastructure requirements necessary to accelerate consumer adoption of the EV. Most importantly, Jon shares our vision that the deployment of level III fast charging technology is a critical component of the infrastructure required to eliminate ‘range anxiety’ amongst potential EV consumers and accelerate mass adoption of clean electric vehicles.

—Aker Wade CEO Bret Aker

Aker Wade has grown to be the leader in industrial fast charging. I am pleased to join them in bringing fast charge technology and products to today’s emerging EV infrastructure.

—Jon Bereisa

Aker Wade develops and manufactures fast chargers and battery management software for the electric vehicle and industrial forklift markets. Aker Wade is collaborating with battery companies, infrastructure suppliers and EV manufacturers to deliver advanced Level III fast charging solutions for the coming generation of battery electric vehicles. Among the companies Aker Wade is working with are EnerSys, A123, Coulomb Technologies, and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).

January 31, 2010 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 30, 2010

ClipperCreek Plug-in Charging Equipment CE-Certified for Deployment to Europe

ClipperCreek, Inc’s TS and CS product lines have been CE Certified and are ready for introduction into the European Union in 2010. The ClipperCreek EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment) is also UL-Listed.

  • The TS line represents EVSEs specifically designed for use with the Tesla Roadster. The TS line is UL-listed to charge from 30 Amps to 100 Amps, accommodating power available at different charging locations.

  • The CS Line is for the home, office, fleet or public infrastructure. The CS line is also UL-listed to charge from 30 Amps to 100 Amps.

The company has begun shipping its TS-70 product to Europe with Tesla for use with the Tesla Roadster and plans to introduce its CS model for public infrastructure in the coming months.

ClipperCreek produced more than 2,500 chargers in 2009 and is the exclusive provider of EVSE chargers for BMW’s Mini-E and for Tesla Motors’ Level 2 EVSE charging stations. ClipperCreek also provides chargers to power Mercedes, GM and Nissan vehicles.

January 30, 2010 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Study Finds Stratospheric Water Vapor Is An Important Driver of Decadal Global Surface Climate Change

Decadal warming rates arising from (i) greenhouse gases and aerosols alone (black); (ii) that obtained including the stratospheric water decline after 2000 (red); and (iii) including both the stratospheric water vapor decline after 2000 and the increase in the 1980s and 1990s (cyan). Credit: Solomon et al., Science. Click to enlarge.

A 10% drop in stratospheric water vapor concentrations acted to slow the rate of increase in global surface temperature over 2000-2009 by about 25% compared to that which would have occurred due only to CO2 and other greenhouse gases, according to a new study by researchers from NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory; the University of Colorado, Boulder; and the University of Bern (Switzerland). Their paper was published online in the journal Science on 28 January.

Earlier observations from satellites and balloons suggest that stratospheric water vapor probably increased between 1980 and 2000, which would have enhanced the decadal rate of surface warming during the 1990s by about 30% compared to estimates ignoring this change, according to the authors.

These findings show that stratospheric water vapor represents an important driver of decadal global surface climate change.

—Solomon et al.

Over the last century, global average surface temperatures have warmed by about 0.75 °C (0.42 °C), with much of it occuring the last half. However, note the authors, the trend in global surface temperatures has been nearly flat since the late 1990s despite continuing increases in the forcing due to all the greenhouse gases.

Previous studies suggested that stratospheric water vapor might contribute significantly to climate change. The new study is the first to relate water vapor in the stratosphere to the specific variations in warming of the past few decades.

Stratospheric water vapor and radiative processes. Source: NOAA. Click to enlarge.

The stratosphere is the region of the atmosphere from about eight to 30 miles above the Earth’s surface. Water vapor enters the stratosphere mainly as air rises in the tropics.

Stratospheric water vapor changes affect the fluxes of longwave (infrared) and—to a lesser extent—shortwave (solar) radiation, and can thereby influence the temperature in the stratosphere and troposphere. In general, increases in stratospheric water vapor cool the stratosphere, but warm the troposphere; the reverse is true for decreases in stratospheric water vapor.

The researchers used data from the HALogen Occultation Experiment (HALOE) that flew on the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) from late 1991 through November 2005, with coverage from the troposphere to the stratosphere overs 65°S to 65 °N. Combined with two additional and independent sets of satellite data, the data provide evidence for “a sharp and persistent drop of about 0.4 parts per million by volume (ppmv)” in stratospheric water vapor after 2000.

Balloon data suggest a gradual mid-latitude increase in lower stratospheric water vapor of more than 1 ppmv from about 1980 to 2000. Other data also support increased in lower stratospheric water vapor during the 1990s of about 0.5 ppmv.

...recent observations have suggested a correlation of the post-2000 stratospheric water vapor decrease to sea surface temperature [SST] changes near the tropical warm pool region and associated cooling of the cold point that governs water vapor input to the stratosphere in the tropics. However, the relationship between SSTs in the warm pool region and stratospheric water vapor changes character (from negative to positive short-term correlations) from 1980–2009, suggesting that other processes may also be important, or that the correlation may be a transient feature linked to the specific pattern of SSTs at a given time rather than to the average warming of SSTs around the globe.

It is therefore not clear whether the stratospheric water vapor changes represent a feedback to global average climate change or a source of decadal variability. Current global climate models suggest that the water vapor feedback to global warming due to carbon dioxide increases is weak but these models do not fully resolve the tropopause or the cold point, nor do they completely represent the QBO, deep convective transport and its linkages to SSTs, or the impact of aerosol heating on water input to the stratosphere.

This work highlights the importance of stratospheric water vapor for decadal rates of warming based directly upon observations, illuminating the need for further observations and a closer examination of the representation of stratospheric water vapor changes in climate models aimed at interpreting decadal changes and for future projections.

—Solomon et al.

Authors of the study are Susan Solomon, Karen Rosenlof, Robert Portmann, and John Daniel, all of the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) in Boulder, Colo.; Sean Davis and Todd Sanford, NOAA/ESRL and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado; and Gian-Kasper Plattner, University of Bern, Switzerland.


  • Susan Solomon, Karen Rosenlof, Robert Portmann, John Daniel, Sean Davis, Todd Sanford, Gian-Kasper Plattner (2010) Contributions of Stratospheric Water Vapor to Decadal Changes in the Rate of Global Warming. Science Express doi: 10.1126/science.1182488

January 30, 2010 in Climate Change, Climate models | Permalink | Comments (51) | TrackBack

Dupont Danisco Opens Cellulosic Ethanol Demonstration Facility

Leaders from DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol (DDCE), University of Tennessee and Genera Energy cut the ribbon on a cellulosic ethanol demonstration facility in Vonore, Tenn. The 74,000-square-foot plant has started producing ethanol and will deliver low-cost, fully-integrated technology for commercial production of ethanol from agricultural residue and bioenergy crops, including corncobs and switchgrass.

The plant combines pretreatment technology based on DuPont’s advanced mild alkaline technology and low-cost enzyme technology for saccharification, based on Danisco’s protein engineering innovation and commercial scale enzyme production expertise. An innovative ethanologen based on DuPont Zymomonas technology delivers high performance sugars co-fermentation for optimal process and yields.

The facility in Vonore has capacity to produce 250,000 gallons of ethanol annually, though its focus is on optimizing technologies for large-scale production. It represents an investment of more than $50 million, including funding from UTBI and DDCE.

The project also integrates about a $100 million investment in proprietary research by DuPont and Danisco,intellectual property platforms and talent pools from both companies and DDCE’s commitment to pay operating costs not covered under UTBI.

The University of Tennessee’s Biofuels Initiative (UTBI) established a bioenergy crop research and production basis for the burgeoning industry and attracted DDCE to participate as an industrial partner in the development of the cellulosic ethanol biorefinery. UTBI, with the support of Genera Energy, is also establishing a supply chain for the development of fuel.

The University of Tennessee Biofuels Initiative is the only fully integrated program that is working with farmers and agricultural industry to reliably supply the necessary feedstock so biorefineries can produce plentiful, affordable, renewable and sustainable fuels.

—Kelly Tiller, CEO of Genera Energy and director of external operations for the UT Office of Bioenergy Programs

Tiller said plans are for Tennessee farmers to place an additional 4,000 acres of switchgrass into production this spring, bringing the total production in the state to nearly 7,000 acres of the dedicated energy crop.

January 30, 2010 in Cellulosic ethanol | Permalink | Comments (16) | TrackBack

Secretary Chu Forms Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future; Focus on Nuclear Waste

As part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to restarting the US nuclear industry, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced the formation of a Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future to provide recommendations for developing a safe, long-term solution to managing used nuclear fuel and nuclear waste. The Commission is being co-chaired by former Congressman Lee Hamilton and former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft.

In light of the Administration’s decision not to proceed with the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, President Obama has directed Secretary Chu to establish the Commission to conduct a comprehensive review of policies for managing the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle. The Commission will provide advice and make recommendations on issues including alternatives for the storage, processing, and disposal of civilian and defense spent nuclear fuel and nuclear waste.

The Commission is made up of 15 members who have a range of expertise and experience in nuclear issues, including scientists, industry representatives, and respected former elected officials. The Commission will produce an interim report within 18 months and a final report within 24 months.

The members of the Blue Ribbon Commission are:

  • Lee Hamilton, Co-Chair. Hamilton represented Indiana’s 9th congressional district from January 1965-January 1999. During his time in Congress, Hamilton served as the ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and chaired the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He is currently president and director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and director of The Center on Congress at Indiana University.

    He is a member of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board and the President’s Homeland Security Advisory Council. Previously, Hamilton served as Vice Chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the 9/11 Commission).

  • Brent Scowcroft, Co-Chair. Scowcroft is President of The Scowcroft Group, an international business advisory firm. He has served as the National Security Advisor to both Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush. From 1982 to 1989, he was Vice Chairman of Kissinger Associates, Inc., an international consulting firm.

    Scowcroft served in the military for 29 years, and concluded at the rank of Lieutenant General following service as the Deputy National Security Advisor. Out of uniform, he continued in a public policy capacity by serving on the President’s Advisory Committee on Arms Control, the Commission on Strategic Forces, and the President’s Special Review Board, also known as the Tower Commission.

  • Mark Ayers, President, Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO
  • Vicky Bailey, Former Commissioner, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; Former IN PUC Commissioner; Former Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs
  • Albert Carnesale, Chancellor Emeritus and Professor, UCLA
  • Pete V. Domenici, Senior Fellow, Bipartisan Policy Center; former U.S. Senator (R-NM)
  • Susan Eisenhower, President, Eisenhower Group, Inc.
  • Chuck Hagel, Former US Senator (R-NE)
  • Jonathan Lash, President, World Resources Institute
  • Allison Macfarlane, Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Policy, George Mason University
  • Richard A. Meserve, President, Carnegie Institution for Science, and former Chairman, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • Ernie Moniz, Professor of Physics and Cecil & Ida Green Distinguished Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Per Peterson, Professor and Chair, Department of Nuclear Engineering, University of California - Berkeley
  • John Rowe, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Exelon Corporation
  • Phil Sharp, President, Resources for the Future

January 30, 2010 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (23) | TrackBack

Tesla Files S-1 Registration Statement for Initial Public Offering

Tesla Motors, Inc. on Friday announced that it had filed a registration statement on Form S-1 with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed initial public offering of its common stock.

The number of shares to be offered and the price range for the offering have not yet been determined; the preliminary prospectus on file with the SEC will be updated.

Goldman, Sachs & Co., Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan and Deutsche Bank Securities are acting as the joint book-running managers for the offering.

January 30, 2010 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

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