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February 2010

February 28, 2010

Tackling Integrated Thermal Management in Electrified Drive Systems

General schematic of current thermal management systems for HVAC, ESS, ICE, and electric drive systems (assumes the ESS is cooled with cabin air) in a hybrid. The electric drive cooling system is a completely separate system while the other systems are integrated in some form. Source: Bennion and Thornton. Click to enlarge.

The integration of component thermal management technologies within a viable vehicle package will be important to the commercial success of advanced electrified drive systems—i.e., hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles—according to a pair of researchers from the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy laboratory (NREL).

As an example, current hybrid systems use a separate low temperature liquid cooling loop for cooling the power electronics and electric machines (PEEM). One research goal under the DOE Vehicle Technologies Program proposes a single, integrated cooling loop for an HEV, allowing for a cost savings of approximately $188 for a hybrid such as the Toyota Prius.

In a paper to be presented at the SAE 2010 World Congress in April, Kevin Bennion and Matthew Thornton from NREL propose using the generated heat load curve to evaluate the transient and continuous heat loads of the individual components and integrated thermal management systems over in-use conditions for components that experience significant transient use.

After describing their techniques, they apply the method to compare an integrated low-temperature coolant loop combining the power electronics and electric machine with the air conditioning system with a high-temperature system integrated with the ICE cooling system. Their analysis found that the low-temperature integrated system offered a promising approach.

Vehicle operation requires vehicle thermal management systems capable of balancing the needs of multiple vehicle systems that may require heat for operation, require cooling to reject heat, or require operation within specified temperature ranges. As vehicle propulsion transitions away from a single form of vehicle propulsion based solely on conventional internal combustion engines (ICEs) toward a wider array of choices including more electrically dominant systems such as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), new challenges arise associated with vehicle thermal management. As the number of components that require active thermal management increase, so do the costs in terms of dollars, weight, and size.

Integrated vehicle thermal management is one pathway to address the cost, weight, and size challenges. The integration of the power electronics and electric machine (PEEM) thermal management with other existing vehicle systems is one path for reducing the cost of electric drive systems.

—Bennion and Thornton

Heat load curves over 227 in-use drive cycles. (a) ICE coolant heat load curve averaged over variable time windows for HEV, PHEV20, PHEV40, and CV; (b) PEEM heat load curve averaged over variable time windows for HEV, PHEV20, PHEV40, and EV. Source: Bennion and Thornton. Click to enlarge.

The evaluation over transient thermal duty cycles is important because certain components may not experience peak thermal loads over steady-state tests typical of some conventional techniques for sizing thermal management systems. However, Bennion and Thornton note that their approach can be extended to include additional steady-state duty cycles typical for designing vehicle thermal management systems of conventional vehicles.

Comparing two integrated systems. There are two high level requirements for an integrated thermal management system, Bennion and Thornton note:

  • A similar coolant temperature specification; and
  • A misalignment of peak heat loads of the combined or integrated systems.

The heat load for integrated thermal management systems is not always simply the sum of the peak or continuous heat loads from the combined systems. Different components experience peak heat loads at different times depending on their use. Misalignment of the peak heat loads can potentially lead to an overall decrease in the net heat exchanger weight and volume. The ability of the heat load curve to illustrate both the transient and continuous heat loads was useful for evaluating the impact of combining multiple systems onto the same thermal management system where transient and continuous loading conditions are important.

—Bennion and Thornton

Their analysis found that the high temperature thermal management system, integrating the electric drive and ICE systems, was attractive for a PHEV in terms of the misalignment of peak heat loads. However, because there are currently a number of challenges associated with cooling the power electronics and electric machine system with a high temperature coolant, the second general requirement for similar coolant temperature specifications presented an issue.

The low temperature thermal management system, which integrated the electric drive system with the vehicle air conditioning system, showed similar coolant temperature requirements. Furthermore, they found that the misalignment of the peak heat loads was also possible through control of the AC system operation and the lack of electric drive system heat when the vehicle was idle.

...there are additional potential benefits related to the integration of the AC and electric drive systems utilizing a low temperature liquid coolant. The additional benefits would apply not only to the AC system but also to the electric drive system. The AC system benefits through the integration of the AC condenser into a sealed HVAC system. Developing a sealed system could eliminate or reduce refrigerant leaks and the need to refill the AC refrigerant lines, leading to improved AC robustness. Locating the AC condenser close to the HVAC system would also reduce the length of the refrigerant lines, leading to a lower pressure drop through the system. The reduced pressure drop improves the AC operating efficiency. The electric drive system benefits by sharing the cost of the low temperature coolant loop. The system also enables forms of power electronics and electric machine temperature protection without reducing the electric drive performance.

System thermal and fluid models and heat exchanger sizing models show the potential of integrating the power electronics and electric machine cooling with the air conditioning system. While there appear to be synergies related to temperature and heat loading, a more thorough analysis of an implementable concept is required.

—Bennion and Thornton


February 28, 2010 in Electric (Battery), Fuel Cells, Hybrids, Motors, Power Electronics, Vehicle Systems | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

More Details on the Lexus CT 200h

The new Lexus premium compact hybrid CT 200h (earlier post) to be introduced next week at the Geneva Motor Show combines a 1.8-liter VVT-i gasoline, permanent magnet synchronous motor, electrically controlled continuously variable transmission (E-CVT) and NiMH battery pack.

The CT 200h. Click to enlarge.

Lexus’s first premium compact model, designed and developed with the European market in mind, offers a selectable electric mode, as well as Eco, Normal and Sport driving modes. The car is capable of running in EV mode for up to 1.2 miles at speeds up to 28 mph (45 km/h).

The CT 200h is built on a new platform with a dedicated double wishbone and trailing arm rear suspension system. It has been developed specifically to combine the ride comfort expected of a Lexus with superior driving involvement and handling agility.

The double wishbone rear suspension is exclusive to the CT 200h and incorporates a lightweight trailing arm. The springs and shocks are positioned separately to minimize intrusion into the loadspace floor.

February 28, 2010 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Toda America Building Cathode Material Plant in Battle Creek, MI

Toda America, Inc., a subsidiary of Toda Kogyo Corp. in Japan, recently concluded a $35-million award contract with the US Department of Energy (DOE), granted under the Recovery Act – Electric Device Vehicle Battery and Component Manufacturing Initiative last August for the production of nickel-cobalt-metal cathode material for lithium-ion batteries. (Earlier post.)

Toda America plans to build a $70-million manufacturing plant for the cathode materials in Battle Creek, Michigan as soon as the site remediation work is completed and regulatory approvals are obtained in the next 1-2 months. Toda expects to complete Phase 1 and plans to start its operation in February, 2011.

The plant will be expanded step by step until 2013, reaching its full manufacturing capacity of 4,000 tons of finished product per year. The total sales volume based on the full capacity operation at the facility will be around $130 million.

In parallel with the Award Contract with DOE, Toda America has been working with the State of Michigan and the City of Battle Creek to finalize various agreements and financial incentives for the manufacturing plant in Battle Creek based on the planned job creation and capital investment.

February 28, 2010 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Japan Automakers Support B5, E10 as Baseline Biofuel Blends, Recommend Specifications to ASEAN Countries

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, Inc (JAMA), a nonprofit industry association comprising fourteen manufacturers of passenger cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles in Japan, recently issued position statements on and recommended specifications for bioethanol and biodiesel (fatty acid methyl ester, FAME).

Experts from JAMA visited six countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) to share their recommended specifications of the two first-generation biofuels. JAMA is proposing that the ASEAN countries follow its recommended specifications to ensure appropriate quality of biofuels and their smooth introduction into the market.

JAMA endorses the use of FAME-blended diesel as well as ethanol-blended gasoline and believes it imperative that they have quality equivalent to the conventional gasoline or diesel fuel so that satisfactory safety and emission performance of vehicles can be achieved.

To this end, clear and harmonized fuel quality standards, which ensure vehicle and engine compatibility, and ‘fit-for-purpose’ specifications for bio-fuels are necessary, JAMA says. At the same time, appropriate handling rules to assure their quality control in the distribution process and quality-monitoring scheme to eliminate improperly prepared FAME-blended diesel and ethanol-blended gasoline from the market are also required.

Blending and fueling. For the use of FAME-blended diesel as conventional diesel fuel for vehicles, JAMA recommends a blending ratio of maximum 5% (B5), provided that FAME before blending is added with oxidation stability enhancing additives to secure its quality. Except for vehicles specially designed and operated by fleet users with special vehicle management qualification, JAMA does not recommend exceeding 5% FAME content.

In the event where diesel fuel with a high FAME content is to be introduced widely, JAMA strongly recommends the use of HVO (hydrotreated vegetable oil) or BTL (biomass to liquid) as blendstocks.

For the use of ethanol-blended gasoline as conventional gasoline for vehicles, JAMA recommends a blending ratio of maximum 10% (E10). Similarly, JAMA does not recommend the use of ethanol-blended gasoline of more than 10% ethanol content except for vehicles specially designed so or for flexible-fuel vehicles.

However, so long as in-use vehicles that are incompatible with ethanol-blended gasoline remain in the market, it is necessary to keep supplying conventional gasoline at some of the fuelling pumps. The materials of these vehicles’ fuel systems are not compatible with ethanol, and the use of ethanol-blended gasoline may result in leakage of fuel, JAMA says.

To prevent misfueling of vehicles that are incompatible with FAME-blended diesel (of a high FAME content) or ethanol-blended gasoline, it is also necessary that the fueling pumps of these fuels have to be labelled clearly indicating their specific FAME or ethanol content, JAMA says.

Specifications. The Worldwide Fuel Charter (WWFC), originally drafted in 1998, details quality specifications for fuels recommended by the world auto industry. The WWFC specifications have been revised to comply with strengthened emission regulations. Together with three other industry associations from America and Europe, JAMA drafted up the WWFC specifications as well as the ‘WWFC Bio-fuels Guidelines’.

JAMA believes that the WWFC ‘Guidelines for B100 Blendstock for use in up to B5 Blends’ and ‘Guidelines for E100 Blendstock for use in up to E10 Blends’ issued in March 2009 will contribute towards the optimization and global harmonization of biofuels specifications in the various countries. JAMA drafted the ‘JAMA Recommendation on FAME (B100) Specification for up to B5 Blends’ as well as ‘JAMA Recommendation on bio-ethanol (E100) Specification for up to E10 Blends’ specifically suited for the climate in ASEAN region based on the ‘Guidelines’, and attached these recommendations to its position statements on bio-fuels quality.


February 28, 2010 in Biodiesel, Ethanol, Fuels, Japan | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 27, 2010

Study Finds Availability of Low-CO2 Electricity and Hydrogen May Paradoxically Delay Large-Scale Transition to Electric and/or Hydrogen Vehicle Fleet

Left, global light-duty fleet in the electric-favoring case; right, the hydrogen-favoring case. Top, without CCS and CSP; bottom, with CCS and CSP. In both electric- and hydrogen-favoring cases, availability of low-carbon electricity and hydrogen prolonged the use of petroleum-fueled ICE vehicles. Credit: ACS, Wallington et al. Click to enlarge.

Increased availability of low CO2 sources of electricity and hydrogen could counter-intuitively delay, rather than accelerate, a large-scale transition to an electric and/or hydrogen vehicle fleet, according to a new study by researchers from Ford Motor Company and Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. They reported the results of their modeling study online 26 February in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

For future scenarios where vehicle technology costs were sufficiently competitive to advantage either hydrogen or electric vehicles, the increased availability of low-cost, low-CO2 electricity/hydrogen provided more cost-effective CO2 mitigation opportunities in the heat and power energy sectors than in transportation. For example, the study found that the availability of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology has a major impact on the lowest cost passenger vehicle fuel and technology choice.

The system dynamic at work is that CCS provides relatively inexpensive low-CO2 electricity and heat from coal which is a lower cost CO2 mitigation option than that offered by replacement of petroleum-fueled, nonhybridized ICEVs.

...When CSP is also made available a substantial amount of CSP-generated electricity is used in the global energy system...This makes biomass, which would otherwise go to the stationary sector, available for conversion into biofuel for vehicles.

—Wallington et al.

In reporting their results, the authors emphasized that their interpretation of the results is “not that society should intentionally delay a transition to a large-scale hydrogen/electric-powered light duty vehicle fleet or that the availability of clean electricity or hydrogen would be a problem (far from it).

Rather, the importance of low-CO2 electricity and hydrogen is highlighted as having equal or greater value in other energy sectors and would beneficially affect how these sectors deal with CO2 mitigation. The cost-effectiveness of measures to address climate change is enhanced through a multisector perspective.

—Wallington et al.

In the study, global CO2 emissions were constrained to achieve stabilization at 400-550 ppm by 2100 at the lowest total system cost (equivalent to perfect CO2 cap-and-trade regime). The increased availability of low-CO2 electricity/hydrogen was found to delay the large-scale introduction of electric/hydrogen vehicles for all CO2 targets considered.

The team used a model (Global Energy Transition, GET-RC 6.1) to consider combinations of five fuel options (petroleum, encompassing both gasoline and diesel; natural gas; synthetic fuels; electricity;and hydrogen); and five vehicle powertrain technologies (internal combustion engine vehicles, ICEV; hybrid-electric vehicles, HEV; plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, PHEV; battery-electric vehicles, BEV; and fuel cell vehicles, FCV).

The study considered two cases: one with vehicle technology costs that favored hydrogen vehicles and the other using vehicle technology costs that favored electric vehicles.

Primary energy sources in model include fossil fuels (crude oil, natural gas, and coal); non-renewable non-fossil sources (nuclear); and renewable sources (hydroelectric, wind, solar, and biomass). These energy sources can be converted to transportation fuels or used for generation of heat, electricity, or both (cogeneration).

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) was included as an option to decarbonize fuels derived from fossil sources and biomass. The model allows solar energy to be used for (i) generation of low temperature heat; (ii) generation of hydrogen from direct solar conversion; (iii) generation of electricity from photovoltaic technology; and (iv) generation of electricity from concentrated solar power (CSP).

While low-CO2 sources are required for long-term use of hydrogen and electric-powered vehicles, because of the complex dynamics of the global energy system, they may actually delay a transition to alternative fuel vehicles under a CO2 cap-and-trade regulatory environment. While the model we have used is simple in some respects and has limitations, it nevertheless provides the first insight into the existence and magnitude of this effect.

While there are important societal objectives other than cost-effective CO2 mitigation (e.g., energy security, rural development), the results presented here suggest that for the next few decades an increased availability of low-CO2 electricity and hydrogen may delay, rather than facilitate, the introduction of a large-scale hydrogen or electric-powered vehicle fleet. This paradox for hydrogen- and electric-powered vehicles in a carbon cap-and-trade world deserves further study by the scientific community and consideration by policy makers.

—Wallington et al.


  • T. J. Wallington, M. Grahn, J. E. Anderson, S. A. Mueller, M. I. Williander and K. Lindgren (2010) Low-CO2 Electricity and Hydrogen: A Help or Hindrance for Electric and Hydrogen Vehicles? Environ. Sci. Technol., Article ASAP doi: 10.1021/es902329h

February 27, 2010 in Climate Change, Electric (Battery), Emissions, Hybrids, Hydrogen, Policy, Power Generation | Permalink | Comments (25) | TrackBack

US House Members Introduce Bipartisan Disapproval Resolution to Block EPA Regulation of GHG; Mirrors Murkowski Resolution

Congressman Ike Skelton (D-Mo); Congressman Collin Peterson (D-Minn), and Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo) introduced a joint resolution in the House of Representatives to nullify the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) finding in December 2009 that greenhouse gases (GHG) are a threat to human health and therefore could be regulated under the Clean Air Act. Congressman Skelton is the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

US Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) earlier introduced an identical resolution, S.J. Res. 26, in the US Senate. (Earlier post.)

Under the Congressional Review Act of 1996 (CRA), Congress has 60 legislative days to review a major rule under expedited legislative procedures and consider a resolution to disapprove of the rulemaking. If a disapproval resolution is enacted, the rule may not take effect and the agency may issue no substantially similar rule without subsequent statutory authorization. If a rule is disapproved after going into effect, it is “treated as though [it] had never taken effect.”

Congress stands in the shoes of the American people. Executive branch agencies, like EPA, carry out the laws passed by Congress. When Congress passed the Clean Air Act, it never gave EPA the explicit authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions for the purpose of stopping global climate change. But, that is exactly what EPA has proposed to do.

I do not agree with the EPA or the 2007 Supreme Court ruling that gave the Agency that authority. So, today, I introduced a bipartisan joint resolution to stop EPA from implementing its proposed greenhouse gas regulations that would likely be very costly to farmers, business owners, Midwestern utilities, and consumers.

The resolution of disapproval does not stop Congress from working on important energy legislation, though I do hope it will set aside cap and trade in favor of a more scaled back bipartisan bill. My resolution does, however, keep EPA from threatening Congress with its own greenhouse gas policy as we write legislation.

—Congressman Skelton

In addition to precluding future regulation of stationary sources of greenhouse gases by the EPA under the current framework, passage of a disapproval resolution would also nullify EPA’s soon to be introduced final ruling on greenhouse gases from light duty vehicles.

Under President Obama’s national fuel policy (earlier post), the EPA and the Department of Transportation’s NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), are jointly developing a new harmonized national policy intended to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for all new cars and trucks sold in the US.

The resulting set of new standards will cover model years 2012-2016, and will require an average fuel economy standard of 35.5 mpg in 2016 (39 mpg for cars, 30 mpg for trucks), or approximately 250 grams CO2/mile.

In response to a query from Senator Diane Feinstein’s (D-Ca) office about the potential impact of the passage of the Murkowski amendment, O. Kevin Vincent, the Chief Counsel for NHTSA, wrote earlier in February that:

As a strictly legal matter, the Murkoswki Resolution does not directly impact NHTSA’s independent statutory authority to set fuel economy standards under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), as amended by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA). However, passage of the Murkowski Amendment would have profoundly adverse effects on the national economy, national environment and energy security objectives, and the economically distressed automobile manufacturing industry. While NHTSA’s promulgation of independent, stand alone CAFE standards would make important contributions, its standards could not avoid those adverse affects.

...given EPA’s grant of the California waiver request in 2009, California and the States that adopted the California standards could move forward to enforce standards that are inconsistent with the Federal standards, thus creating confusion, encouraging renewed litigation, and driving up the cost of compliance to automobile manufacturers and consumers alike.

If the Murkowski Resolution were to be adopted, Vincent wrote, NHTSA would endeavor to fulfill its statutory obligation to finalize a CAFE rule as quickly as practicably as possible, although it would miss the 1 April deadline.

February 27, 2010 in Climate Change, Emissions, Policy | Permalink | Comments (37) | TrackBack

IBM Research Initiative Developing Adaptive Systems to Provide Personalized Travel Routes to Avoid Gridlock

IBM has launched a new research initiative to build personalized travel routes for commuters to avoid traffic gridlock. IBM researchers are using advanced analytics to develop adaptive traffic systems that will intuitively learn traveler patterns and behavior to provide more dynamic travel safety and route information to travelers than is available today.

According to the Texas Transportation Institute, as cited by IBM, US traffic congestion burns enough fuel every year to fill 58 supertankers and wastes enough time to consume 105 million weeks of vacation.

New models will predict the outcomes of varying transportation routes to provide a personalized recommendation that get commuters where they need to go in the fastest time. This project intends to provide information that goes well beyond traditional traffic reports, after-the fact devices that only indicate where you are already located in a traffic jam, and web-based applications that give estimated travel time in traffic.

Using new mathematical models and IBM’s predictive analytics technologies, the researchers will analyze and combine multiple possible scenarios that can affect commuters to deliver the best routes for daily travel, including many factors, such as traffic accidents; commuter’s location; current and planned road construction; most traveled days of the week; expected work start times; local events that may impact traffic; alternate options of transportation such as rail or ferries; parking availability; and weather.

Working with state and local transportation agencies, IBM plans to launch pilot projects for select sets of commuters to analyze, test and refine the new systems. IBM plans to provide program participants with the personalized commuting information via the web, through mobile voice interaction, combined with advanced mapping applications on mobile devices.

For example, combining predictive analytics with real-time information about current travel congestion from sensors and other data, the system could recommend better ways to get to a destination, such as how to get to a nearby mass transit hub, whether the train is predicted to be on time, and whether parking is predicted to be available at the train station. New systems can learn from regular travel patterns where you are likely to go and then integrate all available data and prediction models to pinpoint the best route.

Insight from IBM’s analytics and pilot programs will help transportation agencies better understand and manage traffic, increasing safety on our roads and encouraging the use of efficient public transportation which will help reduce a commuter’s overall carbon output.

The data exists to give commuters and transportation agencies a better way to manage traffic but today it’s not connected. IBM has the ability correlate all of this information to better predict demand, optimize capacity help improve traveler and highway safety as well as reduce our impact on the environment.

—Gerry Mooney, General Manager, Public Sector, IBM

Additionally, IBM is launching a new global virtual Travel and Transportation Center of Competency which will provide new solutions and deep industry expertise for air, rail, truck, and sea transportation.

February 27, 2010 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Honda CR-Z Hybrid Now On Sale in Japan; Targeting 1,000 Units Per Month

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. has begun sales of the all-new CR-Z (“Compact Renaissance Zero”) hybrid (earlier post) in Japan on Friday, February 26, 2010. Honda is targeting monthly sales of 1,000 units of the new hybrid.

1.5L i-VTEC Engine + Ultra-thin DC Brushless Motor (cut-away model). Click to enlarge.

The CR-Z is Honda’s third hybrid currently in the market, along with the Civic Hybrid and new Insight. The CR-Z represents the sixth unique version of Honda’s original IMA technology since the launch of the 2000 Insight, the first hybrid vehicle available in North America in December 1999.

CR-Z combines a 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine and Honda’s proprietary Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system with a 6-speed manual transmission—the first such on a hybrid. A CVT version features paddle shifters as standard equipment.

The CR-Z offers fuel economy of 25.0 km/L (59 mpg US, 4.0 L/100km) (CVT) and 22.5 km/L (53 mpg US, 4.4 L/100km) (MT) in 10•15 mode; and 22.8 km/L (54 mpg US, 4.4 L/100km) (CVT) and 20.6 km/L (48 mpg US, 4.9 L/100km) (MT) in JC08 mode.

CR-Z is the first model to feature Honda’s three-mode drive system, which enables the driver to choose SPORT, NORMAL or ECON modes depending on the driver’s driving style and/or driving situation such as in the city, on the freeway or on winding roads.

February 27, 2010 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

ClearFuels to Develop Co-Located Commercial-Scale Biorefinery for Renewable Jet or Diesel Production in Tennessee

Biomass-to-liquids company ClearFuels Technology Inc. and Hughes Hardwood International, Inc. have executed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding the development of a commercial scale biorefinery facility for the production of renewable jet or diesel fuel.

The renewable energy facility will be co-located with Hughes Hardwood’s wood component products manufacturing facility in Collinwood, Tennessee. Under the MOU, Hughes Hardwood will supply 1,000 dry ton per day of wood product for conversion into approximately 16 million gallons of synthetic jet or diesel fuel and 4 million gallons of naphtha per year, as well as approximately 8 MW of excess renewable power. The project is currently expected to be operational by early 2014.

BNP Paribas will act as financial advisor in connection with assisting and supporting ClearFuels in securing financing arrangements for senior secured debt for the project. (Earlier post.)

According to ClearFuels, this is the first public confirmation of its plans for developing a number of commercial projects using the integrated ClearFuels-Rentech thermochemical technology for biomass to renewable jet or diesel fuel production.

In 2009, Rentech, the developer of a Fischer-Tropsch process for the conversion of syngas derived from biomass and fossil resources into synthetic fuels, specialty waxes and chemicals, acquired a 25% stake in ClearFuels Technology Inc. through a strategic investment. (Earlier post.)

ClearFuels, established in 1998, has exclusive rights to a proprietary High Efficiency Hydrothermal Reformer (HEHTR) and process for biomass to syngas conversion (BTG). The ClearFuels technology can convert multiple cellulosic biomass feedstocks such as sugarcane bagasse and virgin wood waste into clean synthesis gas (syngas) suitable for integration with synthetic gas-to-liquids technologies.

ClearFuels and Rentech are integrating ClearFuels’ BTG technology platform with Rentech’s Fischer-Tropsch Process for the production of certified renewable synthetic jet and diesel fuels at commercial-scale facilities.

Synthetic diesel fuel produced from the Rentech Process meets ASTM D-975 specifications. Synthetic jet fuel produced using the company’s technology is certified by the US Air Force and for commercial aviation use.

According to ClearFuels, this commercial facility is targeted to break ground in late 2011 following completion of its joint demonstration project with Rentech of the companies’ integrated technologies for the production of renewable fuels at Rentech’s Energy Technology Center in Commerce City, Colorado. This joint demonstration is expected to be completed in late 2011. This demonstration project is supported by a $22.6 million conditional grant from the US Department of Energy. (Earlier post.) ClearFuels expects to begin receiving funds from this grant by the end of March.

ClearFuels has begun project development of multiple commercial scale biomass-to-energy facilities in the southeastern United States, Hawaii and internationally. These projects are expected to use an integrated ClearFuels-Rentech design and be co-located at sugar mills, wood mills and other biomass processing facilities. According to ClearFuels, projects will be based on non-recourse project finance through special purpose entities (LLCs), similar to the proven independent power projects business model. ClearFuels’ management has experience with over $10 billion of energy infrastructure financing based on this model and has with engaged BNP Paribas as debt advisor for its leadership experience in project finance.

February 27, 2010 in Biomass, Biomass-to-Liquids (BTL), Catalysts, Gasification | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Coulomb Introduces iPhone App For ChargePoint EV Charging Stations

Coulomb Technologies has released a free app for the iPhone and iPod Touch platforms which allows electric vehicle operators in North America to locate nearby ChargePoint charging stations; identify whether or not a given station is available; find recharging locations along a given route with a trip mapping feature; calculate energy use; and receive updates about their vehicle’s charging status.

Trip mapping function in Coulomb’s iPhone EV charging station locator app. Available charging stations are shown in green, while charging stations that are in use are shown in blue. Click to enlarge.

ChargePoint networked charging stations are available for installation from 120 volts to 240 volts AC charging and up to 500 volts DC charging.

Last month, General Motors announced similar apps for its Chevrolet Volt extended range electric vehicle (E-REV), to be available on iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry smartphone platforms. (Earlier post.)

Nissan has indicated that their Leaf electric vehicles will be able to email their owners when the vehicles are fully charged, and many electric vehicle manufacturers are expected to incorporate charging station location services into EV navigation systems.

—Jack Rosebro

February 27, 2010 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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