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September 2010

September 30, 2010

UQM Introduces 5kW DC-AC Inverter for On-board Power Applications

UQM Technologies is introducing a new 5 kW liquid-cooled DC-AC Inverter. The inverter provides 5 kW of 120 VAC, 60 Hz output under continuous duty and can handle loads of up to 16 kW for short periods.

The new inverter is designed for use on hybrid or electric vehicles where a 250-425 VDC battery is available. It features a true sine output, making it suitable for use with sensitive electronic devices such as laptop computers. Other features include: under voltage and reverse polarity protection, automatic current limiting, brown out protection and a THD of less than 5%.

We are confident that this new inverter will meet the needs of a wide range of vehicle manufacturers who are seeking vehicle specific DC-AC inverters that operate on the higher voltage battery packs onboard all-electric and hybrid-electric passenger cars, trucks and buses.

—Jon Lutz, UQM Technologies’ Vice President of Technology

September 30, 2010 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Toshiba To Develop EV Batteries With Fiat, Scania; New 60 Ah Cell

Nikkei. Toshiba Corp. will jointly develop lithium-ion batteries for hybrid vehicles with Fiat SpA and also with Scania AB, majority-owned by Volkswagen AG. Toshiba is currently co-developing batteries and other components with Volkswagen (earlier post).

Earlier this week, Toshiba celebrated the opening of its new plant in Kashiwazaki that will manufacture its SCiB Li-ion batteries. (Earlier post.) Initial production capacity is for 50 million cells per month; during fiscal year 2011, production capacity will increase to more than 100 million cells monthly.

60 Ah cell. Toshiba also announced that it has developed a 60 Ah SCiB cell targeted for large-scale stationary energy storage systems (e.g., for solar) and for electric vehicles. The cell is to begin production this year.

The newly developed cell features volumetric energy density of about 230 - 270 Wh/L.

September 30, 2010 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

LG Chem to Supply Li-ion Batteries to Renault for EVs

Korea Times. Adding another major automaker to its customer list, LG Chem announced that it will supply Li-ion batteries to Renault for EVs. Song Choong-sup, an LG spokesperson, said the deal would be the largest that LG Chem has signed with automakers so far, considering Renault’s expected production volumes.

The deal is forecast to help LG Chem ensure further business stability in its battery unit after securing major US and European carmakers as key clients for its lithium batteries.

The company is now reviewing a plan to build additional battery-manufacturing facilities in Europe or the US to actively respond to the rising demand from existing and future clients, Song said. Renault is planning to produce 500,000 EVs in Europe, LG said in a statement.

In the statement, Chief executive Kim Bahn-suk was quoted as saying that LG Chem has revised up its sales target for its battery business to more than 3 trillion won (US$2.6 billion) by 2015 from an earlier target of 1 trillion won (US$878 million), after the company successfully secured a number of deals.

September 30, 2010 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

UPS Purchases 130 Hybrid Electric Vehicles

UPS announced the purchase of 130 next-generation hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) to add to its growing alternative-fuel vehicle (AFV) fleet. The HEV fleet features two different size vehicles from Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation and a hybrid drive system from Eaton Corporation.

The 130 hybrids all will be deployed next year, with 30 going to New York and New Jersey and 100 to California. UPS estimates these vehicles will save 66,085 gallons of fuel and 671 metric tonnes of CO2 annually, representing a 35% improvement in fuel economy.

UPS already operates one of the largest private fleets of alternative-fuel vehicles in the transportation industry—2,022 in total. The company has invested more than $25 million to develop its AFV fleet, which besides hybrid electric includes such other fuels as compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, propane and all-electric. The fleet is deployed in eight countries besides the US and since 2000, has traveled 185 million miles (298 million km).

UPS was the first package delivery company to introduce a hybrid electric vehicle into daily operation with a research program in early 1998. Currently, there are 250 UPS HEV delivery vehicles operating in the United States.

Hybrid electric technology has proven itself to be effective in the field. We are eager to receive these new HEVs in 2011 and get them on the road.

—Mike Britt, UPS’s director of vehicle engineering

September 30, 2010 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Study Suggests Metallacarborane MOFs Could Meet DOE On-Board H2 Storage Goals

Researchers at Rice University have used first principles calculations to show that a class of material known as metallacarboranes, used in MOFs (metal organic frameworks), could store hydrogen at or better than benchmarks set by the United States Department of Energy (DOE) Hydrogen Program for 2015.

The new study by Rice theoretical physicist Boris Yakobson and his colleagues, published online 22 September in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, relies on the transition metals scandium and titanium and a Kubas type of interaction. A Kubas interaction is a trading of electrons that can bind atoms to one another in certain circumstances. Kubas is often mentioned in hydrogen research because it gives exactly the right binding strength, Yakobson said.

If you remember basic chemistry, you know that covalent bonds are very strong. You can bind hydrogen, but you cannot take it out. And on the other extreme is weak physisorption. The molecules don’t form chemical bonds. They’re just exhibiting a weak attraction through the van der Waals force. Kubas interaction is in the middle and gives the right kind of binding so hydrogen can be stored and, if you change conditions—heat it up a little or reduce pressure—it can be taken out. You want the framework to be like a fuel tank.

—Boris Yakobson

Kubas allows for reversible storage of hydrogen in ambient conditions and that would make metallacarborane materials highly attractive for everyday use, Yakobson said. Physisorption of hydrogen by the carbon matrix, already demonstrated, would also occur at a much lower percentage, which would be a bit of a bonus, he said.

Between strong chemisorption and weak physisorption [for hydrogen storage], there exists a Kubas type of interaction, a “non-classical” form of binding of H2 to metal with a binding energy of ~0.4 eV/H2, which is ideal for the reversible storage at ambient conditions. A single metal atom can bind multiple H2 molecules via the Kubas interaction, leading to high gravimetric and volumetric density.

The possibility of storing hydrogen via the Kubas interaction has been explored extensively for the case of transition metal (TM) decorated graphitic nanostructures (nanotubes, fullerenes, and graphene). Depending upon the type of metal atom, such complexes can store hydrogen up to 8 wt %. TM-ethylene complexes are once shown to store as much hydrogen as 14 wt %. The idea has been extended to lighter metal decorated carbon materials as well, where significant storage has been predicted. These materials are promising and, if experimentally realized, can easily meet the material-based DOE targets for 2015.

The biggest hurdle on the way to success of such materials is the tendency of metal atoms to aggregate.

—Singh et al.

Doping of carbon nanostructures by boron—which acts as an anchor to the metal atom due to stronger B-TM binding, has been proposed as a means to prevent the aggregation that has challenged earlier attempts, the authors note. However, the practical difficulty of doping carbon nanostructures with boron remains a challenge for successful synthesis of such materials, they say.

The key to the success of hydrogen storage via Kubas interaction may lie in finding nanomaterials where the metal atoms are among the constituent elements (and thus cannot aggregate), yet retain their H-binding ability. One such class is metallacarboranes, derived from the carboranes, one of the most studied classes of boron clusters. Carboranes are essentially borane clusters containing one or more carbon atoms. Replacing one or more BH units of carboranes by metal atoms leads to the formation of metallacarboranes.

—Singh et al.

Metallacarboranes thus combine boron, carbon and metal atoms in a cage-like structure. The team investigated the hydrogen storage capacity of metallacarborane-based MOF. Their study shows that metal in metallacarboranes can bind multiple hydrogen molecules, while carbon can link the clusters to form three-dimensional frameworks. They found that replacing carboranes in MOF by metallacarboranes enhances the wt % due to adsorption of additional H2 on metal atoms via Kubas interaction. This leads to storage of up to 8.8 wt % in metallacarboranes.

Moving from a pure physisorption to Kubas type of H2 binding increases the binding strength, which can ensure room temperature storage. The binding energies lie within the reversible adsorption range at ambient conditions. Sc and Ti are recognized as the most optimal metals in maximizing the storage capacity.

—Singh et al.

The Robert Welch Foundation and the Department of Energy supported the project.


  • Abhishek K. Singh, Arta Sadrzadeh, and Boris I. Yakobson (2010) Metallacarboranes: Toward Promising Hydrogen Storage Metal Organic Frameworks. J. Am. Chem. Soc., Article ASAP doi: 10.1021/ja104544s

September 30, 2010 in Hydrogen Storage | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Department of Energy Formally Commits $1B in Recovery Act Funding to FutureGen 2.0

The US Department of Energy has signed final cooperative agreements with the FutureGen Industrial Alliance and Ameren Energy Resources that formally commit $1 billion in Recovery Act funding to build FutureGen 2.0. (Earlier post.)

As part of this new initiative, the Department of Energy will partner with the FutureGen Industrial Alliance to select an Illinois host community for the carbon storage site as well as a geologic sequestration research complex and a craft labor training center. This site could eventually become a regional CO2 storage site in downstate Illinois.

In August, DOE announced its intention to fund FutureGen 2.0 as part of an integrated strategy to repower America’s coal industry. Ameren Energy Resources, Babcock & Wilcox, and Air Liquide Process & Construction, Inc. are leading the project to repower Ameren’s 200 megawatt Unit 4 in Meredosia, Illinois with advanced oxy-combustion technology.

The plant’s new boiler, air separation unit, CO2 purification and compression unit will deliver 90% CO2 capture and eliminate most SOx, NOx, mercury, and particulate emissions.

The FutureGen Industrial Alliance and the Ameren, B&W, and Air Liquide team are developing a technical cooperation agreement to ensure coordination among each element in FutureGen 2.0 and to provide the foundation for rapid commercial deployment for this technology once this initial facility is operational.

The FutureGen Industrial Alliance, working with the State of Illinois, will develop a permanent CO2 sequestration facility, research and visitors facilities, and a labor training center at the site. The Alliance will also build a CO2 pipeline network from Meredosia to the sequestration site. The pipeline and storage site will transport and store more than 1 million tons of captured CO2 per year.

The pipeline network, along with the storage site to be selected in early 2011, will help to lay the foundation for a regional CO2 network. The Illinois storage site will be used to conduct research on site characterization, injection and storage, and CO2 monitoring and measurement.

September 30, 2010 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

UK Royal Society Publishes New Short Guide to Science of Climate Change

The Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science, has published a new short guide to the science of climate change. The guide summarizes the evidence and clarifies the levels of confidence associated with the current scientific understanding of climate change. It delineates what is well-known and established about the climate system; what is widely agreed but with some debate about details; and what is still not well understood.

The document was prepared by a working group chaired by Professor John Pethica, Vice President of the Royal Society and was approved by the Royal Society Council.

Climate change is an important issue affecting everyone. Much of the public debate on climate change is polarised at present, which can make it difficult to get a good overview of the science. This guide explains where the science is clear and established, and also where it is less certain. It is not a simple guide, as this is not a simple issue. This summary has been produced for all who want to understand the full range of the scientific evidence.

—Professor John Pethica

Climate change: a summary of the science, describes how and why the earth is currently warming, and explains the wide range of independent measurements and observations which underpin this understanding. It shows that there is strong evidence that over the last half century, the earth’s warming has been caused largely by human activity. It also explains the uncertainty involved in predicting the size of future temperature increases.

Among the aspects of climate change where there is a wide consensus but continuing debate and discussion, the guide lists:

  • The carbon cycle and climate;
  • The large number of drivers of global climate change—other than greenhouse gases—which are less well characterized;
  • Climate sensitivity;
  • Attribution of climate change;and
  • Future climate change.

Aspects of climate change that are not well understood, according to the guide, are:

  • Some aspects of the evolution of either climate forcing or climate change.
  • The role of clouds.
  • The future strength of the uptake of CO2 by the land and oceans—which together are currently responsible for taking up about half of the emissions from human activity.
  • Understanding of the enhanced melting and retreat of the ice sheets on Greenland and West Antarctica to predict exactly how much the rate of sea level rise will increase above that observed in the past century for a given temperature increase.
  • Changes in the circulation of the North Atlantic Ocean (this limits the ability to predict with confidence what changes in climate will occur in Western Europe).
  • The ability of the current generation of models to simulate some aspects of regional climate change; there is little confidence in specific projections of future regional climate change, except at continental scales.

The guide concludes that, as in many other areas, policy choices will have to be made in the absence of perfect knowledge, but that the scientific evidence is an essential part of public reasoning in this complex and challenging area.

The guide has been prepared by leading international scientists, mostly drawn from the Fellowship of the Society, and it is based on very extensive published scientific work. The working group drew on input from a wide range of experts and the document was reviewed by both Fellows and others with a broad range of relevant expertise and experience.


September 30, 2010 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Honeywell Awarded FAA Research Project to Evaluate and Demo 4-Dimensional Flight Trajectory-Based Operations

Honeywell has finalized a research agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to evaluate and demonstrate NextGen Air Traffic Management technology that will allow aircraft to fly more direct routes to save on fuel and emissions and arrive in a precise location at a precise time—improving on-time arrivals and reducing delays into airports.

4-Dimensional Flight Trajectory-Based Operations will incorporate precise timing and accurate data position to improve air traffic operations. 4-D Trajectory management includes time as the fourth dimension in aircraft trajectories. Aircraft will automatically fly faster or slower to avoid congestion into airports, smoothing traffic flow and improving capacity.

Honeywell, a leader in flight management systems and precision navigation technology, will demonstrate the benefits and work with FAA to define standards of 4-D Flight Management Systems Trajectory Based Operations, which is expected to increase the overall predictability of traffic, with benefit to airlines and air traffic management.

When 4-D trajectories are implemented, both pilot and air traffic control workload will be improved by reducing the need for changing speed commands and intermediate level off during descent. With much more precise aircraft location data than is available today, pilots will utilize more direct approaches to save fuel and emissions, and the spacing between planes can be improved to better predict arrival times.

—Chad Cundiff, vice president, Crew Interface Products, Honeywell Aerospace

Honeywell and the FAA will leverage existing technology and FMS capabilities used on Boeing and Airbus fleets as a starting point to defining new standards to meet new requirements for 4-D. Work is expected to begin in 2010 for an initial 12-month time period.

Honeywell is also carrying out similar manufacturing and research projects for Europe’s future air traffic management program SESAR (single European sky ATM research). Honeywell has developed a number of technologies to drive modernization of the global air traffic management system.

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

AllCell and Matra Debut Solar Energy Storage Battery Swap and Charging System at Paris Motor Show

Solar Flow-R system distributes solar energy to light electric vehicle batteries and utility consumers. Click to enlarge.

The Paris Motor Show saw the debut of a solar energy storage system to support light electric vehicle battery swaps and charging. Designed and developed by AllCell Technologies for Matra Manufacturing Services, the Matra Solar Flow-R energy storage system (ESS) stores solar energy in an array of 12 swappable high energy lithium-ion battery modules using AllCell’s proprietary Phase Change Material (PCM) technology. (Earlier post.)

Electric scooter and light electric vehicle drivers can exchange depleted AllCell battery modules from their vehicles for fully charged battery modules from the Flow-R or charge the vehicle directly through the power plugs located on the front panel of the ESS. France-based Matra offers a line of electric bikes, scooters and quads.

An extra option allows the solar grid-integrated system to supply energy to utility customers during high-rate and peak demand periods, reducing energy costs and increasing renewable energy usage.

The cornerstone of the system is AllCell’s 1.44 kWh (48.1 V, 30 Ah) high energy lithium-ion battery pack. The 8 kg module has a high energy density of 180 Wh/kg, made possible by AllCell’s proprietary phase change material (PCM) technology that surrounds each cell in the pack to provide optimal heat management and safety control.

With 12 modules, each Flow-R ESS has a total capacity of 17.28 kWh. They will primarily charge using solar energy, but can give and receive energy to/from the grid. The full 17.28 kWh unit can handle 3 kW of power flow in or out. Each 1.44 kWh battery can do 2.88 kW charge/discharge.

AllCell’ PCM surrounds each Li-ion cell to absorb and conduct heat away from the battery. This maintains a constant temperature throughout the battery pack, which effectively doubles the pack’s life and prevents catastrophic thermal runaway (i.e. a fire or explosion). Click to enlarge.

AllCell’s PCM uses paraffin wax microencapsulated in a custom designed graphite matrix to provide superior cooling. As the battery discharges, the graphite matrix conducts the heat evenly throughout the pack while the PCM absorbs the heat as it melts to control the temperature. During resting or charging, the PCM re-solidifies and becomes ready for re-use.

In addition, PCM’s thermal properties extend the life of the battery, allow for use in extreme climates (45 °C+), and enhance the battery’s power (1/2 hour full discharge versus 1 hour discharge industry standard for high energy cells).

The Matra Solar Flow-R also enables consumers to tap into the previously unutilized value of their batteries. Typically end-of-service-life for most batteries comes when the battery’s capacity has degraded beyond the useful drive range in an electric scooter or light electric vehicle and the battery is either recycled or thrown away.

The Matra Solar Flow-R uses new and recycled battery modules, extending the useful life of the battery packs and improving the economics for consumers. In addition to controlling energy flow between modules, the smart electronics optimizes the flow between the solar panels, modules, and grid to increase renewable energy usage and minimize cost.

Matra is exhibiting a system at the 2010 Paris Auto Show (Pavilion 3/Row B/Stand 219) from 2-17 October and will be taking orders soon for units for fleet applications.

September 30, 2010 in Batteries, Electric (Battery), Infrastructure, Solar | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Lotus Unveils Concept Extended Range Electric City Car

Lotus CIty Car drivetrain. Click to enlarge.

At the Paris Motor Show, Lotus unveiled five new cars, two evolutions of existing models and a new concept city car. The Lotus City Car concept provides a showcase for Lotus Engineering’s Electrical and Electronic Integration and Efficient Performance competencies, featuring an advanced series hybrid drivetrain with the Lotus Range Extender engine (earlier post).

Equipped with a single-speed transmission, drivetrain provides the vehicle with an all-electric range of 60 km (37 miles) from its 14.8 kWh battery pack to cover the majority of daily journeys operating as a plug-in EV. With the range extender, the city car has a full range of 500 km (311 miles).

The Lotus City Car. Click to enlarge.

Using Range Extender technology allows the vehicle to be specified with a smaller, lighter and less expensive battery pack than a regular EV, Lotus notes.

With a total vehicle weight of less than 1,400 kg (3,086 lbs) and 240 N·m (177 lb-ft) of torque instantly available, the Lotus City Car concept has class-leading acceleration; 0 - 50 km/h (0 -31 mph) in 4.5 seconds and 0 - 100 km/h in 9 seconds, when operating as an EV under battery power. The top speed of the Lotus City Car concept is 170 km/h (106 mph), with a charge-sustaining top speed of 120 km/h (75 mph). This performance is achieved by a drivetrain that returns CO2 emissions of 60 g/km on the ECE-R101 test schedule.

The 1.2-liter, 3-cylinder Lotus Range Extender engine, specifically designed for hybrid vehicle applications, drives a 240 Nm, 54 kW continuous (162 kW peak) generator. The Range Extender engine is designed for flex-fuel operation on ethanol and methanol as well as regular gasoline.

September 30, 2010 in City car, Electric (Battery), Plug-ins | Permalink | Comments (21) | TrackBack

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