January 31, 2011
Chevrolet Volt demo vehicles begin arriving at dealerships
Chevrolet dealerships in the initial launch markets of California, Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Virginia and Washington, DC will be receiving dedicated Volt demonstration vehicles for customer test drives over the next few weeks.
We know the best way to experience the Volt is to get behind the wheel and drive it. Now dealers will have the ability to allow consumers to form their own opinions of the Volt through test drives and demonstrations.—Cristi Landy, Chevrolet marketing director
According to GM research, 85% of consumers searching for information about the Volt on Chevrolet.com looked at other Chevrolet vehicles.
In the first quarter of 2011, approximately 550 demonstration Volts will be delivered to Chevy dealers. By the end of the year, more than 2,500 US dealers will receive a dedicated Volt for consumer demonstrations and test drives.
Chevy expects to deliver Volts in all 50 states by the end of 2011. Customers nationwide will be able to order Volts with participating dealers beginning in the second quarter. Deliveries will begin in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii in the third quarter.
California gasoline use up 0.9% and diesel down 3.8% in October 2010
California gasoline consumption increased 0.9% year-on-year in October 2010, while diesel fuel consumption declined 3.8 percent, compared with October 2009, according to figures released by the California State Board of Equalization (BOE).
In October 2010, Californians used 1.257 billion gallons of gasoline compared to 1.246 billion gallons in October 2009. The average California gasoline price at the pump in October 2010 was $3.15 per gallon compared to $3.06 in October 2009, a 2.9% increase.
Diesel fuel sold in California during October 2010 totaled 216 million gallons compared to October 2009’s total of 224 million gallons, which is a decrease of 3.8%. California diesel prices were $3.21 per gallon in October 2010—an increase of 12.2% compared to October 2009 when the average diesel price was $2.86 per gallon.
The BOE is able to monitor gallons through tax receipts paid by fuel distributors. The figures reported monthly are net consumption that includes BOE audit assessments, refunds, amended and late tax returns, and State Controller’s Office refunds. Figures for November 2010 are scheduled to be available at the end of February 2011.
PetroChina offers INEOS $1B for a 50% share in its European refining business; two joint ventures result
PetroChina International (London) Co. Ltd. submitted an irrevocable offer to INEOS of US$1.015 billion for a 50% share in its European refining business. This business includes the refineries at Grangemouth in Scotland and Lavéra in France. The partnership with PetroChina will comprise a trading joint venture and a refining joint venture. A new Swiss company will be incorporated to hold the INEOS investment. The two joint ventures will be operated independently of the INEOS Group.
INEOS and PetroChina will now work towards forming the proposed joint ventures in Q2 2011.
INEOS said that the transaction will significantly enhance its financial position. Group leverage was 4.3x EBITDA at the end of September 2010 and is expected to reduce to around 3.5x EBITDA following completion.
This offer is an important step on the way to INEOS forming a joint venture with PetroChina. When completed we will have a strategic partner with significant refining expertise that is integrated upstream with very strong equity crude positions. This agreement allows us to remain fully committed to our refining business and presents us with an opportunity to further develop our technology business in China and beyond. As we move towards completing this joint venture, we now intend to evaluate our future refinancing options for the group over the first half of 2011.—Jim Ratcliffe, chairman of INEOS
This deal will help create a strategic partnership between the two companies, INEOS said, as well as improve the long-term sustainability of the INEOS refineries, enhance security of supply for customers and secure jobs and skills in both the UK and France.
The proposed joint venture is consistent with PetroChina’s strategy of building a broader business platform in Europe and of becoming a leading international energy company. The geographic location and production capabilities of the INEOS refineries are favorable as both refineries are well located in terms of markets and access to raw materials and both have a significant production bias towards diesel, the fastest growing refined fuel in Europe.
The Grangemouth refinery is located on the Firth of Forth with direct access to crude oil and gas from the North Sea. The Grangemouth refinery processes around 210,000 barrels of crude oil per day and provides fuel to Scotland, Northern England and Northern Ireland.
The Lavéra refinery processes 210,000 barrels of crude oil per day. It is located on the coast of the Mediterranean crude oil trading basin, next to the port of Marseille and adjacent to a crude oil terminal. The refinery supplies fuel by pipelines into France, Switzerland and Southern Germany.
Both sites are integrated into INEOS’s downstream petrochemical production and remain strategic to its long-term business.
Quantum awarded contract for high-capacity NGV storage systems; 500-mile range for heavy-duty trucks
Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide, Inc. has secured a new purchase contract from a leading Utah-based natural gas vehicle integrator to supply a series of large capacity natural gas vehicle tanks for medium- and heavy-duty trucks that operate long distances.
The Quantum next-generation high-capacity Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) storage system was developed for the growing global market for natural gas vehicles, by offering fuel efficiency and reduced vehicle operation and maintenance costs. The Quantum tanks are substantially lighter than competing systems, according to the company. They enable medium- and heavy-duty trucks to carry more fuel on board and operate for long distances without the accelerated vehicle wear and tear associated with heavier natural gas storage systems.
Quantum has successfully developed and supplied in excess of 20,000 natural gas systems to General Motors for production vehicles.
Quantum’s new high capacity ultra light-weight natural gas storage tanks will now enable heavy duty trucks to achieve a 500 mile range on CNG, allowing even more trucking fleets to convert to natural gas.January 31, 2011 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack
TAU developing software tool to improve bike sharing systems management
Engineers at Tel Aviv University (TAU) in Israel are developing a mathematical model to lead to a software solution to improve urban bike sharing systems management.
Bike sharing allows a subscriber to take a bike from one of hundreds of locations in a city, use it, and return it to another location at the end of the journey. While the idea of municipal bike sharing is gaining speed and subscribers at the 400 locations around the world where it has been implemented, there have been growing pains—partly because the projects have been so successful. About 7% of the time, users aren’t able to return a bike because the station at their journey’s destination is full. Sometimes stations experience bike shortages, causing frustration with the system.
These stations are managed imperfectly, based on what the station managers see. They use their best guesses to move bikes to different locations around the city using trucks. There is no system for more scientifically managing the availability of bikes, creating dissatisfaction among users in popular parts of the city.— Dr. Raviv
The research was presented in November 2010 at the INFORMS 2010 annual meeting in Austin, Texas.
Dr. Raviv, Prof. Tzur and their students have created a mathematical model to predict which bike stations should be refilled or emptied—and when that needs to happen. The researchers say they are the first to tackle bike-sharing system management using mathematical models and are currently developing a practical algorithmic solution.
Our research involves devising methods and algorithms to solve the routing and scheduling problems of the trucks that move fleets, as well as other operational and design challenges within this system.—Dr. Raviv
The city of Tel Aviv is now in the process of deploying a bike sharing system to ease transport around the city, and improve the quality of life for its residents. Tel Aviv University research is contributing to this plan, and the results will be used in a pilot site in Israel.
Expert group report finds alternative fuels could replace fossil fuels in Europe by 2050
Fuel and vehicle propulsion strategy. (Source: ERTRAC) Click to enlarge.
Alternative fuels have the potential gradually to replace fossil energy sources and make transport sustainable by 2050, according to a report presented to the European Commission last week by the stakeholder expert group on future transport fuels. The EU will need an oil-free and largely CO2-free energy supply for transport by 2050 due to the need to reduce its impact on the environment and concerns about the security of energy supply.
Expected demand from all transport modes could be met through a combination of electricity (batteries or hydrogen/fuel cells) and biofuels as main options, synthetic fuels (increasingly from renewable resources) as a bridging option, methane (natural gas and biomethane) as complementary fuel, and LPG as supplement, the report finds.
The Commission is currently revising existing policies and the report will feed into the initiative on clean transport systems, to be launched later this year. The initiative intends to develop a consistent long-term strategy for fully meeting the energy demands of the transport sector from alternative and sustainable sources by 2050.
If we are to achieve a truly sustainable transport, then we will have to consider alternative fuels. For this we need to take into account the needs of all transport modes.—Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport
Different modes of transport require different options of alternative fuels, the panel said. Fuels with higher energy density are more suited to longer-distance operations, such as road freight transport, maritime transport, and aviation. Compatibility of new fuels with current technologies and infrastructure, or the need for disruptive system changes should be taken into account as important factors, determining in particular the economics of the different options.
According to the report, alternative fuels are the ultimate solution to decarbonize transport, by gradually substituting fossil energy sources. Technical and economic viability, efficient use of primary energy sources and market acceptance, however, will be decisive for a competitive acquisition of market share by the different fuels and vehicle technologies.
There is no single candidate for fuel substitution, the report said. Fuel demand and greenhouse gas challenges will most likely require the use of a mix of fuels which can be produced from a large variety of primary energy sources. There is broad agreement that all sustainable fuels will be needed to fully meet the expected demand.
Strategy 2050. Looking ahead to 2050, the expert group said that a long-term view and a stable policy environment are required to provide “clear, consistent and unwavering” signals to industry and investors.
A long-term trajectory should therefore be defined for Europe within a predictable regulatory framework. Within this trajectory, managing the transition from a predominantly fossil fuel to a predominantly alternative fuel transport system will be an ongoing challenge.
Policy and regulation should be technology neutral, founded on a scientific assessment of the well-to-wheels CO2 emissions, energy efficiency, and cost associated with competing technology pathways. The incentives for alternative fuels should be based on their CO2 footprint and their general sustainability. This should include recognition of all alternative fuel pathways and all CO2 abatement measures available, including application of carbon capture and storage (CCS).
Separate regulations on the energy system and on the transport system ensure more efficient implementation and leave flexibility for adopting the most cost-effective solutions. However, these regulations need to be developed in parallel to ensure that they are complementary and that they provide consistent message to industry.—Future Transport Fuels
The first element of a long-term fuel strategy should be ongoing efforts to increase the energy efficiency of all transport operations as well as vehicles, through implementation of such options as downsizing, direct injection, charging and engine displacement reduction and the utilization of new efficient combustion systems. This stretches the availability of fossil resources, the group noted, and facilitates full substitution of oil by CO2–free energy sources in the long term. The main guidelines for this strategy are:
Energy efficiency policies in the end-use transport sectors allow energy savings and reduction of CO2 emissions. They will not provide for oil substitution, as required in the longer term. But energy savings through efficiency policies are an important prerequisite for replacing oil-based fuels, meeting increasing demand with limited supply from alternative energy sources.
Future transport technologies and measures designed to promote them need to deliver both on efficiency and on replacing oil-based energy with renewable energy.
Allocation of fuels to the different sectors of transport might better be achieved through market competition than through regulatory measures. Some sectors could also afford higher fuel prices, supporting early market development of initially more expensive alternative fuels.
Electric drive technology has the greatest potential for sustainable short to medium distance road transport over the long term, although it is not yet decided, according to the report, whether the electricity used will be stored in a battery or generated in a fuel cell using hydrogen.
Liquid and gaseous biofuels are other priority candidates for oil substitution in the long term strategy, within the time horizon of 2050. They are primarily needed in those sectors where no alternatives exist, such as aviation, parts of maritime transport, and long-distance freight transport. Fungibility of biofuels would be of advantage for their long-term market expansion.
The option of alternative biofuels blending standards should be compared with fungible biofuels, both for liquid and gaseous pathways, with fully flexible blending ratios between fossil and biomass based products in order to allow a smooth transition in the fuel mix and to keep and valorize the achievements of internal combustion engine technology.
Any decision to expand the use of biofuels should take into account the impact on life-cycle GHG emissions and biodiversity. The sustainability safeguards for biofuels should be reviewed to prevent i.a. unwanted effects on indirect land use change.
Bioethanol expansion would need additional standards for higher blending ratios, going from E5 to E10 in 2011 and then possibly to E20. Before introducing higher blends into the market, their compatibility with vehicle and infrastructure technologies needs to be ensured. The 2020 RED target could be supported by a wider deployment of flex-fuel vehicles using E85 blends. Blending potential and associated costs should be analysed.
Expansion of diesel alternatives can be supported by blending paraffinic fuels (HVO, GTL, BTL) that are fully fungible with existing vehicle technology and distribution infrastructures in any blending ratios.
The technical and economic complications of several different biofuel blending standards for fuel supply infrastructure and vehicle technology need to be assessed against the option of fully fungible (synthetic) biofuels complying with one single standard.
There should be clear and stable guidelines on the injection of bio-methane into the grid, including possible favorable tax treatment supporting market build-up. This can balance regional differences in biogas production and natural gas consumption by vehicles, and avoid double investment into a parallel bio-methane distribution network.
The approach with tailored fuels versus a multi-segment approach should be analysed in depth. R&D activities and a possible pilot project could be proposed for adequate testing of these technologies.
All these principal alternative fuel candidates can be produced from low-carbon technologies. Substitution of oil in transport by them leads inherently to a decarbonization of transport if the energy system is decarbonized. Life-cycle aspects have to be included in this assessment.
Decarbonisation of transport and decarbonization of the energy system can therefore be considered as two complementary strategic lines. They are closely related, but can be decoupled and require different technical approaches. Decarbonisation of the energy carriers used in transport should progress at least with the rate of their introduction into the transport fuel mix. However, the decarbonization of the two systems needs to be undertaken in a complementary manner in order to ensure that approaches are consistent.—Future Transport Fuels
Specific to on-road transport, the expert group said that he following issues should be considered:
Urban transport can be powered by several alternative fuel options, namely electricity (battery electric small vehicles or electric trolleys) and hydrogen; also by biofuel blends, neat synthetic fuels or paraffinic, methane or LPG. Possible risks of market fragmentation and resulting limitations in economies of scale in case of competition between the two fuels need to be clarified.
Medium-distance transport could be covered by synthetic or paraffinic fuels, hydrogen, biofuel blends and methane. For methane, a gas grid already exists. Possible competition also needs to be clarified, as hydrogen and methane require the build-up of new dedicated infrastructure. Methane gas vehicles are mature technology where as hydrogen driven engines have to be further developed.
Long distance transport can be supplied by biofuels or synthetic or paraffinic fuels, for freight possibly also by liquefied methane gas (LNG, LBG or LPG).
In all cases (urban, medium and long-distance), there will continue to be a significant role to play for the internal combustion engine and advancements in ICE technology can be expected and certainly not disregarded in future scenarios.
Railways and urban rail systems can further contribute to decarbonizing transport, since power generation is on a path of decarbonization through the EU ETS and renewable energy targets. Additional electrification should be undertaken. For those few lines where electrification is not feasible or economically viable, engine technology from heavy duty road vehicles could be adapted for rail. Possible standards for diesel engines and potential use of biofuels, and possibly LNG should be explored.
Future Transport Fuels: Report of the European Expert Group on Future Transport Fuels
January 31, 2011 in Bio-hydrocarbons, Biomass-to-Liquids (BTL), Electric (Battery), Engines, Europe, Fuel Cells, Fuel Efficiency, Fuels, Hydrogen, Natural Gas, Policy | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack
Ford designates BAF Technologies as Qualified Vehicle Modifier (QVM) for gaseous fuels
Ford Motor Company has designated BAF Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Clean Energy Fuels Corp., as a Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifier (QVM) for gaseous-fueled vehicles. BAF’s alternative fuel vehicle upfitting capabilities include aftermarket compressed natural gas (CNG) conversions of Ford-manufactured vans, cutaway shuttles, taxis, pick-ups and light-duty trucks.
To ensure that modified Ford vehicles meet vehicle warranty and QVM standards, the authorization program focuses on the aftermarket vendor’s design, manufacturing and quality control processes. Evaluations by Ford include crash testing, demonstrated commitment to continuous quality improvement, and reviews of representative vehicles and customer support systems.
BAF Technologies is the leading provider of natural gas vehicle systems and conversions in the United States and supports clients with alternative fuel systems. Founded in 1992 and headquartered in Dallas, Texas, BAF was acquired by Clean Energy in October 2009.
BAF provides alternative fuel systems, application engineering, service and warranty support and research and development. The company’s aftermarket systems ensure that current natural gas vehicles (NGVs) are available for domestic light-duty fleets. Its vehicle conversions include taxis, vans, pick-up trucks and shuttle buses. BAF utilizes advanced natural gas system integration technology and has certified NGVs under both EPA and CARB standards achieving Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle emissions.
Clean Energy fuels more than 19,900 vehicles at 211 locations across the United States and Canada with a broad customer base in the refuse, transit, trucking, shuttle, taxi, airport and municipal fleet markets. It owns (70%) and operates a landfill gas facility in Dallas, Texas, that produces renewable methane gas, or biomethane, for delivery in the nation’s gas pipeline network. It owns and operates LNG production plants in Willis, Texas and Boron, Calif. with combined capacity of 260,000 LNG gallons per day and that are designed to expand to 340,000 LNG gallons per day as demand increases.
ECOtality’s Blink Network integrates with Cisco’s Home Energy Management Solution
EV charging equipment supplier ECOtality, Inc. has completed development for integrating the Blink Network charger interface with the Cisco Home Energy Management Solution (HEMS). The Blink Network charger interface will now be accessible through the Cisco Home Energy Controller (HEC), where Blink EV Home Charging Station owners can access information about their EVs and optimize their charging and energy usage.
Cisco’s HEMS technology will be deployed as part of The EV Project, the largest rollout of EV infrastructure to date, of which ECOtality is the project manager.
The Cisco Home Energy Controller (HEC) helps residential customers monitor and control their energy use in the home. An optional set of Cisco compatible, tested peripherals can be wirelessly connected to the HEC in order to provide monitoring and control of energy loads such as HVAC systems, pool pumps, water heaters, appliances, and other devices. The Cisco HEC can be controlled from a touch-screen display. From this controller, Blink Home Charging Station owners will now be able to control and monitor their EV charging.
The Blink Home Charging Station is classified as a Level 2 (240 volt AC input) charging station and is equipped with a 7-inch touch screen display where users can control the Blink Network charger interface. With the Cisco HEC, consumers will be able to access the charger interface remotely.
The Blink Network charger interface is the hub where users can receive information about their EV and Blink Home Charging Station including charge status, statistics and history. The Blink interface will also determine which charging times are most cost-effective and promote responsible power consumption. The charger can be programmed to start and stop at any time. Where supported, the charging station’s built-in energy meter will support energy usage data evaluation to further aid with the power management of the charging station, and the user’s home.
Audi launches car assembly in Indonesia
Audi has launched car manufacturing operations in Indonesia. The carmaker is working with INDOMOBIL/Garuda Mataram Motor to assemble Audi A4 1.8 TFSI and A6 2.0 TFSI cars in the capital city Jakarta.
Around 2,700 cars will be assembled there by 2015, including 2,000 Audi A4 models, for the Indonesian market. The first A4 and A6 models were delivered to Indonesian customers in January.
Audi is stepping up the pace in Asian markets, and Indonesia is a dynamic growth region.
In total around 2,700 A4 and A6 cars will be built in Jakarta by 2015. At first Indonesian customers will be served by three Audi sites in the country. In the future, the company wants to expand its dealership network and strengthen its position in ASEAN countries.
The Indonesian car market is forecast to grow by 15% this year, while sales in the premium segment are expected to double over the next five years.
GM’s views on challenges for battery development for extended range electric vehicles
Examples of degradation effects causing Li-ion battery power or capacity fading. Source: Roland Matthé, GM. Click to enlarge.
With the Volt extended range electric vehicle and the Leaf battery electric vehicle now on the market, joining an ever increasing array of hybrids, and with next-generation versions of all of these already in the works, automakers and battery manufacturers provided some insight at the recent Automotive Advanced Battery Conference (AABC) in Pasadena into their learnings over the requirements for and development of advanced lithium-ion battery packs targeted at the different automotive applications.
Roland Matthé, GM technical manager for the Voltec battery system, provided an overview of GM’s views on the requirements and challenges for batteries specifically for extended range electric vehicles—i.e., the Volt—but also more broadly for batteries and electrified vehicle applications in general. Different applications require different types of cells, he noted.
Key metrics of electrified propulsion systems (GM) Mild Hybrid
(e.g., LaCrosse w/ e-Assist)
(E.g., Tahoe two-mode)
Fuel cell hybrid electric
Pure battery-electric range na up to 2 km at speed < 50 km/h & low acceleration up to 20 km at speed < 100 km/h & low acceleration 40 to 80 km, all speeds, full acceleration > 100 km up to 2 km at speed < 50 km/h & low acceleration Total range > 500 km > 500 km > 500 km > 500 km < 200 km 400-500 km Battery energy < 1 kWh 1 to 3 kWh 5 to 10 kWh > 10 kWh > 20 kWh 1 to 3 kWh Battery power < 20 kW 20 kW to 40 kW > 50 kW > 100 kW > 100 kW 20 to 40 kW Power to energy ratio ~20 ~20 ~7 ~7 ~4 ~20 SoC window < 20% < 20% < 70% < 70% < 90% < 20% Recharge time na na 1 to 4h 4 to 10h 10 to 20h
na Refuel time < 5m < 5m < 5m < 5m na < 5m
In an earlier talk describing GM’s battery life estimation process, Joe LoGrasso, an engineering manager also with the GM’s Global Battery Systems Engineering Group, like Matthé, noted that customer expectations are an important factor to consider in establishing specifications relating to battery life and battery safety. In short, he said:
- Customers expect that batteries will last the normal life of the vehicle, that expensive replacements will be minimized, and that such service will be delayed until at least 10 years of battery life have elapsed, assuming normal usage.
- Customers expect xEVs with advanced batteries and high voltage systems to provide a level of safety comparable to that present in today’s vehicles.
Achieving the first requires predictive life models and adaptive vehicle control, he noted. Achieving the second requires a comprehensive system approach to battery safety at system, pack and cell level.
The battery pack for an extended range electric vehicle such as the Volt—which runs in an all-battery powered charge-depleting mode with full speed and acceleration up to the point at which it switches to operate in charge sustaining mode faces a number of challenges based on this mixed duty cycle—i.e., part EV, part hybrid. The challenges include:
- High number of full operation charge/discharge cycles
- High discharge power during charge sustaining mode (at a low state of charge, SOC)
- High discharge power requirement for acceleration performance
- High charge power requirement for regenerative braking and charge sustaining mode (transients at both high and low SoC)
- Temperature conditions
The factors all interplay, complicating demands placed on both battery and driver. For example, the depth of pack discharge in daily use will vary, Matthé noted. With public charging or charging at work, two or more cycles per day are possible; he said that he (driving a Volt) sometimes charges 3 times day. Because of the differences in how you can use the car, he said, you have to accommodate for that in your battery life.
There are also a number of factors—high charge/discharge rate; high or low State of Charge (SoC); hot or cold temperatures—that affect degradation of power and capacity. As examples, high charge rate and cold temperatures can result in metallic lithium plating and electrolyte decomposition. Low discharge rates and low temperatures can result in a corrosion risk on the current collector. High charge rates at warm temperatures can result in electrolyte decomposition and impedance rise. Low discharge rate at warm temperatures can result in metal dissolution and the loss of active material, with an accompanying fade in capacity. Designers must strive to keep the battery functioning in the minimal cell degradation area—essentially balanced in the center between these different extremes.
You have a wide range of matrix of conditions you have to consider. Every cell is differently sensitive to that kind of behavior. So first of all, you have to understand how sensitive is your cell to that [particular] degradation mechanism. As long as you do not have fully developed physical models, ground up...have full understanding of what happens inside the cell, you have to characterize what you have in front of you.
Now we have a very deep relationship with our cell supplier. That is important to do such an endeavor. If you just take a cell you don’t know, the vendor will not tell you...might not even in a very new cell know exactly, you have to characterize it. To characterize it, you have to think about the power levels you might face in your applications, you have to think about distribution of discharge cycles you face, and you have to consider the cold and warm exposure. You develop a test matrix for your battery to get to know you battery. And in time to understand what your cell is all about.
In general what you learn is the deeper your discharge cycles the less energy you can put through over life. If you do only little cycling, total accumulated energy is 2.5 times [that possible with high levels of cycling]. The next thing is temperature. Temperature requires a sophisticated model. The effect of battery temperature on battery cycle should not be underestimated.
If you want to have consistent performance, when you discharge your battery too low, your vehicle gets slower. The problem with an extended range electric vehicle is that you still need to do passing, so you want predictable power. On the other hand, you want to maximize efficiency.
You do not do only that power profile and discharge cycling, you also have to think about that your battery might have degradation effects you haven’t dreamed about.—Roland Matthé