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February 2011

February 28, 2011

EPA issues final approval for HFO-1234yf refrigerant for mobile AC systems

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued final approval for HFO-1234yf refrigerant (earlier post) in motor vehicle air conditioning systems. The chemical, which does not deplete the ozone layer, may now be used in air conditioning for new cars and light trucks. When used appropriately, EPA says, this chemical can reduce the environmental impact of motor vehicle air conditioners and has a global warming potential that is 99.7% less than the current chemical (HFC-134a) used in most car air conditioners.

EPA’s recent standards for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from light-duty motor vehicles provide an opportunity for automakers to receive credit for adopting a chemical with less climate impact as a cost-effective way to meet the new standards. Using HFO-1234yf is one option available to automakers.

Prior to HFC-134a, car air conditioners generally used CFC-12, a potent greenhouse gas and ozone-depleting substance. Depleting the stratospheric ozone layer leads to higher levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation reaching the Earth’s surface. UV radiation has several harmful effects, including skin cancer, cataracts, immune system suppression, and premature aging and wrinkling of the skin.

February 28, 2011 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Ballard conditionally awarded C$7M by SDTC for fuel cell distributed power generation

Ballard Power Systems has been conditionally awarded up to C$7 million (US$7.2 million) by Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) to extend the operating life and lower the product cost of FCgen(TM)-1300, the fuel cell power plant that powers Ballard’s CLEARgen distributed generation system.

The first application of this new lower cost distributed generation solution is expected to be a six-megawatt (6MW) CLEARgen system at the ERCO Worldwide (ERCO) sodium chlorate plant in North Vancouver, British Columbia. ERCO is the specialty chemicals division of Superior Plus Corp. The ERCO plant in North Vancouver generates large quantities of hydrogen as a by-product of sodium chlorate production, and this by-product hydrogen can be used to power the Ballard CLEARgen system to generate megawatts of electricity.

Terasen Gas is a leading integrated energy provider and will undertake a feasibility study to look at the use of heat created by the CLEARgen system at ERCO’s site for district heating applications in North Vancouver.

Ballard recently entered the distributed generation market, in addition to backup power, material handling and transit bus applications. In 2010 Ballard announced commissioning of a 1MW CLEARgen system in Ohio for FirstEnergy Generation Corp., one of the largest regional US utilities, as well as a system sale to K2 Pure Solutions, which will use by-product hydrogen from its bleach production plant in California to generate clean electricity.

Receipt of SDTC project funding is contingent on final agreements being reached between Ballard, ERCO Worldwide and BC Hydro as well as internal Board approvals. Subject to these agreements being approved, the manufacturing and site commissioning work is planned for 2012-13.

February 28, 2011 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Peugeot launching bookings for its numbered 3008 HYbrid4 Limited Edition

At the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, Peugeot is launching bookings for its numbered 3008 HYbrid4 Limited Edition; only 300 units of the limited edition diesel hybrid will be produced. (Earlier post.)

The 3008 HYbrid4 is powered by a 2.0-liter HDi FAP 120 kW (163 bhp) diesel engine with an electric motor offering a maximum power output of 27 kW (37 bhp). A maximum torque of 500 N·m (369 lb-ft) is available, split 300 N·m (221 lb-ft) at the front from the HDi diesel engine and a maximum of 200 N·m (148 lb-ft) at the rear generated by the electric motor.

The design of the powertrain (engine powering the front wheels, motor powering the rear) enables 4-wheel drive, an all-electric mode, and fuel consumption of 3.8 liters/100 km (62 mpg US), with 99 g/km of CO2. On higher specification versions, emissions can rise to 104 or 108 g/km of CO2 in the combined cycle.

The 3008 HYbrid4 Limited Edition will be on sale in France for €41,500 (US$57,400).

February 28, 2011 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

BMW Group and PSA Peugeot Citroën to invest €100M in JV on hybrid technologies

The BMW Group and PSA Peugeot Citroën plan to invest €100 million (US$138 million) in their intended joint venture on hybrid technology named “BMW Peugeot Citroën Electrification”. (Earlier post.)

The new company will operate out of two locations: the greater Munich area, Germany and Mulhouse, France. 400 employees are expected to work for the joint venture by the end of 2011. Subject to approval by the relevant competition authorities, the new company is expected to launch its operations in the second quarter of 2011. The new hybrid components will equip both partners’ vehicles from 2014 onwards.

The initiative between the two companies is aimed at developing and producing standard hybrid components for the electrification of their respective vehicle ranges. It will focus on components such as battery packs, E-machines, generators, power electronics, chargers, and software for hybrid systems. This joint venture will enable both partners to create an open platform on these technologies and support the European industry to structure itself in the field of hybridization. To that end, the joint venture will be a full-fledged company and will both integrate suppliers by outsourcing development work as well as sell hybrid components to third parties.

As responsible carmakers, we aim to create an open European platform and foster the development of European standards for hybrid technologies. This joint venture will also enable us to develop advanced technological manufacturing expertise in Europe in the field of electric powertrains, and to retain all its potential for creating value.

—Philippe Varin, Chairman of the Managing Board of PSA Peugeot Citroën

BMW Group and PSA share the same vision of the importance of hybridization in the future. The joint venture will enable us to act more strategically and with a single, shared approach. For us, joining forces also means significant economies of scale, shared development costs, using standardized components and a faster development process.

—Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG

The greater Munich area is the designated location for all research and development while all production would take place in Mulhouse, France. The 400 employees expected to be on board by the end of the year will be based in Munich. Additional jobs in Mulhouse will be added in time for the start of production in 2014. When production has fully ramped up, the French facility will have about 250 employees.

The joint venture’s management, as well as its workforce, will be mostly drawn from employees of the two parent companies. Apart from this, plan is to fill 100 new positions with external candidates when the joint venture becomes operational later this year. Main job profiles needed are engineers specialized in electric mobility and electronics.

The BMW Group and PSA Peugeot Citroën have been cooperating for almost ten years. In 2002, both partners agreed to jointly design and produce 4-cylinder engines. Between 2006 and 2010, more than 1.8 million motors were built for a number of MINI, Peugeot and Citroën brand models. In February 2010, the two companies also agreed to develop the next generation of their jointly designed 4-cylinder gasoline engine, which will also meet EU 6 requirements.

In October 2010, BMW Group and PSA Peugeot Citroën signed a Memorandum of Understanding designed to expand their existing cooperation to hybrid systems. On February 2, 2011, BMW Group and PSA Peugeot Citroën announced that this cooperation would take the form of a joint venture named “BMW Peugeot Citroën Electrification”.

February 28, 2011 in Europe, Hybrids, Vehicle Manufacturers | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Freescale introduces intelligent sensor for automotive lead-acid battery monitoring; addressing increasing electrical loads and stop-start

Freescale Semiconductor introduced the MM912J637 intelligent battery sensor (IBS), which accurately measures the voltage, current and temperature of lead-acid batteries and calculates the battery state, all while operating in harsh automotive conditions. The ability to accurately assess these battery parameters is becoming more important with increases in the number of hybrid vehicles on the road and overall electronic content in vehicles, as well as the introduction of stop-start systems.

The MM912J637 IBS enables precision measurement of key battery parameters in automotive and industrial applications. The device integrates a S12 microcontroller and a SMARTMOS analog control integrated circuit in a single-package solution, enabling significant reduction of effective application board space, Freescale says.

The MM912J637 IBS is designed to meet the highest automotive standards for electrostatic discharge, electromagnetic compatibility and zero defect quality levels. It is fully AEC-Q100 automotive qualified for operation from -40°C to +125°C, providing low power consumption in the target application. It comes in a small form factor, 7 x 7mm QFN package with wettable flanks technology, enabling optical inspection during assembly.

In today’s vehicles, the increasing electrical load presents a challenge to the battery. Vehicle breakdowns caused by the electrical system can usually be traced back to the lead-acid battery and can generally be avoided by knowing the precise state of the battery, Freescale notes. The battery must be able to provide enough energy to crank the engine and be available as a passive power source to support new functions of hybrid vehicles such as stop-start and intelligent alternator control. In addition, the power consumption of the IBS needs to be as low as possible to ensure energy efficiency.

Freescale’s fully integrated, battery monitoring device communicates using a local interconnect network (LIN). It includes a two-channel, 16-bit analog-to-digital converter (ADC) for simultaneous measurement of battery voltage and current and an independent 16-bit ADC for temperature measurement. The IBS provides accurate monitoring with high resolution, even in worst-case conditions to allow a proper prediction of the battery’s state-of-health, state-of-charge and state-of-function. The automotive certified, in-vehicle LIN network communicates these parameters periodically or on-request.

The MM912J637 supports precise current measurement via an external shunt resistor at the negative pole of the battery and precise battery voltage measurement via a series resistor at the positive pole. The integrated temperature sensor combined with battery mounting allows accurate battery temperature measurement.

Freescale’s MM912J637 intelligent car battery sensor is available now in sample quantities, with production quantities planned for September 2011. Evaluation kits and software tools are available now.

February 28, 2011 in Batteries | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Ocean Power Technologies completes first 150 kW PowerBuoy device

Ocean Power Technologies, Inc. (OPT) has completed the first of its new generation utility-scale PowerBuoy device, the PB150. (Earlier post.) The PB150 PowerBuoy, with a peak-rated output of 150 kW, is the largest and most powerful wave power device designed by OPT to date, and is designed for use in arrays for grid-connected power generation projects.

The PowerBuoy 150. Click to enlarge.

The OPT PowerBuoys are point absorbers, with a linear generator for a power take-off system. The PB150 is 135 feet in length, and has a maximum diameter of 36 feet near the ocean surface.

The PowerBuoy 150 is currently being prepared for ocean trials at a site approximately 33 nautical miles from Invergordon, off Scotland’s northeast coast. The sea trials are expected to commence as soon as weather conditions permit. The Company is seeking additional financing for the commercial utilization of the buoy after the trial phase is completed including its possible deployment at various potential sites. A second PB150 is already under construction in the US for a proposed utility-scale project in Oregon, and the Company is involved in other planned projects in Australia, Japan and Europe that may utilize the PB150.

OPT’s PowerBuoy has a low visual profile, as most of the structure is submerged, and is designed to have a minimal environmental impact. The Company has experience with in-ocean performance of its PowerBuoys, including its PB40 system which has been operating off Oahu, Hawaii, since December 2009 and has subsequently been connected to the grid. That system was developed under a multi-year project for the US Navy and the PowerBuoy underwent an independent environmental assessment. This resulted in a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). Last year, OPT signed an agreement with 11 US federal and state agencies and three non-governmental stakeholders for the phased development of a 1.5 megawatt wave power project at Reedsport, Oregon.

February 28, 2011 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Kia Motors signs agreement with Vodafone to develop telematics opportunities in Europe

Kia Motors Corp. signed an agreement with Vodafone Global Enterprise, the business within Vodafone which manages the communications needs of its largest multinational customers, to explore business opportunities in telematics services in Europe.

Under the agreement, Kia will focus on creating new business opportunities based on automotive IT systems and Vodafone’s existing communications network in Europe. As well as collaborating on the development of new telematics services, Kia will develop new automotive IT solutions by using the telematics infrastructure to build a new customer-oriented telematics business models.

Kia is introducing its in-car communications and entertainment system, UVO powered by Microsoft, to selected models in the North American market from this year.

February 28, 2011 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

i-MiEV Goes on Sale in Costa Rica

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) has begun i-MiEV sales in Republic of Costa Rica, mainly to fleet customers such as government affiliates and electric companies. This marks the first country to start sales of i-MiEV in Latin America.

The Costa Rican government aims to be a “Carbon offset country” that emits zero CO2, by 2021. They have high hopes in using EVs as transportation tools to reduce CO2 emission, and will offer exemption of custom duty as part of the preferential treatment for EV purchasers.

Mitsubishi i-MiEV started its sales mainly to fleet customers in July of 2009, followed by the full launch in April 2010 to individual customers. After its launch in Japan, i-MiEV sequentially moved forward with its sales to Hong Kong, Australia, and most recently Europe—and also will began to sell its expanded model in the United States this fall.

February 28, 2011 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

China develops 3rd generation of automotive steel; light weight and safety

People’s Daily. The China Iron and Steel Research Institute Group (CISRI) recently held a press event in Beijing highlighting its successful development of a third generation of automotive steel, intended to significantly decrease vehicle weight and improve crash safety.

According to the group, the newly-developed material is expected to be applied commercially in 2014 in China by some automakers, including Beijing Hyundai and FAW-Volkswagen, a major passenger sedan manufacturer jointly ventured by First Automobile Works Group Corporation of China and Volkswagen AG, Audi AG and Volkswagen Automobile (China) Investment Co., Ltd.

“After the application of the third generation of automotive steel, it is more likely for drivers to survive in the accident,” said Weng Yuqing, an academician from the Chinese Academy of Engineering. Weng said at present, basically all cars in the world were made of the first generation of automotive steel. The third generation steel possesses high strength and high ductility, which he said was two times better than the first generation in terms of tensile strength and extensibility.

February 28, 2011 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

GS Caltex, JX Nippon Oil & Energy to set up JV for Li-ion anode materials

Dong-A Ilbo. GS Caltex, South Korea’s second-largest energy company, and Japan-based JX Nippon and Oil Energy (formerly Nippon Oil) will set up a joint venture to produce anode materials for lithium-ion batteries.

Under the agreement, a plant will be built in the Korean city of Gumi, North Gyeongsang Province, by the end of this year with an annual production capacity of 2,000 tons of anode materials, or 10 percent of last year’s global demand.

Korea has been completely dependent on Japanese imports for anodes.

GS Caltex is a 50:50 joint venture between GS Holdings and Chevron.

February 28, 2011 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

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