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May 2011

May 31, 2011

ALTe Powertrain establishes advisory board

ALTe Powertrain Technologies has formed an Advisory Board, which includes of some of the US’ leading corporate fleets. The board will help ALTe address important industry needs as the company prepares to deploy their range-extended electric powertrain into light and medium-size trucks, vans and buses early next year. (Earlier post.)

The Advisory Board represents delivery, utility and commercial fleet leaders, and currently consists of representatives from: Calcars, Club Assist, Consumers Energy, Cox Communication, DIRECTV, Enterprise, Film Vehicle Services, Frito Lay, NCH, PG&E, Stantec, Service Master, and Waste Management. ALTe’s initial meeting with its Advisory Board was held 23-25 May and included drives in prototype vehicles as well as extensive dialogue and Q&A sessions.

ALTe plans to showcase their technology next at the GFX Expo in San Diego, 6-8 June and is currently hiring to fill new positions that stem from their recent signing of a seven-year lease at their facility in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

ALTe is the developer of a Range Extended Electric Powertrain used to repower light commercial vehicles up to 26,000 GVW. The system will retrofit into existing fleet vehicles as well as in “glider” applications of new vehicles to increase their fuel economy and lower emissions.

Designed to replace a base V-8 internal combustion engine powertrain, the system’s patented technology improves fuel economy from 80% to 200%.

May 31, 2011 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

U. of Wisconsin RCCI combustion work progressing; modeled 53% gross indicated efficiency in a light-duty engine could result in 2x fuel savings compared to SI gasoline

(Part 2 of a series on low-temperature combustion)

In contrast to conventional diesel combustion, the highest temperature for RCCI combustion in center of chamber (adiabatic core). The high temperature in conventional diesel combustion is next to the piston bowl surface. Source: Rolf Reitz. Click to enlarge.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin Engine Research Center (ERC) led by Dr. Rolf Reitz are developing a dual-fuel compression-ignition engine low-temperature combustion (LTC) strategy called reactivity controlled compression ignition (RCCI) (Earlier post.) RCCI uses in-cylinder fuel blending with at least two fuels of different reactivity and multiple injections to control in-cylinder fuel reactivity to optimize combustion phasing, duration and magnitude. RCCI results in efficient, premixed-charge combustion with near zero levels of NOx and soot.

In a recap of RCCI efforts he presented at the SAE 2011 High Efficiency IC Engines symposium earlier this year, Reitz noted that their latest work has shown that, with only small changes in injection parameters, the efficient and low-emission combustion characteristics of a heavy-duty engine using RCCI can be adequately reproduced in a light-duty engine. The team has modeled a 53% gross indicated efficiency for the improved light-duty engine.

In a single-cylinder heavy-duty research engine fueled with gasoline and diesel, RCCI delivered near zero NOx and soot and peak gross thermal efficiency of 56%; fueling with E85 and diesel resulted in an indicated efficiency of 59%. Thermal efficiencies were about 5–7% lower in a light-duty engine, due to the increased heat transfer losses associated with smaller engines. The higher heat transfer losses in the smaller light-duty engine are associated with higher swirl, larger surface-to-volume ratio, and lower piston speed.

Comparisons of the emissions and performance showed that both [heavy- and light-duty] engines can simultaneously achieve NOx below 0.05 g/kW-hr, soot below 0.001 g/kW-hr, ringing intensity below 4 MW/m2, and gross indicated efficiencies above 50%.

However, it was found that the peak gross indicated efficiency of the baseline light-duty engine was approximately 7 per cent lower than the heavy-duty engine. The energy balances of the two engines were compared and it was found that the largest factor contributing to the lower efficiency of the light-duty engine was increased heat transfer loss.

...It was found that by reducing the swirl ratio from 2.2 to 0.7, increasing the engine speed from 1900 to 2239 rev/min, and improving the combustion chamber geometry, the heat transfer losses in the light-duty engine could be reduced by the equivalent of 2% of the fuel energy/. The modeling showed that light duty engine could achieve 53% gross indicated efficiency, while maintaining near zero NOx and soot, and an acceptable ringing intensity.

— Kokjohn et al. SAE 2011-01-0357
Improving RCCI results in a light-duty engine. Source: ROlf Reitz. Click to enlarge.

Making the optimizations in the light-duty engine improved combustion efficiency by 2.4% of the fuel energy.

In his symposium presentation, Reitz argued that RCCI offers great fuel flexibility and transient response. Proportions of low and high reactivity fuel can be changed dynamically, based on fuels used and next-cycle combustion feedback control, and the in-vehicle fuel blending reduces the need for multiple fuels at pump.

If one were to adopt RCCI in the 30% efficient SI gasoline engine, we believe that its 53% efficiency, which I picked as a number here representative of RCCI, would offer a 77% improvement in thermal efficiency, which is more than a factor of two savings in fuel.

—Rolf Reitz

Low-load conditions. In their prior work, ERC has demonstrated RCCI a mid- to high-loads. Another new study (Hanson et al.), presented at SAE 2011 World Congress, reported on RCCI operation at load of 2 and 4.5 bar gross IMEP at engine speeds between 800 and 1700 rev/min in a heavy-duty engine. (This load range was selected to cover the range from the prior work of 6 bar gIMEP down to an off-idle load at 2 bar.)

The fueling strategy used port fuel injected gasoline and early cycle direct injection of either diesel fuel or gasoline doped with 3.5% by volume 2-EHN (2-ethylhexyl nitrate).

The team found that at 4.5 bar gIMEP, it was possible to maintain 54% gross indicated thermal efficiency with NOx and PM below US EPA 2020 limits. The results also showed that it is possible to operate at a near idle load of 2 bar gIMEP with a gross indicated thermal efficiency of 49% at 1300 rev/min and 44% at 800 rev/min.

The ERC team will present a paper on injection effects in low-load RCCI combustion (SAE 2011-24-0047) at the upcoming 10th International Conference on Engines & Vehicles, September 2011, Naples, Italy.

Alternative Fuels. Another study (Splitter et al.) presented at SAE 2011 World Congress considered the effect of properties of different fuel combinations in RCCI in a heavy-duty engine: gasoline-diesel dual fuel; E85-diesel dual fuel; and single fuel gasoline-gasoline+DTBP (di-tert butyl peroxide cetane improver).

The study found high gross indicated thermal efficiencies for all three, with 59% for E85-diesel, 56% for gasoline diesel; and 57% for gasoline-gasoline+DTBP.

Gasoline-diesel operation was demonstrated at engine loads up to 14.5 bar gIMEP, and E85-diesel was shown at loads up to 16.5 bar; neither strategy was load limited by engine pressure or combustion constraints.

Although not tested at loads higher than 9.6 bar IMEPg, a cetane-improved single-fuel (gasoline) strategy was demonstrated to offer near identical combustion and emission magnitudes and trends as the gasoline-diesel strategy; suggesting that testing at higher loads would be of interest.

—Splitter et al.

The team plans further experimental and computational evaluations at higher and lower loads, with different fuels, and EGR effects.

Central common-rail and new side-mounted GDI enable dual-fuel (RCCI) capability in the optical engine. Source: Mark Musculus. Click to enlarge.

Collaboration with Sandia. ERC is collaborating with Sandia National Laboratory on several areas, including characterizing RCCI combustion using high-speed imaging diagnostics. The partners are combine planar laser-imaging diagnostics in an optical heavy-duty engine with multi-dimensional computer modeling (KIVA) to understand LTC combustion.

The dual-fuel system presents some challenges (and opportunities), noted Mark Musculus of Sandia’s Combustion Research Facility, in his presentation at the 2011 DOE Merit Review. UW and Sandia developed a new GDI side-injector system for gasoline fuels for the optical engine (in addition to the common rail) to expand its capability to dual-fuels.

The new system uses a Bosch 100 bar GDI injector mounted in place of a side window, combined with an 8-hole production Cummins XPI common rail injector (300-1,600 bar) in the cylinder head.


  • Rolf Reitz (2011a) Fuel Reactivity Controlled Compression Ignition (RCCI) - A Practical Path to High- Efficiency, Ultra-Low Emission Internal Combustion Engines (SAE 2011 High Efficiency IC Engines Symposium)

  • Rolf Reitz (2011b) Optimization of Advanced Diesel Engine Combustion Strategies. (2011 DOE Merit Review, ACE020)

  • Mark. P.B. Musculus (2011) Heavy-Duty Low-Temperature and Diesel Combustion & Heavy-DUty Combustion Modeling (2011 DOE Merit Review, ACE001)

  • Reed Hanson, Sage Kokjohn, Derek Splitter, Rolf Reitz (2011) Fuel Effects on Reactivity Controlled Compression Ignition (RCCI) Combustion at Low Load (SAE 2011-01-0361)

  • Sage Kokjohn, Reed Hanson, Derek Splitter, John Kaddatz, Rolf Reitz (2011) Fuel Reactivity Controlled Compression Ignition (RCCI) Combustion in Light- and Heavy-Duty Engines (SAE 2011-01-0357)

  • Derek Splitter, Reed Hanson, Sage Kokjohn, Rolf Reitz (2011) Reactivity Controlled Compression Ignition (RCCI) Heavy-Duty Engine Operation at Mid- and High-Loads with Conventional and Alternative Fuels (SAE 2011-01-0363)

May 31, 2011 in Emissions, Engines, Fuel Efficiency, Low Temperature Combustion | Permalink | Comments (17) | TrackBack

CPV, GE, DGC secure largest US thermal power project financing in 2011 for 800 MW gas-fired power plant; 23 banks to provide nearly $800M in credit facilities

Competitive Power Ventures, Inc. (CPV); GE Energy Financial Services; and Diamond Generating Corporation (DGC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corporation, co-owners of the planned $900-million CPV Sentinel power plant, have closed the largest project financing in the US thermal power industry this year for the facility to be built in Riverside County, Calif.

GE’s LMS100 can reach full load in 10 minutes. Click to enlarge.

The CPV Sentinel project is located near Desert Hot Springs, five miles northwest of Palm Springs. The partners announced that 23 banks—working with lead arrangers MUFG, Royal Bank of Scotland, ING, Natixis and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp.—agreed to provide credit facilities of nearly $800 million for construction and other capital needs. With almost $2 billion of commitments received from lenders, interest in the project was so high that the syndicated loan was 2.4 times oversubscribed. Additional details of the financing were not disclosed.

With all permits finalized and the debt financing in place, Gemma Power Systems California, Inc. is scheduled to start construction of the 800-megawatt (MW) project immediately, with CPV Sentinel scheduled to go into commercial operation in the summer of 2013.

Complementing GE Energy Financial Services’ backing of the plant, GE Energy signed an agreement to supply eight gas-fired LMS100 turbine-generators capable of reaching full load in 10 minutes. CPV Sentinel will help prevent blackouts during extremely hot weather by providing peak power on demand. Given CPV Sentinel’s close proximity to 600 MW of wind farms, the project also will support California in meeting its goal of generating 33% of its power from renewable sources by 2020 by facilitating the integration of wind and solar power into the electric grid. California is requiring the largest addition of renewable generation of any US state. When the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine, CPV Sentinel can backstop the lost generation.

The aero-derivative LMS100 gas turbine-generators helped CPV Sentinel meet environmental challenges and assisted in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. At the CPV Sentinel plant, the turbines are designed to operate at 43% simple-cycle efficiency, nearly 10% better than the next most efficient simple-cycle plant in California today.

The CPV Sentinel project will supply power to the Coachella Valley and Los Angeles Basin under a long-term agreement with Southern California Edison, an Edison International company, which needs additional capacity for grid reliability and renewable integration. CPV will manage the project while DGC will serve as the plant operator.

CPV, the managing member and developer, owns 25% of the project, while DGC owns 50% and GE Energy Financial Services owns 25%.

May 31, 2011 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Dow Kokam in strategic alliance with MotoCzysz for electric racing motorcycles

Li-ion technology producer Dow Kokam has entered a new strategic relationship with MotoCzysz, a design and engineering firm working exclusively on electric motors, as official supplier of Dow Kokam advanced lithium polymer batteries to power the MotoCzysz factory racing motorcycles for 2011. (Earlier post.) Additionally, MotoCzysz will build battery systems based on Dow Kokam lithium polymer battery technology for the motorsports market.

In 2010, the MotoCzysz E1pc motorcycle, powered by Dow Kokam’s advanced battery technology, won and broke records in both international and US races. The bike has been completely redesigned for 2011, with a focus on higher energy density and improved interconnects between cells in the battery system.

By working closely with the Dow Kokam team, we were able to achieve our racing goals for 2010, and are excited by the technical advances we have made with Dow Kokam for 2011. These advancements will eventually be available to other motorsports teams and will help deliver that same advantaged performance to passenger vehicle electrification as well.

— Michael Czysz, MotoCzysz CEO & Founder

Dow Kokam was established in 2009 to develop and manufacture advanced energy storage technologies for the transportation and other industries. The company is owned by The Dow Chemical Company, TK Advanced Battery LLC and Groupe Industriel Marcel Dassault.

MotoCzysz is a design and engineering firm working exclusively on D1g1tal Dr1ves MotoCzysz (electric drive systems) electric drive components, and electric vehicles, and is the inventor of the D1, a fully integrated electric drive.

May 31, 2011 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Gevo begins retrofit of first commercial-scale bio-based isobutanol plant

Gevo, Inc., a renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels company, has begun the retrofit of its ethanol facility in Luverne, Minnesota, to produce bio-based isobutanol. (Earlier post.) The retrofit, expected to be complete by next summer, will make this facility the first commercial-scale bio-based isobutanol plant, Gevo notes.

Bio-based isobutanol is a drop-in replacement for a variety of products. It can be sold in the marketplace as both a solvent chemical and a fuel blendstock, or it can be converted into four carbon building blocks called butenes, which can be used to make 40% of all petrochemicals and 100% of all hydrocarbon fuels.

Gevo acquired the Luverne, Minnesota plant, which has an isobutanol production capacity of 18 million gallons per year, from Agri-Energy LLC in September 2010.

May 31, 2011 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Torotrak CVT technology supporting Volvo Car’s flywheel KERS project

Torotrak plc confirmed that its continuously variable transmission (CVT) technology forms part of the Volvo Car Corporation’s evaluation of flywheel kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) technology, announced last week. (Earlier post.)

Volvo’s project, part-funded by the Swedish Energy Agency, is bringing together Torotrak’s variable drive technology and Flybrid Systems (UK) flywheel technology, working with SKF of Sweden and Volvo Powertrain.

We sense real momentum in the rapidly growing markets for efficiency-enhancing devices to reduce CO2 emissions. The industry needs cost-effective hybrid solutions and using a Torotrak variable drive transmission in conjunction with a mechanical flywheel has demonstrated the capability for double-digit improvements in fuel economy.

—Torotrak chief executive Dick Elsy

May 31, 2011 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ricardo to assist Lifan in development of 1.2L turbocharged DI gasoline engines for downsizing applications

Ricardo will assist Lifan Automobile Group based in Chongqing, China, with the development of a family of highly downsized gasoline engines capable of meeting future Chinese and international fuel economy and emissions regulations.

Under the new contract, which follows on collaboration between the two companies over the past five years, two new engines will be developed based on a common 1.2L capacity platform offering a competitive balance of performance, fuel economy, manufacturing cost and weight.

A mid-boost direct injection (DI) gasoline engine variant of the engine will be developed to replace current Lifan products in the 1.5L to 1.8L range of naturally aspirated engines, while a premium high-boost DI version will provide even greater levels of downsizing by replacing products of up to 2.0L capacity. Both new engines will mark a significant step forward in the realization of Lifan’s ambitions to provide globally competitive products.

Engineered to meet China Stage III fuel economy regulations they will also conform to Euro 5 emissions regulations while offering internationally competitive standards of performance and refinement.

May 31, 2011 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Volvo Trucks begins sales of heavy-duty dual-fuel FM MethaneDiesel

Engine installation D13C-gas. Click to enlarge.

Volvo Trucks is expanding its alternative fuel program with the launch of the new dual-fuel Volvo FM MethaneDiesel. This makes Volvo the first truck manufacturer in Europe to offer gas-powered regional distribution trucks that can also meet long-haul application requirements.

In 2010, Volvo Powertrain signed a 5-year supply agreement with Clean Air Power Ltd., a developer of dual-fuel technology. (Earlier post.) The new Volvo FM MethaneDiesel is offered with a 13-liter engine producing 460 hp (343 kW) and 2,300 N·m (1,696 lb-ft) of torque. The fuel consists of up to 75% liquefied natural gas (LNG) and the rest diesel, but this proportion may vary depending on how the vehicle is used.

By-pass throttle and gas injector. Click to enlarge.

Compared with conventional gas-powered engines where the fuel is ignited by spark plugs, the methane-diesel alternative offers 30 to 40% higher efficiency, with a concomitant decrease in fuel consumption of 25%. If the truck runs on biogas, emissions of carbon dioxide can be cut by up to 70% compared with a conventional diesel engine.

The Volvo FM MethaneDiesel is based on a regular diesel engine equipped with gas injectors, a cryogenic LNG tank, and a specially configured catalytic converter. The use of LNG gives the methane-diesel truck a greater operating range compared with traditional gas trucks that use spark-plug technology. The tank holds enough gas for a range of up to 500 kilometers (311 miles) in normal driving for a truck with a gross combination weight of 40 tonnes.

Volvo Trucks’ field tests (earlier post) show that methane-diesel technology offers the same high operating reliability as a regular diesel engine. Driveability is roughly the same as for a conventional diesel-powered truck. If the gas runs out, the system switches automatically to diesel power. The driver is notified via a control lamp in the instrument panel.

Series production of the Volvo FM MethaneDiesel begins in August; the model can be ordered today, although only in limited numbers. First off the mark are the Netherlands, Britain and Sweden, where the infrastructure for liquefied methane gas is best established. Plans are currently under way for building about 100 methane-diesel trucks in 2011.

By using liquefied methane gas in an efficient diesel engine, we are making it possible to use gas-powered trucks in heavier and more long-distance transport applications. We are the first truck manufacturer in Europe to do so.

If development proceeds as we hope, we expect to be selling about 400 methane-diesel trucks a year in the next couple of years. By then sales will hopefully have expanded to six or eight markets in Europe. Future sales are naturally highly dependent on expansion of liquefied gas refuelling stations for heavy commercial vehicles in Europe.

—Claes Nilsson, President of Volvo Trucks’ Europe Division

May 31, 2011 in Europe, Heavy-duty, LNG | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Renault launches the world’s biggest automotive industry solar roof project

In partnership with Gestamp Solar, Renault is launching the world’s biggest solar energy project in the automotive industry by installing solar roof panels at its French plants.

Solar panels will cover the roofs of the delivery and shipping centers at the Douai, Maubeuge, Flins, Batilly and Sandouville sites, and the staff parking lots at Maubeuge and Cléon. The panels will eventually cover a total area of 450,000 m2 (111 acres), offering an installed power capacity of 60 MW (the annual consumption of a town with a population of 15,000).

The project is part of Renault 2016 - Drive The Change, Renault’s strategic plan to reduce its carbon footprint by 10% by 2013 and by a further 10% between 2013 and 2016. By using renewable solar energy, Renault will cut CO2 emissions by 30,000 tonnes per year.

The start date for installation is mid-June 2011 and completion is scheduled for February 2012.

May 31, 2011 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

BASF entering into business of electrolytes for Li-ion batteries

BASF is entering the business of electrolytes for lithium-ion batteries (LIB) and is forming a global electrolytes team in its Intermediates division for this purpose. By adding electrolytes to its existing portfolio for the LIB industry, BASF will offer another key component for the battery technology.

BASF is one of the licensed suppliers of the Argonne National Laboratory’s (ANL) patented Nickel-Cobalt-Manganese (NCM) cathode materials, which employ a combination of lithium and manganese-rich mixed metal oxides. The license covers the broadest scope of NCM chemistry that can be used in today’s lithium-ion batteries. (Earlier post.)

In October 2010, BASF broke ground on a $50+ million facility in Elyria, Ohio to produce advanced cathode materials for automotive lithium-ion batteries. The new production facility in Elyria is being built with the help of a $24.6-million grant from the DOE under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The plant is due to come online in 2012.

Electrolytes are complex formulations that are essential for the transport of electronic charge inside batteries. High-quality electrolytes are prerequisites for improving the battery performance.

BASF says it is already developing specific formulations for high-quality electrolytes based on organic carbonates for customers in the battery and automotive industries. The first products will be commercially available by the end of this year.

By entering into electrolytes activities we are taking yet another step to support our customers’ competitiveness in the electromobility business. We will offer top-quality products and processes. We are perfectly positioned to do so thanks to our many years of experience in cooperating with the automotive industry. We also contribute our globally unmatched Research Verbund, which we are continually expanding through research cooperation projects. In the electrolytes business we intend to become a system supplier that is capable of offering tailor-made solutions to our customers.

—Dr. Andreas Kreimeyer, Member of the Board of Executive Directors and Research Executive Director of BASF

May 31, 2011 in Batteries | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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