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January 2012

January 31, 2012

Hyundai’s lifetime hybrid battery guarantee

Initially announced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this month, Hyundai’s Lifetime Hybrid Battery Replacement Guarantee applies to all US 2012 model year Sonata Hybrids and is the first-of-its-kind in the industry.

The Hyundai Lifetime Hybrid Battery Replacement Guarantee ensures that if the 2012 Sonata Hybrid lithium polymer battery fails, Hyundai will replace the battery and cover recycling costs for the old battery pack free of charge to the original owner. The coverage is not transferrable, and does not apply to lease and commercial vehicles or vehicles serviced outside the US.

Even with all the hybrid vehicle options on the market today, there is still limited demand for these vehicles because of barriers to customer adoption such as uncertainty about the technology and performance. By offering the Lifetime Battery Replacement Guarantee, Hyundai is addressing customer concerns and demonstrating our confidence in the durability of our product.

—Michael O'Brien, vice president, Corporate and Product Planning

The Hybrid Sonata, with Hyundai’s Hybrid Blue Drive technology, features a lithium polymer battery pack. The lithium polymer cells, developed with Hyundai’s partner LG Chem, use a manganese spinel chemistry that provides a balance between power delivery, energy density and thermal stability. Thermal stability is critical to ensuring durability, eliminating the need to replace the battery pack during the normal lifespan of the vehicle. The electrodes in older lithium ion chemistries expand and contract with the heating and cooling that occurs during charging and discharging. This thermal expansion causes cracks in the electrodes which ultimately reduces the cell's ability to hold a charge. Manganese spinel lithium polymer cells have much lower expansion rates and are thus able to go through tens of thousands of charge cycles even without having to use a heavier, liquid cooling system, Hyundai says.

January 31, 2012 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (20) | TrackBack

Navistar to take stake in Brazilian bus builder Neobus; to partner on fully integrated commercial buses for the Americas

Navistar, Inc. is planning to enter into a global commercial bus partnership with Brazilian commercial bus body manufacturer San Marino Onibus e Implementos Ltda (Neobus) and will invest in the company. Navistar intends to leverage the bus body building expertise of Neobus and Navistar’s strengths in powertrain and chassis development.

Our investment in Neobus, one of the most respected Brazilian bus body manufacturers, allows us to leverage our experience in building integrated buses for the US and Canada market with the bus body building expertise of Neobus. Working together, we can bring value to customers with an integrated solution for commercial bus markets in South America and North America.

—John McKinney, president Navistar Global Bus

The two companies recently signed a non-binding agreement and negotiations are at an advanced stage. Finalization and execution of the binding Definitive Agreements are expected in the near future.

San Marino Onibus e Implementos Ltda develops vehicles for passenger transportation under the Neobus brand, exporting to the Americas, Africa and Middle East. Neobus product range includes midi and feeder vehicles, heavy transit and articulated buses, as well as intercity and long-distance coaches.

Navistar International Corporation is a holding company whose subsidiaries and affiliates produce International brand commercial and military trucks, MaxxForce brand diesel engines, IC Bus brand school and commercial buses, Monaco RV brands of recreational vehicles, and Workhorse brand chassis for motor homes and step vans. The company also provides truck and diesel engine service parts. Another affiliate offers financing services.

January 31, 2012 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

New coalition to advance integration of mixed materials for automotive down-weighting

The Center for Automotive Research announced the launch of the Coalition of Automotive Lightweighting Materials (CALM) to support efforts by auto manufacturers to aggressively down-weight vehicles to improve performance, fuel economy and safety. CALM will coalesce the strengths and knowledge of the aluminum and plastics/composites industries with technology providers in design, fabrication and joining to accelerate the implementation of mixed-material solutions that will reduce vehicle mass.

Integrating advanced low-weight materials can present challenges with the design, joining, and structural validation. CALM’s purpose is to support the cost-effective integration of mixed materials to achieve significant reductions in weight through the collaborative efforts of technology providers with the auto manufacturers.

By working collaboratively with automakers, CALM aims to overcome these challenges through pre-competitive efforts that will accelerate the adoption of down-weighting technologies and the overall benefits they offer automakers and ultimately consumers.

The aluminum and plastics/composites industries are developing advanced materials to help auto makers design lighter and safer cars. Leading technology companies are also developing weight-saving solutions that include these materials along with steel for new applications. By working together we can accelerate the application of these progressive materials and solutions.

One of the first tasks for CALM will be to meet with the engineering groups at the automakers to understand their mass reduction strategies and challenges so the supplier industries can develop and apply their technology solutions with each auto company.

—Dr. Jay Baron, CAR’s President, and the Director of CALM

CALM is intended to be industry-led with CAR as the project manager. CALM is supported by The Aluminum Association’s Aluminum Transportation Group and the American Chemistry Council, which combined, represent a membership of more than 200 companies. A representative from each association will serve on CALM’s steering committee with Baron.

In addition to the material associations, individual materials and technology organizations have joined CAR in support of CALM including 3M, Altair, BASF, EWI, Material Sciences Corporation, Plastic Omnium, PPG, Shiloh Industries and Trexel. Additional organizations are expected to add their support in the weeks ahead.

CALM objectives for 2012 include:

  • Collaboration with Vehma. CAR will provide an engineer to work with Vehma in designing for mass reduction in support of the proposed US Department of Energy study. (Earlier post.) CAR will seek to identify opportunities to bring to the CALM group. The Vehma case will also provide information for the material selection methodology study.

  • Hold approximately six regular meetings with CALM participants, hosted by CAR. Some meetings may be update meetings and held via conference call. Agenda topics will include updates on lightweighting studies, policy actions involving lightweighting, and business opportunities for CALM organizations. The agenda will be reviewed with the advisory board prior to each meeting and minutes will be prepared and distributed following each meeting.

  • Several meetings (at least 3) will be scheduled with auto manufacturers and/or Tier-1 suppliers related to lightweighting strategies and opportunities. The purpose of these meetings will be to build a knowledge base for mass reduction decisions and strategies while fostering better communications with the material industries. The agenda will be directed by the host company and reviewed with the advisory board prior to meeting. Meeting minutes with summary of company mass reduction priorities will be distributed as a follow up.

  • Development of a general mass reduction decision methodology with input from automotive designers and the CALM group. The methodology is intended to broadly cover constraints that may include, for example: technology availability, reliability risk, supply chain, industry transformation costs (infrastructure), carryover technology, etc. Case study examples from industry will be sought from the auto manufacturers. A literature review will be conducted. A report describing the methodology will be produced. This document may be an ongoing working document as additional data is collected from automotive companies.

  • CALM organizations will provide input as to perceived barriers to technology implementation. CAR will survey auto manufacturers on their perceived barriers, and how to overcome them. An assessment and/or critique of mass reduction studies may be made. Presentations and/or papers will be delivered with input provided by CALM participants.

  • Special projects of interest may be developed and proposed by the advisory group ad hoc in support of the CALM mission. Deliverables will be determined as agreed upon.

  • CAR will provide support to promote the advancement of lightweighting technologies, and build awareness with industry stakeholders and policymakers of the challenges and costs associated with mass reduction. This may result in publications, meetings, presentations, seminars and/or technical fairs that involve CALM organizations.

January 31, 2012 in Fuel Efficiency, Materials, Safety, Vehicle Systems, Weight reduction | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Lux forecasts micro-hybrids to grow to 39M vehicles in 2017, creating a $6.9B battery market

Micro-hybrids will grow nearly eight-fold to 39 million vehicles in 2017 and create a $6.9 billion market for energy storage devices, according to a Lux Research report titled, “Every Last Drop: Micro- And Mild Hybrids Drive a Huge Market for Fuel-Efficient Vehicles.”

Micro-hybrids, which use a small battery to provide varying degrees of efficiency-boosting features, will dominate the automotive market, gaining 42% of the overall light-duty vehicle market, according to the report. Simultaneously, mild hybrids will rise from near-zero to 1.5 million vehicles in 2017, accounting for 1.6% of the auto market.

Micro-hybrids will take over the automotive market, while mild hybrids will leverage the excessive build-out of Li-ion capacity to grow. Micro-hybrids and, to a lesser extent, mild hybrids, provide a cost-effective solution to fuel savings to bridge the gap to more disruptive technologies like alternative fuels, plug-in vehicles, and fuel cell vehicles.

—Kevin See, Lux Research Analyst and lead author of the report

To estimate adoption rates for micro-hybrids and mild hybrids, Lux researchers factored in the adoption of other fuel-saving technologies and modeled cost impact variations, besides estimating the costs of battery replacement and maintenance for these alternative vehicles. Among their conclusions:

  • Europe will continue its leadership in the micro-hybrid market, growing over three-fold to 12.6 million units in the next five years. China will see explosive 81% annual growth to reach 8.9 million units in 2017 and the US will zoom from minuscule levels today to more than 8 million in 2017.

  • A low price premium, fuel savings of up to 10% and a relatively easier manufacturing process will propel medium micro-hybrids to the top of the alternative auto market over the next five years. These vehicles will grow at 36% CAGR to 22.2 million vehicles in 2017, driven largely by the European market and automakers like Volkswagen.

  • AGM battery technology will grow nine-fold. Absorbed glass mat (AGM), lead-acid batteries will dominate the market for storage of micro-hybrids, growing at 46% annually to nearly $4 billion in 2017. In mild hybrids, Li-ion will carve out a niche, growing from near-zero to nearly $570 million in 2017, capturing a 47% market share among plug-in vehicles.

January 31, 2012 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack

New version of CHEMKIN-PRO adds particle-size prediction capability

Reaction Design, a leading developer of combustion simulation software, has added the ability to accurately simulate particle size distributions, as well as total particulate-matter emissions, to CHEMKIN-PRO. The new particle tracking technology in CHEMKIN-PRO was derived from and inspired by the accomplishments of the Model Fuels Consortium (MFC). (Earlier post.)

The ability to predict particle sizes and track their progress from formation through agglomeration and reduction in a reacting gas is of significant benefit in many applications. Understanding particle size distributions is important in developing strategies to address soot concerns in automotive and industrial applications, and can be a key factor in the design of many chemical processes.

—Bernie Rosenthal, CEO of Reaction Design

The latest version of CHEMKIN-PRO is equipped with new particle-tracking options that provide the ability to directly predict the particle size distribution and total mass emission of soot and other particulates. The inception, growth and oxidation of soot particles, for example, can be directly simulated in CHEMKIN-PRO. Other particle systems, such as carbon black, alumina or titanium oxide, can also be simulated, enabling optimization of production processes.

New and updated features include:

  • Sectional model provides direct prediction of size distributions by dividing the particles into a finite number of size-based sections or “bins” and then tracking the population in each bin as particles grow or shrink due to kinetics and coagulation. The model uses a discretized population balance and avoids excessive computational requirements compared to other particle-size prediction methods.

  • Particle aggregation model for soot agglomeration as well as for industrial processes, such as production of titania (TiO2). The majority of particles generated by industrial processes are aggregates of primary particles. The aggregation model allows tracking the degree of aggregation in addition to the primary particle size.

  • Particle radiation heat-transfer model in flames enables accurate prediction of the flame temperature when particles are present. Radiation heat transfer between the gas, particles and surroundings can have a significant effect.

  • In addition to particle radiation, certain gas-phase species also radiate to the surroundings. This new model better accounts for these heat-loss effects, which can be especially important for high-pressure flames.

  • Much faster sensitivity analysis in 0-D closed, homogeneous reactors with more than 10X speed improvement.

January 31, 2012 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Borla Performance Industries developing muffler/membrane unit for exhaust water extraction with ORNL nanopore membrane technology

Borla Performance Industries, a leader in the design and manufacture of stainless steel performance exhaust, has an option to license a novel nanopore membrane technology developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Borla will combine this with its diesel exhaust technology to create a low-cost, novel system that doubles as a device to extract potable water from diesel and other internal combustion exhaust. Borla is participating in the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) “America’s Next Top Energy Innovator Challenge” with this development.

The researchers at ORNL developed the membrane technology for applications such as gas separation, water purification, energy and water recovery from industrial process streams, and solid oxide fuel cells. For the recovery of previously wasted energy from relatively low temperature (<100°C) exhaust/effluent streams, the process envisioned involved removing moisture from the exhaust streams and recovering the latent heat when water condenses in the membrane.

The heat recovered could serve to preheat boiler feed water, thus providing an energy savings. The membranes have also shown effectiveness in using molecular sieving to separate hydrogen from coal-derived synthesis gas and from refinery gases.

As gases and effluent are transported via molecular diffusion, the nanopore membranes separate constituents from the flow by Knudsen diffusion, molecular sieving, capillary condensation, surface flow, or a combination of these transport mechanisms.

The inorganic membrane developed by the researchers at ORNL features pore diameters as small as 0.5 nm to 20,000 nm; the support structure and layer for the membrane can be made of a variety of metals and ceramics. For example, porous metal layers applied to tubular porous stainless steel supports yield filters with pore sizes from 0.05 to 1 μm. The mechanical, thermal, and chemical stability can be tailored by a choice of materials.

The key to the design is permeance and separation factors, ORNL notes—a balance between the volumetric flow rate per unit surface, per unit of transmembrane pressure, and the ratio of flow of two gases in a binary gas mix.

In the exhaust system, water condenses by capillary action,—as opposed to thermodynamic condensation that cools the air to produce water—in the pores.

This water is constantly drawn off from the outside of the tube, allowing more water to be condensed from the exhaust passing through the center of the tube at a given temperature. Capturing water vapor via this continual displacement method leads to an approximate 100-fold reduction in contaminants, Borla says. The contact time between water-soluble gases such as nitrogen dioxide and the condensed water is eliminated.

This water reclamation system is energy neutral and designed to simplify water management operations. It permits a greater quantity of water to be removed at a given temperature compared to traditional direct condensation methods. It also limits water-gas contact time, reducing dissolution of gas-phase contaminates present in diesel exhaust and further enhancing this method’s use in obtaining high-purity water fit for human consumption.

Borla’s muffler/membrane reclamation unit could be installed on troop vehicles as part of the exhaust system will generate water at the point of use. A Humvee, which has about a 25-gallon fuel tank, could provide enough water for roughly three soldiers per tank of fuel burned.

Besides reclaiming drinkable water from fuel to hydrate combat troops, the military could also benefit from Borla’s device for any power plant platform. Borla plans to commercialize the device to a wide scope of potential military and commercial target markets including transport and stationary power plants such as generators, water pumps as well as marine, cars and trucks.


January 31, 2012 in Emissions, Materials, Water | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

BRUSA and Swiss Forum for Electric Mobility launching sponsorship award

BRUSA Elektronik AG together with the Swiss Forum for Electric Mobility is launching an international sponsorship award for outstanding projects in the field of electric mobility. The award is dedicated to the late Arno Mathoy, an innovator of modern electric mobility development and the Chief Technical Officer at BRUSA Elektronik AG for more than 20 years.

The award will be officially announced at the 3rd Congress of the Swiss Forum for Electric Mobility which takes place 7-8 February 2012. The Award will be given for the first time in 2013 to young scientists and start-up enterprises that develop projects and business ideas that are expected to have a high multiplication factor. These projects can serve a broad area including education or technological innovation. The official call for proposals will be published in the course of this year.

Born in Austria in 1963, Arno Mathoy moved after his years at university to Switzerland, where as the CTO of BRUSA he took an active role in providing the technological foundations for the recent progress in electric car manufacturing across Europe. On 30 December 2011, Arno Mathoy died unexpectedly due to a cardiac-arrest during one of his ski trips.

In honor of his work and life, BRUSA, with the support of some key Swiss players in electric mobility has now established the Swiss Electric Mobility Award. The following organizations have confirmed their support so far: Protoscar, the Touring Club Switzerland, the Swiss Mobility Academy as well as BRUSA itself.

January 31, 2012 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

A4A, Boeing recommend steps to accelerate commercial viability of aviation biofuels

Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading US airlines, and Boeing released several recommendations to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to accelerate the commercial viability and deployment of aviation biofuels. The recommendations were announced in conjunction with the publication of the working-draft Farm to Fly initiative report, Agriculture and Aviation: Partners in Prosperity: Putting Aviation at the Forefront of the President’s Biofuels Targets” issued by the USDA, A4A and Boeing.

In July 2010, USDA, Air Transport Association of America, Inc. (ATA) (since renamed “Airlines for America” or “A4A”), and Boeing signed a resolution formalizing their commitment to work together on the “Farm To Fly” initiative to “accelerate the availability of a commercially viable and sustainable aviation biofuel industry in the United States, increase domestic energy security, establish regional supply chains, and support rural development.”

The main report identifies the opportunities and advances in meeting the Farm To Fly objectives and summarizes relevant USDA programs. Although the content of Part II was informed by discussions among the entire team, A4A and Boeing developed the recommendations that make up the body of Part II.

The Farm to Fly initiative builds on and expands the work of the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI), of which A4A is a co-founding and co-leading member, to hasten the availability of commercially viable, environmentally preferred alternative jet fuels.

Steps recommended by A4A and Boeing are:

  1. Ensure would-be aviation biofuel suppliers and aviation biofuel users have meaningful access to existing programs.

  2. Implement, maintain and augment programs in the 2008 farm bill and employ them to support aviation biofuel.

  3. Leverage US Government resources to support promising aviation biofuel deployment projects.

January 31, 2012 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Novozymes and Sea6Energy collaborating on the conversion of seaweed to sugars for production of fuels and chemicals

Novozymes and India-based Sea6Energy have entered an exploratory research agreement jointly to develop a process for the production of biofuels from seaweed. The research alliance will use enzymes to convert seaweed-based carbohydrates to sugar, which can then be fermented to produce ethanol for fuel, fine chemicals, proteins for food, and fertilizers for plants.

Novozymes will research, develop, and manufacture enzymes for the conversion process, while Sea6 Energy contributes its offshore seaweed cultivation technology.

Seaweed is a natural complement to our efforts to convert other types of biomass to fuel ethanol. More than half of the dry mass in seaweed is sugar, and the potential is therefore significant.

—Per Falholt, Executive Vice President and CSO of Novozymes

Earlier this month, a team of scientists from Bio Architecture Lab (BAL) in Berkeley, California reported engineering a strain of Eschericia coli to break down and then to ferment alginate—one of the most abundant sugars in brown seaweed, but a sugar that industrial microbes can’t metabolize—into ethanol. Their paper was featured on the cover of the 20 January issue of the journal Science. (Earlier post.)

Seaweed—macroalgae—is one of the world’s fastest growing plants. It does not require irrigation or fertilizers, or take up arable land. Seaweed cultivation is an ancient practice traditionally carried out using long ropes and bamboo rafts. Seaweed can be produced at many locations in the world, but the warm sea conditions, abundant sunlight, and the possibility for several harvest cycles through the year make the waters around India particularly suitable, Novozymes said.

Sea6 Energy has already developed ocean-farming structures that are robust and versatile compared to traditional methods of seaweed cultivation. Focusing first on the geographical constraints of shallow calm seas, required by conventional seaweed farming, Sea6 Energy utilizes proprietary structures for creation of a low-cost seaweed farms on the ocean surface. The structures would allow seaweed to be cultivated in rougher waters, the company says, where it could not be done earlier, potentially opening up vast stretches along coastlines for farming and giving rise to more employment opportunities to rural communities.

In addition, Sea6 Energy is also pioneering approaches to fermenting the sugars derived from seaweed to produce fuel in a manner that requires minimal use of fresh water resources.

Sea6 Energy is currently trialing its cultivation technology in partnership with a few fishing communities around the coastal areas of South India. Novozymes’ Indian arm will work closely with Sea6 Energy to develop the conversion technology.

Sea6 Energy was started by a group of graduates and researchers from IIT Madras.

January 31, 2012 in Biomass, Fuels | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Honda targeting resumption of production in Thailand by end of March 2012

Honda Automobile (Thailand) Co., Ltd. (HATC), the Honda automobile production subsidiary in Thailand, which experienced damage from the major flooding in the country last year, reports that it expects to resume production by the end of March 2012.

HATC said it is making progress in restoring plant facilities and manufacturing equipment since completing the drainage of the flood water and cleaning of the plant facilities which began at the end of November 2011.

Honda’s production operations in the neighboring Asian counties, which suspended or made production adjustments due to the disruption in parts supply from Thailand, have begun resuming production. The production is expected to be normalized at all production operations by April.

Honda plans to take some additional flood control measures including conducting stationary measurement of water levels and working together with Rojana Industrial Park to build water protection walls around the plant. Honda will also make requests to Thai governments and the industrial park as needed to prevent the risk of flooding in the future. In addition, Honda said it will address the issues related to its supply chain, which became evident in the face of this disaster, and work together with suppliers to strive to avoid such risks in the future.

January 31, 2012 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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