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February 2012

February 29, 2012

GM and PSA Peugeot Citroën enter long-term strategic alliance; considering new common platform for low-emission vehicles

General Motors and PSA Peugeot Citroën are forming a long-term and broad-scale global strategic alliance intended to leverage the combined strengths and capabilities of the two companies; contribute to the profitability of both partners; and strongly improve their competitiveness in Europe.

The alliance is structured around two main pillars: the sharing of vehicle platforms, components and modules; and the creation of a global purchasing joint venture for the sourcing of commodities, components and other goods and services from suppliers with combined annual purchasing volumes of approximately $125 billion. Initially, GM and PSA Peugeot Citroën intend to focus on small and midsize passenger cars, MPVs and crossovers. The companies will also consider developing a new common platform for low-emission vehicles. The first vehicle on a common platform is expected to launch by 2016.

Each company will continue to market and sell its vehicles independently and on a competitive basis. Beyond these pillars, the alliance creates a flexible foundation that allows the companies to pursue other areas of cooperation.

In connection with the alliance, PSA Peugeot Citroën is expected to raise approximately €1 billion (US$1.34 billion) through a capital increase with preferential subscription rights for shareholders of PSA Peugeot Citroën, underwritten by a syndicate of banks and including an investment from the Peugeot Family Group, as a sign of its confidence in the success of the alliance. As part of the agreement, which includes no specific provision regarding the governance of PSA Peugeot Citroën, GM plans to acquire a 7% equity stake in PSA Peugeot Citroën, making it the second-largest shareholder behind the Peugeot Family Group.

The alliance synergies, in addition to our independent plans, position GM for long-term sustainable profitability in Europe.

—Dan Akerson, GM chairman and CEO

This alliance is a tremendously exciting moment for both groups and this partnership is rich in its development potential. With the strong support of our historical shareholder and the arrival of a new and prestigious shareholder, the whole group is mobilized to reap the full benefit of this agreement.

—Philippe Varin, chairman of the managing board of PSA Peugeot Citroën

Under the terms of the agreement, GM and PSA Peugeot Citroën will share selected platforms, modules and components on a worldwide basis in order to achieve cost savings, gain efficiencies, leverage volumes and advanced technologies and reduce emissions. Sharing of platforms not only enables global applications, it also permits both companies to execute Europe-specific programs with scale and in a cost-effective manner.

This alliance enhances but does not replace either company’s ongoing independent efforts to return their European operations to sustainable profitability.

The purchasing cooperation defined in the agreement allows the companies to act as one global purchasing organization when it comes to sourcing commodities, components and services from suppliers, taking full advantage of the joint expertise, volume, platforms and standardized parts. Combining GM’s robust global processes and organizational structure with best practices from PSA Peugeot Citroën will bring significant value and efficiencies to the purchasing operations at both companies, the new partners said.

Additionally, the alliance is exploring areas for further cooperation, such as integrated logistics and transportation. To this end, GM intends to establish a strategic, commercial cooperation with Gefco, an integrated logistics services company and subsidiary of PSA Peugeot Citroën, whereby Gefco would provide logistics services to GM in Europe and Russia.

The total synergies expected from the alliance are estimated at approximately US$2 billion annually within about five years. The synergies will largely coincide with new vehicle programs, with limited benefit expected in the first two years.  It is expected the synergies will be shared about evenly between the two companies.

The alliance will be supervised by a global steering committee that includes an equal number of senior leader representatives from each company. Its implementation is subject to requisite regulatory approvals in certain jurisdictions as well as notification to the appropriate workers councils.

February 29, 2012 in Vehicle Manufacturers | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Sapphire Energy licensing Earthrise Nutrionals’ spirulina for high-yield green crude production

Algae-based crude oil producer Sapphire Energy, Inc., has entered into a licensing agreement with Earthrise Nutritionals LLC, a producer of spirulina and spirulina-based products for more than 25 years. Sapphire Energy will integrate Earthrise Nutritionals’ spirulina strain into its growing inventory of cyanobacteria and algae strains for algae-to-energy production.

As a result of this agreement, Sapphire Energy will improve its operational efficiency by expanding the range of strain choices available for producing Sapphire Energy’s Green Crude—a drop-in replacement for petroleum-based crude oil—that can be refined into diesel, jet fuel, and gasoline.

Until now, spirulina has been used primarily for making nutraceuticals, such as dietary supplements, and food products. Sapphire Energy says that its proprietary processing technology is able to utilize spirulina for green crude production for the first time, due to its methods for processing different strains of algae and cyanobacteria that result in significantly higher oil yields than previously achievable. Adding Earthrise’s prokaryotic strain (cyanobacteria) to Sapphire’s own inventory of prokaryotic and eukaryotic (green algae) strains will enable Sapphire to produce fuel more efficiently at its Integrated Algal BioRefinery (IABR), now under construction in New Mexico.

February 29, 2012 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Microfluidic chips for bitumen-gas analysis could support CO2 injection for bitumen extraction

A University of Toronto research team has developed a process to analyze the behavior of bitumen in reservoirs using a microfluidic chip, a tool commonly associated with the field of medical diagnostics. The process may reduce the cost and time of analyzing bitumen-gas interaction in heavy oil and bitumen reservoirs.

Dr. David Sinton, Professor with the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University of Toronto, and postdoctoral researcher Dr. Hossein Fadaei are using the chips to examine the way highly pressurized CO2 behaves when injected into bitumen. The new method, reported in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels, could streamline the way fossil energy companies measure the diffusion of gases in heavier oils like bitumen.

The project was funded in part by Carbon Management Canada, a national Networks of Centres of Excellence funding research to reduce CO2 emissions in the fossil energy industry and other large-scale emitters.

Bitumen and heavy oil are difficult to extract from reservoirs because they are thick and do not flow easily. There are several methods of extraction, one of which uses CO2-rich gas injections which helps liquify the bitumen for easier extraction. This process can supplement the steam-injection method which requires heavy inputs of energy and water, and it presents opportunities for sequestration of CO2 in the reservoir.

But, says Sinton, before companies pump CO2 into reservoirs they need to first determine how the CO2 and oil will behave under specific pressures and in specific rock formations. Conventional methods of analysis are conducted using about .5 L of bitumen and a process that can take hours or even days for a single test result.

Sinton and his colleagues use a small glass microchip to replicate a pore within a rock reservoir. The channels in the pore are 50 microns wide. The device is initially filled with CO2 at low pressure and a small sample of bitumen is injected into the center of the chip. High pressure CO2 is then injected at both ends of the chip and the swelling of the oil is measured over time.

The method developed by Sinton shows potential as a rapid, reliable approach that could be used by both researchers and the oil and gas industry. And because it uses such small samples, the method could also be employed using hazardous solvents.

Next steps involve studying many types of oil or combinations of diffusion gases at one time in one chip; expanding temperature and pressure ranges of tests to match the variety of conditions found down-hole and in bitumen processing, and adapting the method to work with less viscous oils and other fluids such as brine. Diffusion of CO2 into brine at high pressures is of particular interest for carbon sequestration applications.

Sinton is actively looking for industry partners.


  • Hossein Fadaei, Brent Scarff, and David Sinton (2011) Rapid Microfluidics-Based Measurement of CO2 Diffusivity in Bitumen. Energy & Fuels 25 (10), 4829-4835 doi: 10.1021/ef2009265

February 29, 2012 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Larry Burns: Holistic approach required to achieve transformational change of transportation and the automobile; the power of “And”

Larry Burns, former head of GM R&D and strategic planning and currently Professor of Engineering Practice at the University of Michigan and Director, Sustainable Mobility at the Earth Institute, Columbia University, used his presentation at the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit (EIS) in Washington to call for a holistic approach to the transformational change required for the transportation sector in general and the automobile in particular.

He also called the propensity to “sit around debating” which drive technology or energy source is better than all the rest as “premature and presumptuous”. Stressing the power of “and” rather than “or”, he asserted that:

The automobile is unsustainable without transformational change. There is a transformation opportunity surfacing. When we take the new DNA—electric drive, diverse energy sources, self-driving and driverless, connected and coordinated, vehicles with a specific purpose—we can put them all together to rethink the entire system.

—Larry Burns

Burns’ talk came one day after Bill Ford’s keynote at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, in which he outlined a plan for connected cars to help avoid a potentially unsustainable future of what he called “global gridlock—a never-ending traffic jam that wastes time, energy and resources.” (Earlier post.)

One thing missing this morning was a discussion of the consumer. The only solutions that will scale will be the ones that people want. The consumer value has to be greater than the market price.
—Larry Burns

Propulsion technologies will exist on a continuum ranging from 100% mechanical power (ICE) to mechanical with electrical assist; electrical with mechanical assist; and 100% electrical. All are important, all will play a role, he said.

As an exploration of an approach, he focused on the role of natural gas (which had received some high-level attention in the morning plenary sessions at the EIS) as well as reducing oil imports from OPEC nations (which had also received some high-level EIS attention). Burning compressed natural gas in vehicle offers little efficiency and CO2 advantages versus gasoline vehicles, he noted. Using natural gas to generate electricity and/or hydrogen results in nearly twice the distance with half as much CO2, he said.

When we look at it from a well-to-wheels perspective, it suggests that if we burn it, there is less benefit. All three [uses] are important. But when we look out into the future, if we get myopic about just compressing and burning, we will use it up twice as fast as we should.

—Larry Burns

Hypothetically, it would take 5.9 quadrillion Btu (quads) of natural gas in 2025 for the US to get off of OPEC oil for transportation, Burns said—an amount that is 22% more than current production. However, it would take 3.3 quads with battery electric and fuel cell vehicles—about 12% more.

From another perspective, to achieve the target of ridding the country of the need for OPEC oil would require some 80 million vehicles (CNG, battery-electric and fuel cell vehicles) by 2025—representing some 30% of the fleet in 2025, or 40% of cumulative new vehicle sales from 2013-2025. As a point of comparison, the California ARB ZEV regulation is mandating 15% compliant new production by 2025.

What if this natural gas is used in an integrated energy system in concert with renewable energy? Natural gas may be the best thing for renewables—it can deal with the intermittency problem. We can further position to get the US off OPEC oil through the power of “and”.

—Larry Burns

Burns also highlighted the future role of driverless, coordinated vehicles and the potential for a “mobility internet” that could manage each individual vehicle along is own space/time path through the city. Burns referenced GM’s ENV concept (earlier post) which, he said, is 15 times more efficient than an auto and uses 1/10 as many parts.

Burns recommended positioning the US to be a world leader in self-driving, driverless vehicles, and to get the mobility internet up and running.

The energy challenge is not due to a lack of resources or knowledge; the challenge is due to a lack of integrated systems. By combining abundant fossil and renewable energy with a broad portfolio of promising technology, we can excite consumers and reward investors. The power of “and” results from holistic thinking and acting. This will require innovative system design, proactive risk management and strong leadership.

The power of “and” promises a better mobility experience for people and goods at radically lower consumer and societal costs.

—Larry Burns

February 29, 2012 in Electric (Battery), Engines, Fuel Cells, Hybrids, Natural Gas, Sustainability | Permalink | Comments (35) | TrackBack

Shanghai to spend $1.63B over next 3 years to target air pollution, especially PM2.5

Shanghai Daily. The city of Shanghai, China will spend 10.3 billion yuan (US$1.63 billion) on 53 projects targeting air pollution, especially for PM2.5 control, over the next three years. The city will begin publicly reporting PM2.5 in June.

Exhaust from motor vehicles and boats account for 25% of the PM2.5, according to the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau said yesterday. Another major contributor is the spreading of sandstorms from northern China, which account for 20% of Shanghai’s PM2.5 measurement.

According to the plan, local government will eliminate high-polluting vehicles and control discharges from key industrial plants to reduce PM2.5, which pose major health risks in addition to affecting air quality and visibility.

Currently, there are over 200,000 high-polluting vehicles on local roads. Their exhaust discharge is 20 to 30 times that of new cars. Shanghai will expand the areas banning these high-polluting vehicles and eliminate 150,000 of them by 2014. It will also adopt a stricter National V emission standard, equivalent to European V, on new cars, as well as require cleaner fuel, next year.

February 29, 2012 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Hybrid-electric off-road car powered by EVO Axial Flux technology first electric-drive vehicle to complete Dakar Rally

A vehicle powered by EVO Electric Ltd.’s advanced Axial Flux motor and generator technology completed the Dakar Rally, held this year in South America. The EVO-powered OSCar eO, designed, built and operated by the Latvian company OSC, is the first electric-drive car to complete the rally. (Earlier post.)

Only 78 out of 161 starting cars were able to complete the 8400 km (5,220 mile) Dakar Rally journey in the car category. The OSCar eO reported no significant mechanical or electrical problems.

The OSCar eO is powered by a high-torque EVO AF240 traction motor, producing 440 N·m (295 lb-ft) nominal torque (800 N·m, 590 lb-ft peak) and 150 kW (201 hp) nominal power (335 kW, 449 hp peak), through a six speed gear box. All the electrical power used during the rally was supplied by a 60 kW on-board range extender featuring an EVO AF140 generator.

The award-winning Axial Flux design underpinning both the traction motor and generator was developed by Dr. Michael Lamperth, CTO and founder of EVO Electric, and previously Lecturer at Imperial College London.

EVO is backed by Imperial Innovations Group plc and by GKN, a leading supplier of automotive driveline components and systems.

February 29, 2012 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

New real-time measurements suggest that black carbon emissions from light-duty gasoline vehicles are significantly underestimated

Average measured mixed fleet, HDDV, and reconstructed LDGV fuel-based BC emission factors (mixed fleet, left; HDDV, center; reconstructed LDGV, right,) compared with recent literature (reported means values), and the MOBILE 6.2C derived emission factors. Credit: ACS, Liggio et al. Click to enlarge.

A study by researchers from Environment Canada making real-time measurements of black carbon (BC) using two laser-induced incandescence techniques has found that BC emission factors from light-duty gasoline vehicles are at least a factor of 2 higher than previous North American measurements, and a factor of 9 higher than currently used emission inventories in Canada, which are derived with the MOBILE 6.2C model. Their study appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Fleet-average, fuel-based emission factors measured with the incandescence techniques have not been previously reported, the authors said. These measurements have higher sensitivity and time resolution compared to traditional BC measurement techniques, resulting in improved BC concentration measurements on and near a typical North American highway.

The team made measurements of black carbon (BC) with a high-sensitivity laser-induced incandescence (HS-LII) instrument and a single particle soot photometer (SP2); measurements were conducted upwind, downwind, and while driving on a highway dominated by gasoline vehicles. They used the results with concurrent CO2 measurements to derive fuel-based BC emission factors for real-world average fleet and heavy-duty diesel vehicles separately.

Unlike the results for gasoline vehicles, the measured BC emission factor for heavy-duty diesel vehicles was in reasonable agreement with previous measurements. This suggests, the team concluded, that greater attention needs to be paid to black carbon from gasoline engines to obtain a full understanding of the impact of black carbon on air quality and climate and to devise appropriate mitigation strategies.

Black carbon—combustion particles consisting primarily of solid soot cores—can have a large impact on visibility, has been linked to adverse human health outcomes, and contributes to poor air quality, such as in higher PM2.5 levels. BC also contributes to positive radiative forcing in the atmosphere through absorption of radiation, but can contribute to indirect negative radiative forcing through the seeding of clouds. Some have suggested that reducing BC emissions via reductions in BC number concentration will result in a decrease in global cloud radiative forcing. Other evidence also suggests that BC deposition in the Arctic is partly responsible for arctic climate change, the authors note.

To accurately assess the BC impacts on global atmospheric radiative energy balance, human health, and air quality, high-quality measurements of BC emissions, particularly from anthropogenic sources, have become critically important.

Much of the anthropogenic BC mass emissions have been attributed to diesel vehicles, particularly heavy-duty diesel vehicles (HDDV). Studies have shown that emissions of BC from diesel vehicles account for a large fraction of emitted BC in urban areas. In contrast, published BC emission factors for light-duty gasoline vehicles (LDGV), derived from near roadway/tunnel sites or chassis-dynamometer studies, indicate LDGV to be relatively minor sources of BC. However, the relative importance of BC emissions by these vehicle types can change, mainly due to changes in BC emission control technologies and fuels.

...As BC emissions from HDDVs and light-duty diesel vehicles (LDDV) are reduced through stricter emission controls, the relative importance of gasoline BC emissions can be expected to increase. Consequently, small uncertainties with respect to measured LDGV emission factors will have a greater potential to significantly impact total vehicular BC emission estimates. The advent of new technologies capable of definitive and ultra low level measurements of BC can help to further constrain BC emission factors from gasoline vehicles.

—Liggio et al.

The team measured BC and other pollutants at stationary ground sites and from a mobile laboratory between 16 August and 17 September 2010. Black carbon measurements were performed onboard the mobile laboratory with a modified high-sensitivity laser-induced incandescence (HS-LII) instrument and a single-particle soot photometer (SP2); both real-time instruments are based on the principle of laser-induced incandescence.

  • In HS-LII, the sample volume is exposed to a pulsed laser beam resulting in rapid heating to just below the soot sublimation temperature (approximately 4000 K). The absolute incandescence intensity from the BC particles is measured using collection optics and photomultipliers. Using an appropriate calibration and analysis of the absolute incandescence signal, information on the soot volume fraction is obtained without the need for a source of soot particles of known concentration.

    To convert to a concentration, the required BC particle dependent parameters are the absorption function, E(m), and the particle material density. In contrast to the SP2, this instrument does not measure single BC particles, but rather determines the ensemble properties for all particles in the measurement volume at the time of the laser pulse. As a result, there are no BC particle size constraints, provided that sufficient total mass is present in the detection volume. This method has been used to measure laboratory generated BC particles smaller than 7 nm.

  • Particles sampled by the SP2 are irradiated with a continuous laser (1064 nm) resulting in BC incandescence which was monitored in the visible band (λ = 300−550 nm). The BC mass for each particle was estimated from the incandescence peak intensity. The SP2 is able to detect single particles with effective diameter greater than about 90 nm with approximately 100% transmission efficiency. An experimentally determined transmission efficiency correction was applied to the data to account for non-unity transmission of particles between 70 and 90 nm.

The present results also have implications for BC measurements, modeling, and emission regulations...The gap between BC mass emissions of HDDV and LDGV is likely to shrink further as regulations for HDDV continue to take effect and alternate technologies for fuel delivery in gasoline vehicles (i.e., gasoline direct injection; GDI) become more popular. BC emissions from GDI engines have been observed to be significantly higher than those from conventional engines. The present results suggest that further dynamometer and on-road measurements of BC from gasoline vehicles are required in order to corroborate our findings and to improve emissions inventories in support of modeling, national and international policies, and estimates of impacts on health, the environment, and climate.

—Liggio et al.


  • John Liggio, Mark Gordon, Gregory Smallwood, Shao-Meng Li, Craig Stroud, Ralf Staebler, Gang Lu, Patrick Lee, Brett Taylor, and Jeffrey R. Brook (2012) Are Emissions of Black Carbon from Gasoline Vehicles Underestimated? Insights from Near and On-Road Measurements. Environmental Science & Technology doi: 10.1021/es2033845

February 29, 2012 in Emissions | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Daimler Trucks North America’s complete MY 2013 medium- and heavy-duty vehicle lineup certified GHG14-compliant

Daimler subsidiary Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) has been certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as fully compliant with the new “Greenhouse Gas 2014” (GHG14) regulation (earlier post) for its complete product portfolio of model year 2013 long-distance haulage, medium-duty, construction and municipal vehicles.

DTNA achieved compliance ahead of the mandate for certification by the EPA and the Department of Transportation’s Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) program to reduce heavy- and medium-duty truck greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The regulations begin with model year 2014 and increase in stringency through model year 2018.

The joint DOT/EPA program includes a range of targets which are specific to the diverse vehicle types and purposes. Vehicles are divided into three major categories:

  • combination tractors (semi-trucks);
  • heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans; and
  • vocational vehicles such as transit buses and refuse trucks.

The program provides incentives for early introduction of GHG-reducing technologies and advanced technologies including EVs and hybrids, and provides manufacturer flexibilities including averaging, bBanking and trading, among other provisions.

EPA sets separate standards for CO2, N2O, CH4 and HFCs. NHTSA sets complementary fuel consumption standards. The joint standards cover not only engines but also complete vehicles, allowing the agencies to achieve the greatest possible reductions in fuel consumption and GHG emissions, while avoiding unintended consequences.

Under the new GHG14 regulations, trucks and buses built in 2014 through 2018 are projected to reduce oil consumption by 530 million barrels and greenhouse gas emissions by 270 million metric tons.

Early compliance with GHG14 regulations underlines our strategic direction. We want to set the standard in fuel efficiency and reduced emissions.

—Martin Daum, president and CEO, DTNA

The regulation increases fuel savings, reduces GHG emissions and provides regulatory certainty for manufacturers. GHG 14 does not replace the EPA 10 emission standard (valid since January 2010 and comparable to the Euro 6 standard) that is currently in effect in the NAFTA region because EPA 10 addresses and regulates the traditional exhaust pollutant issues (particles, nitrogen oxide).

The agencies developed these rules in collaboration based on relevant laws applicable to their respective jurisdictions: EPA determined the limits for greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, and NHTSA included the fuel efficiency standard as a part of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA).

DTNA says that among its line-up, the heavy-duty flagship truck Freightliner Cascadia stands out by offering maximum fuel efficiency and excellent aerodynamics. The Cascadia is also the industry leader in total cost of ownership. It features Daimler BlueTec emissions technologies and Detroit brand DD-engines.

Daimler Trucks North America LLC, is headquartered in Portland, OR and produces and markets Class 4-8 vehicles under the Freightliner, Western Star and Thomas Built Buses nameplates. Daimler Trucks North America is a Daimler company.


February 29, 2012 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Update on ALTe; EREV powertrain company tracking for production-caliber units by December, production ramp in 1Q 2013

Extended range electric vehicle powertrain company ALTe (earlier post) is tracking to produce a limited number of production-caliber vehicle powertrains by December, and plans to ramp up production in the first quarter of 2013, said CEO John Thomas in a recent interview with Green Car Congress. ALTe is targeting fleet vehicles such as delivery trucks, vans and shuttle buses and even potentially taxis and limos, in the light- to medium-duty vehicle classes—initially as conversions, but ultimately extending to an OEM basis.

The first wave of F-150 production-ready prototype extended range electric vehicles is soon due to be delivered to Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) to kick-off a pilot study in the PG&E fleet. (Earlier post.) Specs for the powertrain in the F-150 include a 2.0L, 4-cylinder naturally aspirated gasoline engine powering an 82 kW (peak) Remy DC generator. Two 82 kW (peak) Remy DC drive motors running at 320V deliver 400 N·m (295 lb-ft) max torque, with a 21.6 kWh Li-ion pack from A123 Systems.

Another fleet testing deal using a different vehicle than the F150 is due to begin in mid-March, Thomas said.

The projected roll-out is delayed from earlier projections as a function of funding, Thomas noted, adding that the company is transitioning from angel funding to being on the brink of closing a major series round, related to activity in the US and in China. The company has already secured two customers in China, Thomas said.

One of the interesting aspects of the China market for ALTe is that the powertrain it made for the F150 and the E350 type vehicles being launched now into pilot studies in the US will be perfectly adequate for even heavier vehicles in China. The roads are so congested, Thomas said, the need for high acceleration and top speed doesn’t exist.

In the US, we might have been criticized for being slow to market, but we’ve been slugging it out hour by hour, code by code to make it reliable. Now we are putting product on the street that reflects that, and that has been complemented by the fleet customers.

—John Thomas

ALTe earlier established a Fleet Advisory Board (FAB) composed of fleet directors/managers from leading fleets in North America. The FAB provides feedback to ALTe regarding product, specifications, installation process, overall business model, and so on.

ALTe is in long-term supply agreements with battery maker A123 Systems and electric motor supplier Remy. The company also has a deal with an as-yet unannounced major OE for the supply of its engines, and is working on a parallel engine supply deal for Asia. As it has refined the system, and moved closer to certification, it has maintained the same basic system specs (e.g., pack, motors, power), but has improved the systems surrounding the main systems to deliver higher efficiencies at lower cost, Thomas said.

At a high level, we are the integrator, and we optimize systems, and we drive affordable solutions through what we think will be significant volumes. However, our reach goes beyond that.

Through the three years we have been doing this, we have found that there is a significant lack of well-performing electric and hybrid components in the industry. We are out of necessity driving innovation into devices that help us have a better overall system. Our team reaches deep into heating and cooling systems, including the pumps, control switches, and valves that make the heating and cooling of battery, power electronics and motor perform in a wide variety of ambient conditions in very efficient way and with affordable costs. We are focusing on those kinds of things to drive costs down.

In the higher tech world, we are actively pioneering in cooperating with National Semiconductor to do cell management at the cell level, to put our own battery management system in trucks. We can make other people’s cells and modules work very well with our BMS, and make it the way we like.

Our vision is to have a powertrain kit so that it is immaterial whether it is directed at a retrofit in a conversion garage or if it goes to an OEM for installation in a truck or van.

—John Thomas

ALTe has a preferred installer partnership with vehicle remarketer Manheim and and has formed a joint venture with Inmatech, Inc. to produce and sell hybrid electric storage (HES) devices.

ALTe is currently hiring and plans to ramp up from 50 to 88 engineers by the end of the year.

February 29, 2012 in Conversions, Electric (Battery), Hybrids, Plug-ins | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

NIST releases final Smart Grid Framework 2.0

An updated roadmap for the Smart Grid is now available from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which recently finished reviewing and incorporating public comments into the NIST Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability Standards, Release 2.0.

The 2.0 Framework lays out a plan for transforming the US’ aging electric power system into an interoperable Smart Grid—a network that will integrate information and communication technologies with the power-delivery infrastructure, enabling two-way flows of energy and communications. The final version reflects input from a wide range of stakeholder groups, including representatives from trade associations, standards organizations, utilities and industries associated with the power grid.

Release 2.0 represents a significant update to the NIST Release 1.0 Framework. In addition to the comments received through the public review, we vetted the draft framework in advance with the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) and other groups. The document reflects the consensus-based process the SGIP uses to coordinate development of Smart Grid standards.

—George Arnold, the National Coordinator for Smart Grid Interoperability at NIST

The SGIP was created by NIST in November 2009 to provide an open forum for members to collaborate on standards development. Through the SGIP, NIST collaborates with the private sector in coordinating Smart Grid standards. Its more than 1,900 volunteer members from 740 organizations serve as technical experts who work together to create usable standards for the Smart Grid. Hundreds of such standards—covering matters ranging from wireless communication to home energy meters to electric cars—are needed to ensure the many elements of the Smart Grid will work together seamlessly.

Just as its draft version did, the final 2.0 Framework adds 22 standards, specifications and guidelines to the 75 standards NIST recommended in the 1.0 version of January 2010 as being applicable to the Smart Grid. Further improvements and additions to the 1.0 version include:

  • a new chapter on the roles of the SGIP;

  • an expanded view of the architecture of the Smart Grid;

  • a number of developments related to ensuring cybersecurity for the Smart Grid, including a Risk Management Framework to provide guidance on security practices;

  • a new framework for testing the conformity of devices and systems to be connected to the Smart Grid—the Interoperability Process Reference Manual;

  • information on efforts to coordinate the Smart Grid standards effort for the United States with similar efforts in other parts of the world; and

  • an overview of future areas of work, including electromagnetic disturbance and interference, and improvements to SGIP processes.


February 29, 2012 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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