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July 2012

July 31, 2012

BMW partners with Green Mountain Energy Company to offer renewable energy certificates to BMW ActiveE Drivers

BMW of North America will partner with Green Mountain Energy Company to offer drivers of the BMW ActiveE the choice to support renewable energy for their cars. The ActiveE drivers can purchase renewable energy certificates (RECs) from Green Mountain to cover the estimated electricity that will be used to charge their electric vehicles.

For a one-time payment of $48.00, ActiveE drivers can purchase renewable energy certificates (RECs) to ensure the estimated amount of electricity that will be used to charge their vehicle during the lease period is replaced with renewable energy.

ActiveE drivers who power their vehicles with renewable energy for the estimated mileage usage will offset 9,900 lbs (4,490 kg) of CO2 during the course of their two year lease, the equivalent of not driving 11,000 miles in a conventional gas-powered car.

In addition to this opportunity to purchase RECs from Green Mountain, ActiveE drivers can take advantage of a separate BMW clean energy offer. As of May 2012, ActiveE drivers can install solar panels on their homes for a discount of approximately 35%.

Within the framework of project i, the BMW Group is carrying out research and development work on the development of electrically powered vehicles. The next step after the ActiveE will be the BMW i3 due to launch in 2013. It will be designed to meet the demands of a sustainable mobility solution for congested urban areas. For this reason, the drive components and battery technology that will be used in the BMW i3 are being tested now in the BMW ActiveE.

Beginning this year a test fleet of more than 1,100 BMW ActiveE vehicles on the road in the US, Europe and China will provide further valuable insights into the everyday use of the vehicle. 700 BMW ActiveEs are on the road in the US, mostly in private hands. The feedback from customers testing the MINI E and the BMW ActiveE will be fed directly into series production of the BMW i3.

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

Pioneer Natural Resources adding 225 bi-fuel Westport WiNG natural gas F250s to fleet

Pioneer Natural Resources, an oil and gas exploration and production company, is adding 225 bi-fuel, Westport WiNG natural gas powered Ford F250 Super Duty trucks to its fleet. (Earlier post.) Pioneer has begun transitioning a number of its fleet vehicles from gasoline- and diesel-powered to those able to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) for light duty, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) for heavy-duty applications.

Westport LD recently officially opened the Westport Kentucky Integration Center (WKIC) in Louisville where the natural gas WiNG power systems are installed on Ford F250 and F350 bi-fuel pickup trucks. With the ability to run on either natural gas or gasoline, the Ford trucks offer drivers more than 650 miles of range with two full tanks, and can take advantage of a low cost, domestic fuel.

The WiNG power system includes a 3-year / 36,000 mile warranty on CNG-specific components and a 5-year / 50,000 mile warranty on the Alternative Fuel Control Module (AFCM).

To support a variety of OEM programs that will enable personal and commercial vehicles to run on natural gas, Westport LD has recently established the assembly center in Louisville, and the Michigan Technical Center in Detroit.

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

Amyris enhances strategic partnership with Total for renewable diesel and jet fuels; to form JV

Amyris, Inc. signed an amendment to its existing technology collaboration agreement with Total. (Earlier post.) Under the enhanced collaboration, Total reaffirms its commitment to Amyris’ technology and dedicates its $82-million funding budget over the next three years exclusively for the deployment of Biofene, Amyris’ renewable farnesene, for production of renewable diesel and jet fuel.

Farnesene is a 15-carbon isoprenoid hydrocarbon molecule that forms the basis for a wide range of products varying from specialty chemical applications to transportation fuels. Upon completion of the research and development program, Total and Amyris intend to form a joint venture company that would have exclusive rights to produce and market renewable diesel and/or jet fuel, as well as non-exclusive rights to other specialty products.

Under the latest announcement, Total agreed to fund $30 million during the third quarter of 2012. Additional funding will be triggered by Total at annual decision points in mid 2013 and 2014.

We reaffirm our strategic relationship with Total to achieve our joint development and commercialization objectives for renewable diesel and jet fuel. We are appreciative of Total’s ongoing support of Amyris. In addition to Amyris’ continued development of jet and diesel businesses in Brazil independently, this enhanced collaboration provides a global platform for the future growth in fuels under a future joint venture with Total.

—John Melo, President & CEO of Amyris

Amyris has developed advanced microbial engineering and screening technologies that modify the way microorganisms process sugars. Amyris is using this industrial synthetic biology platform to design microbes, primarily yeast, and use them as living factories in established fermentation processes to convert plant-sourced sugars into renewable chemical and transportation fuel products.

Amyris operates laboratories and a pilot plant in California as well as a pilot plant and demonstration facility in Brazil. Amyris has been scaling its Biofene production through various production arrangements and expects to operate its first dedicated commercial scale facility in Brazil by early 2013.

This technology will help make it possible for producers to blend renewable hydrocarbons produced from sustainable biomass and organic waste into fuel in proportions that significantly exceed the current 7% set by European Union regulations or other government policies.

July 31, 2012 in Bio-hydrocarbons, Biotech, Fuels | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Kureha Battery Materials Japan (KBMJ) partners with Kuraray and the INCJ to support global growth of Li-ion battery hard carbon anode technology

Pattern diagram of Li-ion containment in CARBOTRON P. Click to enlarge.

Kureha Corporation, Itochu Corporation, Kuraray Co., Ltd. and the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ) have concluded an agreement intended to further accelerate the growth of Kureha Battery Materials Japan Co., Ltd. (KBMJ). Under the agreement, Kuraray and the INCJ will acquire new equity stakes in KBMJ through participation in a third-party allocation, with the four companies together investing up to ¥20.0 billion (US$256 million) in KBMJ.

The partnership aims to support KBMJ’s global expansion, with a focus on its CARBOTRON P LIB anode material. CARBOTRON P is an activated anode material which makes use of Kureha’s structure control technology. Although CARBOTRON P is classified as non-graphitizable carbon (called “hard carbon” due to its structure), it differs from other hard carbons because of its specially designed structure which can diffuse Li ions inside of particles.

While soft carbons and graphite have a multiplicity of carbon hexagonal layers, CARBOTRON P has a few carbon hexagonal planes and its diffusion of grains is small; the random layout of carbon hexagonal planes creates a nanoscale sheaf space. The structure of CARBOTRON P is stable and has little change even after repeated input and output of lithium ions.

CARBOTRON P was used in the world’s first commercially available LiB in 1991 and, as large-format batteries have evolved for use in electric cars and require far higher standards, has seen increased demand due to its performance and reliability.

KBMJ was jointly established in 2011 by Kureha (70%) and Itochu (30%) for the manufacture and sale of CARBOTRON P and for the sale of LiB binders; business operations began on 1 October 2011. In December 2011, Kuraray agreed with KBMJ to jointly commercialize Biocarbotron, a hard carbon anode material for LiBs derived from plant material. (CARBOTRON P is derived from petroleum pitch.) The partners expect to establish a mass production and supply system withan annual production capacity of 1,000 tons by 2013.

At that time, Kureha noted that in the annual demand for anode materials is expected to top 100,000 tons in 10 years, compared with the current annual demand of several thousand tons.

The inclusion of the INCJ, which is tasked with nurturing next-generation industries through the promotion of open innovation in Japan, highlights the nature and potential of KBMJ’s solutions, the partners said.

KBMJ plans to finance approximately ¥14.5 billion (US$185 million) over the next two years by issuing ordinary shares to Itochu, Kuraray and the INCJ through a third-party allocation, as well as non-voting preferred shares to the INCJ. It has also been agreed that Kureha will underwrite up to approximately ¥5.5 billion (US$70 million) in ordinary shares in KBMJ. This will provide KBMJ with a combined capital financing of up to approximately ¥20.0 billion. KBMJ will allocate those funds to establish a larger global supply structure for CARBOTRON P and Biocarbotron.

July 31, 2012 in Batteries | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

ORNL team demonstrates high-performance lithium-sulfur battery with nitrogen-doped carbon/sulfur cathode and ionic liquid electrolyte

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a high-performance lithium-sulfur battery using nitrogen-doped mesoporous carbon (NC) and sulfur to prepare a composite cathode and an ionic-liquid electrolyte of 0.5 m lithium bis(trifluoromethane sulfonyl)imide (LiTFSI) in methylpropylpyrrolidinium bis(trifluoromethane sulfonyl)imide ([MPPY][TFSI]). Their study is published in the journal ChemSusChem.

They also fabricated a C/S composite based on activated carbon (AC) without nitrogen doping was also fabricated under the same conditions, and compared the two by cyclic voltammetry (CV), electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS), and cycle testing.

Compared with the AC/S composite, the NC/S composite showed enhanced activity toward sulfur reduction, as evidenced by the lower onset sulfur reduction potential, higher redox current density in the CV test, and faster charge-transfer kinetics, as indicated by EIS measurements.

At room temperature under a current density of 84 mA g−1 (C/20), the battery based on the NC/S composite exhibited a higher discharge potential and an initial capacity of 1420 mAh g−1, whereas the battery based on the AC/S composite showed a lower discharge potential and an initial capacity of 1120 mAh g−1. Both batteries showed similar capacity fading with cycling due to the intrinsic polysulfide solubility and the polysulfide shuttle mechanism; capacity fading can be improved by further cathode modification.

—Sun et al.


  • Sun, X.-G., Wang, X., Mayes, R. T. and Dai, S. (2012), Lithium–Sulfur Batteries Based on Nitrogen-Doped Carbon and an Ionic-Liquid Electrolyte. ChemSusChem. doi: 10.1002/cssc.201200101

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

UK take-up of grants for EVs and hybrids rises 20% in first half of 2012; 134 more claims

Take up of grants for the purchase of electric and hybrid cars rose by nearly 20% in the UK in the first half of 2012 compared with the same period in 2011. Overall, 134 more claims were registered according to the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) the cross-departmental body which oversees the plug-in grant program.

Figures reported by Greenwise Business show that as of 30 June 2012 a total of 814 claims were made through the Government’s £5,000 (US$7,900) electric car grant in the first six months of 2012 compared to 892 claims received during the whole of 2011. The claims represent a rise of 134 on the 680 claims made under the Plug-in Car Grant in the first half of 2011.

The latest OLEV statistics show that a further 99 claims were made under the Government’s £8,000 (US$12,600) Plug-in Van Grant, which was launched at the beginning of 2012. This means a total of 1,805 claims have been to date for both cars and vans through the Plug-in Grant, 913 of those in the first half of 2012 compared to 892 claims in the whole of 2011.

Transport Minister Norman Baker said the figures were “broadly in line” with Government expectations and that a greater choice of low emission vehicle models should help sustain the growth going forward.

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

Scripps Institution of Oceanography and SoCalGas to explore system using algae to capture CO2 from natural gas equipment and power plants

Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego (Scripps) and Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) have entered into an agreement focusing on the design of a novel system in which algae consume carbon dioxide emissions from natural gas combustion and cost-effectively convert it into valuable byproducts such as biomethane, biodiesel and animal feed.

For several years, researchers at Scripps, a member organization of the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology, and a number of commercial companies around San Diego and elsewhere, have been studying how algae can most efficiently be developed into a clean, renewable biofuel to one day replace non-renewable fossil fuels.

Taking this research a step further, Scripps’ researchers hope to leverage algae’s natural ability to absorb CO2 in the environment and convert it into oil rich biomass or biomethane or refined into fossil fuel replacements. After extracting the oils for biodiesel, the remaining biomass can be sold as a safe, protein-rich animal feed.

The new collaboration between Scripps and SoCalGas includes an investigative research and systems engineering study to explore how algae production systems currently in development could most effectively capture industrial CO2 emissions. Targeted CO2 sources include: natural gas power plants, large engines used in natural gas compression and water pumping and boilers used to produce steam for industrial processes such as enhanced oil recovery.

If the Phase I analysis proves such systems can be safe and economical, we then hope to enter into a Phase II agreement to help SoCalGas build and operate a module of a commercially scaled system, and test its capabilities at a site to be selected within Southern California.

— Dominick Mendola, a senior development engineer at Scripps

We are strongly committed to supporting the development of zero and near-zero- emission natural gas technologies. Recovering CO2 from combustion and turning it into a valuable commodity such as biomethane, biodiesel or a high-quality animal feedstock is great for the environment while creating valuable products. None of this is easy, but working with world-class scientific organizations like Scripps Institution of Oceanography and UC San Diego greatly improves our chances of success.

—Hal D. Snyder, vice president of customer solutions for SoCalGas

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

Dual-powered locomotives debut in New Jersey

Dual-powered locomotives—the first in the US to be powered by the overhead catenary or by twin diesel engines—recently made their debut in New Jersey. The first Bombardier ALP-45DP locomotive to run on NJ TRANSIT arrived at Montclair State University Station in Montclair, NJ, under diesel power, raised its pantograph arm to make contact with the overhead catenary wire, and left the station for Hoboken Terminal under electric power.

ALP-45DP locomotives entering service. Click to enlarge.

The modular ALP-45DP locomotive combines the technology used in the bogies, the locomotive body and the propulsion of the ALP-46A. However, two further diesel engines are also integrated. Because the DP locomotive is used in push-pull operation with double-deck coaches, it also has a pantograph and driver’s cab.

Power rating for the ALP-45DP is 4 MW (electric), 3.134 MW (diesel); the starting effort is 316 kN.

STV provided design, inspection and test engineering support services for this initiative, which also extends north of the border to Canada where the same vehicles are being procured for Agence Métropolitaine de Transport in Montreal. The locomotives are being manufactured by Bombardier in Kassel, Germany.

The new locomotives offer better acceleration and lower exhaust emissions than NJ TRANSIT’s current diesel equipment. In diesel mode, the vehicles can reach 100 mph (161 km/h) and in electric mode, 125 mph (201 km/h). The switch from diesel to electric mode takes approximately 100 seconds.

July 31, 2012 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Sino-US workshop on new energy standardization held in Beijing, focus on EVs

A day-long workshop organized by the China Association for Standardization (CAS) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) focusing on new energy standardization—specifically electric vehicles—was held 23 July in Beijing. The bilateral workshop provided a unique opportunity for experts from both sides to learn about EV standardization efforts taking place in the other country.

Sponsored by Generations (Beijing) Management Co., Ltd., and SPX Mechanical and Electrical Products (Suzhou) Co., Ltd., the workshop’s featured speakers included ANSI president and CEO Joe Bhatia; Craig Allen, deputy assistant secretary for Asia, U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC); Ma Lincong, secretary general of CAS; and Shi Baoquan, vice administrator of the Standardization Administration of China (SAC).

The workshop included a presentation from Jim McCabe, ANSI senior director, standards facilitation, on the Standardization Roadmap for Electric Vehicles, Version 1.0, released by ANSI’s Electric Vehicles Standards Panel (EVSP) in April 2012. (Earlier post.) Zhou Rong of the China Automotive Technology & Research Center (CATARC) presented an overview of the Chinese roadmap for electric vehicle standardization. Several other members of the ANSI EVSP made presentations, as did representatives from Chinese companies and national laboratories.

ANSI is eager to deepen our relationship with Chinese experts, and to increase cooperation that will enhance development, improve the environment, and allow important technologies like electric vehicles to take root and thrive.

—Joe Bhatia

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

TRL: all European cars to be fitted with autonomous emergency braking

The UK’s TRL (Transport Research Laboratory) reports that new regulations soon to be brought in by the European Commission will mean that all new cars will be fitted with autonomous emergency braking technology (AEB). TRL has carried out several analyses of AEBS (Advanced Emergency Braking Systems) and LDWS (Lane Departure Warning Systems) for the European Commission.

AEB systems work using radar, lidar (laser) or video technology, which sends a signal to warn the driver of a collision about to occur and primes the brakes. Some versions of the technology are also able to deal with collisions likely to occur when vehicles are travelling at a higher speed. These systems will also be able to see if a pedestrian has ventured onto the road and apply the brakes before impact.

A study into the technology carried out by the European Commission shows that road traffic accidents could be cut by 27%, with a saving of up to 8,000 lives each year.

Our studies indicate that the resulting reduction in congestion due to accidents would represent an economic value of about €100 million (£78.5 million) in Germany alone.

—Philippe Jean, head of the Automotive Industry unit in Enterprise and Industry

Jean has announced that all commercial vehicles will have to have the technology fitted by November next year to gain European Type Approval. Further to this it has been suggested that a similar strategy be adopted with regard to passenger vehicles too.

Euro NCAP, the crash test organisation, has pointed out that 79% of the cars currently on sale in Europe are not fitted with the technology. From 2014 Euro NCAP will include AEB in its assessment, making it practically impossible for any model not fitted with the technology to achieve a five-star rating.

We don’t want to force them [car makers] into this immediately, but we’ve made it very clear that the best way to ensure a five-star rating from 2014 is to have AEB on the vehicle.

—Michiel van Ratingen, Secretary General of Euro NCAP


July 31, 2012 in Connected vehicles, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), Safety | Permalink | Comments (17) | TrackBack

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