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October 2012

October 31, 2012

Greenway Operator inaugurates battery swap station for electric vans up to 3.5t

Slovak electromobility operator GreenWay Operator has inaugurated its first battery swap station for electrovans up to 3.5 t in Bratislava. The company says that it is the first up its kind (for vans up to 3.5 t)in Europe.

The company plans to offer its clients a complete rental service for electrovans via its Greenway Project: integrating the electrovan fleet, charging stations and battery swap stations; providing electricity for recharging; and including system operations control, car service, and an operator service/call center.

Total time for the battery swap is projected not to exceed 7 minutes. GreenWay Operator plans to launch the full service in the first quarter of 2013.

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

EPA approves emergency gasoline fuel waivers for 16 states and DC

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exercised its authority under the Clean Air Act temporarily to waive certain federal clean gasoline requirements for gasoline sold and distributed in Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, District of Columbia, New York, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. The waiver was granted by EPA in coordination with the Department of Energy (DOE).

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson determined that, as a result of effects of Hurricane Sandy, extreme and unusual supply circumstances exist, which may result in a temporary shortage of gasoline compliant with federal regulations. The federal waiver will help ensure an adequate supply of fuels in the impacted states.

The waiver allows the sale and distribution of conventional gasoline in a number of Eastern states that are required to use reformulated gasoline, and allows a number of additional states to mix reformulated gasoline and conventional gasoline to remove potential barriers to the supply of gasoline to the region.

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

EPA approves emergency diesel fuel waiver for New Jersey

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exercised its authority under the Clean Air Act temporarily to waive federal clean diesel fuel requirements in New Jersey to allow the use of home heating oil in most generators and pumps in emergency service in New Jersey. The waiver was granted by EPA in coordination with the Department of Energy (DOE).

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson determined that, as a result of effects of Hurricane Sandy, extreme and unusual supply circumstances exist, which may result in a temporary shortage of diesel fuel compliant with federal regulations. The federal waivers will help ensure an adequate supply of fuel for emergency response in New Jersey.

The waiver temporarily allows the use of heating oil in emergency generators and pumps if ultra low-sulfur fuel is not available. The waiver will not apply to a small subset of diesel engines used in generators and pumps that could be damaged by the high sulfur fuel.

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

New platinum-cobalt nanocatlysts for fuel cells greatly enhance activity and stability and cut costs

A research team at the Energy Materials Center at Cornell (EMC2) is developing platinum-cobalt nanoparticles with a platinum enriched shell that show improved catalytic activity for the oxygen reduction reaction in fuel-cell applications. The new class of Pt–Co nanocatalysts—composed of ordered Pt3Co intermetallic cores with a 2–3 atomic-layer-thick platinum shell—exhibited a more than 200% increase in mass activity and a more than 300% increase in specific activity when compared with the disordered Pt3Co alloy nanoparticles as well as Pt/C.

The new material could reduce the cost by a factor of five, according to Héctor Abruña, the E.M. Chamot Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, senior author of a paper describing the work published in the journal Nature Materials. The mass activity for the oxygen reduction reaction is the highest among the Pt–Co systems reported in the literature under similar testing conditions, the authors noted. These ordered nanoparticles provide a new direction for catalyst performance optimization for next-generation fuel cells, they suggested.

Stability tests showed a minimal loss of activity after 5,000 potential cycles and the ordered core–shell structure was maintained virtually intact, as established by atomic-scale elemental mapping. The researchers attributed the high activity and stability are attributed to the Pt-rich shell and the stable intermetallic Pt3Co core arrangement.

Previously, the Cornell research team created nanoparticles of a palladium-cobalt alloy coated with a thin layer of platinum that worked like pure platinum at lower cost. Forming the catalyst as nanoparticlesprovides more surface area to react with the fuel.

Deli Wang, a post-doctoral researcher in Abruña's group, devised a new chemical process to manufacture nanoparticles of a platinum-cobalt alloy that included an annealing step in which the randomly distributed atoms in the alloy form an orderly crystal structure. Platinum atoms layered onto these particles line up with the lattice and are pushed closer together than they would be in pure platinum, with the resulting strain enhancing the catalytic activity.

The Energy Materials Center at Cornell is an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the US Department of Energy.

Resources

  • Deli Wang, Huolin L. Xin, Robert Hovden, Hongsen Wang, Yingchao Yu, David A. Muller, Francis J. DiSalvo & Héctor D. Abruña (2012) Structurally ordered intermetallic platinum–cobalt core–shell nanoparticles with enhanced activity and stability as oxygen reduction . Nature Materials doi: 10.1038/nmat3458

October 31, 2012 in Catalysts, Fuel Cells | Permalink | Comments (36) | TrackBack

First US-China Clean Truck and Bus Summit

More than 120 attendees from leading US and Chinese clean truck and bus technology companies, together with representatives from key agencies of both governments, took part in the first US-China Clean Truck and Bus Summit in Beijing to help link US firms with Chinese partners and increase exports. The Summit was a first-of-its-kind event to link U.S. and Chinese companies specifically in clean fuels and technology for medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles, and is a key component of CALSTART’s overall US-China Clean Truck and Bus Technology Forum, supported in part by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA).

US industry Summit sponsors include Dow Kokam (energy storage), Navistar (truck and engine), Eaton Corporation (hybrid, electric, transmission), BAE Systems (hybrid, power management) and Wells Fargo (clean tech investment), together with Chinese industry sponsor Weichai Power (engine, hybrid, power generation).

Government attendees also come from a cross-section of agencies, including the US Department of Commerce, US Department of State, US Environmental Protection Agency, China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Environmental Protection, and Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. In addition, transit operators from major Chinese urban centers took part in the event.

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

CMU/Ford study assesses optimal mix of conventional, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles for minimizing GHG and cost

Traut1
Breakdown of (a) equivalent annualized life cycle cost and (b) life cycle GHG emissions for four independently cost-optimized vehicle designs. Traut et al. Click to enlarge.

In a new study, a team from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and Ford Research and Advanced Engineering set out to determine the optimal mix for the fleet of mid-size personal vehicles in the US—while maintaining current driving patterns—with the goals of minimizing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) or cost. They also addressed the question of GHG or cost reduction with and without a workplace charging infrastructure.

Their study, they suggested in a paper analyzing the best possible outcomes and published in the journal Energy Policy, is a step towards understanding what should be incentivized by policy makers.

They developed an optimization problem to minimize life cycle cost or GHG emissions over the personal vehicle fleet by jointly determining (1) the optimal design of each CV (conventional vehicle), HEV (hybrid electric vehicle), PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle), and BEV (battery-electric vehicle); (2) the optimal allocation of each vehicle design in the fleet based on annual vehicle miles traveled (VMT); and (3) the optimal allocation of workplace charging infrastructure to PEVs in the fleet. Within the fleet, they considered only vehicles of similar size and acceleration performance to the Toyota Prius.

They also incorporated vehicle design constraints to ensure comparable acceleration performance and vehicle allocation constraints to ensure BEVs are assigned only if they have sufficient range to accommodate the vehicle’s driving distance on most days (base case 95% of days).

Prior studies compare and select among a small set of fixed vehicle configurations based on selected commercially available vehicles or a small set of simulated vehicle alternatives. However, interactions among engine sizing, motor sizing, and battery sizing can be important in comparing vehicle characteristics, and optimal battery sizing represents a compromise among drivers with different travel patterns. We follow Shiau et al. (2010) [earlier post] and pose a mixed-integer nonlinear programming (MINLP) formulation to determine the best configuration of vehicles in the design space in order to compare the best design of each conventional vehicle (CV), HEV, PHEV, and BEV model under acceleration performance constraints that ensure vehicles are comparable. We further incorporate charging infrastructure decisions that determine which of the PEVs should be only charged at home vs. charged both at home and at the workplace, given charging infrastructure costs and production emissions, and we use driving pattern data to model required BEV ranges and PHEV electricity and gasoline usage.

—Traut et al.

Traut2
Optimal vehicle allocations for minimizing life cycle GHG emissions (top) and cost (bottom) in selected scenarios. From Traut et al. Click to enlarge.

Among their findings were:

  • In agreement with prior studies, without sufficient grid decarbonization, plug-in vehicles do not offer substantial GHG emissions reductions compared to HEVs. GHG reductions improve with low-carbon electricity. Thus, grid decarbonization is needed to make plug-in vehicles a relevant means of reducing GHG emissions beyond grid-independent HEVs.

  • Compared to CVs, HEVs offer cost and emissions reductions in almost all scenarios and are an optimal or near-optimal solution for minimizing cost across many scenarios.

  • Under the current US electricity generation mix, workplace charging availability provides no GHG emissions benefit in the optimized solution, but workplace charging does provide additional benefits of optimistically up to 21% in combination with low-carbon electricity.

  • Workplace charging availability changes the GHG-minimized vehicle allocation slightly, allocating smaller capacity PHEVs and BEVs.

  • Gas prices above $3.25/gal (plus 5.2% per year) cause PHEVs to appear in the minimum cost solution, but for plug-in vehicles to dominate over HEVs, either gas prices of $7/gal (plus 5.2% per year) or gas prices of $4.5/gal (plus 5.2% per year) in combination with low vehicle and battery costs (DOE 2030 program goal levels, including battery costs under $200/kWh) are needed. High carbon prices (over $100/tCO2e) do little to drive plug-in vehicles to appear in the cost-minimizing solution.

  • BEVs are restricted by range requirements from being a significant part of the minimum cost or GHG solutions. Even when range requirements are dramatically reduced, requiring BEV range adequate for only the average trip rather than the 95th percentile trip, a fleet of entirely BEVs is much more expensive and GHG-intensive than the other vehicle types, and BEVs are not GHG-minimizers for the full fleet even when charged with zero-emissions electricity. BEVs enter the GHG-optimal fleet only for short-range vehicles and only in cases with grid decarbonization.

This formulation represents a best-case scenario for minimizing cost or GHG emissions with these vehicle technologies; market outcomes would likely deviate, and we do not attempt to predict firm or consumer behavior.

—Traut et al.

This research was supported by National Science Foundation grants from the Foundation’s Material Use, Science, Engineering and Society program, the CAREER program, and the Graduate Research Fellowship program. Support was also provided by Ford Motor Company, Toyota Motors of America, and the Steinbrenner Graduate Fellowship.

Resources

  • Traut, E., et al. (2012) Optimal design and allocation of electrified vehicles and dedicated charging infrastructure for minimum life cycle greenhouse gas emissions and cost. Energy Policy doi: 10.1016/j.enpol.2012.08.061

October 31, 2012 in Electric (Battery), Hybrids, Plug-ins, Policy | Permalink | Comments (26) | TrackBack

Canada’s NRC flies the first civil jet powered by 100% ReadiJet biofuel

The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) has flown the first civil jet powered by 100% unblended biofuel. (Earlier post.)

The ReadiJet biofuel used for this flight was transformed by Applied Research Associates and Chevron Lummus Global, using oilseed crops commercialized by Agrisoma Bioscience Inc. The ReadiJet effort combines ARA’s catalytic hydrothermolysis process with Chevron Lummus Global’s ISOCONVERSION process technology to create drop-in biofuels ready to use at 100% levels in jet and diesel engines, eliminating the need for blending with petroleum-derived fuels. This aviation initiative is funded by the Government of Canada’s Clean Transportation Initiatives and the Green Aviation Research and Development Network.

The test plane was an NRC Falcon 20; a second aircraft, a T-33, tailed the Falcon in flight and collected information on the emissions generated by the biofuel. Researchers at the National Research Council will analyze this information to better understand the environmental impact of biofuel. Preliminary results are expected to be released in the following weeks.

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

SPX Service Solutions to distribute and install Plugless Power wireless electric vehicle charging systems

Evatran has signed an agreement with SPX Service Solutions to distribute and install Plugless Power wireless electric vehicle (EV) charging systems. (Earlier post.) These systems, available to individual Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt owners starting in April 2013, require station installation in customers’ homes, as well as the installation of an adapter onto the undercarriage of the EV. Service Solutions will be launching a program to provide both parts of the installation process at the EV owner’s home.

Plugless Power is a Level 2 (240V at 30A, 3.3 kW rated power output) inductive charging system, with a transfer efficiency of 90%.

Service Solutions will be selling the wireless charging systems through both its website and over-the-phone sales channels. Service Solutions kicked off its charging station manufacturing, distribution and installation business more than two years ago with the goal of becoming a leader in the growing electric vehicle charging infrastructure space. Service Solutions has a network of more than 900 certified and trained installation and service staff across the country, and has successfully distributed over 13,000 charge stations, including the Power Xpress, Voltec, ChargePoint, Blink and GE WattStation brands. Plugless Power is the company’s first wireless charging product line.

If a customer selects Service Solutions installation services with his purchase of Plugless Power, the customer’s installation process will be completely managed by Service Solutions including:

  • Free pre-installation survey: Service Solutions will provide a site survey at no cost to the customer, to ensure all installation costs are understood prior to wireless system installation.

  • 240V charging station installation: Based on the customer’s targeted charging location, Service Solutions will manage the permitting, electrical work, and physical charging station installation process for the customer. The customer will receive updates as the process is completed.

  • Vehicle adapter installation: Service Solutions will provide vehicle installation services for both the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt models at the customer’s home. The vehicle process is expected to take about 90 minutes.

October 31, 2012 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

October 30, 2012

Cobalt Technologies adds Bunge as strategic investor

Bunge Global Innovation LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of global agribusiness and food company Bunge Limited has joined bio n-butanol company Cobalt Technologies’ Series E Preferred Stock round as a strategic investor.

The investment follows Cobalt’s agreement with Bunge and specialty chemicals company Rhodia Poliamida e Especialidades Ltda. to operate a pilot plant demonstrating the production of n-butanol utilizing sugarcane bagasse as feedstock at the Laboratorio Nacional de Ciencia e Tecnologia do Bioetanol facility in Campinas, Brazil. The terms of the agreement also provide for the parties to work together on co-location of a demonstration scale facility and to consider co-location of a commercial-scale biorefinery at a Bunge sugarcane mill. N-butanol is a widely used industrial chemical found in paints, lacquers and other surface coatings.

All institutional investors from previous rounds participated in the Series E Preferred Stock round, including Pinnacle Ventures, Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund, VantagePoint Capital Partners, The Whittemore Collection, Ltd., Life Sciences Partners (LSP), @Ventures and Harris and Harris. Cobalt was advised by Pacific Crest Securities.

By producing low-cost bio n-butanol, Cobalt’s technology enables the use of bio n-butanol as a platform molecule for the production of a broad array of fuels and chemicals, including jet fuel, bio-based plastics and synthetic rubber.

October 30, 2012 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lux: charging stations for electric vehicles will be $1.2B market in 2020

With government policy and investment driving automotive companies toward plug-in vehicles, the technology for delivering electricity to these vehicles will rise to a $1.2 billion market in 2020, according to a Lux Research report.

Lux Research developed a forecast using vehicle sales to project the global electric-vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) market. Overall, despite slow adoption of plug-in vehicles, the charging station market will grow in unit sales from around 120,000 in 2012 to 1.3 million units in 2020, rising from $140 million in 2012 to $1.15 billion in 2020, a CAGR of 30%.

Lux Research analysts studied a web of partnerships in the EVSE market, besides building a forecast for its growth. Among their findings:

  • Europe is the leader. Europe will lead the global market with 2020 annual sales of 480,000 units. China forges ahead after a slow start, growing to 277,000 annual unit sales of charging stations by 2020.

  • China consumes the most energy. In 2020, plug-in vehicles in China will consume 1.9 TWh of electricity, or 23% of all energy consumed by plug-ins, the largest by any individual country, translating into $155 million in revenue for Chinese utilities.

  • Web of partnerships is key. Auto OEMs such as Ford, Daimler, GM, BMW, and Nissan form the core of charging infrastructure partnerships, with complex inter-connections with emerging companies—such as BMW’s recent investment in Coulomb Technologies—and utilities.

The report, titled “Charging Ahead: Finding Reality in the Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment Market,” is part of the Lux Research Electric Vehicle Intelligence service.

October 30, 2012 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

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