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November 2012

November 30, 2012

Micro sensor motes successfully travel through a Canadian heavy oil reservoir; potential enabler for mapping reservoir structures to boost yield

Micro sensor motes have been successfully sent into a Canadian heavy oil reservoir through an injection well and retrieved via a production well; the first step towards mapping the structure of heavy oil reservoirs with micro sensor technology.

Sensor motes from 5 to 7 mm that came out of the oil reservoir. Click to enlarge.

The results came from a field trial conducted by the PI Innovation Centre—a joint venture of the Canadian Petroleum Technology Research Centre (PTRC) and its Dutch-based partner INCAS3—in collaboration with Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL), which provided field access.

Using existing recovery methods such as CHOPS (Cold Heavy Oil Production with Sand), heavy oil reservoirs in the Saskatchewan-Alberta border region of Canada see only a 5–8% percent recovery rate. In CHOPS production, a sand and oil mixture is extracted from the heavy oil field; the produced sand that comes up with the oil leads to the creation of empty spaces or ‘wormholes’ in the reservoir. These ‘wormholes’ form a potentially immense network of channels in unconsolidated sandstone preventing pressurization of the reservoir and, thus, influencing the efficiency of oil production.

If the Canadian oil industry can better characterize these reservoirs, Petroleum Technology Research Centre said, extraction methods can be improved, which could lead to a substantial increase in yields up to 20% while lessening deleterious effects on both the environment and extraction efficiencies such as excess water production.

The challenge is to better understand the structure of these reservoirs. If this network of wormholes exists, sensors should provide information about details as to their number, diameter, direction and location.

For this purpose INCAS3 is developing sensor motes that can be injected into heavy oil reservoirs, collect relevant data, and return to the surface. The main issues to overcome are the size of the sensors, the extreme conditions they face, communication with the sensors from the surface, and retrieving the sensors out of the reservoir.

Initial results from the field test indicate that between 10% and 20% of the injected sensor motes—those with a diameter of 7 mm or less—successfully passed through the reservoir.

The next step is to analyze the obtained results. The PI Innovation Centre will set up a research program to move to the next phase of trials, namely establishing good communication between the sensors and surface.

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

DOE to award $120M to team led by Argonne National Lab for joint research hub on batteries and energy storage; 5-5-5 goal

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected a multi-partner team led by Argonne National Laboratory for an award of up to $120 million over five years to establish a new Batteries and Energy Storage Hub. (Earlier post.) The award, based on results, is renewable for another 5 years.

The Hub, to be known as the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), will combine the R&D capabilities of five DOE national laboratories, five universities, and four private firms in an effort aimed at achieving revolutionary advances in battery performance, targeting electric and hybrid cars and the electricity grid. The goal, said Eric Isaacs, Director of Argonne National Laboratory, is “5-5-5. We will develop batteries that are five times more powerful and five times cheaper within 5 years. Factors of five are what we need to transform transportation and the power grid.

We will invent at the molecular scale new complex materials and design transformational prototype battery systems that can be engineered for manufacturing.

—Eric Issacs

When you have to deliver the goods very very quickly, you need to put the best scientists next to the best engineers across disciplines to get very focused on solving the problem.

—Energy Secretary Steven Chu

The new Hub will integrate efforts at several successful independent research programs into a larger, coordinated effort designed to push the limits on battery advances.

JCESR (pronounced “J-Caesar”) will be directed by George W. Crabtree, Argonne Senior Scientist, Distinguished Fellow and Associate Division Director; Distinguished Professor of Physics, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, University of Illinois at Chicago; and an internationally recognized leader in energy research.

The Hub will bring together some of the most advanced energy storage research programs in the US today. Other national labs partnering with Argonne include Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Sandia National Laboratories; and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

University partners include Northwestern University; University of Chicago; University of Illinois-Chicago; University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign; and University of Michigan.

Four industrial partners have also joined to help clear a path to the marketplace for the advances developed at JCESR, including Dow Chemical Company; Applied Materials, Inc.; Johnson Controls, Inc.; and Clean Energy Trust.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is providing $5 million through his Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction plan to help build the state-of-the-art JCESR facility, which will be located on the Argonne National Laboratory campus in suburban Chicago. Additionally, the Governor has committed to working with the General Assembly to provide an additional $30 million in future capital funding for the building, which will serve as a nationwide center for energy storage research and is a key part of the governor’s plan to create jobs and grow Illinois’ economy through cutting-edge innovation.

Selected through an open national competition with a rigorous merit review process that relied on outside expert reviewers, JCESR is the fourth Energy Innovation Hub established by the Energy Department since 2010. Other Hubs are devoted to modeling and simulation of nuclear reactors, achieving major improvements in the energy efficiency of buildings, and developing fuels from sunlight. A fifth Hub focused on critical materials research was announced earlier this year and is still in the application process.

Energy Innovation Hubs are major integrated research centers with researchers from many different institutions and technical backgrounds that combine basic and applied research with engineering to accelerate scientific discovery in critical energy areas. They are modeled after the strong scientific management characteristics of the Manhattan Project, Lincoln Lab at MIT that developed radar, AT&T Bell Laboratories that developed the transistor and, more recently, the highly successful Bioenergy Research Centers established during the Bush Administration to pioneer advanced techniques in biotechnology, including biofuels.

Over the decades, DOE national laboratories and DOE-funded university research programs have been responsible for some of the most important advances in battery technology. For example, key battery improvements developed at Argonne helped make the Chevy Volt battery possible.

November 30, 2012 in Batteries, Policy, Research | Permalink | Comments (50) | TrackBack

DuPont breaks ground on commercial-scale cellulosic biorefinery in Iowa

Goals of the DuPont cellulosic biorefinery. Click to enlarge.

DuPont broke ground on its cellulosic ethanol facility in Nevada, Iowa—among the first and largest commercial-scale cellulosic biorefineries in the world. DuPont contracted with Fagen, Inc. for the construction. (Earlier post.)

Once fully operational, the more than $200-million facility, expected to be completed in mid-2014, facility will produce 30 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year from corn stover residues; its fully integrated end-to-end production system will be available to license globally. This capacity is more than called for by original estimates as data derived from the piloting facility in Tennessee has allowed DuPont to further optimize its process and technology.

This first commercial facility will require a capital investment of about $7 per gallon of annual capacity.

Nearly a decade ago, DuPont set out to develop innovative technology that would result in low capital and low-cost cellulosic ethanol production. We recognized that science-powered innovation was the catalyst to make cellulosic ethanol a commercial reality and to help reduce global dependence on fossil fuels.

By leveraging DuPont Pioneer corn production expertise and designing an integrated technology platform, we’ve built an affordable and sustainable entry point into this new industry. We’re committed to continued productivity gains to drive costs down even further for the coming generations of plants, ones based on corn stover as well as other feedstocks.

We didn’t get to this point alone. We’ve built an incredible partnership with the state of Iowa, Iowa State University, entrepreneurial growers and a whole host of partners around the country who share our vision of making renewable fuels a commercial reality.

— James C. Collins, president, DuPont Industrial Biosciences

DuPont’s cellulosic ethanol process consists of 5 stages: milling; pre-treatment; enzymatic saccharification; mixed sugar fermentation; and separation. The company developed an optimized technology package of novel enzymes and fermentation organisms to yield lower-capital integrated unit operations.

DuPont’s Accellerase TRIO enzyme complex—which can work with a wide range of feedstocks and pretreatment technologies—delivers all major enzyme activities required for efficient biomass hydrolysis into both C5 and C6 sugars, often at half the dosage of previous enzyme innovations, according to DuPont. (Earlier post.)

To supply the corn stover for its plant, DuPont will contract with more than 500 local farmers to gather, store and deliver more than 375,000 dry tons of stover per year into the Nevada facility. In addition to the estimated 60 full-time plant operations jobs, there will be over 150 individuals involved in the collection, stacking, transportation and storage of the stover feedstock seasonally during each harvest. The stover will be collected from an approximate 30-mile radius around the new facility and harvested off of 190,000 acres.

For many corn growers, residue management is a major challenge when maximizing their potential grain yield. Leftover corn stover interferes with planting, delays stand establishment, monopolizes nitrogen in the soil and often harbors damaging insect, pests and pathogens. Some stover from the corn crop is left on the field to protect the soil from erosion.

DuPont will further adapt its cellulosic ethanol technology to additional feedstocks. It is already processing switchgrass in the testing facility it owns jointly with the University of Tennessee near Knoxville, Tenn.

An International Organization for Standardization (ISO)-compliant, peer-reviewed life cycle assessment of the DuPont biorefinery and supply chain indicates a potential greater than 100% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to gasoline. This significant greenhouse gas reduction is enabled by use of cellulosic co-products as a source of renewable energy. The DuPont biorefinery co-product is a material that can displace coal in facilities currently burning this fossil fuel.

Regional businesses and academic institutions have already indicated interest in exploring the potential use of the renewable co-products to replace portions of their coal fired operations.

November 30, 2012 in Cellulosic ethanol | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Opening of electrolysis-based hydrogen fueling station in Turkey

Hydrogenics Corporation announced that a Hydrogenics electrolysis-based hydrogen fueling station has been officially opened in Turkey; the fueling station is located at Golden Horn, the historic inlet of the Bosphorus straight, and can fuel up to 65 kilograms per day of hydrogen at 350 bar. The station is for both land and sea transportation applications where Hydrogenics’ 8kW fuel cells can be used.

The station was financed by the International Centre for Hydrogen Energy Technologies (ICHET), a project of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), founded in Istanbul in 2004 and supported by the Turkish Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources.

ICHET seeks to initiate projects in the developing world that establish or enhance hydrogen production from indigenous—and preferably renewable—energy resources so that hydrogen can take a more important role in the satisfaction of local energy needs.

November 30, 2012 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Mitsubishi Motors teams with USC on Smart Grid Living Laboratory Project; 12 i-MiEVs

Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. (MMNA) is supporting the University of Southern California (USC) and the Viterbi School of Engineering as it develops a special campus-wide Smart Grid “Living Laboratory” project including the use of Mitsubishi i-MiEV 100% electric vehicles.

The Mitsubishi Motors/USC Electric Vehicle Smart Grid Demonstration Project will work to further develop and improve virtually all phases of electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure to accommodate widespread EV usage in the future.

The USC Smart Grid Living Laboratory program, developed by the USC Energy Institute, will simulate a city with a population between 50,000 to 60,000 citizens, tourists, visitors and two hospitals as they document their experiences operating a fleet of electric vehicles (EVs) under a wide range of conditions and simulations over a period of two years.

Mitsubishi Motors will be providing 12 Mitsubishi i-MiEV vehicles, several Level 2 EVSE charging systems to the Smart Grid program, and will consult with the University throughout the course of the research program.

Conducted in coordination with the Smart Grid Regional Demonstration Project of the US Department of Energy under contract to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, many elements of the University of Southern California (including several academic departments, the USC Department of Transportation; the Department of Public Safety; Facilities Management Services; and the Department of Athletics) will work with the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and the USC Energy Institute to collect and analyze data under various operating scenarios with the goal of better integrating 100% electric-powered vehicles such as the Mitsubishi i-MiEV into society as well as successfully scaling up the outcomes of the Mitsubishi/USC project to larger cities.

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

Lucintel forecasts global automotive sensors industry to reach approximately $18.8B in 2017; 9.3% CAGR

Lucintel, a mass transportation consulting and market research firm, forecasts that the global automotive sensors industry will reach approximately $18.8 billion in 2017, reflecting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.3%.

The global automotive sensor industry is characterized by increasing electronic content in vehicles, shaping optimistic growth trends for 2012-2017 for power train and safety sensors. The industry is expected to experience robust growth over the forecast period due to mandatory emission regulations and automotive electronics, developing potential applications toward enhanced comfort, safety, air conditioning, humidity, and climate controls.

Lucintel’s research indicates that the industry experienced double-digit growth in 2010-2011 due to global vehicle sales experiencing high level growth with increasing number of sensors and rapid market recovery after a drop in 2008-2009. North America and Europe was propelled by government, customer demands for sensors applications, and favorable treatments by aftermarket.

The global automotive sensors market is mainly driven by rebounding automotive sales with subsequent delivery of innovative features supported by technological advancements in various applications such as safety, comfort, and motion sensing. The major challenges are likely to be addressed by industry players, including conformance to quality and environmental standards.

Emerging markets are forecast to expand due to leading sensors applications in BRIC nations and Middle East regions, contributing to the growth of APAC industry growth.

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

Honda R&D Americas opens new advanced design studio in downtown Los Angeles

Honda R&D Americas, Inc., has opened an Advanced Design Studio in downtown Los Angeles for the creation of future Honda and Acura automobile and mobility design concepts. The studio, one of three Honda maintains in the Los Angeles area, was previously located in Pasadena, Calif., and is expanding the scope of its responsibilities, taking on a lead role within Honda R&D’s global advanced automobile design activity.

Honda R&D Americas operates three distinct design studios as part of its Los Angeles Center—the new Advanced Design Studio in Los Angeles, and two Torrance-based studios, the Honda Design Studio and Acura Design Studio, which are responsible for the styling design of new Honda and Acura vehicles.

The new Advanced Design Studio is a 6,500-square-foot workspace focused on the theme of mobility. It includes a conference room fashioned from a shipping container, and a louvered projection wall showcasing both new and classic Honda product designs and technology. Computer-aided design tools allow designers to realize their ideas rapidly in virtual and physical space. Full-size models and prototypes are created through collaboration with the company's Torrance-based operations.

Honda R&D established Advanced Design Studio in 2006, in Pasadena, Calif. The studio developed numerous concept vehicles that were showcased at the Los Angeles Auto Show, including the REMIX small sport concept (2006), the three-seat FC Sport hydrogen sports car (2008), and the Honda Personal-Neo Urban Transport (P-NUT) city coupe concept (2009).

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

2014 Honda Accord PHEV EPA-certified at 115 MPGe, on sale 15 Jan with MSRP of $39,780; LEV3/SULEV20 compliance

2014 Accord PHEV. Click to enlarge.

Although Honda’s presence at the Los Angeles Auto Show was dominated by the debut of the 2013 Civic, the company also announced that the 2014 Accord Plug-In Hybrid, featuring Honda’s new two-motor system (earlier post) earned an EPA-certified 115 MPGe rating and will go on sale in New York and California on 15 January with an MSRP of $39,780.

Separately, the Accord Hybrid, also featuring Honda’s new two-motor hybrid system, will launch nationwide next summer with anticipated fuel economy ratings of 49/45/47 city/hwy/combined (4.8/5.2/5.0 l/100km respectively). The revised 2013 Honda Crosstour and 2013 Honda CR-Z also made their auto-show debuts.

With its EPA rating of 115 MPGe, the Accord Plug-In Hybrid surpasses plug-in-class competitors including the Ford C-Max Energi (100 MPGe), Chevy Volt (98 MPGe), and Prius Plug-in (95 MPGe). The 2014 Accord Plug-in has been rated by the EPA with a maximum all-electric EV mode range of 13 miles (21 km) (Honda had earlier projected 10 to 15 miles), and a fuel-economy rating of 47/46/46 mpg city/hwy/combined (5.0/5.1/5.1 l/100km respectively).

The 2014 Accord Plug-in Hybrid is powered by Honda’s first two-motor hybrid system, and uses a new Earth Dreams i-VTEC 2.0-liter 4-cylinder Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine producing 137 hp (102 kW) at 6200 rpm, teamed with a 124 kW electric motor. Electric driving is supported by a 6.7 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, and total system output is 196 hp (146 kW).

The Accord Plug-in is also the first production car in America to meet the more stringent new LEV3/SULEV20 emissions standard (earlier post), and it will also qualify for single-occupant carpool-lane access in California.

The new California LEV III standards are designed to force the reduction of fleet average emissions of new passenger cars (PCs), light-duty trucks (LDTs) and medium-duty passenger vehicles (MDPVs) to super ultra-low-emission vehicle (SULEV) levels by 2025. (This corresponds to US EPA Tier 2 Bin 2.)

The California Air Resources Board proposed proposed three additional light-duty vehicle emission standards (ULEV70, ULEV50, and SULEV20) to which manufacturers may certify their vehicles when meeting the fleet average emission requirement. The numerical part of the standard category, such as 20 in SULEV20, refers to the emission standard, in thousandths of a gram per mile. I.e., SULEV20 represents NMOG+NOx emission standards of 0.020 g/mi.

Unlike the unique styling of the Accord Plug-In, the Accord Hybrid will share styling much closer the conventional Accord Sedan. More details on the Accord Hybrid will be released closer to launch.

November 30, 2012 in Hybrids, Plug-ins | Permalink | Comments (36) | TrackBack

FADEC International signs JV with GE to provide digital controls for LEAP engines

FADEC International (a BAE Systems and Sagem jointly-owned venture) has established a joint venture with GE to develop, produce, and support the full-authority digital electronic control (FADEC) for aircraft engines and related specialized technologies. A FADEC—a system consisting of a digital computer, called an engine control unit, and its related accessories—controls all aspects of aircraft engine performance, such as engine fuel flow and variable engine geometries.

The joint venture, called FADEC Alliance, will be the exclusive FADEC supplier for CFM International’s next generation engine, LEAP, and GE’s Passport engine. As the sole provider, FADEC Alliance will be responsible for the design, manufacture and aftermarket support of the system. The partnership leverages FADEC International’s experience of supplying FADEC systems to GE since 1984.

The LEAP engine is designed to power the next generation narrow body commercial aircraft. Designed by CFM International, a 50/50 partnership between GE and Snecma (Safran group), the LEAP engine has been selected for the Boeing 737Max, Airbus A320neo and the Comac C919.

GE’s Passport engine, designed for ultra-long-range business jets, has been selected for the Bombardier Global 7000 and Global 8000 business aircraft.

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

November 29, 2012

Air Products India wins contract for solar-powered hydrogen fueling station

Air Products has been awarded a contract with India’s University of Petroleum and Energy Studies (UPES) to build the country’s first solar-powered renewable hydrogen fueling station.

Air Products’ hydrogen fueling technology and infrastructure will be part of a mass public transit bus fueling and vehicle demonstration program administered by UPES. The station, which will generate hydrogen from solar energy via an electrolyzer and be located at the Solar Energy Centre near Delhi, is scheduled to be onstream in July 2013.

UPES is executing this project in collaboration with Indian Oil and it is entirely funded by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) of the Government of India.

Once complete, the UPES project will mark the third Air Products hydrogen fueling station operating in India. Air Products India installed, and in January 2012 commissioned, a hydrogen fueling dispenser in Pragati Maiden, Delhi to serve a fleet of hydrogen-powered auto rickshaws. The three-wheeled hydrogen-powered fleet transports visitors at the Pragati Maidan, where many large public exhibitions are held. Air Products was also a key player in the opening of India’s first hydrogen fueling station several years ago at a research and development center in Faridabad, south of New Delhi.

Air Products is the leading global supplier of hydrogen to refineries to assist in producing cleaner burning transportation fuels and has experience in the hydrogen fueling industry. Several sites today for certain hydrogen fueling applications are fueling at rates of more than 75,000 refills per year. Use of the company’s fueling technology is increasing and is above 500,000 hydrogen fills per year.

The company has been involved in more than 150 hydrogen fueling projects in the United States and 19 countries worldwide. Cars, trucks, vans, buses, scooters, forklifts, locomotives, planes, cell towers, material handling equipment, and even submarines have been fueled.

Air Products provides liquid and gaseous hydrogen and a variety of enabling devices and protocols for fuel dispensing at varied pressures. Hydrogen for these stations can be delivered to a site via truck or pipeline, produced by natural gas reformation, biomass conversion, or by electrolysis, including electrolysis that is solar and wind driven.

November 29, 2012 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

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