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[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

Animation of new Cummins M2 two-stage turbo in Nissan Titan XD 5L V8 diesel

January 27, 2015

The Cummins 5.0L V8 Turbo Diesel which makes its debut in the upcoming 2016 Nissan Titan XD full-size pickup truck (earlier post) features a unique Cummins M² Two-Stage Turbocharger and is configured to work well at both low and high engine speeds.

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Novozymes, Cargill to continue bio-acrylic acid partnership as BASF exits; looking for new commercialization partner

Chemical company BASF has decided to exit the current R&D collaboration with Novozymes and Cargill to develop a bio-based process for producing 3-hydroxypropionic (3-HP) and acrylic acid from renewable raw materials. BASF joined the collaboration with Novozymes and Cargill in 2012. Novozymes and Cargill have collaborated on the project since 2008 and will continue their work to commercialize bio-based 3-HP and derivatives. The two companies have initiated efforts to find a new commercialization partner.

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Mitsubishi to show compact SUV PHEV concept at Geneva

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) said it will unveil a world premiere compact SUV plug-in hybrid concept car on 3 March at the 85th Geneva International Motor Show.

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New membrane technology for Post-Combustion Carbon Capture begins pilot-scale test

A new carbon capture technology sponsored by the US Department of Energy (DOE) for economically capturing 90% of the carbon dioxide emitted from a coal-burning power plant has begun pilot-scale testing. The Polaris membrane system, developed by Membrane Technology and Research Inc. (MTR), uses a specially designed CO2-selective membrane—a micro-porous film that acts as a semi-permeable barrier—to separate CO2 from other gases, such as nitrogen, in a coal-burning plant’s flue gas.

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Lotus F1 Team presents E23 Hybrid for 2015; Mercedes power unit

The Lotus F1 team presented its 2015 challenger, the E23 Hybrid, the successor to the E22. The 2015 racer features a Power Unit from new supplier Mercedes Benz in place of the E22’s Renault unit. (Earlier post.) Improvements within Design, Aero and Simulation departments have all contributed to the development of a car which is a huge step forward, according to Matthew Carter, Lotus F1 Team CEO.

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ABI: global Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) market to exceed US$90B by 2020

January 26, 2015

Market research firm ABI Research forecasts that the market for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) will grow from US$11.1 billion in 2014 to US$91.9 billion by 2020, passing the US$200 billion mark by 2024.

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Swedish Energy Agency awards PowerCell $600K to develop modular fuel cell system for stationary applications; Power-to-Gas

The Swedish Energy Agency (SEA) has granted PowerCell Sweden AB SEK5 million (US$600,000) to develop a modular fuel cell system for stationary applications. The project aims to develop and demonstrate stationary fuel cell systems based on modules of 20 kW with PowerCell’s new fuel cell stack, S2. In October 2014, SEA had granted PowerCell SEK7 million for the MoRE Zero project to develop a fuel cell system for use in a modular range extender system for electric vehicles in the European ERA-NET project. (Earlier post.)

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GM launches Green Dealer Recognition program

GM has launched a “Green Dealer Recognition” program for Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac dealerships across the US. Participating dealers have proven track records in areas such as energy reduction, renewable energy use, water conservation efforts, recycling, on-site nature habitats and community outreach.

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Gurit wins multi-annual automotive supply contract for carbon fiber body panels

January 24, 2015

Gurit, a worldwide developer and manufacturer of advanced composites and technologies, has been selected as the supplier for carbon fiber based automotive body panels at a total contract value of more than CHF 30 million (US$34.2 million) calculated on a multi-annual basis.

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NADA forecasts light-duty vehicle sales of 16.94M in US in 2015; 56% trucks and SUVs

January 23, 2015

Low gasoline prices and pent-up consumer demand will combine to drive new car and light truck sales to an estimated 16.94 million in 2015, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association. NADA’s original sales forecast of 16.4 million new cars and light trucks for 2014 was on target. NADA represents more than 16,200 new-car dealerships both domestic and international franchises.

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Bosch opens North American eBike headquarters in Irvine, California

Following its entry into the US eBike market in early 2014, Bosch has established a new headquarters office for Bosch eBike Systems in Southern California, expanding the business unit’s global operations in the US and Canada. The new office will manage sales, marketing, advocacy, application and technical support, service, project management, and quality management.

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GE joins Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium to support the development of sustainable alternative fuels

The UAE-based Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC), a nonprofit, research consortium established to develop technology with the promise of producing sustainable bioenergy, announced GE as its newest member.

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NRG eVgo expanding national fast charging network (corrected)

January 22, 2015

NRG eVgo, a subsidiary of NRG Energy, Inc. it expanding its Fast Charger network from its current 10 national markets to more than 25 over the next two years. Currently, the company has 245 fast chargers in its national network, including a mix of SAE Combo and CHAdeMO connectors. (Tesla owners that buy a $500 adapter can use NRG eVgo CHAdeMO stations.)

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Chevrolet to begin selling Spark EV in Maryland

Chevrolet will start selling the Spark EV in Maryland this spring, the electric mini-car’s first entry into the East Coast market. The Spark EV delivers an EPA-estimated combined city/highway 119 MPGe fuel economy equivalent and 82 miles of EPA-estimated combined city/highway range.

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Green Biologics secures $76M in financing; repurposing MN ethanol plant for n-butanol and acetone

Green Biologics (GBL) closed an internal follow-on equity round of $42 million co-led by Swire Pacific Limited and Sofinnova Partners. Existing investors Capricorn Venture Partners, Oxford Capital Partners, Morningside Technology Partners and ConvergInce Holdings, LLC also participated in the round. In addition to the $42-million internal equity round, an additional $34 million in funding was raised predominantly in debt financing from Tennenbaum Capital Partners (TCP), along with equity and debt investment rolled over by existing members of Central MN Ethanol Co-op LLC (CMEC) in Central MN Renewables LLC (CMR), a US affiliate of GBL.

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Toyota increasing production of Mirai fuel cell vehicle

Toyota Motor Corporation will increase production of the Mirai fuel cell sedan, which launched in Japan on 15 December 2014. The new plan calls for production to increase from the 2015 level of 700 units to approximately 2,000 units in 2016 and approximately 3,000 units in 2017.

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Eos Energy Storage introduces grid-scale battery system at $160/kWh

Eos Energy Storage announced the commercial availability of its MW-scale Aurora system for deliveries starting in 2016. Eos’s standard Aurora 1000|4000 product, a containerized 1 MW DC battery system providing four continuous hours of discharge, offers a cost-effective energy storage solution competitive with gas peaking generation and utility distribution infrastructure. The Aurora 1000|4000 will be sold at a price of $160/kWh in volume.

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Petrobras saves $5M per well with new pre-salt subsea equipment deployment technique

At the end of last year, Petrobras deployed its first wet Christmas tree (equipment installed on a wellhead, comprising a set of remotely operated valves designed to control the flow of fluids such as oil, water and natural gas from a reservoir to the surface) using cables in the pre-salt area. The main change involved was the use of a subsea equipment support vessel (SESV) to install the equipment rather than a traditional drilling ship. This resulted in a time saving of approximately 10 days, generating a gain of more than US$5 million.

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Obama issues Executive Order establishing Arctic Executive Steering Committee to enhance coordination of national efforts in the Arctic

President Obama issued an executive order establishing the Arctic Executive Steering Committee to provide guidance to executive departments and agencies and to enhance coordination of Federal Arctic policies across agencies, offices, State, local, and Alaska Native tribal governments and similar Alaska Native organizations, academic and research institutions, and the private and nonprofit sectors.

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DEINOVE hits first key milestone in DEINOCHEM program, receives €1M from ADEME

January 21, 2015

DEINOVE, an industrial biotech company developing innovative processes for producing biofuels and bio-based compounds from Deinococcus bacteria (earlier post), reached the first milestone of its DEINOCHEM green chemistry program, funded by the ADEME (French Environment and Energy Management Agency) in the framework of the French government initiative “Investing for the Future”. Consequently, DEINOVE will receive, in early February 2015, approximately €1 million (US$1.16 million) in the form of a repayable advance.

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Siemens developing intelligent algorithm to predict availability of carsharing vehicles; more effective inter-modal planning

Siemens is developing a service for predicting the availability of carsharing vehicles at a given location at specific times. The forecasting tool will be incorporated into the integrated SiMobility Connect mobility platform, which links carsharing firms, public transport companies, taxis, and bike-rental services. Customers will then be able to use just one app to plan all segments of their trip and immediately see which combinations of transport modes are most advantageous at the moment or at a later time.

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ITM Power launching enhanced Power-to-Gas range; two new reference plants in Germany

ITM Power will launch an enhanced Power-to-Gas product range based on a higher current density that produces 50% more hydrogen for the same stack volume in April at the 2015 Hannover Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Group Exhibit. The company will launch its new 350 kW single stack with a three stack 1MW system on show and for sale. ITM Power now has £8.686 million (US$13.2 million) of projects under contract and a further £2.496 million (US$3.8) of new projects subject to final contract negotiation. This reflects the successful conclusion of a number of negotiations and the receipt of revenue for existing projects.

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Amyris to enter the industrial cleaning products market; renewable Myralene solvent for auto parts

Amyris has developed a renewable solvent produced from plant sugars. The Myralene solvent is derived from Amyris’ renewable hydrocarbon building block, farnesene. The company has now announced that it will launch the first industrial cleaning products containing its Myralene renewable solvents through US AutoForce and US Lubricants, divisions of US Venture, Inc.

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CCM forecasts 5-fold growth in China Li-ion market by 2017 to meet EV demand

January 20, 2015

Growing demand for electric vehicles (EVs) in China is triggering an explosion of investment in the lithium-ion battery industry, with China’s production of power lithium-ion batteries set to jump 400% by 2017, according to market research firm CCM. CCM expects China’s power lithium-ion battery market to grow from 4 billion Ah a year to 20 billion Ah a year over that period.

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Cellulosic sugars company Edeniq raises more than $16M

Edeniq, a biorefining and cellulosic technology company, has raised more than $16 million in equity. Edeniq’s technologies efficiently break down biomass to liberate cellulosic sugars that can be converted into ethanol, chemicals, and other products. Edeniq uses combined mechanical and biological processes for maximum efficiency and lowest cost.

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Fujitsu launches wearable sensor to promote safer driving

Fujitsu has launched FEELythm, a new wearable sensor product that detects when drivers are drowsy based on their pulse to promote safer driving. Intended for use in the transportation sector, FEELythm will initially be sold in Japan from February 2015. FEELythm.

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U-M solar car team wins Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge

The University of Michigan Solar Car squad took top spot in the inaugural Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge. The team, composed of U-M alumni and students, partnered with students from the University of Abu Dhabi (ADU) to race their championship car, Quantum, against 15 teams from six continents.

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Sakhalin-1 consortium begins production at sub-Arctic Arkutun-Dagi Field

January 19, 2015

Exxon Mobil Corporation and its partners in the Sakhalin-1 consortium have begun production at the Sakhalin-1 project’s Arkutun-Dagi field—the last of the three sub-Arctic offshore Sakhalin Island in the Russian Far East to be developed. Peak daily production from the field is expected to reach 90,000 barrels.

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Report: Hyundai to cut price of fuel cell vehicle in Korea to compete with Toyota

The Korea Herald reports that unnamed sources say that Hyundai Motor has decided to lower the price of the Tucson fuel cell sport utility vehicle (earlier post) to compete with Toyota Motor’s Mirai fuel cell car (earlier post).

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Four Motiv electric shuttle buses deployed in one-year demo in Mountain View, CA

CALSTART announced that four electric shuttle buses are being deployed in Mountain View, California. The Mountain View Community Shuttle service is aimed at moving residents and visitors through the City between neighborhoods, shopping centers, medical complexes, City facilities, and recreation areas. The buses were manufactured by Motiv Power Systems of Foster City, using funds from the California Energy Commission (CEC). Google is funding the bus service for the community. The buses went into service last week.

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Norwegian Cruise Line selects Rolls-Royce permanent magnet tunnel thruster

January 17, 2015

Norwegian Cruise Line has selected a highly innovative and efficient Rolls-Royce permanent magnet tunnel thruster (TT-PM) to upgrade the propulsion package onboard Norwegian Epic. The permanent magnet tunnel thruster offers numerous advantages over traditional tunnel thrusters including significant reduction in noise and vibration, an increase in power output of around 25% from the same size propeller, and is removable underwater, thereby eliminating the need for dry-docking.

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Petrobras is world’s largest operator of floating production platforms

January 16, 2015

Petrobras now operates more floating production platforms (including self-owned and chartered ones) than any other company in the world, according to Petrodata, a consulting firm that specializes in providing information about the global oil industry. According to the company’s latest figures, as of December 2014 Petrobras operated 110 offshore production units off the Brazilian coast.

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Nissan and Hydro-Québec partner to expand the public charging network in Québec; 20 DC Fast Charging sites in 2015, 5 in 2016

At the Montreal International Auto Show, Nissan announced it will support the expansion of the public charging network “the Electric Circuit” with an investment in 25 DC Fast Charging sites. The partnership agreement is part of a new phase of development of the Electric Circuit, which targets up to 50 sites in high-traffic, major road corridors and large urban centers.

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Track debut for 2nd generation 2015 Porsche 919 Hybrid

Extensive testing with the second generation of Porsche’s Le Mans prototype will begin on 18 January on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit. As scheduled, this marks the start of the 2015 motorsport season for the Porsche Team. The new Porsche 919 Hybrid is a comprehensive evolution of the successful car that made its debut in 2014. (Earlier post.)

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smart fortwo now available for ordering with twinamic dual clutch transmission; manual or automatic gear shifting

As the first model of the new smart generation, the smart fortwo rated at 52 kW/71 hp is now available for ordering with the twinamic dual clutch transmission. (Earlier post.) This enables gear shifting to be carried out either fully automatically or manually. With twinamic, the fortwo accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 15.1 seconds and reaches a top speed of 151 km/h (94 mph). The combined fuel consumption stands at 4.1 liters of gasoline per 100 kilometers (57 mpg), corresponding to a CO2 figure of 94 grams per kilometer.

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Cal Energy Commission to award ~$1.2M for center for alt fuels and advanced vehicle technologies

The California Energy Commission Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP) is making up to $1,194,659 in grant funds available to develop a new center or expand an existing center for alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies in Central California. (PON-14-606)

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Crazy Diamond Performance offering dedicated CNG vehicle and refueling package

Crazy Diamond Performance Inc. (CDP) is now offering BRC FuelMaker residential and commercial fueling compressed natural gas (CNG) products, when ordered in conjunction with its advanced dedicated CNG vehicle retrofit systems. CDP is offering a package of an EPA certified 2015 mono-fuel CNG Cruze LS (earlier post) and a BRC FuelMaker Phill refueling compressor for $27,559, for a limited time.

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ITS-Davis director Dan Sperling to chair US Transportation Research Board

January 15, 2015

Dan Sperling, director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis, and member of the California Air Resources Board, has been appointed the 2015 chair of the Transportation Research Board’s Executive Committee, which provides independent scientific advice to the nation on transportation issues.

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DOE issues $14M solicitation for vehicle technologies

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) has released its FY2015 Vehicle Technologies Office Incubator funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0001213). (Earlier post.) The incubator FOAs are intended to support innovative technologies and solutions that could help meet existing goals but are not represented in a significant way in existing Multi-Year Program Plans (MYPPs) or current portfolios.

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Opel KARL to debut at Geneva show; 1.0L Ecotec

Opel will stage the world premiere of the new Opel KARL (earlier post) at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show (5-15 March). Opel’s new entry-level model will be powered by one of the company’s new all-aluminum, 55 kW/75 hp, 1.0-liter, three-cylinder Ecotec engines (earlier post), paired with a five-speed manual transmission.

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Production and sales of plug-ins boomed in China in 2014

The production and sales of plug-in vehicles in China boomed last year, according to statistics from CAAM (China Association of Automobile Manufacturers).

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Toyota to quadruple original production capacity for Mirai FCV; 1,400 units already ordered

The Nikkei reports that Toyota will further boost its production capacity for the Mirai fuel cell vehicle to 3,000 units by 2017, based on demand in Japan and the company’s plans to introduce Mirai into other markets. In December 2014, the Nikkei reported that Toyota would invest some $165 million to triple capacity (earlier post); the new report envisions a quadrupling of the original plan.

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Google begins talks with automakers to bring self-driving cars to market eventually

Chris Urmson, director of self-driving cars at Google, said at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit that the company has started talks with most of the world’s top automakers and assembled a team of global suppliers to speed its push to bring self-driving cars to market.

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China’s leading mobile taxi booking app secures $600M from SoftBank Group, Alibaba Group and Tiger Global

Travice Inc., the operator and developer of KuaiDi Dache, a leading mobile taxi booking app provider in China, SoftBank Internet and Media, Inc. (SIMI), and Alibaba Group Holding Limited announced an agreement under which SoftBank Group (further described below) led a financing round of approximately US$600 million, with participation from existing shareholders Alibaba Group and Tiger Global, to expand and improve KuaiDi Dache’s services in China.

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Gevo begins sales of renewable isobutanol to Brenntag Canada; solvents and specialty chemicals

January 14, 2015

Gevo, Inc. has begun sales of renewable isobutanol to Brenntag Canada Inc., a member of the Brenntag group companies, for distribution into the solvents, oil & gas, mining and specialty chemicals markets. The initial market entry is focused on Canada. Brenntag Canada has purchased truckload quantities of isobutanol from Gevo for distribution to targeted customers.

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Ram introducing 1500 EcoDiesel HFE full-size pickup with 29 mpg highway

The Ram Truck brand is adding a new, more fuel-efficient model to its half-ton truck lineup. The new 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE will deliver the highest highway fuel economy (29 mpg) among all current full-size truck competitors—12% higher than the next-closest, the aluminum-bodied 2015 Ford F-150 2WD with 2.7-liter V6 EcoBoost.

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Constellium supplying high-strength aluminium structural parts for the 2015 Ford F-150 pickup truck

Constellium N.V. announced that it provides Ford Motor Co. with aluminium structural parts for the all-new Ford F-150 pickup truck that extensively uses high-strength, military-grade, aluminium alloy as a build material. Constellium, a global leader in the development and manufacturing of aluminium structural parts for the automotive industry, is one of Ford’s largest suppliers of these components for the F-150.

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Lexus unveils GS F with 5L V8; Atkinson cycle in cruising range

Lexus unveiled the GS F high performance sports sedan and the latest model in the “F” series at the North American International Auto Show. The 5.0-liter, V8 engine equipped with the D-4S direct injection mechanism produces the linear power feel and superior response characteristics of a normally aspirated engine, while achieving high output. In addition, running the engine on the Atkinson cycle in the cruising range has also improved fuel efficiency and environmental performance. (Earlier post.)

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Lufthansa Group aircraft will fly from Oslo on biokerosene beginning in March; deal with Statoil

January 13, 2015

The Lufthansa Group will be fueling their aircraft at Oslo airport with a biokerosene mixture beginning this March. The Group recently became the first airline group to sign this kind of contract with the Norwegian oil company Statoil Aviation. Lufthansa is thus pushing forward along the path of research, testing and use of alternative fuels that it started on more than four years ago.

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Ford to introduce next version of AppLink next year for improved smartphone integration

Several weeks after Ford introduced its next-generation SYNC 3 in-vehicle connectivity system (earlier post), the company announced it will roll out Ford SYNC AppLink 3.0 next year, giving customers the ability to access their favorite compatible navigation app—much as they do on a smartphone—on in-vehicle touch screens. (Upon launch later this year, SYNC 3 will include Ford’s current version of AppLink.) This coming version leverages open-source SmartDeviceLink functionality to give developers a method to project graphics such as maps onto vehicle touch screens.

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Audi introduces new Q7 SUV, plug-in hybrid variant coming later this year

As promised (earlier post), Audi introduced the new Q7 at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. The revamped 7-seater SUV offers diverse drivetrain technologies (gasoline, diesel, plug-in hybrid), intelligent muti-material lightweight construction, and a full range of connectivity and electronics features.

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Siemens developing monitoring system for pantographs for eHighways

January 12, 2015

Siemens is developing an automatic monitoring system for pantographs. Designed initially for electric and hybrid trucks on eHighways (earlier post), the system uses cameras and sensors to check the condition of pantographs in order to prevent damage to the contact wire. Similar but more complex systems are occasionally used for electric trains.

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Ford collaborating with DowAksa on automotive-grade carbon fiber, part of IACMI

Ford and DowAksa are accelerating joint research to develop high-volume manufacturing techniques for automotive-grade carbon fiber, aiming to make vehicles lighter for greater fuel efficiency, performance and capability. The companies will be part of the newly formed Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), created by the US government. (Earlier post.) The institute is part of the larger National Network for Manufacturing Innovation supported by the US Department of Energy.

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Johnson Controls providing AGM batteries for Start-Stop F-150

Johnson Controls is providing its advanced Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) battery technology to the all-new 2015 Ford F-150; this is Ford Motor Company’s first truck with Auto Start-Stop.

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Amec Foster Wheeler awarded syngas-to-liquids project in the US; focus on jet fuels

UK-based Amec Foster Wheeler signed an agreement with D’Arcinoff Group, a US-based investment and alternative technology development company, to provide engineering and technical services for an integrated 30,000 barrels per day syngas-to-liquids facility, known as the West Texas Renewable and Gas Monetization Project in Hudspeth County, Texas. The facility will primarily produce jet fuels.

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UPM Lappeenranta Biorefinery begins commercial production of wood-based renewable diesel

The first wood-based renewable diesel biorefinery has started commercial production in Lappeenranta, Finland. UPM Lappeenranta Biorefinery is based on a hydrotreatment process developed by UPM, and produces approximately 120 million liters (31.7 million gallons US) of renewable UPM BioVerno diesel yearly. (Earlier post.)

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ExxonMobil Research and Engineering and Arisdyne collaborating on controlled flow cavitation technology for petroleum-based fuels, lubes and chemicals

ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company (EMRE) has signed a Joint Development Agreement with Arisdyne Systems Inc. (Arisdyne) jointly to develop and commercialize new applications based on Arisdyne’s Controlled Flow Cavitation (CFC) Technology for the production of petroleum-based fuels, lubricants and chemicals. CFC can provide high shear forces used for superior mixing and creation of localized thermal energy.

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Buick unveils 2016 Cascada convertible at NAIAS

Buick introduced the 2016 Cascada convertible at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). The Cascada will be the first Buick convertible offered in the United States in 25 years and the latest globally developed vehicle to join the brand’s growing portfolio. It goes on sale in early 2016.

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Volkswagen Group delivers more than 10M vehicles in one year for first time

The Volkswagen Group achieved the first goal of its Strategy 2018 last year, with the delivery of more than 10 million vehicles in total, ranging from the the e-up! city car to heavy commercial vehicles. In total, 10.14 million vehicles (prior year: 9.73; +4.2%) were handed over to customers worldwide from January to December 2014. December also turned in positive results, with deliveries running at 881,000 (December 2013: 857,600; +2.7%) units.

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3D Si@C core-shell Li-ion anodes show high capacity, rate capability and stable cycling

January 11, 2015

Researchers from Korea and Germany have prepared 3D silicon/carbon (Si@C) core–shell anodes for use in Li-ion batteries. With carbon coating and laser structuring, the anode materials exhibit high specific capacity (>1200 mAh g−1 over 300 cycles); good rate capability (1170 mAh g−1 at 8 A g−1); and stable cycling. A paper on their work is published in the Journal of Power Sources.

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Turbomeca introduces additive manufacturing capability for production engine components

After years of maturation and prototype testing, helicopter engine manufacturer Turbomeca (Safran) has entered serial production of parts using the latest additive manufacturing (3D printing) process at its Bordes facility in France.

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Ceres’ multi-gene traits increase yields ~25% in hybrid corn field trials in China

January 10, 2015

Ceres, Inc., an agricultural biotechnology company, announced favorable results from its biotech corn evaluations in China, where a second year of field trials demonstrated significant yield advantages under normal and drought conditions. Ceres reported that its multi-gene combinations in corn achieved an approximately 25% yield advantage over controls in many of its research-scale field evaluations involving two different hybrids.

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Petrobras becomes largest oil producer among publicly traded companies

In the third quarter of 2014, Petrobras surpassed ExxonMobil’s oil production, and is now the largest producer of liquid hydrocarbons among its publicly traded peers. Considering oil and natural gas, the company is now fourth in the ranking.

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BCI forms partnership with China BIA on lead-acid batteries

Battery Council International (BCI), the North American trade association representing the lead-based battery manufacturing, supply, recycling and distribution companies, announced their partnership with the China Battery Industry Association (CBIA). BCI and CBIA will work together to carry out the mission of each association.

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Neah Power Systems to acquire lithium-ion power starter battery company Shorai

Neah Power Systems, a provider of fuel cell-based power generation and lithium ion-based storage solutions for the unmanned aerial vehicles (defense and commercial), military, transportation and portable electronics industries (earlier post), will acquire Shorai, Inc., a provider of lithium-ion power sports and starter battery solutions for the consumer motorsport industry.

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Petrobras discovers new oil accumulation in ultra-deepwater Sergipe Basin Farfan area

January 09, 2015

Petrobras announced that results of drilling in Sergipe Basin ultra-deep waters confirmed the light oil and gas discovery in Farfan area (between 37º and 40º API), as announced to the market on 9 August 2013. The results presented excellent permoporosity conditions in the turbidities reservoirs with 54 meters thickness.

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China Yuchai lands another major natural gas engine contract with Beijing transportation group

China Yuchai International Ltd’s main subsidiary, Guangxi Yuchai Machinery Company Limited (GYMCL), has won a competitive tender for the supply of a total of 635 units of National V natural gas and National VI diesel engines from Beijing Bafangda Express Bus Services Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of the Beijing Public Transportation Group. China’s National standard levels are based on the equivalent Euro standard levels.

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DOE project captures and stores one million metric tons of carbon

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Illinois Basin-Decatur Project has successfully captured and stored one million metric tons of carbon dioxide, injecting it into a deep saline formation. (Earlier post.) The project is part of the development phase of the Department’s Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships initiative, which is helping develop and deploy carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies across the country.

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Nissan and NASA form 5-year R&D partnership for autonomous drive vehicles

Nissan Motor Co., through its North American-based organization, and NASA have formed of a five-year research and development partnership to advance autonomous vehicle systems and prepare for commercial application of the technology.

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California roadmap for grid-connected energy storage technology

January 08, 2015

The California Independent System Operator (ISO), the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) unveiled a comprehensive roadmap to assess the current market environment and regulatory policies for connecting new energy storage technology to the state’s power grid.

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Argonne Lab working with 3 nuclear companies on next-generation reactor projects

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory will work with three of the world’s leading nuclear products and services companies on advanced nuclear reactor design projects. The three projects partner Argonne with AREVA Federal Services (Aiken, S.C.); GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (Wilmington, N.C.); and Westinghouse Electric Company (Monroeville, Pa.) to address significant technical challenges to the design, construction and operation of next-generation reactors.

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Spider9 to license OSE technology to Samsung Electronics; enables first application beyond the stationary energy storage market

Spider9, a 2011 spin-out from the University of Michigan, announced a technology licensing agreement with Samsung Electronics (“Samsung”) for use of Spider9’s proprietary Energy Operating System (OSE) technology. (Earlier post.) The agreement opens the door for the first application of OSE technology outside of the stationary energy storage market.

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Westport Innovations receives EPA certification for natural gas Transit van

Westport Innovations has received certification from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its 2015 Ford Transit Van. As Ford’s largest qualified vehicle modifier (QVM), Westport is offering the 2015 Ford Transit Van as a dedicated compressed natural gas (CNG) Westport WiNG Power System vehicle. Westport expects California Air Resources Board (CARB) certification in early 2015.

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Visteon demos latest V2X gateway at 2015 CES

Visteon Corporation is demonstrating its latest vehicle connectivity solution at the 2015 International CES. Visteon’s Wireless Gateway is a 4G-compatible connectivity module that manages a network of cellular, Wi-Fi, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) inside and outside of the vehicle to provide seamless connectivity when mobile.

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Jaguar Land Rover, Intel and Seeing Machines showcase driver attention-monitoring system at CES

Jaguar Land Rover is working with Intel and Seeing Machines to develop sensing technology that monitors the driver’s face and eyes to reduce distracted and drowsy driving. Seeing Machines is a world leader in the development of computer-vision-related technologies that help machines understand people by tracking and interpreting human faces and eyes. At the 2015 CES in Las Vegas this week, Seeing Machines is demonstrating its Driver Monitor System (DMS) in a Jaguar F-Type prototype developed jointly with Intel at Jaguar Land Rover’s new R&D facility in Portland, Oregon.

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Chevron announces “significant” oil discovery in deepwater Gulf of Mexico

January 07, 2015

Chevron Corporation announced a significant oil discovery at the Anchor prospect in the deepwater US Gulf of Mexico. Anchor is Chevron’s second discovery in the deepwater Gulf in less than a year. Chevron subsidiary Chevron USA is the operator, with a 55% working interest in the Anchor prospect. Anchor co-owners are Cobalt International Energy, Inc. (20%), Samson Offshore Anchor, LLC (12.5%); and Venari Resources LLC (12.5%).

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Frost & Sullivan selects Li-ion maker A123 Systems for 2014 strategy & leadership award; focus on transportation

Based on its recent analysis of lithium-ion batteries for the transportation market, Frost & Sullivan recognized Li-ion battery maker A123 Systems with the 2014 Global Frost & Sullivan Award for Competitive Strategy Innovation & Leadership. The company combines advanced lithium-ion technology, R&D, strategic acquisitions and a clear marketing focus on the transportation segment, according to the consultancy.

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Petrobras says it is expanding oil and gas production in the pre-salt in “economically viable” manner

Responding to press articles saying that the collapse of the global oil price is threatening oil and gas production in the off-shore Brazil pre-salt layer, Petrobras countered that it is expanding its production capacity “in an economically viable manner.” The company said that the break-even price (the minimum oil price at which production is economically viable) planned when its pre-salt production projects were approved was around US$45 per barrel, including taxes and not including natural gas transportation infrastructure spending. Inclusion of the latter spending may raise the total figure by US$5 to US$7 per barrel, Petrobras said.

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General Motors set sales records in China in 2014

General Motors and its joint ventures sold a record 3,539,970 vehicles in China in 2014, an average of one vehicle every 9 seconds and almost 9,700 vehicles each day. GM’s sales were up 12.0% from the previous high of 3,160,377 vehicles sold in 2013.

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UMTRI: average new vehicle fuel economy in US dropped in December

January 06, 2015

The average fuel economy (window-sticker value) of new vehicles sold in the US in December was 25.1 mpg (9.36 l/100 km)—down 0.2 mpg from November and down 0.7 mpg from the peak reached in August, according to the monthly tally from Dr. Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI). These recent reductions likely reflect the large and continuing decreases in the price of gasoline, they suggested.

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Local Motors and ARPA-E launch new lightweighting challenge

Local Motors and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) are launching the LIghtweighting Technologies Enabling Comprehensive Automotive Redesign (LITECAR) Challenge, which seeks innovative conceptual designs to lightweight a vehicle while maintaining or exceeding current US automotive safety standards. Participants’ pioneering designs will compete for a piece of the total $150,000 cash prize.

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ABI Research: Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, and BMW continue to dominate ADAS market

Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, and BMW continue to be the top three players in the consumer Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) market, according to a new competitive assessment from ABI Research. The research firm says that the three outperform competitors either in terms of the degree and significance of their innovation, or in how effectively they make their systems available to consumers—and sometimes in both.

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Hyundai Motor to build 4th and 5th plants in China, bringing capacity to 1.65M units per year

Beijing Hyundai Motor Company (BHMC), a 50-50 joint venture between Hyundai Motor Company and Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co., will begin building its fourth and fifth plants in China next year to respond to surging demands in the world’s largest automobile market. Each plant will eventually have annual production capacity of 300,000 units; the new plants will increase Beijing Hyundai Motor Co.’s capacity to 1.65 million units per year.

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Broadcom introduces new automotive Near Field Communication chip

Broadcom Corporation introduced a new automotive-grade Near Field Communications (NFC) chip. The highly-integrated chip with tap-to-connect technology simplifies the set-up process for mobile device connectivity within the vehicle and enables comfort and convenience applications such as keyless entry and vehicle settings.

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Visteon and Verizon show Firmware Over-the-Air (FOTA) updates using LTE Multicast technology

Visteon Corporation unveiled a connected vehicle equipped with Verizon’s LTE Multicast technology at the 2015 International CES. The Visteon Connected Vehicle Hub communicates with an embedded automotive telematics module designed to receive Firmware Over-the-Air (FOTA) updates using LTE Multicast technology—an automotive industry-first.

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ABI Research: big data, virtualization, and systems approach to dominate hypersmart transportation era

Traditional smart transportation approaches to address traffic congestion, safety, pollution, and other urbanization challenges are expected to hit scalability and efficiency obstacles by the end of this decade. Traveler information systems such as variable-message signs, intelligent traffic lights, camera-enforced urban tolling, and traffic monitoring centers will ultimately prove ineffective and prohibitively expensive, threatening to stall economic growth, especially in developing regions. According to ABI Research, global yearly spend on traffic management systems alone will exceed US$10 billion by 2020.

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GfK says Gen Y buyers will be critical for connected car industry; suggests leveraging car-sharing

Although Gen Y buyers are not yet very active in the new car market, global market research firm GfK suggests their preferences will be critical for the future of the connected car industry. GfK ran a 6-country study looking at which features of connected cars (such as entertainment, safety, behavioral tracking etc.) appeal most to certain age groups.

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Audi and INRIX debut online traffic services at CES 2015

Audi and INRIX are introducing INRIX XD Traffic services to Audi vehicles in North America, available in model year 2015 Audi vehicles with Audi connect. INRIX XD Traffic delivers real-time navigation information to the driver, including routes, travel times and alerts to incidents on the road. INRIX XD Traffic services cover more than 2 million miles of road in North America, including highways, ramps, interchanges, arterials, city and other secondary roads.

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Nissan sold 30,200 LEAFs in US in 2014, up 33.6% YoY; 2.4% of Nissan brand sales

Nissan sold 30,200 LEAF electric vehicles in the US in 2014—the first time any plug-in has sold more than 30,000 units in a single year. The LEAF results also represented a 33.6% increase over 2013 LEAF sales (22,610 units). LEAF sales represented 2.4% of total Nissan brand vehicle sales in the US in 2014 (total 1,269,565 units); in 2013, LEAF sales represented 2.0% of total Nissan brand sales.

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Li-ion supplier K2 Energy receives first order against $81.4M contract for Navy railgun energy storage system

January 05, 2015

K2 Energy Solutions has received the first order against an initial $81,400,000 contract to provide an intermediate energy storage battery system for the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Naval Sea Systems Command’s (NAVSEA) electromagnetic rail gun. The awarding of the contract was originally announced in July 2014.

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California Governor calls for 50% reduction in petroleum use in cars and trucks from today’s levels by 2030

In his inaugural address delivered today in Sacramento, re-elected California Governor Jerry Brown set out three major environmental goals for the next 15 years, to 2030: reducing today’s petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50%; increasing renewable electricity levels from one-third to 50%; and doubling the efficiency of existing buildings and making heating fuels cleaner.

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OnStar bringing commerce to connected cars; also providing feedback on driving

At the 2015 CES this week in Las Vegas, OnStar will preview AtYourService, a commerce and engagement offering that connects drivers with retailers and merchants on their drive, providing information, convenience and money-saving values tied to their specific destinations. In addition, OnStar advisors can now help locate hotels and book reservations. In a separate enhancement, beginning this summer, OnStar will also offer customers the opportunity to sign up for a new service that can tell them how well they drive and provide some customers an opportunity to seek discounts from Progressive Insurance.

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SmartHome Ventures integrates Zubie connected vehicle service into PEQ home automation ecosystem

January 04, 2015

SmartHome Ventures, the provider of the PEQ connected-home service, has integrated the Zubie connected vehicle service into the ecosystem of devices that work with PEQ. Beginning next month, PEQ users will have the ability to monitor their home and car from anywhere all on the PEQ mobile app, making PEQ the first home automation service to link the car and the home.

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Tsinghua team uses optical diagnostics to analyze source of sporadic super-knock in advanced SI engines

Knock is one of several different well-known abnormal combustion processes in spark-ignition engines; most of these abnormal combustion issues have been addressed with improved design or control schemes as well as fuel specifications. However, emerging advanced SI engines—e.g., those with turbocharging and direct injection—can exhibit a new phenomenon: super-knock, or violent engine knock.

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Ballard terminates two fuel-cell license agreements with Azure in China; will not hit 2014 revenue and EBITDA targets

January 02, 2015

Ballard Power Systems has given termination notice on two fuel-cell licensing agreements in the China market as a result of what it said were material breaches of these agreements by Azure Hydrogen. The first license agreement, originally announced on 26 September 2013, is related to the assembly of Ballard’s FCvelocity-HD7 Bus fuel-cell power modules in China for the Chinese market. (Earlier post.) The second license agreement, announced on 19 June 2014, is related to the assembly of Ballard’s ElectraGen Telecom Backup Power systems in China for the Chinese market.

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Enerpulse Technologies obtains battlefield-fueled marine power OEM Contract

Enerpulse Technologies secured an OEM purchase agreement from Raider Outboards for its Nano-Plasma Assisted Combustion (n-PAC) spark plugs. (Earlier post.) Raider Outboards was awarded a contract by the Department of Defense to provide marine engines that must run efficiently on multiple battlefield fuels.

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Green Biologics acquires Central MN Ethanol Cooperative; transitioning from ethanol to n-butanol and acetone

January 01, 2015

Green Biologics Inc. has acquired the assets of Central MN Ethanol Cooperative LLC (CMEC). Green Biologics intends to repurpose the operation, which includes a 21 million gallon per year ethanol plant, to produce renewable n-butanol and acetone, utilizing its proprietary advanced fermentation process (AFP) technology platform.

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Pacific Ethanol merging with Aventine Renewable Energy; combined ethanol production capacity of 515M gpy

Pacific Ethanol, Inc., the leading producer and marketer of renewable fuels in the western US, and Aventine Renewable Energy Holdings, Inc., a midwest-based producer of ethanol and related co-products, have entered into a definitive merger agreement under which Pacific Ethanol will acquire all of Aventine’s outstanding shares in a stock-for-stock merger transaction.

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Shanghai Jiao Tong team using UAV to study pollution diffusion

Researchers at Shanghai Jiao Tong University are using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to study pollutant diffusion and to analyze the mechanism of space-time pollution interaction.

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Shenzhen to issue only 100K new license plates per year in effort to combat congestion and pollution

December 31, 2014

On 30 December, the city government of Shenzhen, China announced that it will only issue 100,000 license plates per year via lotteries and auctions, with immediate effect, to fight congestion and pollution. Shenzhen, a major high-tech and manufacturing hub in southern China’s Guangdong province, is located just north of Hong Kong and is the home of BYD as well as the Denza joint venture of BYD and Daimler. By the end of 2013, it had 10.63 million permanent residents. (For comparison, New York City in 2013 had a population of 8.4 million.)

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