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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.]

Solar fuels company Joule teams with DNV GL for commercial validation of CO2-to-fuels production process

September 17, 2014

Joule, the developer of a process for the solar conversion of CO2 to liquid fuels, has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with DNV GL, a leading provider of technical assurance and advisory services to the energy industry. The next step will be to define the specific areas of collaboration that will accelerate the global production of CO2-neutral fuels.

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Nissan and HKDC start field tests of battery-electric e-NV200

September 16, 2014

Nissan and Veolia’s subsidiary in Hong Kong, Hong Kong District Cooling Company Limited (HKDC), have started joint field tests for the battery-electric Nissan e-NV200 commercial vehicle at Kai Tak Development (KTD). (Earlier post.)

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Audi receives first autonomous driving permit issued by the State of California

Audi will be the first company to receive a newly established autonomous driving permit issued by California. A range of new regulations that govern the testing of automated driving on the state’s roads take effect today.

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Chevron introduces new category of heavy-duty motor oil for severe duty applications; improved fuel economy

Chevron Products Company, a Chevron USA Inc. division, maker of the Delo brand of heavy duty engine oils, lubricants and coolants, unveiled a new category of heavy duty motor oil designed to address the growth of severe duty applications in on- and off-highway markets. Delo 400 SD SAE 15W-30 is an API CJ-4 heavy duty diesel engine oil formulated using a new Chevron patent pending technology to provide key benefits for engines with “severe duty” cycles in on- and off-highway applications.

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ChargePoint reports 35% increase in in-network charging stations on college campuses

ChargePoint released new data showing an increase in on-campus EV charging. There are currently 1,134 charging spots at colleges and universities on the ChargePoint network, up about 35%, with just 838 at this time last year.

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EIA: new drilling technology revitalizes Powder River Basin oil production

The coal-rich Powder River Basin is also experiencing a turnaround in oil production, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). Production has rebounded from a low of 38,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2009 to 78,000 bbl/d during first-quarter 2014.

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NETL field study of PA fracking site finds no evidence of upward gas and fluid migration into aquifers

The US Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has released a technical report on the results of a limited field study that monitored a hydraulic fracturing operation in Greene County, PA for upward fracture growth out of the target zone and upward gas and fluid migration. Results indicate that under the conditions of this study, for this specific location, fracture growth ceased more than 5,000 feet (1,524 meters) below drinking water aquifers and there was no detectable upward migration of gas or fluids from the hydraulically-fractured Marcellus Shale.

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VW new Touareg with new design and new technologies; focus on diesel

Volkswagen has given its Touareg SUV a sharper look and enhanced it technically in all areas. Features of the new Touareg generation include a redesigned front and rear, new driver assistance systems such as Automatic Post-Collision Braking System as standard, a new generation of the ACC adaptive cruise control, new online services, appreciably more fuel-efficient and in some cases more powerful V6 TDI engines with SCR catalytic converter and EU6 certification and an improved layout of the suspension.

In terms of technical enhancements, particular focus has been placed on the V6 TDI engines, as in Europe more than 90% of all Touareg sales are of models with one of the two V6 TDI engine capacities on offer. Both six-cylinder engines have been modified and upgraded by adding an SCR catalytic converter.

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BASF, Cargill and Novozymes achieve milestone in bio-based acrylic acid

September 15, 2014

BASF, Cargill and Novozymes have demonstrated the successful conversion of 3-hydroxypropionic acid (3-HP), to glacial acrylic acid and super-absorbent polymers, marking another milestone in their joint development of technologies to produce acrylic acid from renewable raw materials. The team has selected the process for further scale-up.

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Quantum Energy and Bilfinger Westcon partner to develop multiple refineries in the North Dakota-Montana Bakken formation

Quantum Energy, Inc. entered into a strategic alliance with Bilfinger Westcon Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Bilfinger SE (Germany), for the development of up to 5 diesel refinery projects throughout the Bakken Formation. Bilfinger Westcon is currently constructing a diesel refinery project in Dickinson, North Dakota expected to be completed around the end of this year.

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AVTOVAZ to invest $2.6B over next 3 years to modernize technologies and update lineup

Russian automaker AVTOVAZ plans to invest 100 billion rubles (US$2.6 billion) to modernize technologies and update its lineup over the course of the next three years.

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ABI: global driverless vehicle shipments will hit 42M in 2035, installed base of 176M

ABI Research forecasts that global driverless vehicle shipments will increase from 1.1 million in 2024 to more than 42 million in 2035, with an installed driverless vehicle base reaching 176 million.

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Petrobras’ total production tops 2.7 million barrels of oil equivalent per day in August

September 13, 2014

Petrobras’ consolidated oil and natural gas production in Brazil and abroad reached 2,759 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day (boed), rising 2.2% from a reported production of 2,699 thousand boed in July.

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Alon USA receives go ahead for Bakersfield, CA rail terminal and refinery project; Bakken light crude

Alon USA Energy, Inc. has received the necessary approval from the Kern County Board of Supervisors to construct a new rail facility at the Bakersfield refinery and to make modifications to the refinery that will allow it to process light crude—e.g., Bakken Crude. The permit allows Alon to construct a double rail loop from a new spur connection off of the existing BNSF Railway capable of receiving two unit trains (a unit train contains about 100 cars) per day of crude. The refinery’s 70,000 barrels per day (bpd) maximum crude processing capacity is not being increased.

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Renault Samsung Motors loaning 10 SM3 Z.E. EVs to Seoul City for taxi work

September 12, 2014

Renault Samsung Motors (RSM) is loaning ten SM3 Z.E. (earlier post) sedans to Seoul City for free so that members of the Seoul Taxi Association and their passengers can discover the benefits of using an electric vehicle for taxi work.

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Wrightbus Flybrid flywheel KERS bus entering service with Arriva

Following a successful validation program, a new Flybrid bus KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System), developed by Torotrak PLC will enter service in the UK with operator Arriva, applied in a Wrightbus bus.

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Porsche SE acquires ~10% stake in real-time traffic information company INRIX; 1st step to complementing investment in VW AG

Porsche Automobil Holding SE has acquired a stake of around 10% in INRIX, one of the leading providers of real-time traffic information. The investment volume is around $55 million. For Porsche SE, the acquisition is the first step towards creating a portfolio of investments complementing its existing shareholding in Volkswagen AG.

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Chempolis and NRL partner on cellulosic ethanol production from bamboo in Assam

Chempolis Ltd, a Finland-based biorefining technology corporation (earlier post), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL, A Government of India Enterprise) under which the two will jointly study building a biorefinery in North Eastern India (Assam) for producing biofuel ethanol from bamboo with co-production of furfural and acetic acid. Bamboo is one of the major non-food biomass resources available abundantly in North East India and it is among the fastest growing plants.

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Porsche has sold more than 1,500 Panamera E-hybrid PHEVs this year; 9% of Panamera sales

Porsche said it has delivered more than 1,500 Panamera E-Hybrid plug-in hybrids (earlier post) to customers worldwide from January to August 2014. This represents 9% of all Panamera models sold during that time (16,700). The plug-in has a $96,100 starting MSRP in the US.

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Study warns on possible air pollution link to neuroinflammatory, Alzheimer and Parkinson’s pathologies in megacity children

Children living in polluted megacities are at increased risk for brain inflammation and neurodegenerative changes, including Alzheimer or Parkinson’s disease, according to a study led by University of Montana Professor Dr. Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas and her colleagues. The study found when air particulate matter and their components such as metals are inhaled or swallowed, they pass through damaged barriers, including respiratory, gastrointestinal and the blood-brain barriers and can result in long-lasting harmful effects.

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DNV GL researchers develop concept autonomous, battery-electric short-range shipping vessel; 3,000 kWh battery

Researchers at classification society DNV GL have developed “ReVolt”, an autonomous, fully battery-powered and efficient vessel. Instead of using diesel fuel, “ReVolt” is powered by a 3,000 kWh battery. This reduces operating costs by minimizing the number of high maintenance parts such as rotational components. The vessel has a range of 100 nautical miles, before the battery needs to be charged. If the energy required for that is harnessed from renewable sources, this would eliminate carbon dioxide emissions.

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2015 Lincoln Navigator replaces 5.4L V-8 with 3.5L V-6 EcoBoost; power up 22.6%, fuel economy up 12.5%

The 2015 Lincoln Navigator full-size SUV, which goes on sale this year, features a new 3.5L V-6 EcoBoost engine delivering 380 hp (283 kW) @ 5250 rpm, and 460 lb·ft (624 N·m) @ 2750 rpm. This marks the highest power and torque rating yet for this powerplant—the first of the EcoBoost line to be introduced (earlier post)—which is also applied in the most recent Ford Transit (310 hp, 400 lb-ft); Flex, Taurus SHO, Explorer Sport, Police Interceptor Sedan and Utility, Lincoln MKS, Lincoln MKT (365 hp, 350 lb-ft); 2015 F-150 (tba); and Expedition (365 hp, 420 lb-ft).

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CO2-to-chemicals company Liquid Light raises $15M Series B financing; process scale-up and application validation

September 11, 2014

Start-up Liquid Light, a developer of process technology to make major chemicals from low-cost, globally-abundant carbon dioxide (earlier post), has closed a $15-million Series B financing. New investors include Sustainable Conversion Ventures, which focuses on renewable fuels and chemicals investments. Existing investors VantagePoint Capital Partners, BP Ventures, Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital, and Osage University Partners also participated in this round. The financing was completed at a significant increase in company valuation.

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KIA prices 2015 Soul EV starting at $33,700

Kia Motors America (KMA) announced pricing for the all-electric version of the Kia Soul. (Earlier post.) Offered in two trims, Base and + (Plus), the 2015 Soul EV MSRP will be $33,700 (not including federal tax rebate of $7,500) for the Base and $35,700 for the Plus (not including federal tax rebate of $7,500).

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Opel to expand small car range with new entry-level Karl in 2015

Opel will expand its small car range in the summer of 2015 with the new 5-door, entry-level Karl. (Carl was the name of one of the sons of Opel founder Adam Opel. Opel, founded in 1862, originally manufactured sewing machines and then bicycles. Carl and his brothers Wilhelm and Fritz took the company into automobiles in 1898.)

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Constellium joins fracture research consortium led by MIT to improve design of automotive structural components

Global aluminum products company Constellium N.V. has joined the Industrial Fracture Consortium established by Professor Tomasz Wierzbicki from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The primary objective of the Consortium is to develop a fracture predictive technology with application to Finite Element (FE) codes.

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Neste Oil to invest in producing bio-propane at Rotterdam refinery; off-gas from #NExBTL

Neste Oil will build a biopropane unit at its refinery in Rotterdam. In addition to the unit itself, the investment will include storage tanks and pipework. The project will start immediately and the plan is to begin sales of bio-propane at the end of 2016. The total value of the investment is approximately €60 million (US$77.4 million).

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ClipperCreek upgrades HCS-40 and CS-40 series EV charging stations from 30A to 32A

ClipperCreek has upgraded the popular HCS-40 and CS-40 series EV charging stations from 30 Amps to 32 Amps continuous as a standard offering, with no increase in price. The HCS-40 is the first major brand, low cost, Level 2 electric vehicle charging station to break through to the 32 Amp level without increasing the selling price, the company said.

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Audi to offer AT&T Mobile Share Value plan for Audi connect in 2015 A3, S3, Q3 models

Audi of America and AT&T will provide owners of 2015 A3, S3 and Q3 models equipped with Audi connect the option of adding their connected cars to an AT&T Mobile Share Value data plan, starting 1 Oct.

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ARB fines H&S Performance $1M for selling illegal aftermarket diesel performance parts in California

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) announced that H&S Performance LLC has agreed to a stipulated settlement totaling $1 million to resolve violations of the California Health and Safety Code related to the sale of illegal aftermarket performance parts in California.

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EIA forecast of 2014 US gasoline use has risen 2 billion gallons (1.6%) in past 10 months

The US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) short-term forecasts of US gasoline consumption, which cover the current and upcoming calendar year, have risen 1.6% over the past year. The latest Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) expects 2014 gasoline consumption to be 8.82 million barrels per day (135.2 billion gallons). This is 0.13 million barrels per day (2 billion gallons) higher than last November’s forecast, which was close to the average 2014 consumption forecast across the 12 editions of STEO published in 2013.

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Mayor of London backs diesel car scrappage scheme; London ranked 9th best world city in new air quality study

September 10, 2014

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has renewed calls for scrapping the most polluting diesel cars and giving drivers cash incentives to switch to cleaner vehicles as part of the evidence he gave to the Environmental Audit Committee today.

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Dongfeng Nissan launches its first all-electric vehicle: Venucia e30

Dongfeng Nissan Passenger Vehicle Company (DFL-PV) launched its first pure-electric vehicle model, e30, from its local Venucia brand. (Earlier post.) Starting price is set at RMB 267,800 (US$43,705).

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Ricardo to support Clean Air Power’s first production-intent MicroPilot natural gas engine project

Following the successful conclusion of the concept study with a global truck manufacturer announced in February 2014, the collaboration between Clean Air Power and Ricardo will now move on to commence the first phase of a production development of a diesel-natural gas engine based on Clean Air Power’s MicroPilot technology (earlier post), targeted at South East Asian and other markets.

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SGB cuts time to maturity with new hybrid Jatropha from 5 to 1-2 years; $11M Series C financing

SGB Inc., an agricultural biotechnology and seed company enabling the production of high quality, low-cost and sustainable plant oil, protein and biomass, announced success in its program to create hybrid Jatropha which has both high yield and rapid time to maturity. In conjunction with these results, the company has closed an $11 million Series C financing to drive commercial rollout. Jatropha oil can be used as a biofuel feedstock.

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Ideal Power and EnerDel partner on mobile hybrid power systems

Ideal Power Inc., a developer of a novel indirect power conversion technology (earlier post), and EnerDel, Inc., a manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries and energy storage systems for electric grid, transportation and industrial applications, have signed a Strategic Alliance Agreement under which EnerDel will develop a new line of Mobile Hybrid Power Systems (MHPS) that will integrate Ideal Power’s 30 kW hybrid converter, EnerDel’s lithium-ion batteries, and proprietary control systems with a diesel generator.

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BMW to showcase new generation 2.0L diesels at Paris show

BMW will showcase members of its new generation of diesel engines for the BMW 5 Series at the upcoming Mondial de l’ Automobile Paris 2014.

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California passes 100K plug-in car sales; 40% of US plug-ins

September 09, 2014

Californians have purchased more than 100,000 plug-in cars (PEVs) since the market started in 2010, according to figures gathered by the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative.

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Braskem joins Amyris and Michelin to accelerate the industrialization and commercialization of renewable isoprene

Braskem is joining a collaboration already launched in 2011 between Michelin and Amyris. (Earlier post.) This collaboration was initiated to develop and commercialize renewable isoprene, sourced from various biomass as an additional sustainable pathway to produce isoprene.

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Scientists create “buckydiamondoids”; union of buckyballs and diamondoids function as rectifier

An international team led by researchers at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have joined two unconventional forms of carbon—diamondoids and buckyballs—to create “buckydiamondoids”. These hybrid molecules function as rectifiers, conducting electrons in only one direction, and could help pave the way to molecular electronic devices. The research team, which also included scientists from Belgium, Germany and Ukraine, reported its results in Nature Communications.

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Virent to expand demo plant capabilities to scale plant-based Paraxylene

Virent announced that The Coca-Cola Company is making an additional investment in the company’s development and commercialization of its bio-based paraxylene, BioFormPX. This investment will enable Virent to scale up separation and purification of BioFormPX material at its demonstration plant in Madison, WI.

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Allison Transmission names Enerdel Li-ion pack as approved support equipment for its hybrid drive systems

Allison Transmission has named Li-ion battery manufacturer Enerdel’s PP320-689-LP Vigor+ battery pack as approved Allison support equipment. The low-profile Vigor+ pack is approved for use with the Allison Hybrid H 40/50 EP system installed in diesel-hybrid buses globally.

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SwRI, UTSA researchers show biochar is low-cost, effective method to treat fracking water

September 08, 2014

Researchers at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) have determined that biochar, a substance produced from plant matter, is a safe, effective and inexpensive method to treat flowback water following hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

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Shell’s Cardamom development starts production; second major 2014 start-up in deep-water Gulf of Mexico

Production is now underway from the Cardamom development, the second major deep-water facility Shell has brought online in the US Gulf of Mexico this year, following the start-up of Mars B in February. Oil from the Cardamom subsea development (100% Shell) is piped through Shell’s Auger platform. When at full production of 50,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day (boe/d), Auger’s total production capacity will increase to 130,000 boe/d.

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Exide reports large performance gains in new AGM start-stop batteries

Exide Technologies announced that large performance gains will be seen in its new range of Start-Stop batteries. The new AGM battery will achieve four times longer cycle life, 20% more power and more than three times the charge acceptance of a standard conventional battery, according to Exide. Similar gains will also be seen in Exide’s new enhanced flooded battery (EFB) the company said.

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Verizon launching Auto Share car-sharing app

Verizon Enterprise Solutions announced that Verizon Auto Share, a convenient and secure way for drivers to rent, experience and return cars and other vehicles, will be available before the end of 2014. Using a car-sharing application on their smartphones or tablets, drivers can use the solution’s Scan & Go feature to gain access to a vehicle of their choice and drive it within minutes.

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Taiwan’s Aleees, Sony and Siemens team on electric buses

September 07, 2014

Taiwan-based Aleees, a supplier of nano-crystalline lithium iron phosphate cathode materials, has entered into an agreement to team up with Sony to advance electric buses in conjunction with Siemens. Alees has partnered for four years with Siemens on the production of E-buses, which have accumulated 1 million miles of practical operation.

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Boeing truck-mounted laser demonstrator destroys targets through wind and fog; “photons on target”, only diesel required

September 06, 2014

Boeing and the US Army have demonstrated the capabilities of the truck-mounted High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD) under maritime conditions (i.e., wind and fog), successfully targeting a variety of aerial targets at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. The demonstrator is the first mobile, high-energy laser, counter rocket, artillery and mortar (C-RAM) platform to be built and demonstrated by the US Army.

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Boeing successfully flight tests new ceramic composite engine nozzle; reduces noise, weight and fuel use

Boeing recently successfully flight-tested an innovative engine nozzle made of ceramic composites designed to reduce noise and weight and to lower fuel use. The ceramic matrix composite (CMC) nozzle, attached to a Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine, went through a series of tests on the ecoDemonstrator 787 Flight Test Airplane, including community noise testing, passing over a large acoustic array in Moses Lake, Wash.

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ABB and BYD enter strategic global collaboration on energy storage

September 05, 2014

Global power and automation technology group ABB and BYD Co., Ltd., announced today a strategic global collaboration to develop new solutions for energy storage, building on their complementary strengths. This collaboration will accelerate the introduction of new solutions for electric vehicle charging, the fast ramp up of renewables combined with energy storage in off-grid and on-grid solutions as well as battery and energy storage solutions for the fast growing marine segment.

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Rostec and Shenhua to invest up to $10B into coal mine development and infrastructure in Russian Far East; coal and power

Russian State Corporation Rostec, one of the largest Russian industrial conglomerates, and Chinese State Corporation Shenhua, the world’s leading producer and distributor of coal, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding. The parties plan to explore jointly coal deposits in Siberia and the Far East of Russia; to develop industrial and transport infrastructure;and to build generating capacities and high-voltage transmission lines for exporting electricity to China. The partners expect total investments of up to US$10 billion.

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DOE presenting webinar on SAE hydrogen fueling standardization

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will present a live webinar (register here) titled “Introduction to SAE Hydrogen Fueling Standardization” on Thursday, September 11, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

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Ford goes “Landfill-Free” in Canada

Ford Motor Company’s Oakville Assembly plant in Canada now sends no operational waste-to-landfill, an achievement that gives Ford Motor Company the distinction of becoming landfill-free at all its manufacturing facilities in Canada. Oakville Assembly is the first Ford assembly plant in North America to achieve this environmental designation.

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GM sells August record 280,178 vehicles in China; domestic demand increases 14.0%

General Motors and its joint ventures in China had their third-best month of 2014 in August. Domestic sales rose 14.0% on an annual basis to 280,178 units, setting a new record for the month.

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Novel high capacity anode material for Li-ion batteries: hydroxylamine hydrochloride

Researchers from Ningbo University in China report the first use of hydroxylamine hydrochloride (H3NOHCl) as anode material for lithium-ion batteries in a paper in the Journal of Power Sources. Electrochemical testing shows that H3NOHCl with particle size of 4–12 μm can deliver an initial charge capacity of 1018.6 mAh g−1—much higher than commercial graphite.

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EPA beginning process to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft under Clean Air Act

The United States recently submitted an information paper to the United Nation’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) that sets out a timeframe for initiating the US domestic regulatory process for addressing greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft under the Clean Air Act. The information paper indicates that, under the agency’s current schedule, EPA intends to propose its findings in late April 2015, with final determinations expected in spring 2016.

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VULOG collaborates with Valeo on BlueSharedAccess smartphone-based technology for carsharing services

France-based VULOG, a provider of carsharing and advanced mobility technologies, has developed a new Carsharing solution that will be demonstrated with Valeo’s InBlue in-vehicle embedded technology. This Bluetooth based “closed loop” system will be demonstrated at VALEO’s booth at Detroit ITS Congress on September 7-11 2014.

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Farmer-owned cooperative CHS investing $406M in Montana refinery to boost diesel production

September 04, 2014

CHS Inc., a leading farmer-owned cooperative in the US and a global energy, grains and foods company, will invest $406 million in its Laurel, Mont., refinery to boost efficiency and increase diesel production.The investments consist of related projects, some of which will begin this fall, and are expected to be completed in phases through 2019. Included in the $406-million investment are:

  • A new hydrogen plant and crude unit modifications that will increase crude oil throughput and increase diesel production.

  • Hyrocracker modifications that will increase diesel production, reduce production interruptions, and allow the refinery to process additional crudes.

Jay Debertin, CHS executive vice president and chief operating officer, Energy and Foods, said the additional diesel production will help its growing network of Cenex-branded marketers continue to capture growth opportunities resulting from robust diesel demand, particularly in the northern tier states.

With the addition of these projects, in recent years CHS will have invested nearly $2 billion in its operations based at Laurel and McPherson, Kan., including refinery ownership, production expansion and efficiencies; new and expanded terminals and storage; and an additional crude oil supply connection.

Debertin said when all current Montana and Kansas refinery projects are complete in 2019, total CHS refining capacity will increase by as much as 33% from 120,000 barrels per day to an estimated 160,000 barrels per day.

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UMTRI: new vehicle fuel economy hits record high of 25.8 mpg in August

The average fuel economy (window-sticker value) of new vehicles sold in the US in August was at a record high of 25.8 mpg (9.1 l/100 km)—up 0.2 mpg from the value in July, according to the latest monthly report from Dr. Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI).

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GM 2015 Colorado and Canyon V6 mid-size pickups offer segment-leading fuel economy

The 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon (earlier post) will offer segment-leading fuel economy for V-6 midsize pickups, based on current EPA fuel economy estimates. Equipped with a 305 hp (227 kW) 3.6L V-6 with direct fuel injection and continuously variable valve timing and a six-speed automatic, the trucks offer 2WD fuel economy of 18 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined.

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Vega Biofuels’ pilot torrefaction plant to use new process to lower costs of biomass feedstock; site remediation biomass

Vega Biofuels announced that its Joint Venture (JV) partner, Agri-Tech Producers, LLC (ATP) has developed a new and patent-pending process that significantly reduces the cost of some of the biomass feedstock for the company’s Allendale, SC pilot torrefaction plant by using site remediation biomass.

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SwRI expands biofuels capabilities with custom-designed circulating fluidized bed system

SwRI has added a custom-designed circulating fluidized bed (CFB) to convert heavy crude oils or biological feedstock such as corn, into valuable, refined fuel samples that clients can assess for quality and profitability. SwRI’s system produces samples at about a half liter per hour, allowing more tests to be run in a shorter time.

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Ricardo to support Tenneco with clean diesel technology for China

China-based Tenneco (Suzhou) Emission Systems Co. Ltd. has selected Ricardo to provide diesel particulate filter (DPF) control software and development support.

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CelluFuel raises $5M to begin demo plant for renewable diesel from biomass

September 03, 2014

Canada-based start-up CelluFuel Inc. has completed a $5-million capital raise to begin construction of its demonstration-scale plant for the production of synthetic, renewable diesel fuel from woody biomass using licensed technology. The commercial demonstration plant is expected to have an initial capacity of 1.3 million liters (343,000 gallons US) of diesel per year.

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Project LIBERTY cellulosic ethanol plant comes online; corn waste as feedstock

POET-DSM’s long-anticipated Project LIBERTY, the US’ first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant to use corn waste as a feedstock (earlier post), began production today. Once operating at full, commercial-scale, the biorefinery in Emmetsburg, Iowa will produce 25 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year.

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Stora Enso to build biomass-to-sugars demo plant in Louisiana

Following its recent acquisition of the US-based biotechnology company Virdia (formerly HCL CleanTech) (earlier post), Stora Enso is investing €32 million (US$ 43 million) in a demonstration and market development plant to be built at Raceland, Louisiana, USA. The plant will be used for industrial validation of the newly acquired extraction and separation technology developed by Virdia that enables cellulosic biomass, such as wood or agricultural waste, to be converted into highly refined sugars.

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Aventine upgrades Pekin ethanol plant from coal to natural gas

Aventine Renewable Energy, a leading producer, marketer and end-to-end supplier of ethanol, completed a $13.20-million project to upgrade its wet mill ethanol plant in Pekin, Illinois, by replacing 70-year-old coal boiler technology with two newly installed Indeck high-pressure natural gas boilers. The boiler installation is part of the more than $30-million investment Aventine is making to restore its two plants in Pekin.

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Air pollution regulations over last decade in Chinese city has halved health costs

Air pollution regulations over the last decade in Taiyuan, China, have substantially improved the health of people living there, accounting for a greater than 50% reduction in costs associated with loss of life and disability between 2001 and 2010, according to researchers at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH) at the Mailman School of Public Health, the Shanxi Medical University, the Center of Diseases Control and Prevention of Taiyuan Municipality, and Shanghai Fudan University School of Public Health.

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Four major US energy companies form JV for $4.5-$5B natural gas Atlantic Coast pipeline

Four major U.S. energy companies—Dominion, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and AGL Resources—have formed a joint venture to build and own the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The $4.5-billion to $5-billion, 550-mile (885 km) natural gas pipeline would run from Harrison County, W. Va., southeast through Virginia with an extension to Chesapeake, Va., and then south through central North Carolina to Robeson County. The capacity of the pipeline is projected to be 1.5 billion cubic feet/day.

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Hydrogen South Africa (HySA) Systems, The National Aerospace Centre, and Airbus to research use of fuel cells for commercial airliners

September 02, 2014

Airbus and South Africa’s National Aerospace Centre will jointly fund research by Hydrogen South Africa (HySA) into the application of fuel cells on airliners. The initial three-year project is being undertaken by HySA Systems Competence Centre at its University of the Western Cape research facility.

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IC Bus adds purpose-built propane school bus offering; PSI 8.8-liter propane engine and Allison transmission

IC Bus, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Navistar, will offer its IC Bus CE Series school bus powered by the Power Solutions International (PSI) 8.8-liter LP propane engine for the 2015 school year. Purpose-built for the school bus industry, the CE Series with PSI propane engine is designed to provide diesel-like performance with higher torque at lower engine speeds.

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OPIS: Russia’s shipments of diesel to Europe surged 55% in first eight months of 2014

Satellite tracking of oil cargoes by market reporting group OPIS shows that Europe’s dependence on Russia for road fuels in the 28 member countries has deepened significantly. Diesel imports from Russia are at a record in the first eight months of 2014, with Germany the most reliant, followed by France, and then the UK. Ultra-low-sulphur diesel exported from Russia to Europe surged 55% from January to August, compared to the same period last year, displacing India as the second-largest importer after the US.

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Mitsubishi Motors to introduce sporty concept version of Outlander PHEV

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) will unveil the has Outlander PHEV Concept-S, a sporty concept version of its successful Outlander PHEV, at the upcoming Paris Motor Show. The Outlander PHEV is the top-selling plug-in in Europe (earlier post), and just recently went on sale in Russia.

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Rice study suggests new solutions needed to recycle fracking water

Rice University scientists have performed a detailed analysis of water produced by hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking) of three gas reservoirs and suggested environmentally friendly remedies are needed to treat and reuse it.

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Argonne, KAERI developing prototype sodium-cooled fast nuclear reactor

The US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory is working with the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) to develop a Prototype Generation-IV Sodium-cooled Fast Reactor (PGSFR). KAERI’s Sodium-cooled Fast Reactor Development Agency has provided $6.78 million funding to date for Argonne’s contributions through a Work-for-Others contract.

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Study: air traffic growth set to outpace carbon reduction efforts

September 01, 2014

Carbon reduction efforts in the airline industry will be outweighed by growth in air-traffic, even if the most contentious mitigation measures are implemented, according to a recent analysis by a team at the the University of Southampton. The paper is published in the journal Atmospheric Environment.

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Laser company Fonon introduces 3D Metal Sintering System

Fonon, founded in 2001 with a focus on the research, development, and manufacture of laser marking and cutting equipment for the global automotive, aerospace, defense, electronic and medical industries, recently introduced its new additive manufacturing Equipment—the 3D Metal Sintering System (3D Metal Printing).

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Pennsylvania to award ~$6M for purchase of and conversion to heavy-duty natural gas vehicles

August 31, 2014

The third round of Pennsylvania’s Natural Gas Vehicle grants opened yesterday, will provide an estimated $6 million to help pay for the incremental purchase and conversion costs of heavy-duty natural gas fleet vehicles.

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Henkel partners with Formula E Team China Racing as exclusive adhesive supplier

August 30, 2014

Organizers of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Formula E Team China Racing announced a joint partnership with Henkel, the world leading supplier of high-tech automotive adhesive solutions, which helps promote development in the electric vehicle field.

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Opinion: New technology could end the debate over pipeline safety

August 29, 2014

by James Stafford of

Who could have ever imagined that North America would surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas liquids? A decade ago, that would have seemed laughable. Yet that’s exactly what has happened; and it’s not just Saudi Arabia that has been left in North America’s dust—Russia has, too.

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Court approves reorganization application from National Electric Vehicle Sweden

The District court of Vänersborg, Sweden, approved an application for reorganization from National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB (NEVS), the company working to resurrect the SAAB brand. (Earlier post.) The District court has appointed Lars Eric Gustafsson, Attorney at Hamilton law firm in Stockholm, as administrator during the reorganization period.

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J.D. Power: purchase consideration among consumers for domestic brands in China plummets, esp. in Tier 2 & 3 cities

Purchase consideration among new-vehicle shoppers in China for domestic brands has decreased, most notably in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, according to the J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2014 China New-Vehicle Intender Study (NVIS). The proportion of new-vehicle intenders who indicate they would consider buying a domestic brand has decreased to 16% in 2014 from 27% in 2013, which is the lowest rate since 2009 when it was 26%.

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Toyota approved to self-inspect and manufacture hydrogen tanks for fuel cell vehicles

Toyota Motor Corporation has received approval from Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) to self-inspect and manufacture high-pressure hydrogen tanks for fuel cell vehicles (FCVs). This makes Toyota the first company to become a registered manufacturer of 70 MPa (700 bar) hydrogen tanks under Japan’s High Pressure Gas Safety Act, revised in 1997 by METI.

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ARPA-E to provide up to $30M for R&D to aid development of fusion power

ARPA-E is making up to $30 million in funding available (DE-FOA-0001184) for a new program: Accelerating Low-cost Plasma Heating and Assembly (ALPHA). ALPHA seeks to support innovative R&D on low-cost tools to aid in the future development of fusion power.

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Renesas introduces new 40 nm RH850/C1x series of microcontrollers for HEV/EV motor control applications

August 28, 2014

Renesas Electronics Corporation has introduced the new RH850/C1x Series of 32-bit microcontrollers (MCUs), designed for motor control in hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and electric vehicles (EVs). Based on Renesas Electronics’ 40-nanometer (nm) process, the RH850/C1x Series features the RH850/C1H and RH850/C1M MCUs, which enable embedded designers to enhance efficiency, reduce system costs, and achieve higher safety levels for HEV/EV motor control systems, the company said.

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NIRA Dynamics develops algorithms that estimate friction between road and tire

Swedish signal processing and controls company NIRA Dynamics AB has developed algorithms that can estimate the friction value between the road and the tires. NIRA is now looking for automotive applications and partners to bring the new algorithms out onto the road.

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LG Innotek develops first rare-earth-free motor for dual-clutch transmissions

LG Innotek has developed the first “rare-earth-free” automotive dual-clutch transmission (DCT) motor. Rare earth elements are usually used in materials for in automotive motors, but there are only small and concentrated reserves worldwide of the rare earth minerals. As such, they are subject to sharp price increases when supplies dwindle. LG Innotek said that in addition to avoiding this problem, the new motor also reflects efforts to protect the environment since the mining, refining and disposal of rare earth minerals can cause environmental damage.

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Hitachi begins joint research with MIT, U Michigan and UC Berkeley on next-gen nuclear reactors that use radioactive waste as fuel

Hitachi, Ltd. has begun joint research with MIT, the University of Michigan, and the University of California, Berkeley aimed at using Transuranium Elements (TRUs) as fuel, and the development of Resource-renewable Boiling Water Reactors (RBWRs) to use that fuel. TRUs are contained in the radioactive waste materials discharged by nuclear power plants that have atomic numbers greater than that of uranium (92), and which require a long period of time to decay.

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Chevrolet sells 3 millionth Cruze; China the top market

Sixteen months after passing the 2-million units mark, Chevrolet has sold 3 million Cruze compact cars. The Cruze made its global debut in South Korea in November 2008. China is the model’s top-selling market, with 1.13 million units sold through July 2014. The US comes in second with 900,000 units, followed by Russia in third with 195,000 units.

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Lockheed Martin purchases assets of Sun Catalytix

Lockheed Martin has completed the acquisition of substantially all of the assets of Sun Catalytix Corporation, an MIT spin-out which was initially focused on developing an “artificial leaf” for water-splitting (earlier post), but which changed course to develop a grid-scale flow battery for energy storage. The former Sun Catalytix’ current efforts focus on the design, synthesis and electrochemical testing of a novel energy storage chemistry derived from low cost, earth-abundant materials.

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EIA: rail deliveries of US oil up 9% y-o-y in first 7 months of 2014

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that the amount of crude oil and refined petroleum products moved by US railroads increased 9% during the first seven months of this year compared with the same period in 2013.

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California Energy Commission awards additional $1M for more EV chargers

The California Energy Commission approved an additional $1 million to fund new fast electric vehicle chargers in Southern California and expand chargers in Sonoma County. The CEC also voted at its business meeting to approve three grants totaling $623,000 for technologies to monitor this critical energy infrastructure.

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Telefonix introduces new low-current Level 2 EV charging station

Telefonix, Inc., a developer of cord reel technology and solutions primarily for highly regulated industries, and manufacturer of the PowerPost commercial electric vehicle (EV) charging station product line, has entered the Level 2 electric vehicle service equipment (EVSE) market with UL approval of their L2 PowerPost EV charging station.

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Chile, US navies to carry on working on drop-in alternative fuels

August 27, 2014

Chilean Undersecretary of Defense Marcos Robledo and United States Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus last week agreed to continue, through their respective navies, discussions on research, development and use of advanced drop-in alternative fuels to power surface ships and aircraft.

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GM to invest $233M more in building Ecotec small-displacement gasoline engines

General Motors will invest $185 million to make small-displacement gasoline engines at its Spring Hill, Tennessee manufacturing complex. An additional $48.4-million investment is planned for the Bedford, Ind. powertrain castings plant. Both investments support GM’s new small displacement engine, which is part of an all-new Ecotec engine family that will be used by five GM brands in 27 models by the 2017 model year, powering many of the company’s high-volume small car and compact-crossover vehicles. (Earlier post.)

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Infographic: 5 Largest US Public Transit Systems

The University of North Carolina School of Government’s MPA@UNC program has produced an infographic on the 5 largest US public transit systems. The graphic showcases the history and development, ridership and key metrics, and current and upcoming improvements of the transit systems in New York City, Boston, Chicago, Washington DC and San Francisco:

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Mitsubishi plug-in hybrid Outlander going on sale in Russia in September

At the Moscow International Automobile Salon 2014, Mitsubishi presented its four-wheel drive SUV plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), the Outlander PHEV (earlier post); sales of the Outlander PHEV will start in Russia from September, 2014.

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IPCC sends draft Synthesis Report to governments for comment

Authors of the Intergovernmental Report on Climate Change (IPCC) have finished drafting the Synthesis Report of the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) and sent the draft to governments for comments on the text.

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Ford Selects Nat G as newest Qualified Vehicle Modifier; factory-qualified natural gas upgrades in Texas

Nat G CNG Solutions, a Houston-based company specializing in compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle upgrades, has been selected as a Ford Motor Company Qualified Vehicle Modifier (QVM). Ford instituted the QVM Program to improve quality assurance for Ford vehicle modifications, including natural gas vehicle upgrades.

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Zipcar introduces Honda Fit EV into UC Davis West Village fleet

August 26, 2014

Zipcar has introduced a 2014 Honda Fit battery electric vehicle (EV) at The University of California, Davis’ (UC Davis) West Village, the largest planned zero net energy community in the United States. In the course of a year, the community is designed to generate as much energy as it consumes.

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