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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.]

First international commercial flight completed with direct sugar to hydrocarbon (DSHC) fuel

July 31, 2014

Amyris has partnered with Brazilian airline GOL to fly the industry’s first commercial flight with sugarcane-derived farnesane, the recently approved renewable jet fuel. (Earlier post.) The first flight, GOL flight 7725, departed from Orlando, Florida on 30 July 2014 and traveled to Sao Paulo, Brazil.

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Ultracapacitor manufacturer Skeleton Technologies raises €3.9M (US$5.2 M) in Round A financing

Skeleton Technologies, a manufacturer of high power- and energy-density ultracapacitors (earlier post) has completed Round A financing of €3.9 million (US$5.4 million). The financing will be used for production scale-up and product development in addition to sales and marketing efforts. The total Round A financing, led by Estonian venture capital investor UP Invest AS includes the first financing tranche of €2.2 million announced in April 2013.

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Continental acquires 100% ownership of exhaust aftertreatment JV Emitec

Continental has acquired 100% ownership of the exhaust technologies specialist Emitec. Until now, it was a 50/50 joint venture with Continental and Continental’s partner GKN. The acquisition takes effect today, with Emitec becoming part of Conti’s Powertrain Division.

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Ford holding auto app developer conference; hackathon with LA data

Ford Motor Company will hold an automotive app developer conference on 8 September as part of the Connected Car Expo taking place at CTIA’s Super Mobility Week at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas. The conference will be followed by an overnight hackathon where developers will be provided data generated by Ford vehicles and from the City of Los Angeles to create innovative apps.

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Fraunhofer researchers take a different angle on wireless charging: from the front

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Systems and Device Technology IISB in Erlangen, Germany are pursuing an alternative approach to inductive (wireless) charging for electric vehicles. Rather than mounting induction coils on the underside of the vehicle to work with floor-mounted charging stations, the Fraunhofer team has developed a system for charging the plug-in from the front end. This, they say, addresses a number of problems.

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Chromatin and California ethanol producers to support sorghum feedstock program with CA Energy Commission’s $9M grants

Chromatin, Inc., a leading producer of innovative crop breeding technology, sorghum seed products and feedstocks, announced a collaborative sorghum feedstock program with Pacific Ethanol, Inc.; Calgren Renewable Fuels; and Aemetis, Inc. The California Energy Commission announced on 18 July 2014 that it had awarded the ethanol companies with a total of $9 million in grants. (Earlier post.)

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UT and ORNL researchers develop new class of pseudocapacitor; anion-based intercalation pseudocapacitance

Scientists in the The University of Texas at Austin’s College of Natural Sciences and the Cockrell School of Engineering, in collaboration with a researcher at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, have developed the first of a new class of pseudocapacitor that may eventually lead to devices that can store electricity more densely and charge/discharge more quickly than other types of pseudocapacitors built to date.

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M&G Chemicals & Anhui Guozhen form JV to build the world’s largest cellulosic ethanol biorefinery in China

M&G Chemicals’s subsidiary M&G International S.à.r.l has entered into a Sino-foreign joint venture with Anhui Guozhen ℅, Ltd. The JV company—Anhui M&G Guozhen Green Refinery CO, Ltd—will employ PROESA technology licensed by Beta Renewables to convert 970,000-1,300,000 metric tons per year of agricultural residues into cellulosic ethanol, glycols and by-products such as lignin in Fuyang City (Anhui Province, PRC).

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Michigan State awarded $1M to develop hardier switchgrass

Michigan State University has been awarded $1 million from a joint US Department of Energy and US Department of Agriculture program to develop hardier switchgrass, a plant native to North America that holds high potential as a biofuel source.

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Tamarind Energy and Blackstone Energy Partners to form $800M partnership with a focus on SE Asia oil and gas development

Tamarind Energy, a new exploration and production company headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, announced its formation with a commitment from Blackstone Energy Partners. The Tamarind team comprises senior executives with experience across a range of basins in South East Asia. Tamarind will focus on growing production and reserves from producing oil and gas fields; efficiently developing discoveries; and capturing exploration potential in and around proven plays to build a high-quality portfolio.

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DOE awarding $11M to advance renewable carbon fiber production from biomass

July 30, 2014

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award up to $11.3 million for two projects that aim to advance the production of cost-competitive, high-performance carbon fiber material from renewable, non-food-based feedstocks, such as agricultural residues and woody biomass.

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Daimler to invest $2B in Sindelfingen Plant by 2020

By 2020, Daimler will invest €1.5 billion (US$2 billion) at the Mercedes-Benz Cars Sindelfingen Plant and will significantly improve its competitive position. The company has reached a multi-year agreement with the Works Council on cost reductions in a triple-digit million euro amount. In return, Daimler will invest billions of euros in the modernization of the plant and will produce another model in Sindelfingen.

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Automatic Parking Assist standard on every Chevrolet SS Sedan

The SS Sedan is Chevrolet’s first and only vehicle to offer standard Automatic Parking Assist. The technology uses sensors on the front and rear bumpers to detect the width and depth of parallel and reverse right-angle parking spaces to provide hands-free parking help.

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Toyota starts CVT production in China; production of hybrid vehicle transaxles to begin in 2015

Toyota Motor Corporation’s (TMC’s) vehicle powertrain production subsidiary in Changshu, China, Toyota Motor (Changshu) Auto Parts Co., Ltd. (TMCAP), has begun localized production of continuously variable transmissions (CVTs), which is a first for Toyota outside Japan. Production of transaxles for hybrid vehicles—also a first for Toyota outside Japan—is scheduled to begin here in 2015.

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Remy introduces new high-output alternator

Remy International, Inc. has launched the Delco Remy 38SI, its latest high output alternator. With this high-efficiency, mid-range amperage (215 A) alternator, Remy offers customers a comprehensive portfolio of high output products.

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DOE announces steps to help modernize natural gas infrastructure

The White House and the Department of Energy hosted the fifth in a series of meetings on reducing methane emissions from natural gas systems. Following the meeting, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz announced several new initiatives as DOE’s part of the larger Administration Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions.

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Sakor Technologies announces turnkey test system for hybrid and electric vehicles

p> Sakor Technologies, Inc., a recognized leader in the implementation of instrumentation products for dynamometer testing, announced the availability of its complete testing system for hybrid and electric vehicles (HEVs). The system features one or more AccuDyne AC motoring dynamometers; a high-voltage DC battery simulator; and a DynoLAB PT data acquisition and control system.

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Exelon to provide financing for 21MW of Bloom Energy SOFC projects at 75 commercial facilities

July 29, 2014

Exelon Corporation will provide equity financing for 21 megawatts (MW) of Bloom Energy solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) projects at 75 commercial facilities in California, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. The power buyers include new and repeat blue-chip customers, such as AT&T, which will use the fuel cells to power operations at nine sites.

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JV greenlights commercial small-scale GTL plant in Oklahoma using Velocys technology; commercial reference site

Velocys plc announced that the final investment decision (FID) has been made to proceed with construction of a commercial small-scale GTL plant using its technology. The project is being funded by a joint venture (JV) between Waste Management, NRG Energy (NRG), Ventech Engineers International (Ventech) and Velocys, formed to develop a series of GTL plants in the United States and other select geographies. (Earlier post.)

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Fifth DOT connected vehicle PlugFest in August

The USDOT will hold its fifth Connected Vehicle PlugFest on 5-7 August 2014, in Farmington Hills, Michigan. PlugFests provide venues for vendor-to-vendor connected vehicle device testing to help ensure that devices and systems meet the base standard requirements and level of interoperability necessary for the Southeast Michigan Connected Vehicle Test Bed Deployment 2014 Project.

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ABS to class first CNG carrier; intra-Indonesia transport

ABS, a leading provider of global marine classification services, has been chosen to class the world’s first compressed natural gas (CNG) carrier, which has been ordered by Pelayaran Bahtera Adhiguna, a subsidiary of Indonesia’s state-owned power company Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PT PLN).

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Intelligent Energy signs agreement with Japanese automotive OEM to develop fuel cell technology towards commercial launch

Intelligent Energy Holdings plc has signed a further two-year, multi-million pound development agreement with a Japanese volume automotive OEM. The agreement will focus on the development of Intelligent Energy’s differentiated fuel cell engine technology towards commercialization in applications that are targeted to include compact cars and two-wheeler vehicles, as well as in range extender units for low-emission light vehicles.

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Evatran’s wireless charging technology available for Cadillac ELR; two more premium model announcements expected

Evatran Group, Inc. announced that its Plugless wireless charging technology (earlier post) will soon be available on the Cadillac ELR. Evatran currently has systems that are compatible with the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt. The Cadillac ELR is the first model to be announced in what the company expects to be three new premium model announcements by the end of 2014.

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GM bringing wireless smartphone charging with Powermat to Cadillac models

Cadillac will add wireless charging of smartphones in the 2015 model ATS sport sedan and coupe launching this fall, to the CTS sport sedan this fall and to the Escalade SUV at the end of 2014.Compatible with Powermat and other in-phone wireless charging technologies, the feature eliminates the need for cords on board.Following its introduction into the 2015 ATS, wireless charging technology will be added

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Ceres awarded Brazil government loan and grant to enhance sorghum and sugarcane development programs

July 28, 2014

Ceres, Inc. , an agricultural biotechnology and seed company, will enhance its product development programs in Brazil and expand its development activities in biotech traits for sorghum and sugarcane over the next four years. The programs will now be funded in part under the Brazilian government’s PAISS Agricola initiative, which promotes agricultural innovations in sugarcane as well as other energy crops.

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China BAK Battery and Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics collaborate on next-gen batteries

China BAK Battery, Inc. (CBAK) will collaborate with Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics of Chinese Academy of Sciences (DICP) in the R&D of next-generation battery manufacturing technologies with new battery materials, from lab scale tests, pilot scale tests to industrial tests, and related special preparation techniques.

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GE GHG Ecomagination Innovation Challenge for higher value use of low grade waste heat from oil sands production

NineSigma, representing the General Electric Company, is inviting participation in a GE GHG Ecomagination Innovation Challenge to create value from excess low grade heat resulting from Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) oil sands production and/or related surface facility operations.

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Hydrogenics selected for 2 MW Power-to-Gas project in Canada

July 27, 2014

Hydrogenics Corporation, a leading developer and manufacturer of hydrogen generation and hydrogen-based power modules, was selected by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) for Ontario as one of five grid storage projects. The Hydrogenics project, which will use PEM electrolyzers in a Power-to-Gas system, will deliver 2MW of storage capacity and be located in the Greater Toronto Area.

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Renewable Fuels Association says DOE is under-representing E85 stations

July 25, 2014

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) said that the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) database severely under-represents the number of stations selling E85. RFA says it uncovered nearly 1,000 missing stations as it compared the 2,391 stations found in the database as of 22 July 2014 to the 3,349 retail locations found on the “crowd-sourced” website E85prices.com.

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£1B Advanced Propulsion Centre selects Univ. of Warwick as Hub

The UK’s 10-year, £1-billion (US$1.7-billion) Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) (earlier post) has selected the University of Warwick as the site for its Hub location, supporting the industry and government commitment to the development of low carbon propulsion systems.

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Lesaffre acquires Butalco for yeast for second-generation biofuels

France-based yeast company Lesaffre has acquired Butalco, a start-up founded in 2007 by Professor Eckhard Boles and Gunter Festerl as a spin-off of Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main. Butalco is a research company focused on the development of yeast strains for second-generation biofuels and bio-based chemicals. (Earlier post.)

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BASF opens new automotive coatings plant in Shanghai

BASF Shanghai Coatings Co., Ltd. opened its new automotive coatings plant at the Shanghai Chemical Industry Park in Shanghai, China.

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Continental eBike System entering production in Q4

July 24, 2014

Continental’s eBike System will enter production in the fourth quarter of 2014 and will be on display at the Eurobike trade fair from 27-30 August; the company had presented a prototype of the system at the Eurobike trade fair in 2013. The complete drive system, with a mid-mounted motor, display, remote and battery, powers e-bikes and pedelecs. The company will also present its service concept for manufacturers and dealers, as well as the optimized Conti Drive System. (Earlier post.)

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Satellite study shows drought-stricken Colorado River Basin states depleting their groundwater

A new satellite study finds more than 75% of the water loss in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since late 2004 came from underground resources. The extent of groundwater loss may pose a greater threat to the water supply of the western United States than previously thought.

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Fontaine Modification to install Mainstay Fuel Technologies CNG systems in Class 8 trucks

Under a new agreement, Fontaine Modification will install the back-of-cab and side-saddle CNG fuel storage, management and delivery systems manufactured by Mainstay Fuel Technologies on Class 8 heavy-duty, over-the-road tractors.

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GKN Aerospace to lead $23M research collaboration in additive manufacturing; up to 50% reduction in component weight

UK-based GKN Aerospace is to lead a consortium of UK companies in a 3½-year £13.4-million (US$23-million) research and development program called Horizon (AM) that builds on GKN Aerospace’s extensive and fast-developing additive manufacturing capability.

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Iowa study suggests miscanthus would yield more biomass in Iowa soil than originally thought

July 23, 2014

Miscanthus, a perennial grass with vast potential to produce biomass, would deliver even better yields than once thought in Iowa, according to research by agronomists at Iowa State University. The research indicates that miscanthus could have a major role to play in the future of Iowa agriculture, both as a source of biomass for energy and as a means of protecting the environment, said Emily Heaton, an assistant professor of agronomy, project leader and co-author of the study.

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Opel will drop the Ampera; new EV in 2014-2018 time frame

Taking a page out of Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk’s Twitter-based announcement style, Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann (@KT_Neumann) tweeted today (in both English and German) that after the run-out of the current generation Ampera plug-in hybrid, Opel will introduce a successor product in the EV segment as part of its major model offensive from 2014-2018 (27 new vehicles).

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New lightweight metals institute will be headquartered in Detroit

The new $148-million lightweight metals manufacturing institute announced in February by President Obama (earlier post) will locate in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit, officials from the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII) and the city announced today.

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Continental develops electric parking brake for compact cars with drum brakes

Continental has developed an Electric Parking Brake (EPB) for drum brakes. It is especially tailored to the lower-priced automotive segment that, up until now, has had to make do with mechanical parking brakes built into the existing drum brake on the rear axle. The electric parking drum brake will go into serial production by 2017.

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Enerpulse explains mechanism by which pulsed energy ignition plugs enhance fuel economy

Enerpulse Technologies said that it has further identified the underlying mechanism by which its its pulsed energy ignition technology improves fuel economy, reduces emission and delivers higher torque in spark ignited (SI) internal combustion (IC) engines. (Earlier post.) Nano-Plasma Assisted Combustion (n-PAC is the process by which the air-fuel mixture in the combustion chamber is made highly reactive by an energy-dense plasma field prior to spark creation; this results in more precise combustion ignition (PCI) and a faster propagating flame front.

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U Mich poll finds support for carbon tax grows when revenue fuels renewable energy

A carbon tax with revenues used to fund renewable energy programs gained support from 60 percent of Americans, according to a University of Michigan poll. That’s the highest among tax options presented and one that crossed the political divide with majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Independents saying they would support the tax, according to the National Surveys on Energy and Environment.

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Ballard to supply New Flyer Industries with next generation power module for fuel cell bus

July 22, 2014

Ballard Power Systems has received a purchase order from New Flyer Industries for the delivery of Ballard’s first next-generation FCvelocity-HD7 fuel cell power module to a North American bus manufacturer. (Earlier post.) Delivery of the power module to New Flyer Industries is planned for later this year.

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DOE focusing on fuel cell and hydrogen topics in FY 2015 SBIR/STTR Phase I Release 1

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced the Fiscal Year 2015 Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Phase I Release 1 technical topics. These topics include non-platinum catalysts for fuel cells and detection of contaminants in hydrogen.

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SwRI to lead oil and gas separation technology joint industry project

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) launched a multi-million dollar joint industry project to better understand oil and gas separation technology. The objective of the Separation Technology Research Program (STAR Program) is to combine industry knowledge and resources to advance research that could lead to better equipment and test protocols.

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Renault to supply Fiat with light commercial vehicle

Renault and Fiat have signed an agreement under which Renault will supply Fiat with a light commercial vehicle based on a Renault platform.

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Global Bioenergies receives advanced fermentation unit to produce gaseous hydrocarbons

Global Bioenergies (GBE), a leading developer of one-step fermentation processes for the direct and cost-efficient transformation of renewable resources into light olefins (earlier post) has received an fermentation unit and its associated devices optimized for the fermentative production of gaseous hydrocarbons.

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Shanghai GM previews new Envision midsize SUV; 2.0L turbo with start/stop

Shanghai GM previewed the all-new Buick Envision, announcing its Chinese name as “Ang Ke Wei” (昂科威); the new high-end midsize SUV will go on sale across China later this year. Envision is equipped with a 2.0T direct injection turbocharged engine—named one of Ward’s 10 Best Engines in 2013—which generates maximum output power of 191 kW (256 hp) and peak torque of 353 N·m (260 lb-ft). It includes stop/start technology, for better fuel economy.

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Newly-established Opel Group responsible for all GM’s European business including Russia

Effective 1 July 2014, the newly-established Opel Group assumed full responsibility for General Motors’ business in Europe. Through this new entity, the company aggregates the responsibilities for Opel/Vauxhall as well as all other operations of GM in Europe—including Russia.

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ZeoGas licenses ExxonMobil Methanol-to-Gasoline technology for Gulf Coast plant

July 21, 2014

ZeoGas LLC (ZeoGas), a developer of natural gas-to-gasoline projects, has entered into a license agreement to use ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company’s (ExxonMobil) methanol-to-gasoline (MTG) technology in the development of a natural gas-to-gasoline plant on the US Gulf Coast.

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Construction begins on DOE-sponsored carbon-capture project at Kentucky Power Plant

Construction began on an innovative $19.5-million carbon-capture pilot, funded in part by the US Department of Energy (DOE), at Kentucky Utilities’ E.W. Brown Generating Station near Harrodsburg, Kentucky. The 2 megawatt thermal system will be the first megawatt-scale carbon-capture pilot unit in the Commonwealth.

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Voith Turbo supplying 60 fuel-efficient DIWA.5 automatic transmissions for Pittsburgh buses

Voith Turbo Inc. will deliver 60 DIWA.5 automatic transmissions to Gillig, LLC this summer, which will be used in clean diesel buses bound for the Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAT) transit system in Pittsburgh, PA. Voith’s DIWA.5 transmission allows for very smooth gear shifts, which reduce wear and tear and increase driving comfort in city transit buses. Additionally, its overdrive 4th gear optimizes fuel-friendly engine speeds in city traffic.

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Bosch info chart provides guidance on selection of gasoline or diesel

Bosch has produced a compact chart outlining the information drivers need to choose between gasoline or diesel powertrains. The advantages of the two powertrains are compared, and those who are uncertain can decide whether their individual driving profile is best suited to the diesel or gasoline variant.

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DENSO begins testing advanced driving support technology on a public road in Japan

DENSO Corp. began testing advanced driving support technology on a public road in Aichi Prefecture, Japan this past June. DENSO is testing automated driving scenarios in a single lane and testing automatic lane changes, as well as other driving maneuvers.

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Bosch improves the mechanical vacuum pump

July 19, 2014

Bosch has made the EVOII mechanical vacuum pump lighter and much more efficient, putting it on a par with more expensive electric vacuum pumps. The Bosch EVOII offers the best value for money on the market and reliably provides the vacuum for the brake booster, the company claims. The unit costs up to 75% less than comparable electric pumps, and offers CO2 emissions of less than 0.4 grams per kilometer. In addition, the unit is contained within the engine compartment, so the driver hears nothing.

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Volvo Group ordered by US Court to pay $74.3M in penalties in diesel emission case

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has ruled that the Volvo Group should pay penalties and interest of approximately SEK 508 million (US$74.3 million) following a dispute between the Volvo Group and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding NOx emission compliance of diesel engines.

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Petrobras’ June oil production in Brazil up 1.7% exceeding 2M bpd; gas production reaches record

Petrobras’s June oil production in Brazil averaged 2,008 thousand barrels/day (bpd), up 1.7% from May’s production of 1,975 thousand bpd. Including the production operated by Petrobras for its partners in Brazil, the volume reached 2,135 thousand bpd, up 2.1% from last month’s production of 2,092 thousand bpd.

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Japan to offer ~$20K in subsidies per fuel cell vehicle

July 18, 2014

The Nikkei reports that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe revealed plans to provide at least ¥2 million (US$19,722) in subsidies for every purchase of a fuel cell vehicle.

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2015 Chevrolet and GMC pickups, SUVs to offer eight-speed transmission with EcoTec3 V-8

Chevrolet and GMC have confirmed a new eight-speed automatic transmission will be standard on 2015 Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra and GMC Yukon Denali/Yukon XL Denali models equipped with the 6.2L EcoTec3 V-8 (L86) (earlier post).

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BASF opens its largest European production plant for mobile emissions catalysts; LD gasoline and diesel and HD diesel

BASF has inaugurated its new production plant for mobile emissions catalysts in Środa Śląska, a Special Economic Zone near Wrocław, Poland. The emissions catalysts produced there will be used by manufacturers of light duty gasoline vehicles and light and heavy duty diesel vehicles to meet more stringent Euro 6/VI emissions regulations.

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DOE to award up to $4.5M to increase acceptance and deployment of alt fuel vehicles

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award up to $4.5 million (DE-FOA-0000951) to create and implement high impact and highly innovative approaches to increase the acceptance and deployment of Alternative Fuel Vehicles (AFVs).

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DOE awards $3.5M to Cellana to develop cost-competitive algal biofuels; hybrid production system

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding $3.5 million to Cellana for an algae project aimed at accelerating the development of sustainable, affordable algal biofuels. This research project supports the goal of producing 2,500 gallons of algal biofuel feedstock per acre per year by 2018, an important milestone toward reducing the cost of algal biofuels to cost-competitive levels of 5,000 gallons per acre per year by 2022.

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Mazda begins production of 4th-gen Mazda2 (Demio)

July 17, 2014

Mazda Motor Corporation unveiled the all-new Mazda2 (known as Mazda Demio in Japan). Production of the fourth-generation of the model, which has been fully redesigned for the first time in seven years, has begun at Mazda’s Hofu Plant No. 1 in Yamaguchi, Japan.

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Ford to expand aggressively in Middle East & Africa; at least 25 new vehicles by 2016

Ford Motor Company announced an aggressive product acceleration in its newest business unit, Middle East & Africa, leveraging the company’s One Ford global portfolio and targeting opportunities for growth in small, mid-size and large vehicle segments. During a special “Go Further” event in Johannesburg attended by 1,000 employees, Ford dealers, suppliers, government officials, and media, Ford pledged to launch at least 25 new vehicles by 2016 to Middle East & Africa.

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Evonik invests in bio-based lubricant company Biosynthetic Technologies

July 16, 2014

Evonik has closed on an equity investment in Biosynthetic Technologies, LLC (BT), a specialist in bio-based lubricants headquartered in California. BT has developed and manufactures a new class of bio-based synthetic oils called estolides that are used primarily in the passenger car motor oil and industrial lubricant sectors.

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Navistar ships first vocational vehicles with 9- and 10-liter SCR engines; up to 8% fuel economy improvement

Navistar, Inc. has started customer shipments of its first International DuraStar and International WorkStar vehicles with the company’s 9- and 10-liter engines with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) emissions technology. The company’s internal testing shows these products are delivering up to 8% in fuel economy improvement over the previous generation.

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Foothill Transit first transit agency to buy 2nd-generation Proterra EV buses

Proterra Inc. announced the first sale of its second-generation battery-electric bus to Foothill Transit of West Covina, Calif. Foothill Transit became Proterra’s first customer and the first agency in the US to operate EV buses in revenue service in 2010.

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ProcessBarron retrofits help Severstal steel plant save 25 GWh/y in energy

Last year, air, gas and material handling equipment company ProcessBarron retrofitted four 2,750-hp fans that send particulates from an electric arc furnace (EAF) to a baghouse for air pollution control at the Severstal steel plant in Columbus, Miss. These retrofits have helped the Severstal Columbus plant achieve more than 25,251,390 kWh (25 GWh) per year in energy savings and reduced the plant’s EAF energy costs by $0.70 per ton, qualifying it for the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Major Industrial Program.

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Shell adds 3rd major discovery to the Norphlet play in the Gulf of Mexico; total potential now above 700M barrels oil equivalent

Shell announced its third major discovery in the Norphlet play in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico with the successful Rydberg exploration well. After more than 10 years of exploration activities in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, Shell continues to lead industry in exploring this Jurassic play.

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BYD building factory in Brazil for electric buses and battery packs

July 15, 2014

BYD will build its first factory in Brazil in the city of Campinas (in the São Paulo region of Brazil). The factory is slated to open in 2015 and will launch the manufacturing and assembly of the BYD’s electric transit bus in South America as well as the Iron-Phosphate battery packs.

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DOE awards $6M to advance cost-competitive drop-in biofuels

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award $6 million to two projects to help develop next generation biofuels that will help drive down the cost of producing gasoline, diesel, and jet fuels from biomass. DOE is targeting the production of cost-competitive drop-in biofuels at $3 per gallon by 2017.

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SAIC-GM-Wuling breaks ground for new R&D center and proving ground

SAIC-GM-Wuling broke ground for its new R&D center and proving ground in Liuzhou, Guangxi, on 12 July. The facilities, which are adjacent to the joint venture’s Baojun passenger car production base, will support the development of new vehicles for China.

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Renault delivers 30 Kangoo Z.E. electric vehicles in Uruguay

UTE, which generates, transmits and distributes electricity in Uruguay, took delivery of its new fleet of 30 Kangoo Z.E.s following an order resulting from a tender process launched several months ago.

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Lux: transportation energy storage market worth $21B in 2020; closing the gap with electronics

Energy storage, driven largely by electronics and plug-in vehicles, will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 8% to $50 billion in 2020, with significant shifts coming from the transportation industry, according to a new report by Lux Research. Transportation applications will outpace electronics growth—attaining an 11% CAGR to become a $21 billion market by the end of the decade.

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Rutgers chemists develop new high-performance, platinum-free electrocatalyst for electrolysis; licensing available

Rutgers researchers have synthesized cobalt-embedded nitrogen-rich carbon nanotubes (NRCNTs) that 1) can efficiently electrocatalyze the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) with activities close to that of costly platinum and 2) function well under acidic, neutral or basic media alike, allowing them to be coupled with the best available oxygen-evolving catalysts—which also play crucial roles in the overall water-splitting reaction.

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EIA: fuel economy improvements bring diminishing returns in fuel savings

Improving fuel economy exhibits diminishing returns in fuel savings, according to a brief analysis by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). For example, switching from a 10-mile-per-gallon (mpg) vehicle to a 15-mpg vehicle saves more fuel and results in greater fuel cost savings than switching from a 25-mpg vehicle to a 75-mpg vehicle. Similarly, the fuel and cost savings of improving fuel economy from 12 mpg to 15 mpg are the same as increasing from 30 mpg to 60 mpg.

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Rice, Lawrence Livermore scientists characterize performance of carbon-based Li-ion battery anodes; simple descriptor

July 14, 2014

Lithium-ion batteries could benefit from a theoretical model created at Rice University and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory that predicts how carbon-based anodes will perform.

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VW Scirocco gets a completely new range of engines; up to 20 PS more power and 19% more fuel efficient

Volkswagen is endowing its the new version of its Scirocco sports coupé with a range of six new gasoline (TSI) and diesel (TDI) engines delivering more power and better fuel economy. With its entry-level engines, the Scirocco consumes 5.4 l/100 km (43.6 mpg US) with the 92 kW 1.4 TSI, and 4.2 l/100 km (56 mpg US) with the 110 kW 2.0 TDI.

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Elevance and Genting enter new biorefinery collaboration

Elevance Renewable Sciences, Inc., a high-growth specialty chemicals company that creates novel specialty chemicals from natural oils, has entered a new collaboration with Genting Plantations Berhad through Genting Integrated Biorefinery Sdn Bhd (GIB), to be located in the Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC) in Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia.

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Airbus officially launches A330neo program; up to 14% reduction in fuel burn per seat

Airbus officially launched the latest enhancement to its medium-range widebody A330 Family: the A330neo (new engine option) program. The A330neo program comprises two versions—the A330-800neo and A330-900neo—which incorporate new Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, along with aerodynamic improvements and the latest in the company’s cabin technology to provide enhanced operating economics.

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Researchers discover boron buckyball; possible potential for hydrogen storage

Researchers from Brown University, Shanxi University and Tsinghua University in China have shown that a cluster of 40 boron atoms forms a hollow molecular cage similar to a carbon buckyball. It’s the first experimental evidence that a boron cage structure—previously only a matter of speculation—does indeed exist. A paper describing the molecule, which the researchers named “borospherene”, is published in Nature Chemistry.

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Crazy Diamond Performance develops mono-fuel CNG Chevrolet Cruze

Crazy Diamond Performance (CDP) has developed a mono-fuel CNG Chevrolet Cruze, with intended market introduction no later than October 2014. The CDP CNG Cruze will certified to the cleanest emissions standard available for an internal combustion engine, according to CDP President Kevin Fern.

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DOT announces alpha release of Systems Engineering Tool for Intelligent Transportation

July 12, 2014

The USDOT’s Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office (ITS JPO) announced the alpha release of SET-IT (Systems Engineering Tool for Intelligent Transportation) software from the Connected Vehicle Reference Implementation Architecture (CVRIA) website.

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EPA proposes to replace and reduce certain HFCs; impact on mobile AC

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to prohibit the use of certain hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and HFC-containing blends that significantly contribute to climate change where safer, more climate-friendly alternatives exist. This is the agency’s second action aimed at reducing emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The following are the proposed changes in listing status:

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Dassault Systèmes Acquires SIMPACK

July 11, 2014

Dassault Systèmes has acquired SIMPACK, a technology leader in multi-body simulation technologies and solutions, in an all-cash transaction. With the acquisition of SIMPACK, Dassault Systèmes is expanding its SIMULIA realistic multiphysics simulation technology portfolio to include multi-body mechatronic systems, from virtual concept validation to the real-time experience.

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Sapphire Energy pairs with Sinopec as one of 6 new US-China EcoPartnerships; algae-derived crude oil

Sapphire Energy and its partner Sinopec were selected as one of six new US-China partners into the flagship EcoPartnerships Program. Sapphire and Sinopec have been working on an algae-derived renewable crude oil project.

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Volkswagen selects Bosch and ChargePoint as e-Golf charging solution providers

Volkswagen of America, Inc. has selected Bosch and ChargePoint as providers of charging services for e-Golf models, the first zero-tailpipe emissions electric vehicle to be sold by Volkswagen in the US market. The e-Golf will go on sale later this year as a 2015 model.

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Researchers devise gasoline-fueled SOFC with high power density; potential for vehicles

July 10, 2014

Researchers from Washington State University and Kyung Hee University in Korea have fabricated a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) with a novel mixed conductivity MoO2-based anode that is fueled by direct feeding of premium gasoline without external reforming. In a paper in the Journal of Power Sources, they suggest that the results of their study imply that an SOFC using a MoO2-based anode has potential for generating electrical power from gasoline for future hybrid electric vehicles.

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Researchers observe hydrogen-oxygen reaction in ceria fuel cell; insights may improve efficiency

Researchers at Stanford, working with colleagues at SLAC, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories, have observed the hydrogen-oxygen reaction in a cerium oxide (ceria) fuel cell and taken atomic-scale “snapshots” of this process using a synchrotron. Knowledge gained from this first-of-its-kind analysis, reported in Nature Communications, may lead to even more efficient fuel cells that could, in turn, make utility-scale alternative energy systems more practical, the team suggested.

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Jaguar Land Rover developing self-learning car

Researchers at Jaguar Land Rover are developing an intelligent self-learning vehicle intended to offer a completely personalized driving experience and help prevent accidents by reducing driver distraction. The intelligent car will have its own on-board “Smart Assistant” to carry out a range of functions to allow the driver to concentrate on driving.

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Honda “open sourcing” plans for Smart Home

Honda has decided to publicly post the building plans, architectural and mechanical drawings, furniture specs and materials associated with its Smart Home project (earlier post), including the raw 2D and 3D CAD data.

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Petrixo selects UOP Green Fuels technology for renewable jet and diesel in UAE

UOP LLC, a Honeywell company, announced that its green fuels process technology has been selected by Petrixo Oil & Gas to produce renewable jet fuel and renewable diesel at a new refinery to be built in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates.

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Brazilian airline GOL to make first international commercial flights with newly approved Amyris-Total drop-in biofuel

July 09, 2014

Amyris has partnered with Brazilian airline GOL to begin the first international commercial route with a drop-in renewable jet fuel (farnesane) blend developed by Amyris and Total (earlier post). On 15 June, ASTM revised its jet fuel standard, paving the way for airlines to use Synthesized Iso-Paraffin (SIP) farnesane as a jet fuel component in commercial airlines globally.

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SF Bay Area local governments roll out 90 EVs into their fleets

Alameda County Board of Supervisors President Keith Carson, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the Bay Area Climate Collaborative (BACC), and 10 other public agencies today announced the rollout of 90 all-electric vehicles into the fleets of ten Bay Area local governments—the largest government fleet EV deployment in the US to date.

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Danish cellulosic biorefinery project receives €39M (US$53M) in EU funding

The European Commission has awarded €39 million (US$53 million) in funding from the NER300 program to Maabjerg Energy Concept towards the construction of a large-scale cellulosic biorefinery in western Denmark. Maabjerg Energy Concept is a consortium of companies: Energy company DONG Energy, enzyme producer Novozymes and local utilities Vestforsyning, Struer Forsyning and waste management company Nomi.

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Three Washington state utilities receive total of $14.3M in matching state grants for grid energy storage projects

Three Washington state utilities have been awarded $14.3 million in matching grants from the state’s new Clean Energy Fund to lead energy storage projects with ties to federally funded research at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). The total cost for the three smart grid demonstration projects is $35.3 million, including more than $21 million in non-state funds.

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Satellite study: livestock digestion released 70% more methane than oil and gas industry in 2004

Livestock were the single largest source of methane gas emissions in the United States in 2004, releasing 70% more into the atmosphere than the oil and gas industry as estimated by other inventories, according to a new study by a team from Harvard University, JPL/CalTech and UC Irvine. The paper is published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, a publication of the American Geophysical Union.

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Volkswagen Passenger Cars delivers more than 3M vehicles in first half year for first time

Despite a decrease in sales in North America, the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand delivered more than three million vehicles in the first half year for the first time. A total of 3.07 (January-June 2013: 2.95) million vehicles were handed over to customers worldwide, representing an increase of 3.8%. Volkswagen Passenger Cars delivered 514,900 (June 2013: 509,200; +1.1%) models in the month of June.

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Daimler and BMW jointly to develop and implement common wireless charging technology

July 08, 2014

Daimler and BMW have agreed on jointly developing and implementing one common technology for wireless recharging high-voltage batteries of electric drive and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

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UC Riverside team wins EPA design contest with lawnmower exhaust aftertreatment device

A team of University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering students have won an EPA student design contest for developing an exhaust aftertreatment device that cuts CO, NOx and PM emissions from lawnmowers. EPA estimates that a standard gasoline-powered lawn mower emits 11 times the air pollution of a new car for each hour of operation.

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