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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.]

Li-ion maker Boston Power secures US$290M from two local Chinese governments for expansion

December 22, 2014

Li-ion maker Boston Power has secured US$290 million in local government financial support for the expansion of its two facilities in China. The company’s Liyang facility will receive a total investment of $160 million, increasing its manufacturing capacity fivefold by 2016. The company’s Tianjin facility will grow its capacity to 4GW by 2017, and is expected to reach 8 GWh in manufacturing capacity by 2018.

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US Navy flies supersonic with 50% blend of Gevo ATJ

The US Navy, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), and isobutanol provider Gevo, Inc. announced the first successful “alcohol-to-jet” (ATJ) (earlier post) supersonic flight at the Naval Air Warfare Center in Patuxent River, Md. This is the first aviation test program comprehensively to \test and evaluate the performance of a 50/50 ATJ blend in supersonic (above Mach 1) afterburner operations—a critical test to successfully clear the F/A-18 for ATJ operations through its entire flight envelope.

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Schaeffler to show 48V mild-hybrid SUV concept at NAIAS; phase 2 of development meets 2025 CAFE

At the 2015 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit in January, Schaeffler will show the second phase of its concept car that meets 2025 CAFE requirements, including its mild hybridization with a 48-volt system. (Earlier post.)

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Renovo to show electric supercar prototype at CES

Renovo Motors, Inc., will offer the first public viewing of its electric supercar prototype at the upcoming 2015 International CES in Las Vegas. (Earlier post.)

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BNEF: Oil price plunge to have only moderate impact on low-carbon electricity development, but likely to slow EV growth

The collapse in world oil prices in the second half of 2014 will have only a moderate impact on the fast-developing low-carbon transition in the world electricity system, according to research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance. However, the slump in the Brent crude price per barrel from $112.36 on 30 June to $61.60 on 22 December will nevertheless have an impact in various sectors and regions. For example, if lower oil prices last, they are likely to slow the growth of the electric vehicle market, to some extent.

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ETH team develops catalytic process to make lactic acid from glycerol biodiesel byproduct; 20% lower CO2 than fermentation pathway

Researchers at ETH Zürich developed an eco-friendly cascade process to make large amounts of lactic acid from glycerol, a waste by-product in the production of biodiesel. Polylactic acid (PLA) is a promising alternative for making plastics, as it is biodegradable and made from renewable resources. Manufacturers use PLA for disposable cups, bags and other sorts of packaging. The demand for PLA is constantly rising and has been estimated to reach about one megaton per year by 2020.

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Siemens unveils first series production EV with RACE architecture and system

Siemens has unveiled the first electric series production vehicle with the central electronics and software architecture RACE. (Earlier post.) This technology, developed in the research project of the same name, replaces the entire control system with standard hardware and a kind of “operating system for automobiles.” The basic idea is to control a variety of vehicle functions on a uniform, centralized computer platform instead of providing every system with its own hardware and software as today.

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Novel microsphere photocatalysts show good performance for water splitting and water cleaning

Researchers at the National University of Singapore and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore have produced novel microsphere catalysts that can improve water quality in daylight and also generate hydrogen as a green energy source. The novel multielement Au/La-SrTiO3 microspheres were synthesized by a solvothermal method using monodisperse gold and La-SrTiO3 nanocrystals as building blocks. A paper on their work was published in Chemistry – An Asian Journal.

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Volvo Cars, POC and Ericsson to demo connected car and bike helmet prototype at International CES 2015

December 19, 2014

Volvo Cars, protective gravity sports gear manufacturer POC and Ericsson will present an innovative safety technology connecting drivers and cyclists at the International CES in Las Vegas next month. The technology consists of a connected car and helmet prototype that will establish 2-way communication, offering proximity alerts to Volvo drivers and cyclists with the goal of avoiding accidents.

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Neste Oil and Renewable Energy Group enter into NExBTL license agreement

Neste Oil Corporation and Renewable Energy Group have entered into a Settlement and License Agreement whereby the parties have settled Neste Oil’s US patent infringement lawsuits against REG and REG’s Singapore patent infringement lawsuits against Neste Oil and REG has licensed certain Neste Oil NExBTL renewable drop-in fuel technology and intellectual property rights for use at REG Geismar in Louisiana.

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Shanghai GM launches Chevrolet Sail 3; start-stop standard across all 5 variants

Shanghai GM launched the Chevrolet Sail 3 in Chengdu; the third-generation Sail had been unveiled last month at the Guangzhou Motor Show. Five variants of the new family car with a choice of new 1.3L and 1.5L engines are available. The Sail 3, built on Shanghai GM’s new-generation small car architecture, is the first model in its class that comes standard with a start-stop system, which reduces fuel consumption by 3-5% in heavy traffic.

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Toyota planning $126M expansion of SE Michigan R&D campuses; powertrains and vehicle design

Toyota is planning a further $126-million expansion of its Southeast Michigan R&D campuses—the third time in just over a year that Toyota has announced plans to increase employment and investment in Michigan. Under the plan, Toyota will expand its powertrain operations at its Ann Arbor campus and consolidate vehicle development operations at a new facility on its York Township campus.

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MHTL to partner with G2X, negotiate methanol offtake agreement from G2X methanol-to-gasoline plant

G2X Energy, Inc. and Methanol Holdings Trinidad Limited (MHTL) announced that MHTL intends to partner with G2X Energy to construct the world-scale methanol-to-gasoline (MTG)-ready, methanol production facility being developed by G2X Energy in Lake Charles, Louisiana. (Earlier post.)

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Iogen and Raízen begin production of cellulosic ethanol in Brazil

December 18, 2014

Cellulosic biofuel technology developer Iogen Corporation and Raízen, one of the world’s largest producers of sugarcane ethanol, have begun production of cellulosic ethanol on schedule at Raízen’s newly expanded Costa Pinto sugar cane mill in Piracicaba, São Paulo, Brazil.

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Johnson Controls’ Lithium-ion batteries power Hybrid Range Rover

Johnson Controls is supplying the Lithium-ion battery pack for the Hybrid Range Rover (earlier post), announced in 2013. Production of the cells and complete battery systems is underway at Johnson Controls’ manufacturing facility in Holland, Michigan.

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Toshiba supplies Li-ion traction energy storage system for Tobu Railway

Toshiba Corporation has supplied a Li-ion battery traction energy storage system (TESS) to Tobu Railway Co., Ltd. TESS stores traction energy generated by decelerating trains as they enter a station and releases it as needed when trains accelerate from the station. The system is planned to operate from 22 December.

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UMTRI analysis finds distance driven per GDP has been decreasing steadily since early 1990s

The sixth in a series of reports on peak motorization in the US by Dr. Michael Sivak at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) finds that distance driven per GDP reached its highest values in a broad plateau from the early 1970s through the early 1990s, and then decreased steadily. By 2012, the value of this measure decreased by 22% from its absolute maximum, which was reached in 1977.

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Teijin opens second production line for LIELSORT separators for Li-ion batteries

Teijin Limited is opening the second production line for LIELSORT, an innovative separator for lithium-ion secondary batteries (LIBs) to meet the increasing market demands. (Earlier post.) Operations will begin on 24 December.

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Honda FCV Concept to make North American debut at 2015 NAIAS in Detroit

December 17, 2014

The Honda FCV Concept (earlier post) will make its North American debut at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January. The Honda FCV Concept made its world debut in Japan on 17 November, followed by an announcement that Honda will provide FirstElement Fuel with $13.8 million in financial assistance to build additional hydrogen refueling stations throughout the state of California in an effort to support the wider introduction of fuel-cell vehicles. (Earlier post.)

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ARPA-E invests $60M in 22 new projects to detect and measure methane emissions and develop local thermal management systems

DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) announced $60 million in funding for 22 new projects aimed at detecting and measuring methane emissions and developing localized thermal management systems that reduce the energy needed to heat and cool buildings. The projects are funded through ARPA-E’s two newest programs: Methane Observation Networks with Innovative Technology to Obtain Reductions (MONITOR) and Delivering Efficient Local Thermal Amenities (DELTA).

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EIA: US household gasoline expenditures in 2015 tracking to be lowest in 11 years

The average US household will spend about $550 less on gasoline in 2015 compared with 2014, as annual motor fuel expenditures are on track to fall to their lowest level in 11 years, according to projections by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). Lower fuel expenditures are attributable to a combination of falling retail gasoline prices and more fuel-efficient cars and trucks that reduce the number of gallons used to travel a given distance.

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Lomiko Metals investing in startup commercializing graphene supercapacitor technology

Lomiko Metals Inc., a company focused on the exploration and development of minerals for the “new green economy”, will invest in a new graphene-related venture, Graphene Energy Storage Devices (Graphene ESD). In December 2013, Lomiko reported on a successful conclusion to Phase I of its Graphene Supercapacitor Project which involved Graphene Laboratories and Stony Brook University. Graphene ESD has been formed to commercialize the technology and bring the graphene-based energy storage devices to market.

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Amyris renewable jet fuel receives regulatory approval in Brazil for blends up to 10%

December 16, 2014

Brazil’s fuels regulator, ANP, has cleared the way for the commercialization in Brazil of Amyris renewable jet fuel in blends of up to 10%. A recent study by Brazilian researchers evaluating the lifecycle GHG emissions of the farnesane-based renewable fuel concluded that it presents “a substantial potential” to mitigate the GHG emissions of the aviation sector. That paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology. (Earlier post.)

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Lux Research: wide variance in cost of cellulosic feedstocks for bio-based fuels and chemicals

In a new report, Lux Research analysts have examined the costs and availability of cellulosic biomass sources for use as feedstock in bio-based fuels and chemicals. They found that while there are 2.4 billion tons of cellulosic biomass available today—led by 1.2 billion tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) costs vary widely. Corn stover costs $91/MT, palm fruit bunches and fronds vary from $75/MT to $105/MT, while wood residues at $33/MT and bagasse $38/MT.

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Infineon and UMC extend manufacturing agreement into power semiconductors for automotive

The semiconductor manufacturer Infineon Technologies AG and United Microelectronics Corporation, a leading global semiconductor foundry, have extended their existing manufacturing partnership into power semiconductors for automotive applications. Prior to this expanded partnership, the foundry had been producing Infineon’s logic chips for more than 15 years.

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Researchers develop dual-performance anode material for both Li-ion and Li-S batteries

A team at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland has developed a new type of anode material, MSnS2 (M = Fe, Cu), that is able to cycle in both lithium-ion and lithium-sulfur batteries. A paper on the material is published in the Journal of the Electrochemical Society.

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Airbus forecasts China becoming civil aviation market juggernaut: >5,300 new aircraft over 20 years; Nº 1 in domestic traffic in 10; top international market

December 15, 2014

Airbus forecasts that China will need more than 5,300 new passenger aircraft and freighters from 2014 to 2033, with a total market value of US$820 billion. That represents 17% of the world total demand for over 31,000 new aircraft in the next 20 years.

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EIA: price of gasoline tends to have little effect on travel demand; price elasticity has fallen

The 28% drop in the US average retail price of gasoline since 23 June may not have much effect on automobile travel, and in turn, gasoline consumption, according to an analysis by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). Gasoline is a relatively inelastic product—i.e., changes in prices have little influence on demand—and has become more so over the past few decades.

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Nissan licenses autonomous driving technology to Hitachi Construction Machinery Company

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. has licensed its Around View Monitor and Moving Object Detection (MOD) technology (earlier post), jointly developed with Clarion Co., Ltd., for use by Hitachi Construction Machinery Co., Ltd. These two systems are the building blocks of autonomous driving technology that will operate commercially-viable Nissan Autonomous Drive vehicles by 2020.

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rFpro simulator software for ADAS/autonomous vehicle development features low-latency, high-quality graphics for improved testing

rFpro, a provider of Driver-In-The-Loop simulators for vehicle dynamics engineering, is offering driving simulator software, originally developed for Formula 1, that will enable vehicle manufacturers to test ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems) technologies more accurately than before. The company says that many of the challenges faced by ADAS developers can be reduced by validating the control system response more comprehensively with a driver-in-the-loop (DIL) prior to installation on the vehicle.

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SAIC-GM-Wuling starts production at new $1.1B base in Chongqing; initial capacity of 400K vehicles and 400K engines

SAIC-GM-Wuling (SGMW) has started production at its new manufacturing base in Chongqing. It also signed an agreement for the second phase of production at the facility. The first phase of production at the Chongqing base represents initial investment of RMB 6.6 billion (US$1.1 billion) by the joint venture. It has an initial annual manufacturing capacity of 400,000 vehicles and 400,000 engines to serve the Chinese market.

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Volkswagen Group: 10-million vehicle sold mark for 2014 within reach; China largest single market

The Volkswagen Group has delivered more than nine million vehicles from January to November for the first time ever this year. 9.08 (January-November 2013: 8.68; +4.6%) million vehicles were handed over to customers worldwide (excluding MAN and Scania). The company delivered 834,800 (November 2013: 828,900; +0.7%) vehicles in November (also excluding MAN and Scania). “Deliveries by the Volkswagen Group remain on track during the last few weeks of the year. The ten million mark is within reach in spite of all the uncertainties in the global automotive sector,” Christian Klingler, Group Board Member for Sales, said in Wolfsburg.

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Toyota converting biogas to power for Georgetown plant

December 14, 2014

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, with help from Waste Services of the Bluegrass, is converting methane from a local landfill into renewable electricity to power Toyota’s Georgetown assembly plant.

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FuelCell Energy hits 3 billion kWh mark from its DFC plants since 2003

FuelCell Energy, Inc., a provider of direct fuel cell power plants, has generated a cumulative three billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity from its Direct FuelCell (DFC) power plants since the first commercial installation in 2003. FuelCell Energy has customers in nine countries in North America, Asia and Europe; three billion kWh of electricity is adequate to power approximately 271,000 US homes for one year, or about 679,000 German homes or 837,000 South Korean homes.

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Ford introduces SYNC 3, next generation of its communications and entertainment system

December 13, 2014

Ford introduced SYNC 3, its reworked communications and entertainment system that is faster, more intuitive and easier to use with an improved user interface and enhanced response to driver commands than its predecessor. The next-generation system builds on the capability of SYNC technology already in more than 10 million SYNC-equipped vehicles on the road globally. SYNC 3 begins arriving on new vehicles next year.

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Alcoa doubling high-tech coating capacity in Michigan for aerospace; new electron beam PVD machine

December 12, 2014

Alcoa Power and Propulsion, a unit of lightweight, high-performance metals leader Alcoa, is doubling its high-technology coating capacity at its Whitehall, Michigan facility. Alcoa will install a new electron beam physical vapor deposition machine, which enables faster production by combining two important processes: the bond coat and the top coat. The $16.7-million investment will position the company to further capture growing demand for advanced jet engine parts.

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Fiber-reinforced composite leaf spring used in Volvo XC90 SUV; Henkel Loctite MAX 2 resin

A fiber-reinforced composite leaf spring based on the polyurethane matrix resin Loctite MAX 2 from Henkel is being used in the chassis of the new Volvo XC90, a premium crossover SUV of which the innovative rear axle concept is to serve as a platform for other model series. BENTELER-SGL, a leading manufacturer of composite components for automotive applications, is aiming to produce several hundred thousand of these leaf springs per year.

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BMW presenting prototype hydrogen fuel cell drive module at upcoming Detroit Auto Show

Among its offerings at the upcoming North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit next month, BMW will present the prototype of a drive module for electric hydrogen fuel cell drive systems for the first time.

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Virent successfully produces full range of bio-aromatics

Virent has successfully produced bio-paraxylene, bio-toluene and bio-benzene at demonstration scale and has confirmed that all three chemicals meet typical industry specifications. Virent has also produced sample volumes of bio-Aromatic 100, an aromatic solvent widely used in paint, industrial, and agricultural solvent applications. The company has broadened its product offerings for renewable chemicals through this process.

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CLEVER to add 100 ABB fast charging stations in Denmark and neighboring countries

December 11, 2014

Danish electric mobility operator CLEVER will expand its charging network in Denmark and neighboring countries with 100 ABB multi-standard Terra 53 DC fast charging stations. The chargers will be installed in Denmark and in neighboring countries through partners, including a first collaboration with Öresundskraft in Sweden.

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REG acquires 69% ownership in German biodiesel producer for $20.9M; making cash offer for remaining 31%

US-based biofuels producer Renewable Energy Group, Inc. is acquiring IC Green Energy Ltd.’s majority equity ownership position in German biodiesel producer Petrotec AG. Closing of the transaction is expected before year end.

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Toray to acquire European carbon fiber fabric and pre-preg business

Toray Industries, Inc. has reached a basic agreement with Saati S.p.A to acquire its European carbon fiber fabric and prepreg business. Toray will take over the assets of Saati’s plant in Legnano in January 2015, which would start operation as Composite Materials (Italy) S.r.l., (CIT), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Toray. Saati’s American composite business will still belong to the Saati Group.

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Boeing, South African Airways look to 1st harvest of Solaris tobacco for renewable jet fuel

Boeing and South African Airways (SAA) announced that South African farmers will soon harvest their first crop of energy-rich tobacco plants, an important step towards using the plants to make sustainable aviation biofuel. Boeing and SAA, along with partners SkyNRG and Sunchem SA, also officially launched Project Solaris, their collaborative effort to develop an aviation biofuel supply chain with a nicotine-free tobacco plant called Solaris. (Earlier post.)

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DOE issues $12.5B Advanced Nuclear Energy Projects loan guarantee solicitation

The US Department of Energy (DOE) issued the Advanced Nuclear Energy Projects loan guarantee solicitation, which provides as much as $12.5 billion to support innovative nuclear energy projects. With the issuance of this solicitation, DOE’s Loan Programs Office (LPO) now has open solicitations in four areas, also including the $8-billion Advanced Fossil Energy Projects Solicitation, the $4-billion Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy Projects Solicitation, and the $16-billion Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program.

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BMW i3 electric motor, Hyundai Tucson fuel cell selected for Ward’s 10 Best Engines 2015

Among the winning powerplants for the 2015 edition of Ward’s 10 Best Engines are the 127 kW electric motor in the BMW i3 EV and the 100-kW fuel cell in Hyundai’s Tucson FCV.

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EIA: California home to almost half of US plug-in electric vehicles

December 10, 2014

Total US sales of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs)—battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric—have increased in recent years, but still represent only about 0.7% of new vehicle sales in 2014 so far, up from 0.6% in 2013 and 0.4% in 2012. California is home to almost half of all of the nation’s PEVs, but even in California, only about 5 out of every 1,000 registered vehicles are PEVs, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

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Ricardo delivers latest TorqStor flywheel energy storage unit to DDflyTrain project

Ricardo has delivered the latest generation of its award-winning TorqStor high speed flywheel energy storage technology to digital hydraulics specialist Artemis Intelligent Power Ltd. for use on the DDflyTrain research project, aiming to demonstrate the effectiveness of flywheel energy storage on diesel multiple unit (DMU) trains.

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SAKOR wins SCIP grant to work with MSU on thermal transient anemometer for vehicle design

SAKOR Technologies won a competitive Small Company Innovation Program (SCIP) grant awarded by the Michigan Corporate Relations Network (MCRN) and will use the grant for research necessary to develop a thermal transient anemometer (TTA), a device used to measure airflow moving through a running vehicle. The research will be conducted in collaboration with Michigan State University’s Turbulent Shear Flows Laboratory.

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XL Hybrids installs hybrid drives in 4 City of Boston vans

XL Hybrids, Inc. announced the successful installation of its XL3 Hybrid Electric Drive System (earlier post) in four city-owned vans for The City of Boston. The newly converted vans support the Greenovate Boston goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.

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DNV GL launches HYREADY project to prepare natural gas industry for hydrogen; power-to-gas

DNV GL has initiated a global joint industry project (JIP) to help prepare the natural gas distribution infrastructure for the injection of hydrogen produced from renewable sources. HYREADY involves stakeholders from the natural gas value chain, including natural gas transmission and distribution system operators (TSOs and DSOs) and technology providers. The project remains open for other participants to join.

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Lux: lower-cost flow batteries likely to create $190M energy storage market in 2020

Lower costs redox flow batteries will likely carve out a 360 MWh market for stationary energy storage in 2020, worth $190 million, according to Lux Research. In the optimistic case, significant project cost reduction could yield a $380-million opportunity or 760 MWh of flow battery systems in 2020.

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Samsung Ventures invests in Li-poly battery company Seeo; targeting 400 Wh/kg product

December 09, 2014

Seeo, a developer of advanced lithium polymer batteries, has closed its largest funding round to date, and added Samsung Ventures Investment Corporation. Earlier investors Khosla Ventures and GSR Ventures also participated in the round. The invested capital will be used to accelerate the commercialization of Seeo’s high energy density advanced lithium polymer batteries. (Earlier post.)

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New Enevate silicon-dominant composite anode for high energy density Li-ion batteries for mobile devices; claims roadmap to 1000 Wh/L

Enevate Corporation has introduced its HD-Energy Technology for Li-ion batteries. The silicon-dominant composite anode, which offers four times the energy density of conventional graphite anodes, enables high energy density rechargeable Li-ion polymer cells. Enevate Corporation, based in Irvine, California, is focused on delivering advanced Li-ion batteries into smartphones, tablets, ultra-thin/hybrid notebook PCs, and wearable devices.

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500,000th Mercedes-Benz passenger car rolls off production line in Beijing; about half in last two years

The 500,000th locally produced Mercedes-Benz passenger car, a long-wheelbase C-Class model, has rolled off the production lines at Daimler’s Sino-German production joint-venture Beijing Benz Automotive Co., Ltd. (BBAC), marking yet another milestone in Mercedes-Benz’s increasing local footprint in China. About half of these vehicles have been manufactured just within the last two years, highlighting the rapid growth that the production site has recently experienced.

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Ex-BMW development chief Dr. Herbert Diess to take over as Chairman of Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand

The Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG has unanimously appointed Dr. Herbert Diess—formerly the Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Development—as a full member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG effective 1 October 2015. In his capacity as a member of the Group Board of Management, Diess will take over as Chairman of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand from Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, who will remain Chairman of the Group Board of Management.

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Qualcomm invests in Chargemaster Plc in acceleration for wireless charging in UK

Qualcomm Incorporated has invested in Chargemaster Plc, the UK’s largest manufacturer and operator of electric vehicle charging points. The two companies have been working together for several years. The move will accelerate the planned UK development, production and deployment of Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC) technology, Chargemaster said.

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Williams Advanced Engineering’s simulator technology to help in trial of driverless cars

Williams Advanced Engineering is part of a consortium that has secured government funding from Innovate UK to test driverless cars in the Bristol region. This appointment follows the UK Chancellor’s recent autumn statement announcement to make the UK a world center for the testing and development of this new technology.

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NZ Super Fund makes $60M investment in LanzaTech, bringing total Series D to $112.6M

December 08, 2014

The New Zealand Superannuation Fund has made a US$60 million equity investment in leading gas fermentation company LanzaTech. Founded in New Zealand in 2005 and now headquartered in Chicago, LanzaTech turns waste gas from steel mills into ethanol and other high value fuels and chemicals. (Earlier post.) LanzaTech’s first commercial plant is targeted for operation in 2016.

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Global Bioenergies achieves biological production of propylene

Global Bioenergies has succeeded in the production of bio-sourced propylene by direct fermentation. This marks the first time an entirely biological production process—i.e. without any chemical step—is reported for propylene, a central building block for the manufacturing of plastics. Polypropylene accounts for more than half of the plastics used in the car industry.

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UW Madison team investigates cycle-to-cycle combustion instability in HCCI and RCCI

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have used computational fluid dynamics modeling to investigate cycle-to-cycle instability of homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) and reactivity-controlled compression ignition (RCCI) engines—two approaches to low-temperature combustion. Low-temperature combustion engines offer the promise of simultaneously increasing engine efficiency and reduce NOx and PM emissions, but have not been widely implemented due to difficulties controlling combustion phasing, combustion duration, and cycle-to-cycle variation.

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Mitsubishi Electric verifies VP-X high-efficiency turbine generator; first 900-MVA-class generator with indirect H2 cooling; 99% efficiency

Mitsubishi Electric Corporation has successfully completed verification tests on its VP-X turbine generator for thermal power plants—the first generator in the 900-MVA class to use indirect hydrogen cooling for stator conductors. (Hydrogen is used extensively in power generation to cool turbine generators because of its low density and good thermal characteristics.)

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Tenneco introduces new large engine SCR system for marine applications; NOx reduction >90%; production targeted 2015

Tenneco has introduced a complete urea dosing control, fluid handling and catalyst solution for selective catalytic reduction (SCR) aftertreatment, enabling large engines to meet EPA Tier IV and IMO Tier III regulations. Tenneco’s new marine SCR system has demonstrated effective NOx reduction in bench and field testing. In laboratory validation, the system achieved average NOx reduction efficiency levels of more than 90%.

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Lux: nearly $7B in private investment in emerging oil & gas E&P technologies over last decade

Investment into emerging oil and gas E&P (exploration and production) technologies, which were nearly non-existent in 2003, at just $57 million, have attracted nearly $7 billion in private investment from 497 unique transactions, according to a new report from Lux Research, “Investing in Next Generation Oil and Gas Technologies”.

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Shanghai GM passes 10M cumulative vehicle sales mark

Shanghai GM recently surpassed 10 million cumulative sales since its establishment in 1997. It reached the milestone in record time for a domestic passenger car manufacturer.

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GM hits new sales record in China

General Motors and its joint ventures set new sales records for November and the year as a whole in China. In November, domestic sales increased 5.3% year on year to 310,094 units. For the first 11 months, sales in China rose 10.1% to 3,182,595 units—surpassing last year’s previous full-year sales record of 3,160,377 vehicles. As a point of comparison, GM sales in the US for the first 11 months of the year were 2,660,525 units.

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International Truck fuel efficiency package for Class 8 ProStar; 11% better than 2010 baseline

December 07, 2014

International Truck today announced a new fuel efficiency package for the International ProStar—the International ProStar ES. The ES, short for efficiency specification, offers improved aerodynamics, a drivetrain with advanced downspeeding and what the company says is the most efficient rear axles in the industry.

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NCKU in Taiwan unveils hydrogen hybrid scooter

National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) in Taiwan recently unveiled its first hydrogen-fueled electric hybrid scooter “Pegasus One”.

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USDA awards $5.6M to 220 biofuel producers

December 06, 2014

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making $5.6 million in grants to 220 producers (awards of less than $500 not listed) to support the production of advanced biofuels, and is awarding more than $4 million in additional grants that will advance the bioeconomy. These awards include:

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ICCT: US airlines will need to sharply increase fleet renewal to meet 2020 carbon-neutral growth goal

In order for the US commercial aviation sector to meet its 2020 carbon-neutral growth goal, airline efficiency improvements via the acquisition of new aircraft and engine technology will to increase sharply from their present rate, according to a brief analysis posted by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT).

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Report: Toyota to invest ~$165M to triple Japan production capacity for Mirai fuel cell vehicle

December 05, 2014

The Nikkei reports that Toyota will invest about ¥20 billion yen ($165 million) to triple production capacity in Japan for its new Mirai fuel cell vehicle (earlier post) to meet what it describes as strong corporate and public-sector demand. The Mirai is due to go on sale in Japan 15 December; Toyota expects orders to exceed its current annual capacity of 700 units by the release date.

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CEA LITEN develops high-temperature electrolyzer for more efficient hydrogen production from water

France’s CEA LITEN (Laboratory for Innovation in New Energy Technologies and Nanomaterials) has developed a new high-temperature electrolysis system for more efficient hydrogen production. The system delivers hydrogen from steam at 150 °C and electricity with power consumption of 3.9 kWh/Nm3 (normal cubic meters) H2 with efficiency exceeding 90%.

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UPM and WWF Finland co-operate to promote the sustainability of wood-based liquid biofuels

Finland-based bio and forest industries company UPM and WWF Finland have engaged in a dialogue on the status of wood-based liquid biofuels in Finland and present a list of joint measures to be carried out to promote sustainability. UPM is the developer and producer of UPM BioVerno—wood-based renewable diesel. (Earlier post.)

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Kroger division takes delivery of first 11 of 40 Freightliner LNG heavy-duty tucks; replacing diesel

Oregon-based Fred Meyer Stores, a division of The Kroger Co. has taken delivery of its first 11 Freightliner heavy-duty trucks that run on liquefied natural gas (LNG). Fred Meyer will receive a total of 40 LNG trucks over the next several months, making Fred Meyer the first in Oregon to deploy a fleet of heavy-duty LNG trucks. The trucks are equipped with the Cummins Westport ISX12 G engine and Westport iCE PACK systems for LNG storage.

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BMW-Sixt car-sharing JV DriveNow launches in London; 30 i3s coming in 2015

DriveNow, the carsharing joint venture between the BMW Group and Sixt SE (earlier post), has launched its flexible carsharing service in London. Initially, 210 BMW 1 Series and MINI Countryman models will be available for spontaneous hire. DriveNow furthermore intends to add 30 all-electric BMW i3 cars to the London fleet in spring 2015, expanding it to a total of 300 vehicles during the course of next year.

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2015 Abarth 695 Biposto features SABIC lightweight PC glazing solutions; 40% weight savings

Abarth’s production model of the 695 Biposto includes polycarbonate (PC) glazing solutions from SABIC. The vehicle’s front fixed windows, which include built-in sliding panels, are made from SABIC’s LEXAN resin, a PC material, and EXATEC coating technology.

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Airbus Group signs MOU with Emerging Fuels Technology on sustainable aviation fuels

December 04, 2014

Airbus Group has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Emerging Fuels Technology, Inc. (EFT) to promote EFT in the commercialization of technologies to produce sustainable fuels for aviation. EFT’s proprietary Advanced Fixed Bed (AFB) Fischer-Tropsch reactor and catalyst system can convert synthesis gas from virtually any carbonaceous feedstock into transportation fuels such as renewable diesel and sustainable jet fuel. EFT specializes in small modular GTL licensing, Fischer-Tropsch and upgrade licensing for XTL projects, and contract R&D.

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EIA: US proved oil reserves up for 5th year in a row; N Dakota proved oil reserves surpass Gulf of Mexico

US crude oil proved reserves increased for the fifth year in a row in 2013, a net addition of 3.1 billion barrels of proved oil reserves (a 9% increase) according to US Crude Oil and Natural Gas Proved Reserves, 2013, released today by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

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DOE awarding up to $7M to two projects to develop advanced logistics for bioenergy feedstocks

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award up to $7 million for two projects aimed at developing and demonstrating ways to reduce the cost of delivering bioenergy feedstocks to biorefineries. Examples of bioenergy feedstocks include corn stover, switchgrass, and woody biomass.

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Hitachi Automotive Systems delivers compact, high-output inverters and DC/DC converters for Mercedes Benz S500 PLUG-IN HYBRID

Hitachi Automotive Systems, Ltd. has begun to supply Daimler AG with compact, high-output inverters and DC/DC converters for use in Daimler’s first plug-in hybrid—the S500 PLUG-IN HYBRID (earlier post) and S550 PLUG-IN HYBRID Long being marketed in Europe this autumn and Japan this month, respectively.

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Toyota Tsusho venture starts full-scale lithium production at Salar de Olaroz, Argentina

Toyota Tsusho Corporation announced today that Sales de Jujuy S.A., an Argentine lithium development company in which it owns a stake, has officially started lithium production at Salar de Olaroz in Jujuy Province, northwestern Argentina. The company plans to produce 17,500 tons of lithium carbonate annually. (Earlier post.)

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Rice researchers find amines cross-linked with buckyballs an effective, selective CO2 absorbent

Rice University scientists have found that amine-rich compounds combined with carbon-60 molecules (buckyballs) are highly effective at selectively capturing CO2. The Rice lab of chemist Andrew Barron, in a proof-of-concept study, combined buckyballs with amines in a compound (PEI-C60) that absorbs a fifth of its weight in carbon dioxide. It shows potential as an environmentally friendly material for capturing carbon from natural gas wells and industrial plants. The research is the subject of an open-access paper in Nature’s online journal Scientific Reports.

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Average fuel economy for new cars in US in November unchanged from October

The average fuel economy (window-sticker value) of new vehicles sold in the US in November was 25.3 mpg (9.3 l/100 km)—unchanged from the value in October, according to the monthly report from Dr. Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI).

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ARB staff posts CA-GREET 2.0 for public comment; to be model for LCFS CIs

December 03, 2014

California Air Resources Board staff has posted for public feedback an updated preliminary draft of the California-modified Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation, Version 2.0 model (CA-GREET 2.0). Staff will propose to the Board in February 2015 that a final draft of GREET 2.0 will be the model that must be used to calculate direct fuel pathway carbon intensities (CIs) for the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS).

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First oil from ultra-deepwater Jack/St. Malo project in US Gulf of Mexico

Chevron announced that crude oil and natural gas production has begun at the ultra-deepwater Jack/St. Malo project in the Lower Tertiary trend, US Gulf of Mexico. (Earlier post.) The Jack and St. Malo fields are among the largest in the Gulf of Mexico. They were discovered in 2004 and 2003, respectively, and production from the first development stage is expected to ramp up over the next several years to a total daily rate of 94,000 barrels of crude oil and 21 million cubic feet of natural gas. With a planned production life of more than 30 years, current technologies are anticipated to recover in excess of 500 million oil-equivalent barrels. Successive development phases, which could employ enhanced recovery technologies, may enable substantially increased recovery at the fields.

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Petrobras announces first discovery in Colombian Caribbean deep waters

The Petrobras Orca–1 exploratory well (Tayrona Block) has revealed a natural gas accumulation in Colombian Caribbean deep waters, 40 km off the coast of La Guajira. This is the first discovery in the history of the deep water exploration of this region of the Caribbean.

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Edeniq and Global Bio-chem enter into joint development agreement to produce low cost cellulosic sugars from corn stover in China

Edeniq, Inc., a biorefining and cellulosic technology company, has entered a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) with Global Bio-chem Technology Group Limited, a China-based manufacturer of chemicals from industrial sugars. The JDA follows a letter of intent signed in July, with the goal of developing the lowest cost process for converting corn stover to cellulosic sugars for use in the production of bio-based chemical products.

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Marubeni to be exclusive distributor in Asia for EnerG2 engineered carbon materials for energy storage

December 02, 2014

EnerG2, a Seattle-based company manufacturing advanced carbon materials for next-generation energy storage devices (earlier post), announced an exclusive distribution agreement with Marubeni Corporation, a major Japanese trading company that operates globally in a wide range of business sectors including energy storage materials. Under the agreement, Marubeni will have the exclusive rights in Asia—including Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea and Malaysia—to distribute EnerG2’s carbon materials for a variety of energy storage devices and systems.

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Daimler wins 2014-2015 European environmental award for Nanoslide technology

Daimler has received the “Process” category award in the 2014-2015 European Business Awards for the Environment for its Nanoslide technology. (Earlier post.) The award is highest recognition given by the Europe Commission in this area. Nanoslide, which is applied in Mercedes-Benz production vehicles (including the new S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID) as well as in Formula 1, uses twin wire arc spraying (TWAS) to apply an extremely thin, low-friction coating to the inner surfaces of engine cylinders, enabling fuel consumption to be reduced by several percent.

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DOE awarding $4.4M to advance hydropower manufacturing for “low-head” sites

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding a total of $4.4 million for two projects to support the use of advanced materials and manufacturing techniques in the development of new “low-head” hydropower technologies. Low-head sites, which operate with a change in elevation between 2 and 20 meters, include waterways at existing non-powered dams, canals, and conduits. According to Energy Department assessments, there is a technical resource potential of more than 50 gigawatts of potential capacity at these low-head sites.

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EDGE3 Technologies & Honda R&D Americas awarded patent for HMI system combining gesture and voice recognition

EDGE3 Technologies, an advanced vision analytics company, and Honda R&D Americas have been awarded US patent number 8,744,645 for their jointly developed in-vehicle human machine interface (HMI) system which combines voice and gesture recognition. The core technology, an integrated vision analytics system developed by EDGE3, is a result of years of collaboration between EDGE3 and Honda R&D which up until now has been kept confidential by both organizations.

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SK Innovation to end Li-ion JV with Continental due to slow demand growth for EVs

Yonhap News reported that SK Innovation Company will end the battery-pack joint venture with German partner Continental AG (earlier post) due to slow growth in demand for electric cars.

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Imergy Power Systems’ vanadium flow batteries selected for Navy/California Energy Commission microgrid demonstration project

December 01, 2014

Foresight Renewable Solutions has selected Imergy’s ESP30 series vanadium-based flow batteries (earlier post) for a Smart Microgrid project sponsored by the California Energy Commission (CEC) and hosted by the US Navy.

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Stanford team develops model and controller for reducing HCCI cycle-to-cycle variation

November 30, 2014

A team led by researchers from Stanford University has developed a simplified, discrete-time analytical model of homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) dynamics. The model forms the basis for the design of a simple controller that reduces combustion timing variations in simulation.

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Lexus to introduce new active safety package from 2015

November 28, 2014

Lexus will next year launch the “Lexus Safety System +” package, a newly-developed set of active safety technologies designed to help prevent or mitigate collisions across a wide range of vehicle speeds. While Lexus vehicles already feature a wide range of safety technologies and systems based on the Integrated Safety Management Concept, this latest package is aimed at further encouraging the uptake of safety technologies and will therefore be rolled out across all Lexus models in Japan, North America and Europe by the end of 2017.

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UK makes additional $336 million investment in bicycling; total of $923 million

UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced a package of measures totalling £214 million (US$336 million) to expand the use of bicycling in the UK. This will bring the total invested in cycling by the government to £588 million ($923 million).The investment will include:

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KIT team develops electrolyte for high energy density magnesium-sulfur batteries

November 27, 2014

A team headed by Maximilian Fichtner and Zhirong Zhao-Karger from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany reports developing an electrolyte that may be used for the construction of magnesium-sulfur battery cells. Their paper is published in the journal Advanced Energy Materials.

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Neste Oil launching new low-sulfur marine fuel in December

Neste Oil will bring to the market a low-sulfur marine fuel in accordance with the EU sulfur Directive requirements entering into force in 2015, and will begin distributing it in mid-December. The new fuel will significantly reduce sulfur, nitrogen and particle emissions in marine transportation. The sulfur Directive sets a maximum sulfur limit of 0.1% (1000 ppm) for marine fuels in the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the English Channel. Vessels operating in these areas either need to install a sulfur scrubber or make a transition to low-sulfur fuel.

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Honda begins operation of 1st wind farm by an automaker in Brazil; covering electricity needs for annual local auto production

Honda Energy do Brasil Ltda. (Honda Energy), Honda’s wind power generation business subsidiary in Brazil, has begun operation of its wind power generation facility. Honda thereby the first automaker in Brazil to start a wind power generation business. Honda Energy built its wind farm, an investment of approximately 100 million Brazilian reais (approximately US$40 million), in the city of Xangri-lá in Rio Grande do Sul, the southernmost state in Brazil (approximately 1,000 km south of Honda’s current auto production plant in Sumaré, São Paulo). Honda Energy will be proactive in promoting the use of renewable energy in Brazil.

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Platts Report: China oil demand rises 2.9% in October from year ago, YTD up 2%

November 26, 2014

China’s apparent oil demand in October rose 2.9% year over year to 42.65 million metric tons (mt), or an average 10.09 million barrels per day (b/d), according to a just-released Platts analysis of Chinese government data. The official data has also showed that China’s year-to-date import and export volumes between January and October are at a net balance.

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TM4 JV Prestolite Electric Propulsion Systems launches production at its Chinese facility

Prestolite Electric Propulsion Systems (PEPS) has officially launched production at its new factory in Beijing. PEPS is a joint venture between TM4, a subsidiary of Hydro-Québec, and Prestolite Electric (Beijing) Limited (PEBL).

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