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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.]

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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Global Bioenergies reports first successful production of bio-butadiene by direct fermentation

Global Bioenergies (GBE) has successfully produced bio-sourced butadiene by direct fermentation. This marks the first time an entirely biological production process—i.e. without any chemical step—has been reported for butadiene, an important petrochemical building block.

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GE Aviation and Turbocoating SPA form JV for Ceramic Matrix Composite Components (CMCs); lighter, more efficient engines

GE Aviation and Turbocoating SPA of Parma, Italy, have formed a 50/50 joint venture, called Advanced Ceramic Coatings, to provide thermal barrier coatings for Ceramic Matrix Composite Components (CMCs) used in jet engines. (Earlier post.) The use of lightweight and heat-resistant CMCs in the hot section of GE jet engines is a significant breakthrough. CMCs are made of silicon carbide ceramic fibers and ceramic matrix, and enhanced with proprietary coatings. With one-third the density of metal alloys, these ultra-lightweight CMCs reduce the overall engine weight.

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AkzoNobel exploring possibility of producing renewable chemicals from beet sugar

AkzoNobel has joined forces with SuikerUnie, Rabobank, Deloitte, Investment and Development Agency for the Northern Netherlands (NOM), Groningen Seaports, and the Province of Groningen, to investigate the possibility of producing chemicals from beet-derived sugar feedstock.

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Toyota Motor absorbing Toyota Technical Development R&D business; reorganizing to strengthen Toyota’s R&D development structure

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) and subsidiary Toyota Technical Development Corporation (TTDC) have agreed to reorganize TTDC on 1 January 2016, absorbing TTDC’s vehicle R&D business—which includes vehicle engineering, testing and prototype-building, along with approximately 5,000 TTDC employees—into TMC. TTDC will continue its business of measuring-instrument development, data analysis, and other such R&D support functions.

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Lawrence Livermore, ETH researchers develop efficient method to produce nanoporous metals; improved electrode performance

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) researchers have developed a cost-effective and more efficient way to manufacture nanoporous metals over many scales, from nanoscale to macroscale. Nanoporous metals are foam-like materials that have some degree of air vacuum in their structure posses a high surface area for better electron transfer, which can lead to the improved performance of an electrode in an electric double capacitor or battery. Nanoporous metals offer an increased number of available sites for the adsorption of analytes, a highly desirable feature for sensors.

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Gevo signs letter of intent with Highlands EnviroFuels to license isobutanol technology for Florida plant; sugar cane and sweet sorghum

> Highlands EnviroFuels, LLC has signed a letter of intent to become a Gevo licensee to produce renewable isobutanol, using syrup from sugar cane and sweet sorghum as feedstock.

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2015 hydrogen student design contest: hydrogen fueling station business and financing models

The Hydrogen Education Foundation announced the 11th annual Hydrogen Student Design Contest, which will challenge student teams to develop business and financing models for hydrogen fueling stations. Finalists will be asked to pitch their plans to investors. Registration for the Contest, which is supported by the US Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, is open at until 16 January 2015.

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Honda under-reported to NHTSA 1,729 instances of injury or death over last decade

November 25, 2014

A Honda-commissioned third-party audit of Honda’s reporting under the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act has identified 1,729 instances of under-reporting to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) over the past decade due to various errors, including errors related to data entry and computer coding.

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Audi building geothermal plant for factory in Győr, Hungary; 60% of total heat requirements

Audi is building a geothermal plant in Pér, close to the Audi Hungaria factory in Győr. After going into operation in just over a year, it will supply the company with at least 82,000 megawatt hours of geothermal energy per year and will cover about 60% of total heat requirements.

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Neste Jacobs to build SunPine’s Tall Oil Rosin production facility; feedstock for renewable diesel

Technology, engineering and project management company Neste Jacobs and SunPine, producing biochemicals and feedstock for second-generation renewable fuels, have signed an agreement for Neste Jacobs to perform EPCM services to construct a Tall Oil Rosin production facility in Piteå, Sweden. When the new rosin plant is up and running, SunPine will be producing three different products: Raw tall diesel, a feedstock used in the production of renewable diesel; rosin, a raw material used in the production of derivatives, including printing ink and adhesives; and tall oil pitch, an energy product used in the paper industry. (Earlier post.)

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Honda reaches 300-million mark in cumulative global motorcycle production

Honda Motor’s cumulative worldwide motorcycle production reached the 300 million-unit milestone in September 2014. A Gold Wing 40th Anniversary Edition produced at Kumamoto Factory, Honda’s primary motorcycle production plant in Japan, became the 300 millionth motorcycle that Honda produced globally.

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car2go offers mobile access to its global fleet

car2go North America LLC launched Mobile Access, an upgraded app feature that allows members not only to search for and to reserve a car2go vehicle, but to begin their car2go trip via their smartphones. Beginning today, Mobile Access will serve as an alternative to the company’s member card, which was, until now, the only way to access a car2go vehicle and end a ride.

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Westinghouse and China, Turkey partners negotiating to develop 4-unit nuclear power plant in Turkey

Westinghouse Electric Company; China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC); and Electricity Generation Company (EÜAŞ), the largest electric power company in Turkey have agreed to enter into exclusive negotiation to develop and construct a four-unit nuclear power plant site in the Republic of Turkey based on Westinghouse AP1000 reactor technology.

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Wave energy company Pelamis enters administration

November 24, 2014

Pelamis Wave Power, the leading wave energy technology and company, has entered bankruptcy administration in the UK. The directors said they had been unable to secure the additional funding required for further development. The board moved to appoint an administrator to assess the options for securing the future for the business and employees of Pelamis.

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New heterogeneous acid catalyst shows high activity in release of hydrogen from sodium borohydride; lowest activation energy yet reported

A team from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay has devised a heterogeneous acid catalyst, silica sulfuric acid, that shows high activity towards releasing hydrogen from sodium borohydride (NaBH4), with a hydrolysis rate of 5.5 L min−1 g−1. Further, the activation energy of the NaBH4 hydrolysis reaction in the presence of the catalyst was calculated to be the lowest (17 kJ mol−1) among reported heterogeneous catalysts to date.

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Graphene sheets show durability and performance with and without Pt as catalysts for fuel cell ORR

A team from the East China University of Science and Technology in Shanghai reports in a paper accepted for publication in the RSC journal Chemical Communications that platinum (Pt) supported on graphene sheets showed excellent durability as a catalyst for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) in fuel cells. Further, they found that their GNS, when used as a metal-free catalyst for ORR, showed a performance even better than a commercial Pt/C catalyst from Johnson Matthey.

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A*STAR researchers develop predictive model for mass-transit train overloading

Researchers at A*STAR in Singapore have developed a model that uses smartcard ticket data to provide valuable predictive data on potential train overloading for Singapore’s public transport system. This will enable system planners to address critical bottlenecks as the system stretches to accommodate an expanding population.

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Siemens and LG Chem plan closer collaboration on battery storage systems

November 21, 2014

Siemens and LG Chem have agreed to collaborate more closely on project development and marketing of industrial battery storage systems, and have signed a memorandum of understanding to this effect.

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Maxwell enhances 48V ultracapacitor module with DuraBlue Shock and Vibration Technology

Maxwell Technologies has enhanced its 48V ultracapacitor module product, which now includes the benefits of the company’s new DuraBlue Advanced Shock and Vibration Cell Technology. (Earlier post.)

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General Motors China and Shanghai Jiao Tong University to collaborate on vehicle sharing with Chevy EN-V 2.0

General Motors China has signed a memorandum of understanding with Shanghai Jiao Tong University to collaborate on a vehicle sharing program featuring the Chevrolet EN-V 2.0 (earlier post) starting next year. A fleet of EN-V 2.0 vehicles will be integrated with a multi-modal transportation system alongside bicycles, cars and shuttle buses at the university’s Minhang campus in Shanghai to evaluate the benefits and challenges of a vehicle sharing transportation model.

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Chevrolet showcases coming new 2.8L Duramax diesel in Colorado ZR2 Concept

November 20, 2014

At the Los Angele Auto Show, Chevrolet introduced the Colorado ZR2 concept as a vision of how Chevrolet could take the all-new midsize truck’s off-road capability to the next level. It also showcased the new 2.8L Duramax diesel engine that will arrive in the Colorado lineup later next year.

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Shanghai OnStar introduces new telematics services, opens 3rd call center to support demand

Shanghai OnStar is showing its upcoming 4G LTE service, introducing several new telematics services and announcing the opening of its third call center to support the rising demand for its services. Its new call center in Chongqing, which opened earlier this month, joined its call centers in Shanghai and Xiamen.

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Toyota to launch enhanced parking support systems; Intelligence Clearance Sonar, Panoramic View Monitor

Toyota Motor Corporation has enhanced its Intelligence Clearance Sonar (ICS) technology, which helps prevent or mitigate collisions when parking or starting off. In addition, a new viewing mode has been added to Toyota’s Panoramic View Monitor, which helps drivers check their surroundings before setting off. Toyota plans to use these updated systems in models launched in 2015.

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Syrah Resources successfully produces Li-ion battery grade spherical graphite; market numbers

Australia-based Syrah Resources has successfully produced uncoated battery grade spherical graphite, using natural flake graphite from its Balama Graphite & Vanadium Project in Mozambique. The battery market currently represents approximately 23% of global flake graphite output and is expected to be a rapidly growing sector due to lithium ion (Li-ion) battery demand (Source: Benchmark Minerals).

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Next-gen Chevy Volt improves charging experience for users

Chevrolet says it has made the charging system in the next-generation Volt even easier for customers to recharge the battery and to check the charge status. The next-generation Volt debuts in January in Detroit at the North American International Auto Show.

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Miami-Dade County orders 29 more hydraulic hybrid refuse trucks featuring Parker’s RunWise System

Miami-Dade County, Fla., placed its third order for Autocar E3 hybrid refuse trucks that feature Parker’s fuel-saving RunWise Advanced Series Hybrid Drive System. (Earlier post.) The additional purchase of 29 new hybrid trucks brings the total fleet to 64. The hydraulic hybrid technology can reduce fuel consumption by up to 50%.

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ICCT finds no net gain in fuel efficiency of US domestic airlines operations 2012-2013

November 19, 2014

There has been no net gain in the fuel efficiency of US domestic airlines operations from 2012 to 2013, according to a new report released by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) comparing the fuel efficiency—and therefore carbon intensity—of US airlines on domestic operations in 2013.

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2016 Ford Explorer SUV replaces 2.0L EcoBoost with new 2.3L EcoBoost unit; more power and torque, same fuel economy expected

The new 2016 Ford Explorer SUV is making its global debut today at Los Angeles Auto Show with a new available 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine that delivers more horsepower and torque than the 2.0L EcoBoost four-cylinder it replaces, with no compromise in fuel economy anticipated.

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LLNL researchers develop efficient method to measure residual stress in metal 3D-printed parts

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers have developed an efficient method to measure residual stress in metal parts produced by powder-bed fusion additive manufacturing. This 3D printing process produces metal parts layer by layer using a high-energy laser beam to fuse metal powder particles. When each layer is complete, the build platform moves downward by the thickness of one layer, and a new powder layer is spread on the previous layer.

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Audi’s new design prologue show car includes 48V subsystem; mild hybrid capabilities; soon to be in production cars

At the Los Angeles Auto Show this week, Marc Lichte, Head of Design, is presenting the Audi prologue concept car. Lichte is giving the Audi brand a new styling direction in the large coupe. Among the many advanced technology features of this “foretaste of the future of Audi” is a new 48‑volt subsystem of the vehicle electrical system—this is a technology that will soon be introduced to production cars at Audi. (Earlier post.)

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Head-on car crash survival rates increase with being younger, male and driving a big vehicle

A study by a doctoral student in epidemiology at the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis showed that vehicle inequities have a significant impact on survivability in head-on collisions. Motor vehicle crashes are the most common cause of unintentional life lost around the world, with about 30,000 deaths occurring annually in the US due to motor-vehicle crashes.

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TÜV SÜD and ESPEC partnering for EV battery testing in Japan

TÜV SÜD Japan Ltd. is partnering with ESPEC Cooperation to build a test center for large battery systems in Japan. The aim is to offer a complete range of testing for traction batteries for electric vehicles in Japan in 2015. The new Japan lab will become the seventh in TÜV SÜD’s international network of battery labs.

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Honda opens Developer Studio for automotive apps

November 18, 2014

Honda unveiled Honda Developer Studio, an online portal and open innovation workspace in Silicon Valley. The portal and garage will enable developers to work directly with Honda engineers to create apps that are road-ready more quickly. The announcement comes on the heels of Google’s debut release of the Android Auto software developer kit (SDK), which allows Android developers to extend their apps to the in-vehicle environment.

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Chevrolet purchasing and retiring up to $5M in carbon credits to help 11 colleges pay for efficiency projects

Chevrolet is purchasing carbon credits worth up to $5 million to help 11 colleges in the US pay for energy efficiency-based carbon reductions. The GM brand will retire the carbon credits to benefit the climate instead of using them to offset the emissions of Chevrolet vehicles or operations.

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Interim assessment finds Volkswagen’s “Think Blue. Factory.” environmental program tracking to meet 2018 goals of 25% improvement vs. 2010

The Volkswagen brand’s “Think Blue. Factory.” environmental program remains on track to meet its 2018 goals of reducing energy and water consumption as well as the share in waste, CO2 and solvent emissions at all Volkswagen plants throughout the world by 25% compared with 2010 levels by 2018. This was the of an interim assessment made by more than 250 environmental experts from 27 plants of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand, the Components business area and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles at a “Think Blue. Factory.” day in Wolfsburg.

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BioTfuel partners move ahead to construction of two demo plants; thermochemical conversion of biomass to synthetic diesel and kerosene

The European BioTfueL project—which aims to develop a technology for the thermochemical conversion of second-generation biomass into synthetic diesel and kerosene (bio-jet) fuel with a more than 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional fuel (earlier post)—has ended its engineering phase and is moving forward to the construction of two demonstration plants.

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Toray to expand carbon fiber supply to Boeing in $8.6B deal

Japan-based Toray Industries, Inc. has agreed in principle to supply carbon fiber TORAYCA prepreg for the production of the new 777X aircraft by The Boeing Company. The companies have signed a memorandum of agreement confirming that the two companies will negotiate extension of their existing comprehensive agreement (signed in November 2005) to supply prepreg for the 787 Dreamliner with aim to extend its contract period for more than ten years and to include 777X to the supply scope, targeting to reach a final agreement by the end of this year. The total value of prepreg Toray Group will supply for both 787 and 777X programs for the contract period is expected to exceed ¥1 trillion (US$8.6 billion).

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$1.1B Huineng SNG plant goes on-stream transforming coal into natural gas in China

Haldor Topsoe A/S announced that Huineng, a large-scale SNG (Substitute Natural Gas) plant, went successfully on-stream near the city of Ordos, located in Inner Mongolia in the northern part of China. Topsoe has designed the methanation section of this plant, which is the company’s second large-scale coal-based industrial SNG reference to begin operations in China following last years’ opening of Qinghua, the world’s largest SNG plant located in the Xinjiang region.

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Report: GS Yuasa developing high-capacity Li-sulfur battery, commercialization by 2020

The Japan Times reported that Japan-based battery maker GS Yuasa Corp. said it has developed a next-generation lithium-sulfur battery with three times the capacity of existing products.

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Audi presenting A7 Sportback h-tron quattro technology demonstrator plug-in hybrid with hydrogen fuel cell at LA show

At the Los Angeles Auto Show this week, Audi will present the Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro technology demonstrator, a plug-in hybrid with hydrogen fuel cell.

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Li-ion maker Electrovaya plans acquisition of plant with 0.5 GWh capacity

November 17, 2014

Electrovaya Inc. announced plans to acquire the assets of a battery manufacturing plant with annual capacity of about 0.5 Gigawatt hours (GWh). The plant’s output, when converted into battery systems, has a revenue capacity of up to $250-$550 million. This is a transformational project for Electrovaya as it instantly brings manufacturing capacity to meet demand for the company’s energy storage products.

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Global Bioenergies reports successful production of isobutene by fermentation in industrial pilot

Audi partner Global Bioenergies (GBE) has successfully carried out its first isobutene production trial at its industrial pilot site in Pomacle-Bazancourt. A production run was initiated on 3 November, resulting in the first production of isobutene—a gaseous hydrocarbon—by fermentation in an industrial environment. This marks the first fermentative production of isobutene outside of Global Bioenergies’ R&D laboratories located in Evry near Paris.

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Satellite altimeter data study finds global ship traffic up 4x over past 20 years

Maritime traffic on the world’s oceans has increased four-fold over the past 20 years, likely causing more water, air and noise pollution on the open seas, according to a new study quantifying global ship traffic. The research used satellite altimeter data to estimate the number of vessels on the ocean every year between 1992 and 2012. The number of ships traversing the oceans grew by 60% between 1992 and 2002. Shipping traffic grew even faster during the second decade of the study, peaking at rate of increase of 10% per year in 2011.

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Naval Research Lab applying pulsed electron beam technology to reduce NOx from coal power plants; fusion research spin-off

The US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) is partnering with a power company to apply its pulsed electron beam technology to reduce NOx emissions from coal-fired power plants. Today, industry uses Selective Catalytic Reduction to reduce NOx, but the scrubbers are expensive to build and to operate. Dr. John Sethian, the plasma physicist leading the project at NRL, says that if NRL’s technology works as expected, it would be about 10-20% the cost of a catalytic scrubber for energy, and with no byproducts.

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European bus manufacturers underline commitment to commercializing fuel cell electric buses

Five major European bus manufacturers—Daimler Buses (EvoBus), MAN, Solaris, Van Hool and VDL Bus & Coach—last week signed a joint Letter of Understanding at the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking’s (FCH JU) Stakeholders Forum in Brussels. The Letter underlines the commitment of bus manufacturers towards the commercialisation and market introduction of fuel cell electric buses in urban public transport.

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CU-Boulder technique finds major class of fracking chemicals no more toxic than common household substances; “fingerprinting”

The surfactant chemicals found in samples of fracking fluid collected in five states were no more toxic than substances commonly found in homes, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder. Imma Ferrer, chief scientist at the mass spectrometry laboratory and co-author of a paper in Analytical Chemistry describing the work said, “Our unique instrumentation with accurate mass and intimate knowledge of ion chemistry was used to identify these chemicals.

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Workshop to help shape UK project on dynamic power transfer for EVs; charge while you drive

Via the UK’s Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership comes word that the UK Highways Agency will hold a workshop in Central London on 28 November for stakeholders to help shape a project on dynamic wireless power transfer. Dynamic wireless power transfer could enable electric vehicles to be powered from the road while driving.

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Akio Toyoda announces name of Toyota’s new fuel cell sedan in web video: Mirai

November 16, 2014

Akio Toyoda, President and Member of the Board of Toyota Motor, used a web video to announce the name of the company’s new fuel cell sedan (earlier post), to be launched officially on the eve of the Los Angeles Auto Show: “Mirai”. In Japanese, Mirai means “future”, Toyoda said, while expounding on the virtues of the car.

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Daimler to cease production of Li-ion battery cells at Li-Tec

Daimler subsidiary Li-Tec will cease production of Li-ion battery cells in December 2015. As quoted in Der Spiegel Daimler-manager Harald Kröger said that “Our cells are very good, but at current production figures far too expensive. We have realized that a car manufacturer does not have to produce the cells themselves.

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First VW Polo BlueMotion to have gasoline-fueled TSI technology; new 3-cylinder engine, 57 mpg

November 15, 2014

Volkswagen is introducing its first fuel-saving BlueMotion vehicle with a gasoline-fueled TSI engine with the Polo TSI BlueMotion. (Earlier post.) Improvements to the TSI engine management system have made it possible to reduce fuel consumption by a further 0.2 liters to 4.1 l/100 km (57 mpg US) and emissions to 94 g/km CO2.

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VIA Motors receives EPA Certificate of Conformity for eREV Van; 23 delivered, 3 more in transit

November 14, 2014

VIA Motors has received its official Certificate of Conformity from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its Extended Range Electric Vehicle (eREV) Van, according to VIA Motors CEO Pablo Acedo. EPA certification means that VIA is now cleared to deliver its VIA eREV Vans to fleet customers across the United States.

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GM reaches 3M sales in China in 2014; planning 60 new or refreshed vehicles through 2018

General Motors and its joint ventures sold their 3 millionth vehicle in China in 2014. This is the second consecutive year that GM has reached the milestone, a month earlier than last year. In 2013, GM and its joint ventures hit 3 million sales in a calendar year on 12 December for the first time in GM’s history in its largest market.

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GM emphasizes its safety testing for the Bi-fuel Impala

November 13, 2014

GM says that it has tested the compressed natural gas (CNG) tank in the 2015 Bi-fuel Chevrolet Impala (earlier post) under normal and extreme conditions, exceeding both federal requirements and CNG industry guidelines. For example:

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TU Berlin team develops multifunctional catalyst for ORR and OER for fuel cells or rechargeable metal-air batteries

One of the challenges in electrocatalysis (be it for solar fuels, fuel cells or rechargeable metal-air batteries) is to find an effective catalyst that will reduce (oxygen reduction reaction, ORR), as well as generate (oxygen evolution reaction, OER), oxygen at moderate temperatures. A team from Technische Universität Berlin now reports developing cobalt-manganese-based (CoMn2O4 and MnCo2O4) spinel microspheres as highly efficient multifunctional catalysts that unify the electrochemical OER with oxidant-driven and photocatalytic water oxidation as well as the ORR.

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Volkswagen Golf family named “2015 Motor Trend Car of the Year”

Motor Trend named the Volkswagen Golf family—Golf 1.8T, Golf TDI Clean Diesel, Golf GTI and e-Golf models—as the 2015 Motor Trend Car of the Year. The Golf has won COTY only once before, in 1985.

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ClassNK grants Approval in Principle for new H2/CO2 FPSO design; offshore production of H2 and CO2 from associated gas from offshore wells

Japan-based leading classification society ClassNK has granted Approval in Principle (AIP) to a new H2/CO2 FPSO (floating production, storage and offloading) design developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Chiyoda Corporation. FPSOs are commonly used in the offshore oil and gas industry process and store crude oil and liquefied gas from offshore wells until it can be transported via pipelines to shore or via ship-to-ship transfer. This new concept H2/CO2 FPSO, however, uses steam reforming and water shift conversion to extract hydrogen (H2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) from the associated gas produced as a byproduct of oil well production.

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Four Siemens 1200 kW electric motors power world’s largest truck; all-wheel drive

The world’s biggest truck—the more than 800-ton GVW BelAZ 75710 mining truck—is powered by an electric drive system comprising four electric traction motors from Siemens, each with an output of 1,200 kilowatts (approximately 1,800 hp). The electricity is provided by two generators, each of which is driven by a 16-cylinder diesel engine with an output of approximately 1,700 kW.

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Honda Aero begins production of HF120 turbofan at new Burlington plant

Honda Aero, Inc. (HAI) has begun production of its new HF120 turbofan engine completed at the new facility in Burlington, North Carolina. The HF120 engine is the result of a joint venture established in 2004 between Honda and GE combining the R&D, engine production, and jet aviation expertise of the two companies. (Earlier post.)

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Volkswagen Beetle and Beetle Cabriolet get end-of-year engine refresh; up to 13% reduction in fuel consumption

Just before the end of the year, Volkswagen will introduce three new gasoline engines (77 kW/103 hp, 110 kW/148 hp and 162 kW/217 hp) and two diesel engines (81 kW/109 hp and 110 kW/148 hp) for the Beetle. All engines comply with the Euro 6 emissions standard and are all more efficient than their predecessors.

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Li-ion maker Electrovaya receives $1.3M IESS award for Toronto and London Hydro; working with Walmart

Canada-based Li-ion battery maker Electrovaya Inc. has received a $1.3-million grant award to deliver multiple Intelligent Energy Storage Systems (IESS) at various locations for Toronto Hydro and London Hydro. This project is supported by the Ontario Ministry of Energy’s Smart Grid Fund. The IESS units will be serving multiple applications including phase balancing, infrastructure deferment, electric vehicle charging and general energy storage functions.

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Enerkem and AkzoNobel to explore development of waste-to-chemicals facilities in Europe

November 12, 2014

Enerkem Inc., a waste-to-biofuels and chemicals producer, has signed an agreement with AkzoNobel, a leading global paints and coatings company and a major producer of specialty chemicals, to develop a project partnership to explore the development of waste-to-chemicals facilities in Europe.

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2015 Ram ProMaster City compact van EPA-rated at 24 mpg combined

The 2015 Ram ProMaster City compact van (earlier post) has been EPA-rated at 21 mpg city, 29 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined (11.2, 8.1 and 9.8 l/100 km, respectively)—matching the EPA fuel economy ratings for the 2015 Ford Transit Connect (2WD) powered by a 2.5L, four-cylinder engine. The 1.6L EcoBoost version of the Transit Connect delivers slightly better fuel economy, with 22 city, 30 highway and 25 mpg combined, while the Nissan NV 200 and Chevy City Express both are also rated at 25 mpg combined—albeit with a more narrow spread between city and highway figures.

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VW Passenger Cars delivers record 5M+ vehicles January-October worldwide; 45% to China

Volkswagen Passenger Cars set a new delivery record for January – October, handing over more than five million vehicles to customers for the first time. 5.08 million vehicles were delivered during this period, representing an increase of 2.6% over the same period in 2013 (January to October 2013: 4.95). 45% of those have gone to China.

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Toyota-sponsored Onramp Challenge codefest exploring the future of the driving experience; $10K cash prize

Toyota is sponsoring the Onramp Challenge, a weekend-long codefest and conference taking place 6-7 December at the San Mateo County (California) Event Center, which will feature competition, cars, and collaboration, all under the theme of “exploring the future of the driving experience.”

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Infineon launches ARM-based embedded power family for smart motor control in automotive applications

Infineon Technologies AG has launched an ARM-based Embedded Power family of bridge drivers offering a high level of integration to address the growing trend towards intelligent motor control for a wide range of automotive applications. As an industry first, Infineon integrates on a single chip a high-performance microcontroller using the ARM Cortex-M3 processor, as well as the nonvolatile memory, the analog and mixed signal peripherals, the communication interfaces along with the MOSFET gate drivers.

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Petrobras reaches its highest historical monthly oil production in Brazil

Petrobras’ oil production in Brazil reached an average of 2,126,000 barrels per day (bpd) in October, corresponding to 0.4% rise in September’s production of 2,118,000 bpd. This flow represents a historical new record, surpassing the previous record 4,800 bpd, reached in December 2010. October was the company’s ninth consecutive month of oil production growth in the country.

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Biosynthetic motor oil receives highest industry performance certification; demonstrates improved fuel economy

November 11, 2014

Biosynthetic Technologies has received ILSAC GF-5 certification on both SAE 5W-20 and 5W-30 grade passenger car motor oil (PCMO) formulations using its Biosynthetic Base Oil. ILSAC GF-5 represents the latest performance standard set by the International Lubricant Standardization and Approval Committee (ILSAC). These formulations have also been certified by the American Petroleum Institute (API) to exceed requirements of the most recent service category issued by API’s Lubricants Group—the API SN “Resourcing Conserving” designation.

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UMTRI: average fuel economy of new vehicles in US in October unchanged from September

The average fuel economy (window-sticker value) of new vehicles sold in the US in October was 25.3 mpg (9.29 l/100 km)—unchanged from the value in September, according to the latest monthly report from Dr. Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI).

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Visteon awarded 1st production program for Fusion platform; launch expected in 2018

Visteon Corporation has been awarded the first production program for its Fusion connected platform by a leading European-based vehicle manufacturer. The vehicle line is expected to launch in 2018. Fusion “fuses” traditional driver information, infotainment and Cloud connectivity into one connected platform, offering drivers and passengers a seamless human machine interaction (HMI) experience. This product takes multiple, independent graphics streams and composites them to provide the appropriate level of information to the driver and passenger.

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Daewoo orders 54 Wärtsilä dual fuel engines for icebreaking LNG carriers

The Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) yard in South Korea has ordered 54 Wärtsilä 50DF dual fuel engines to power 172,600 cbm icebreaking LNG carriers being built for use in Arctic conditions to serve the Yamal LNG project in Northern Russia.

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Ford partners with Wind Energy Corp to power 4 dealerships

Ford Motor Company is partnering with Wind Energy Corporation to deliver a new source of clean energy to its dealers. Under a pilot program exclusive to Ford, Wind Energy will install wind sail and solar panel systems at four Ford dealerships, a nearly $750,000 investment, to help power dealer facilities.

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Volkswagen and INRIX expand partnership to launch INRIX Park and INRIX Fuel in Europe

INRIX, Inc., a leading global provider of traffic information, analytics and driver services for the connected car and smart cities worldwide, is expanding its partnership with Volkswagen to launch INRIX Park and INRIX Fuel services in new Passat models equipped with Discover Pro and Car-Net navigation in Europe.

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Chevron fined $329,700 for violations of California’s gasoline regulation; over-oxygenated gasoline in 2010 and 2011

November 10, 2014

The California Air Resources Board announced that Chevron Corp. has paid $329,700 in penalties for self-disclosed violations of California’s reformulated gasoline regulations.

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VW bringing fuel cell prototypes for ride-and-drive at the Los Angeles Auto Show

As earlier reported in the German publication Wirtschaft Woche, Volkswagen is bringing a few fuel cell prototypes to the Los Angeles auto show next week. According to Darryll Harrison of Volkswagen of America, the prototypes will be available for test drives during the Green and Advanced Technology ride-and-drive.

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Bosch mid-range radar enters series production for rear-end applications

Bosch’s MRR (mid-range radar) sensor system, based on fourth-generation Bosch radars, is entering series production with a leading European manufacturer in rear-end applications for one of its high-volume mid-sized vehicles.

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Lux Research: “Tesla’s Autonomous Car Claims More Hype Than Reality”

Analysts at Lux Research are taking a decidedly measured view of Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s recent assertions of Tesla’s technical capability and leadership in the field of autonomous driving. With the release of “Autopilot” (earlier post), Tesla has caught up with competitors, but “certainly hasn’t” passed them, according to Lux.

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Recycling diesel carbon nanoparticles for Li-ion battery electrodes

In a paper published in the Journal of Power Sources, a team from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University report showing that diesel carbon nanoparticles collected from diesel engines can be chemically activated to create a porous structure. The resulting nanostructured carbon electrodes have a high specific capacity of 936 mAh g−1 after 40 cycles at 0.05 A/g, and excellent cycle stability while retaining a capacity of ∼210 mAh g−1 after 1200 cycles at 5 A/g.


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Lux Research provides snapshot of oil majors’ investments in alternative fuels; BP leads investment frequency

Lux Research has investigated the trends of corporate financing of alternative fuels from oil majors, based on a non-exhaustive database of more than 1,000 deals and partnership engagements from 2000 through September, 2014. Lux focused on financial engagement, only looking into the private placement, equity stake, joint venture (JV), mergers and acquisitions (M&A). For example, Lux included BP’s bioethanol JV plant with British Sugar, but we did not include BP’s research work with the Energy Biosciences Institute.

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EPA to award up to $4M to support community-scale monitoring of air toxics

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is soliciting (EPA-OAR-OAQPS-15-01) proposals for up to $4 million in awards to assist state, local and tribal communities in identifying and profiling air toxics sources; assessing emerging measurement methods; characterizing the degree and extent of local air toxics problems; and tracking progress of air toxics reduction activities.

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Renesas introduces new microcontrollers for sensor fusion, gateway and chassis system applications

November 09, 2014

Renesas Electronics Corporation introduced the new RH850/P1x-C Series, a high-end version of the RH850/P1x Series of 32-bit automotive microcontrollers (MCUs). The new chips are designed for sensor fusion, gateway, and advanced chassis system applications that will enable the types of advanced systems envisioned in the car of the future.

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BMW shows prototype of streetlight with integrated EV charging

November 08, 2014

During the Eurocities conference this week in Munich, the BMW Group presented the prototype of a highly energy efficient street light that is also a charging station for electric vehicles, called “Light and Charge”. The units combine the latest LED technology with a standard connector for EV charging. The charging station, integrated into BMW i's ChargeNow network, allows the driver to start charging with just one click.

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Solid-state battery company Solid Power named “Emerging Cleantech Company of the Year” by CCIA

November 07, 2014

Solid Power Inc. has been named “Emerging Cleantech Company of the Year” by the Colorado Cleantech Industries Association (CCIA). Solid Power, founded in 2012 based on research conducted at the University of Colorado at Boulder under funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is developing solid-state rechargeable battery products for government and commercial markets, including aerospace and electric vehicles, where high energy, safe operation and long life are required. (Earlier post.)

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Volkswagen providing e-Golf to Stanford for research

Volkswagen Group of America (VWGoA) will provide an battery-electric 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf (earlier post) to Stanford University for research dedicated to advancing e-mobility and improving the driver experience in electric vehicles.

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Availability of total electrification option for components used with Allison H 40/50 EP hybrid system

Allison Transmission Holdings Inc. announced availability of a new option to fully electrify components used with its H 40/50 EP hybrid propulsion system for transit buses and coaches. Co-developed with Vanner Inc., Increased Accessory Power II (IAP II) is a customizable electric distribution platform that provides power from the hybrid system to accessory components such as electric air conditioning, electric air compressors and power steering systems. (Earlier post.)

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BASF and Volkswagen present Science Award Electrochemistry to Dr. Vanessa Wood for work on Li-ion batteries

The international “Science Award Electrochemistry” from Volkswagen and BASF (earlier post) goes this year to Dr. Vanessa Wood, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (ETH Zürich), Department of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, Switzerland. The jury of representatives from BASF, Volkswagen and from academia selected Dr. Wood for her outstanding research results in the area of lithium-ion batteries.

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2015 Civic Hybrid and Natural Gas join 2015 siblings this month in showrooms

Honda’s 2015 Civic Hybrid and Civic Natural Gas vehicles are joining the already released 2015 Civic Sedan, Civic Coupe and Civic Si in showrooms in the US. The 2015 Civic Hybrid launches at Honda dealers nationwide on November 5 with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) starting at $24,735. The 2015 Civic Natural Gas goes on sale at Honda dealers in 37 states beginning on 19 November with an MSRP starting at $26,740.

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Novel catalyst for low-temperature ethanol steam reforming; potential advance for on-board production of hydrogen for vehicles

Researchers at the A*STAR Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences in Singapore have developed a novel catalyst (iron-promoted rhodium on a calcium-modified aluminum oxide support) for CO-free hydrogen production via low-temperature ethanol steam reforming (ESR). The catalyst could advance the realization of small-scale on-board ethanol reformers for hydrogen-powered cars. A paper on their work appeared earlier this year in the journal Topics in Catalysis.

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Greyrock to build small-scale gas-to-liquids plant near Houston

November 06, 2014

Greyrock Energy, a company transforming natural gas into premium transportation fuels (earlier post), announced a final investment decision (FID) to build a small-scale Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) facility near Houston, Texas. The plant will be commercially operational by the end of 2015.

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Bosch world map of automotive powertrains

Bosch has produced a map of automotive powertrain market share for Europe and select countries in the Americas and Asia. Among the differences highlighted are that nearly every fifth new vehicle in Japan is a hybrid; spark-ignition engines dominate the market most in China with an almost 100% share of new vehicle purchases; and diesel holds sway in Europe and India.

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Toho Tenax develops super-heat-resistant prepreg suited for automotive engine compartments

Toho Tenax Co., Ltd., the core company of the Teijin Group’s carbon fibers and composites business, has developed a new prepreg (carbon fiber sheet pre-impregnated with matrix resin) that offers super-high-heat and -oxidation resistance suited to automotive and aircraft engine compartments.

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Celgard and Panasonic sign letter of intent to develop next-gen Lithium-ion battery separator

Polypore International, Inc.’s Celgard, LLC subsidiary and Panasonic Corporation have signed a letter of intent to work together in the development of coated and uncoated Celgard brand separators to meet Panasonic’s requirements for next-generation cylindrical battery cell production for various applications globally. Upon successful completion of this development effort, the parties expect to enter into a long term supply agreement.

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Researchers demonstrate practicality of plasma wakefield acceleration; potential for expanded use of economical accelerators

Scientists from the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the University of California, Los Angeles have shown that a technique for accelerating electrons on waves of plasma is efficient enough to power a new generation of shorter, more economical accelerators. This could greatly expand their use in areas such as medicine, national security, industry and high-energy physics research. The achievement is a milestone in demonstrating the practicality of plasma wakefield acceleration, a technique in which electrons gain energy by essentially surfing on a wave of electrons within an ionized gas.

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Southern California Edison to buy 261 MW of energy storage projects; largest grid-connected storage purchase in US

November 05, 2014

Southern California Edison (SCE) announced the selected suppliers and projects for 261 MW of energy storage resources, representing the largest grid-connected energy storage purchase yet in the US, and more than five times greater than the utility’s minimum energy storage procurement authorization of 50 MW, per California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) ruling. The selection was part of a larger contracting for 2,221 MW of power from diverse new resources. The 2,221 megawatts will represent roughly 10% of SCE’s current total customer peak usage and is enough to power about 950,000 average homes.

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BMW has sold ~10,200 i3 EVs worldwide Jan-Sep, 341 i8 PHEVs Jun-Sep this year

BMW has sold almost 10,300 i3 EVs worldwide during the first nine months of this year, and 341 i8 plug-in hybrids from June through September, according to Dr. Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG in his statement on the company’s quarterly results.

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Study shows 99% of used lead-based vehicle batteries in the EU are collected and recycled

Ninety-nine percent of used lead-based automotive batteries in the EU available for collection are recycled, making them one of the most recycled consumer products, according to a new report by consultancy IHS. The study was commissioned by EUROBAT, representing Europe’s automotive battery industry; the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA); the automobile manufacturers’ associations of Japan (JAMA) and South Korea (KAMA); and the International Lead Association (ILA).

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Andromeda Interfaces introduces Electric Vehicle Interface Controller

Andromeda Interfaces has introduced its Electric Vehicle Interface Controller (EVIC), a fully integrated display device to monitor the operation and safety of electric vehicle major sub-systems.

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Toho Tenax’s new prepreg achieves rapid curing for increased productivity, features high surface texture

Toho Tenax Co., Ltd., the core company of the Teijin Group’s carbon fibers and composites business, has developed a new prepreg (carbon fiber sheet pre-impregnated with matrix resin) that achieves rapid curing for increased productivity and features excellent surface texture and formability.

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Muradel testing green crude production in South Australia

Australia-based renewable fuels company Muradel has launched Australia’s first integrated demonstration plant for the sustainable conversion of algae into green crude, as a first step towards a commercial plant with the potential to produce 80 million liters (21 million gallons US, or about 500,000 barrels) of crude oil per year.

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