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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.]

Fraunhofer holding 3rd annual workshop on Li-sulfur batteries in November

September 30, 2014

Fraunhofer IWS in Dresden, Germany will hold its 3rd annual workshop on Lithium-sulfur batteries from 12-13 November 2014. Fraunhofer says that Lithium-sulfur batteries are the most promising choice for future energy storage systems, with novel materials such as nanostructured carbon/sulfur composite cathodes, solid electrolytes and alloy-based anodes expected to enhance significantly the cell’s performance.

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Chinese scientists unveil liquid-phase 3D printing method using low-melting-point metal alloy ink

Conventional 3D metal printing (additive manufacturing) is generally restricted to metals with a high melting point, and the process is can be rather time consuming. Now, scientists at the Beijing Key Laboratory of CryoBiomedical Engineering, part of the Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, have developed a new conceptual method of liquid-phase 3D printing for quickly making conductive metal objects. The “ink” consisting of a metal alloy that has a melting point slightly above room temperature.

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Velocys raises £52 ($85) million for smaller scale GTL

On the heels of three new projects announced in the past three months, Velocys has raised approximately $85 million through an oversubscribed equity placing, priced at a premium to the market price. The new funds will be used to build upon the company’s recent successes and maintain commercial momentum, helping to further accelerate adoption of Velocys technology following the start of construction of its first commercial project.

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BMW teams up with Baidu in autonomous driving project in China

September 29, 2014

BMW’s autonomous driving research prototypes have already driven thousands of kilometers in highly automated—i.e. self-driving—mode on German highways. In February 2013, the focus shifted to European motorways when BMW launched a joint project with Continental. Now, BMW is embarking on a research project which will pave the way for highly automated driving in China.

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Roland Berger: Russian embargo against the Western automotive industry would hit Russia harder

A decision by Russia to retaliate against sanctions imposed by the European Union and the US over Ukraine by imposing strong Russian sanctions—i.e., an embargo—on car imports from Europe and the US could undermine a faltering Russian economy even more, according to a new analysis by Germany-based Roland Berger Strategy Consultants.

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Pennsylvania’s Public-Private Partnership Board approves CNG project for public transit, private fleet fueling

Pennsylvania’s Public-Private Partnership (P3) Board has approved a project seeking a private partner to develop compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations at public transit agencies around the state that would also provide public access to the facilities. Through the project, the private partner will design, build, finance, operate and maintain CNG filling stations at up to 37 transit facilities. Each fueling site must provide access to CNG for public transit and other CNG vehicles alike.

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Argonne tool predicts economic impacts of building new natural gas stations

Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have developed a new tool for analyzing the economic impacts of building new compressed natural gas fueling stations. Called JOBS NG, the tool is freely available to the public.

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Magna providing composite liftgate assembly for BMW i3 EV

Magna International Inc. is leveraging its advanced composites and exteriors systems expertise to produce an innovative, lightweight composite liftgate assembly on the BMW i3.

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DLR measurements reveal noise-generating structures in engine jets

Researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have, for the first time, been able to use laser measurement techniques and microphones to make highly precise, simultaneous measurements of the sources of noise in the air stream behind an aircraft engine.

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UConn team devises chemistry-adaptive battery fuel gauge based on probabilistic data association

Researchers at the University of Connecticut have developed a chemistry-adaptive battery fuel gauge based on a probabilistic data association (PDA) algorithm. Their paper, available online in the Journal of Power Sources, addresses the problem of tracking the state-of-charge (SOC) in Li-ion batteries when the battery chemistry is unknown.

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Rosneft touts major light oil find from “northernmost well in the world” in the Arctic

Rosneft announced a major oil discovery at the East-Prinovozemelskiy-1 license area in the Kara Sea, following the successful completion of the drilling of the northernmost well in the world—the Universitetskaya-1 well. The Kara Sea is part of the Arctic Ocean north of West Siberia. The drilling was completed in record time: one and a half months, the company said.

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Statoil postponing Corner oil sands project for minimum of 3 years; rising costs, limited pipeline access

September 27, 2014

Statoil will postpone the previously planned Corner field development at the Kai Kos Dehseh (KKD) oil sands project in Alberta, Canada, for a minimum of three years, due in part to rising labor and materials costs and market access issues including limited pipeline access. The decision has no implications for the Leismer project (Statoil’s first foray into the oil sands), also at the KKD, which is in production and has an operating capacity of 20,000 barrels per day.

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API publishes set of recommended practices for crude-by-rail

The American Petroleum Institute (API) this past week published a new set of recommended practices for testing and classifying crude oil for rail shipment and loading it into rail tank cars.

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Isuzu signs agreement with GM for joint development of next-generation midsize pickup; not for US or Canada

September 26, 2014

Isuzu Motors Limited and General Motors Company signed a formal agreement jointly to develop a next-generation midsize pickup. Isuzu and GM previously developed two generations of pickups that have been popular in more than 100 countries around the world due to their strong performance, fuel efficiency and durability.

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GM Innovation Challenge launched at four major universities; 3-D printing, augmented reality tools for manufacturing

GM has launched the GM Innovation Challenge at four major universities, recruiting student teams to develop new uses for additive manufacturing (3D printing) and augmented reality (e.g., devices similar to Google Glass) in manufacturing.

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NREL updates experimental cetane number data; more than 250 new individual measurements

The Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently released a long-anticipated update to the source-of-record for cetane number data. This version of the compendium, which includes all available single-compound cetane number data found in the scientific literature published prior to March 2014, contains cetane values for 388 pure compounds, including 187 hydrocarbons and 201 oxygenates. More than 250 individual measurements are new to this version of the compendium.

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Volvo Cars introduces All Wheel Drive powertrain upgrade for V40 Cross Country; reduced fuel consumption and emissions

Volvo Cars is introducing the Drive-E powertrain with a 245 hp gasoline turbo T5 engine, made available earlier this year for the V40 (earlier post), for the V40 Cross Country with the added capability of AWD. Compared to the V40 Cross Country’s previous T5 engine, the new powertrain reduces emissions to 149 g/km—lower than the Audi Q3 TFSI Quattro (179 g/km); the BMW X1 BMW X1 xDrive20i xLine auto (170 g/km); or the Mercedes-Benz B-class (SUV) 220 Sport 4MATIC DCT (156 g/km).

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Neste Oil to recover CO2 at its renewable diesel refinery in Singapore

Neste Oil Singapore Pte Ltd and National Oxygen Pte Ltd (NOX), one of the one of the largest industrial gas manufacturers in Singapore, have signed an agreement to install a carbon dioxide recovery and liquefaction plant at Neste Oil’s renewable diesel (NExBTL) refinery in Singapore.

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Iveco to deliver first 50 Stralis LNG Euro VI vehicles to LC3

Iveco has received its first contract order for 50 Stralis Hi-Ways powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). The Euro VI-compliant vehicles will be used by LC3, a company specializing in temperature-controlled transport and container trucks that has continuously strived to equip its fleet with alternative technological solutions capable of reducing the vehicles’ environmental impact.

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SAKOR Technologies showcasing engine, hybrid vehicle, and battery testing technologies at Automotive Testing Expo; belt noise tester to Ford

SAKOR Technologies, Inc., a recognized leader in the area of high-performance dynamometer systems, will be exhibiting at the Automotive Testing Expo 2014 North America in Novi, Michigan in October. The company will showcase a number of its technologies, including hybrid and electric vehicle testing; high voltage battery testing and simulation; and the smallest AC regenerative engine dynamometer available in the industry. (Earlier post.)

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Toyota to show Driver Awareness Research Vehicle 1.5 at Meeting of Minds in Detroit

September 25, 2014

At next week’s Meeting of the Minds 2014 summit in Detroit, Toyota will show the latest generation Driver Awareness Research Vehicle—DARV1.5—which is part of the company’s ongoing research into the dynamics of driver distraction at the Collaborative Safety Research Center (CSRC) in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Toyota introduced DARV, developed in partnership with Microsoft Research to help reduce driver distractions before the key is even in the ignition, at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2013. (Earlier post.)

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Renault and Eco2charge developing “energy ecosystems” for EV charging at commercial buildings; second-life battery packs

France’s Eco2charge consortium, coordinated by Bouygues Energie & Services, recently launched an R&D program at the Fédération Nationale des Travaux Publics (National federation of public works) to accelerate the deployment of charging solutions for electric vehicles, especially in commercial buildings. The project aims to turn tertiary sites equipped with charging infrastructure into fully fledged energy ecosystems grouping power generation, consumption and storage on an interactive basis.

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Efacec introducing small “semi-fast” 24 kW DC charger

Efacec will be presenting a new DC charger at eCarTec 2014 in Munich this October. The new 24 kW QC24S is targeted at the semi-fast charging of any CCS car, such as those from VW, BMW, Daimler, or GM. A CHAdeMO version will also be launched near the end of this year.

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Skygo receives EPA approval for dual fuel conversions of Cummins ISX engines

Skygo Fuel Systems’ latest dual fuel (natural gas/diesel) conversion system has been approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The dual fuel system is available as an aftermarket upgrade for 2007 to 2009 Cummins ISX engines. According to data provided to the EPA, the dual fuel system will reduce emissions by up to 20%, with displacements (natural gas substitution) of approximately 60%.

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Airbus: emerging markets and urbanization driving air passenger traffic growth; up 4.7% annually for next 20 years

Air passenger traffic will grow annually at 4.7% over the next 20 years (2014-2033), driving a need for around 31,400 new passenger and freighter aircraft (100 seats and above) worth US$4.6 trillion, according to Airbus’ Global Market Forecast (GMF). The passenger and freighter fleet will increase from today’s 18,500 aircraft to 37,500 by 2033, an increase of nearly 19,000 aircraft. Some 12,400 older less fuel efficient passenger and freighter aircraft will be retired.

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Alcoa to roll out lightest heavy-duty truck wheel in Europe, offering increased fuel efficiency, payload

Alcoa, the inventor and global leader of forged aluminum wheels, will roll out its lightest heavy-duty truck wheel in Europe to help fleets increase payload and fuel efficiency.

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SoCal Edison opens 32 MWh battery energy storage project, largest in North America; batteries from LG Chem

September 24, 2014

Southern California Edison (SCE) opened the largest battery energy storage project in North America—the Tehachapi Energy Storage Project—to modernize the grid to integrate more clean energy. The 32 MWh battery energy storage system features lithium-ion batteries from LG Chem housed inside a 6,300 square-foot facility at SCE’s Monolith substation in Tehachapi, Calif.

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National Electric Vehicle Sweden to lay off up to 200 employees

NEVS (National Electric Vehicle Sweden), the company struggling to bring the Saab brand back to life, said that it intends to lay off up to 200 employees due to lack of work, as the decision to re-start production will be further delayed.

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GM achieves perfect scores on climate change data disclosure and performance in CDP report

General Motors for the first time achieved perfect scores on both climate change data disclosure and performance submitted to CDP, the world’s only global environmental disclosure system. The CDP program enables management of greenhouse gas emissions and risks and opportunities associated with climate change. Scores are communicated to investors and other decision makers.

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US and California release draft renewable energy and conservation plan covering 22M acres in California desert

US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency John Laird released a landscape-level draft renewable energy and conservation plan covering more than 22 million acres in the California desert. The draft Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) proposes to protect areas in the California desert important for wildlife, recreation and other uses while streamlining permitting in areas appropriate for siting of solar, wind and geothermal energy projects and associated transmission.

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Honda introducing prototype of new European Jazz and new Civic derivative at Paris

Honda will unveil a new European Jazz prototype at the Paris Motor Show. Due to go on sale in summer 2015, the new European Jazz will offer improved fuel economy and higher performance due to its new Earth Dreams Technology engine. The new 1.3 liter i-VTEC gasoline engine is supported by either a six-speed manual (replacing the previous five-speed unit) or a CVT transmission.

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2015 Fiat 500e models now available at studios in California and Oregon

September 23, 2014

The battery-electric Fiat 500e is now available as a 2015 model year at Fiat studios in California and Oregon for $199 a month for 36 months with $999 due at signing. Sales of the Fiat 500e expanded to Oregon earlier this year. Previously, the all-electric Fiat had been sold only in California since its introduction in 2013.

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Shanghai researchers propose Lithium nitride film as anode protection to enhance Li-sulfur battery performance

Researchers from the Key Laboratory of Materials for Energy Conversion, Shanghai Institute of Ceramics, Chinese Academy of Sciences have proposed a strategy to suppress the polysulfide shuttle effect in Lithium-sulfur batteries—which can result in severe low efficiency—using a novel anode protection. Their paper is published in the RSC journal Chemical Communications.

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Southland Transportation adds 101 Blue Bird Propane Vision buses to districts in Canada

Southland Transportation (Alberta, Canada) recently added 101 Blue Bird Propane Vision buses to its propane autogas school bus fleet. Districts in Canada are specifying the technology due to the superior cold weather operation, reduced maintenance and clean emissions, the company said. Southland Transportation is a subsidiary of the largest family-owned pupil transportation provider in Canada with operations in school, motor coach and public transportation.

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Recargo teams with Daimler on access to PlugShare charging network for B-Class Electric Drive

Recargo, Inc. is working with Daimler to provide customized access to Recargo’s PlugShare charging network for the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive. (Earlier post, earlier post.) Daimler has incorporated PlugShare into the B-Class Electric Drive in-dash navigation system via e-Navigator App, making its comprehensive database and services an integral aspect of the Mercedes-Benz EV driving experience.

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Foothill Transit launching fully fast-charging electric bus line

Foothill Transit, the primary public transportation provider for the San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys in Los Angeles County, California, is launching a heavy-duty, fast charging, fully electric bus line at the Pomona Transit Center on 27 September.

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Westport to unveil 2015 natural gas Ford Transit with 3.6L V-6

Westport will unveil its natural gas powered 2015 Ford Transit Van at Parcel Forum. Used to transport passengers and cargo, the Westport WiNG Power System Transit van and cutaway models operate on dedicated CNG using a 3.7L V6 gaseous prep engine. Westport also offers the smaller Transit Connect with a 2.5L I4 engine.

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AERIS team conducting free public workshop on connected vehicle environmental applications

The Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office (ITS JPO) will conduct a free public workshop soliciting discussion with the adopter community on connected vehicle environmental applications that may be candidates for the upcoming Connected Vehicle Pilot demonstrations. The public meeting is tentatively set for 22 October 2014 from 9:00 AM (ET) to 5:00 PM (ET) at the Holiday Inn Capitol Hotel in Washington, DC.

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Sion Li-S battery pack powers electric UAV on 11-day flight

September 22, 2014

Sion Power announced that its proprietary lithium sulfur (Li-S) batteries played a critical role in the Airbus Defence and Space Zephyr 7 prototype High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) aircraft completing a southern hemisphere winter weather flight of more than 11 days duration controlled by satellite communications. The Zephyr 7 is a solar/battery powered electric UAV with a wing span of 70 feet (22.5 m) and a weight of just over 110 lbs. (50 kg).

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Velocys wins UK patent case against CompactGTL on smaller scale GTL technology

Velocys plc (VLS.L) announced that the UK High Court has ruled in its favor in the patent infringement case it brought against CompactGTL Ltd. The case, filed by Velocys in March 2013, concerns infringement by CompactGTL in relation to its smaller scale Fischer-Tropsch (FT) technology.

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EPA to award up to $5M to reduce diesel emissions at ports

EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality (OTAQ) is soliciting proposals (EPA-OAR-OTAQ-14-07) that achieve significant reductions in diesel emissions in terms of tons of pollution produced by diesel engines and diesel emissions exposure, from fleets operating at marine and inland water ports located in areas of poor air quality. The total estimated funding is approximately $5 million; EPA anticipates awarding two to five cooperative/assistance agreements.

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Honda has sold more than 100K cars powered by 1.5L diesel in India since April 2013

Honda Cars India Ltd. (HCIL) has sold more than 100,000 (1 lakh) cars powered by its 1.5L i-DTEC diesel engine in the country. The diesel variants of the Honda Amaze, Honda City and Honda Mobilio have clocked more than 900 million (90 crore) km (560 million miles) cumulatively as per service data.

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Toyota teases new C-segment hybrid C-HR crossover concept for Paris

Toyota released a teaser image of its new C-HR Concept, which will make its global debut at the 2014 Paris Motor Show. Using a hybrid powerplant, this crossover gives a first hint of a type of vehicle that Toyota would like to bring to the C-segment market.

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Mercedes-Benz receives license for testing autonomous vehicles on California roads; differences between Germany and US

On 16 September 2014, California introduced a legal requirement for an official licence for testing vehicles in autonomous driving mode on public roads. On Senate Bill No. 1298 taking effect, Mercedes-Benz received a corresponding licence permitting it to test vehicles in autonomous driving mode in daily traffic on California's roads.

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GM mid-size pickups EPA-rated at 27 mpg highway, 22 mpg combined

The 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon (earlier post) will offer segment-leading highway fuel efficiency for four-cylinder mid-size pickup trucks, according to EPA fuel economy estimates. The Canyon will also offer segment-leading payload ratings. No competitor in the segment offers more payload capacity than the Colorado or Canyon, GM noted.

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Saft receives 3rd contract from SDGE for utility-scale storage

September 20, 2014

Saft has received its third contract from San Diego Gas and Electric (SDGE), a major California utility. Since the first utility-scale storage system was commissioned at the end of 2012, Saft received two additional contracts bringing the total to a combined energy storage system (ESS) capacity of 7.5 MWh, deployed in 12 containers. The lithium-ion (Li-ion) energy storage systems will be used to mitigate power fluctuations inherent with solar-generated electricity.

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San Francisco orders 175 light rail cars from Siemens for $648M; option for 85 more

September 19, 2014

San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) has awarded Siemens a contract to deliver an initial 175 light rail cars for its Muni transit system at a value of US$648 million. Siemens, which beat CAF for the contract, will deliver a newly-developed light rail car based on its Model S200 for the San Francisco order. With an option for an additional 85 cars, this is one of the biggest orders for light rail cars ever placed in the USA.

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Kia Optima T-Hybrid mild diesel hybrid concept for Paris features 48V system, lead-carbon battery

Among the vehicles Kia brings to the Paris Motor Show will be the Kia Optima T-Hybrid concept, the first demonstration of Kia’s new diesel-electric mild hybrid technology. Kia is targeting a reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 15-20% with the new powertrain, which is still under development. The current Kia Optima 1.7 CRDi has a combined CO2 emissions of 128 grams per kilometer (with manual transmission and EcoDynamics equipment).

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Cadillac adding new top-end high-tech model to line-up; production in 4Q 2015

Cadillac will expand its line-up with what it described as a “new, top-end, high-technology car”. The as-yet unnamed Cadillac will go into production in the fourth quarter of 2015 at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant.

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Lufthansa makes commercial flight with 10% farnesane blend from Amyris/Total; supporting jatropha development for bio-jet production

A recent Lufthansa flight LH 190 from Frankfurt to Berlin Tegel was operated using a 10% blend of the new biofuel component farnesane. This was the first scheduled flight in Europe to run on this fuel mix. Farnesane is a Direct Sugar to Hydrocarbon (DSHC) bio-kerosene developed jointly by Total and the US-based biotech company Amyris, which in April of this year received RSB (Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials) Certification.

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Canada’s shale boom: more to come in Montney

by James Burgess of

In the world of a constantly changing oil and gas environment, the Montney shale basin is the sleeping giant that holds the key to accelerating Canada’s shale oil and gas boom, but the real treasure within this giant is a tight liquids-rich zone (approximately 15-20 miles wide) that has big and small players alike narrowing their focus for the potential of a giant payout.

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California and Québec announce first joint cap-and-trade auction

The California Air Resources Board and the Québec Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight against Climate Change announced their first joint cap-and-trade auction will take place 19 November 2014.

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Gevo shipping bio-isobutanol in railcar volumes; coming equipment to boost volume

Gevo, Inc. has begun to produce and to ship isobutanol in railcar volumes. In the beginning of June, Gevo commenced the co-production of isobutanol and ethanol, with one fermenter dedicated to isobutanol production and three fermenters dedicated to ethanol production (Side-by-Side operational mode (SBS)).

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Technology Credit Union announces financing relationship with Tesla Motors

Tech CU (Technology Credit Union) is working with Tesla Motors as a preferred financing partner for their Model S, Model X and Roadster electric vehicles, offering up to 100% financing with a competitive annual percentage rate (APR).

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Structural upgrade earns 2015 VW Jetta IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award; improved small overlap protection

September 18, 2014

The 2015 Volkswagen Jetta earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s highest award, Top Safety Pick+, after a structural upgrade to improve small overlap protection and the addition of an optional front crash prevention system.

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CPT opens US subsidiary; focus on 48V electrification of powertrain

UK-based Controlled Power Technologies (CPT) has incorporated a US subsidiary, and has appointing Taylor Hansen as vice president responsible for the company’s North American operations. CPT specializes in the development of cost-effective tailpipe emission reduction measures achieved through low cost electrification of conventional and hybrid vehicles—increasingly at 48 volts. (Earlier post, earlier post.)

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DuPont selects Murex as marketing partner for cellulosic ethanol from Nevada, Iowa plant

DuPont Industrial Biosciences (DuPont) has selected Murex LLC to market the cellulosic ethanol produced from its 30-million-gallon-per-year plant in Nevada, Iowa. (Earlier post.) Upon completion, the facility will be the largest cellulosic ethanol plant in the world.

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

September 17, 2014

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

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

September 16, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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EIA: new drilling technology revitalizes Powder River Basin oil production

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 15, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 13, 2014

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

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

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

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

September 12, 2014

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

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Wrightbus Flybrid flywheel KERS bus entering service with Arriva

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 11, 2014

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

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KIA prices 2015 Soul EV starting at $33,700

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 10, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ideal Power and EnerDel partner on mobile hybrid power systems

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

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BMW to showcase new generation 2.0L diesels at Paris show

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

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

September 09, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 08, 2014

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

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