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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.]

Nissan and Endesa collaborating to deliver vehicle-to-grid systems to market

March 05, 2015

Nissan and Endesa, an Enel Group subsidiary, signed an agreement at the Geneva International Motor Show pledging to work together to deliver a mass-market V2G system and an innovative business model designed to leverage this technology. The two companies have agreed to collaborate on the following activities:

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Novelis and Henkel partner on advanced bonding technology for high-volume aluminum vehicles

Novelis, the world leader in automotive aluminum sheet, and Henkel Adhesive Technologies today signed a long-term agreement to collaborate on the development of advanced bonding technologies for the use of aluminum in high-volume vehicles. The first product to launch as a result of this partnership is BONDERITE M-NT 8453, the latest evolution in aluminum surface pre-treatments, providing a cost-effective adhesive bonding system for demanding vehicle requirements.

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Volkswagen announces new lower-priced trim line for the 2015 e-Golf

Volkswagen of America, Inc. announced that a lower-priced version of the fully-electric 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf (earlier post) will go on sale at participating dealerships. The 2015 e-Golf Limited Edition is priced nearly $2,000 less than its SEL counterpart at $33,450. The e-Golf Limited Edition is also available at a monthly lease price of $229, plus applicable fees.

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Mercedes-Benz introduces Metris midsize van to US and Canada

Mercedes-Benz Vans USA introduced the Mercedes-Benz Metris midsize van at the NTEA Work Truck Show in Indianapolis. The Metris, which launches at US dealers in October 2015, is the US and Canadian sibling to the Vito (earlier post), which remains the midsize commercial van nameplate for all other global markets.

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Lux: Li-ion dominating grid storage market with 90% of 2014 proposals

Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries have become the dominant new technology in grid storage, capturing a 90% share of systems proposed last year, according to analysts at Lux Research. Molten salt batteries still account for a majority of installations by energy capacity, because of NGK Insulators’ early lead, but are no longer the technology of choice, according to Lux.

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Microbial Capacitive Desalination Cell could make treatment and reuse of oil and gas wastewater simpler, cheaper

Oil and gas operations in the United States produce about 21 billion barrels of wastewater per year, with accompanying disposal costs of about $5 billion per year. The saltiness of the water and the organic contaminants it contains have traditionally made treatment difficult and expensive. Engineers at the University of Colorado Boulder and New Mexico State University have developed a simpler process that can simultaneously remove both salts and organic contaminants from the wastewater, all while producing additional energy.

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US-China Clean Energy Research Center issues $12.5M solicitation to address the energy-water nexus; $50M effort in all

The US Department of Energy (DOE) issued a $12.5 million Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) (DE-FOA-0001285) for a new technical track under the US-China Clean Energy Research Center (CERC) that addresses water-related aspects of energy production and use.

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UMTRI: new vehicle fuel economy down in February

March 04, 2015

The average fuel economy (window-sticker value) of new vehicles sold in the US in February was 25.2 mpg (9.33 l/100km)—down 0.2 mpg from January, according to the latest monthly analysis by University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) researchers Dr. Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle. This decrease in fuel economy likely reflects the increased market share of light trucks, SUVs, and crossovers in response to the inclement winter weather in a large part of the country, they suggested.

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OnStar comes to Europe

Opel introduced Opel OnStar at the Geneva Motor Show; OnStar will roll out across the company’s passenger car range from August 2015. The first introduction wave will see Opel OnStar introduced in 13 European markets with additional European markets following later. GM’s OnStar already connects around seven million customers in the US, Canada, China and Mexico.

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New thermoelectric material offers higher output power than other available materials

Researchers at the University of Houston, with their colleagues at Boston College, have created a new thermoelectric material—germanium-doped magnesium stannide (Mg2Sn0.75Ge0.25)—intended to generate electric power from waste heat with greater efficiency and higher output power than currently available materials.

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Global Bioenergies reports first isobutene production from waste biomass

Global Bioenergies has produced “second-generation” isobutene, in a push to diversify accessible feedstock towards cheaper resources. As a first step in manufacturing bio-sourced isobutene, Global Bioenergies has been using first-generation feedstock such as wheat-derived glucose to set-up and to optimize its bio-isobutene process, which produces the gaseous hydrocarbon via fermentation. (Earlier post.) However, the process was designed to be versatile in terms of feedstock.

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Audi and AT&T to wirelessly connect 2016 model year vehicles

Audi and AT&T announced that 2016 model year Audi vehicles will offer AT&T 4G LTE or 3G coverage. AT&T and Audi enabled the first-ever in-vehicle 4G LTE data connection in North America in 2014.

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CDC: Crashes are the leading cause of on-the-job death for truck drivers in the US

In 2012, 317,000 motor vehicle crashes involving large trucks were reported to police in 2012, according to the latest Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). After dropping to 35-year lows in 2009, the number of crash fatalities of truck drivers or their passengers increased between 2009 and 2012. Approximately 700 drivers of large trucks or their passengers died in crashes in 2012, and an estimated 26,000 were injured. More than a third of the drivers who died were not wearing a seat belt.

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Toyota to begin sales of Mirai fuel cell vehicle in Europe by September

March 03, 2015

At the Geneva motor show, Toyota announced that it would begin sales of the new Mirai fuel cell vehicle (earlier post) in Europe by September. Sales of the FCV began in Japan last December. European launch markets in 2015 will be the UK, Denmark and Germany; more markets will be added in 2017. Toyota said that it is expecting annual volume of 50-100 cars/year in 2015 and 2016. Initial price is €66,000 (US$73,735) + VAT (Germany).

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Shanghai OnStar and China Mobile partner on 4G LTE telematics service; debuting in a Cadillac this year

Shanghai OnStar is joining forces with China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless telecom carrier, for the launch of 4G LTE telematics service across China. The new service will debut in a Cadillac model from Shanghai GM this year.

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UQM Technologies receives initial purchase order for its new fuel cell compressor system from Ballard

UQM Technologies Inc. has received its first fuel cell compressor module purchase order from Ballard Power Systems. These compressor modules are an integral component of hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicles. In February, UQM took over the fuel cell compressor module business from Roush Performance Products. (Earlier post.)

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Total invests in cellulosic sugar producer Renmatix; joint development agreement

Renmatix, a producer of cellulosic sugars, announced an investment from the New Energies Division of Total, as well as the signature of a joint development agreement (JDA) between Total and Renmatix. Under the agreement, Renmatix and Total will utilize Renmatix’s proprietary Plantrose process with specific feedstocks to extract sugar for use in production of biobased products of interest to Total. (Earlier post.)

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Lygos completes first pilot-scale production of malonic acid from renewable resources at Berkeley Lab’s ABPDU

Lygos, Inc. (earlier post) has successfully achieved pilot scale production of malonic acid from sugar via a fermentation pathway using engineered microbes. Lygos’ novel manufacturing technology decreases CO2 emissions, eliminates toxic inputs and could replace the existing petroleum production process for malonic acid at lower cost and less energy.

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BASF launches new Acrodur binder for automotive lightweight composites

BASF is launching a new binder: Acrodur Power 2750 X. The product is designed for the production of natural fiber composites for automotive lightweight applications such as interior car door panels or shelves. As a low-emission alternative to formaldehyde-based reactive resins, Acrodur Power 2750 X gives natural fiber composites high mechanical stability.

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Samsung and SEAT enter connectivity partnership

Samsung and SEAT have signed an agreement to develop technological solutions to provide total connectivity across SEAT’s range of models. The agreement will take shape in the coming months with the launch of a new SEAT model line-up equipped to keep the customer always connected, with new technological features to be extended gradually to the rest of the SEAT range.

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XL Hybrids XL3 powertrain technology now available on diesel commercial van

XL Hybrids, Inc. announced its XL3 Hybrid Electric Drive System is now available on the Reach commercial van from Isuzu and Utilimaster. This marks the first diesel-powered vehicle with the XL3 powertrain. (Earlier post.)

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ChargePoint ranks US metro areas for EV friendliness; SF Bay Area still on top

ChargePoint—the world’s largest electric vehicle (EV) charging network—released a list of the top 10 friendliest metropolitan areas in the US for EV drivers. The San Francisco Bay Area (including San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose) led the nation, followed by Los Angeles, Seattle, San Diego and Honolulu.

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Qualcomm adds Snapdragon X12 and X5 LTE modems to Automotive Solutions portfolio

March 02, 2015

Qualcomm Incorporated subsidiary Qualcomm Technologies has added the Qualcomm Snapdragon X12 LTE modem (9x40) and Qualcomm Snapdragon X5 LTE modem (9x28) to Snapdragon Automotive Solutions to support connectivity across all tiers of the automotive industry.

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Availability of Fairchild PowerTrench MOSFETs for automotive in high-power TO-Leadless package; power electronics and motors

Fairchild , a leading global supplier of high-performance power semiconductor solutions, announced the availability of its next generation PowerTrench MOSFETs for automotive applications in the high-power TO-Leadless (TO-LL) package (JEDEC MO-299). The innovative TO-LL technology offers an extremely low package resistance, a very small footprint, and allows for exceptionally good EMI behavior, the company said.

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HHI develops its own reliquefaction and gas management system for fueling LNG carriers

Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. (HHI), the world’s biggest shipbuilder and a marine engine manufacturer, has independently developed the HHI Gas Management System for re-liquefying boil off gas (BOG) from a membrane LNG containment tank to use it as fuel for LNG carriers.

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Report: insiders expect Samsung SDI to supply battery packs for BMW’s X5 plug-in hybrid

March 01, 2015

Yonhap reported that local industry indsiders and market research firm IHS expect Samsung SDI to provide battery packs for BMW’s upcoming X5 plug-in hybrid SUV. The report comes several months after BMW Group commissioned two new production lines for electric drive components—high voltage battery packs and electric motors—at its Dingolfing plant. The launch of the BMW X5 Plug-in Hybrid is slated for this year, with more models with this technology to follow. (Earlier post.)

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Aerojet Rocketdyne awarded DoD contract to research next-generation green propellants for rockets and missiles; follow-ons to AF-M315E

Aerojet Rocketdyne was awarded a contract to research and to develop environmentally sustainable monopropellants and gas generators for rocket and missile propulsion and Divert Attitude Control Systems. The company is working with the US Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center; the US Air Force Research Laboratory at Edwards Air Force Base; and the US Army Medical Command to develop a new family of high-performing liquid propellants. The effort is funded through the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program, an office of the Department of Defense.

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Rennovia and Johnson Matthey to co-develop commercial catalysts for bio-based adipic acid process

Rennovia Inc., a specialty chemical company focused on the creation of novel processes for the cost advantaged production of chemicals from renewable feedstocks, and Johnson Matthey have entered into a joint development agreement for the co-development and manufacture of catalysts to be used in the scale-up and commercialization of Rennovia’s process for the production of bio-based glucaric acid and adipic acid.

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Audi testing carbon-fiber exoskeleton “chairless chair” for assembly workers at Neckarsulm

February 28, 2015

Audi is testing a new technology that eases many assembly activities at its plant in Neckarsulm: the “chairless chair.” The carbon-fiber exoskeleton allows employees to sit without a chair. At the same time, it improves their posture and reduces the strain on their legs.

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Beijing researchers engineer K. pneumoniae to produce 1-butanol

Researchers at Beijing University of Chemical Technology have engineered Klebsiella pneumoniae—a pathogen—to produce 1-butanol. A paper on their work appears in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.

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RMIT team demonstrates talking drone aircraft that interacts with air traffic controllers

February 27, 2015

Researchers at RMIT University in Australia have developed a talking drone that can interact with air traffic controllers like a human pilot. The development, they say, is a critical step towards the full integration of unmanned aircraft systems into civil airspace.

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NREL refines method to convert lignin to nylon precursor

A new study from the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) demonstrates the conversion of lignin-derived compounds to adipic acid, an important industrial dicarboxylic acid produced for its use as a precursor to nylon, plasticizers, lubricants, polyesters, and other popular products and chemicals.

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Researchers in China investigate use of coal as source of lithium

Coal could become a major source of the metal lithium, according to a review of the geochemistry by scientists from Hebei University of Engineering in China published in the International Journal of Oil, Gas and Coal Technology.

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UK announces $49M for plug-in infrastructure through 2020, $17M for low emission vehicle technology

The UK government will provide £32 million (US$49 million) up to 2020 to support the installation of chargepoints for plug-in vehicles. Homes, hospitals, train stations and A-roads will be some of the locations.

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DOE issues Request for Information on aggregating purchases of alternative fuel vehicles

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a request for information (DE-FOA-0001312) to solicit feedback from industry, academia, research laboratories, government agencies, and other stakeholders on issues related to purchasing/procurement processes designed to coordinate and consolidate bulk alternative fuel vehicle (AFV), advanced vehicle orders, and vehicle subsystems.

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New catalyst delivers high yield of biofuel 5-EMF

Researchers in China have developed an effective method for the conversion of carbohydrates into liquid biofuels 5-ethoxymethylfurfural (EMF) over a magnetic solid acid catalyst (Fe3O4@C—SO3H). A paper on their work is published in the journal Fuel.

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Senators Feinstein, Toomey introduce bill to repeal ethanol mandate in RFS

February 26, 2015

US Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) have introduced a bill to abolish the corn ethanol mandate in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is also a co-sponsor of the measure.

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Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell drivers in SoCal accumulate more than 238,900 miles

Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell drivers recently accumulated more than 238,900 miles on the roads of Southern California—a distance Hyundai chose to highlight as the average distance from the earth to the moon. Hyundai has delivered more than 60 Tucson Fuel Cells since its introduction to the US market in June 2014 (earlier post).

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Iowa gives B11 and above a tax break

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed into law a bill (Senate File 257) which, among other things, raises the state’s fuel tax while providing a small incentive for biodiesel. A provision of the bill gives a partial exemption to the new tax for diesel blended with at least 11% biodiesel (B11).

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Electrovaya and Mondelez Canada partner on Li-ion batteries for forklifts

Li-ion maker Electrovaya is working with Mondelez Canada on forklift batteries. This should enhance productivity, reduce emissions and reduce power requirements by up to 35% by replacing lead acid batteries used in the material handling equipment.

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EU 2014 PEV registrations: +36.6% full year; ‐7.7% in Q4

In 2014, 75,331 new electrically chargeable vehicles (ECVs, or plug-in vehicles, PEVs) were registered in the EU, a 36.6% rise, according to figures released by the ACEA. In Q4 2014 PEV registrations in the EU decreased slightly (‐7.7%), totalling 24,552.

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Aventine installs $2.4M corn-oil separation system at ethanol plant

February 25, 2015

Aventine Renewable Energy Inc. has installed a $2.4-million Valicor corn-oil separation system (COSS) at its Nebraska Energy LLC plant in Aurora, Nebraska. The system began operations in early January. Since corn oil has a higher market value, removing the oil improves dried distillers grain processing properties.

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McPhy Energy and De Nora partner on electrolyzers

The French company McPhy Energy, specializing in hydrogen-based solutions for industrial and energy storage, and the Italian De Nora group, a provider of electrochemical products and services, announced a technology partnership agreement. Under this agreement, De Nora will supply McPhy Energy with activated electrodes for its range of new-generation alkaline water-electrolyzers.

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Park24 and Toyota to trial i-Road sharing service in central Tokyo

Starting in April, Park24 Co., Ltd. and Toyota Motor Corporation will trial a car-sharing service in central Tokyo using the Toyota “i-Road”, an ultra-compact three-wheeled electric vehicle. (Earlier post.) The i-Road, designed for flexibility and ease of use, will be paired with Park24’s “Times Car Plus” service, which allows members to use share cars at any time of day or night. The trial will also incorporate elements from Toyota’s “Ha:mo” optimized urban transport system.

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A*STAR, IREQ silicate nanoboxes as high-performance cathodes for Li-ion batteries

Researchers from Singapore’s Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) of A*STAR and Québec’s IREQ (Hydro-Québec’s research institute) have synthesized silicate-based nanoboxes that could more than double the energy capacity of lithium-ion batteries as compared to conventional phosphate-based cathodes. A paper on their work is published in the journal Nano Energy.

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Chevrolet one of 16 organizations across US recognized by EPA for Climate Action; only automaker

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded 2015 Climate Leadership Awards to 16 organizations and one individual representing a wide array of industries from finance and manufacturing to retail and technology for showing what the agency said was exemplary corporate, organizational, and individual leadership in response to climate change. One of the 16 was Chevrolet (earlier post), the only automaker among the group.

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Volkswagen presents Gen 3 MQB-based Touran; engines up to 19% more fuel efficient

At the Autostadt in Wolfsburg, Germany, Volkswagen showcased the new Touran MPV. The completely redeveloped Touran is the first MPV to be based on the modular transverse matrix (MQB); it offers a range of six new economical engines and an extensive line-up of assistance and infotainment systems. The public premiere of the new Touran will take place in the coming week at the Geneva motor show.

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Obama vetoes Keystone XL pipeline bill

February 24, 2015

As expected, President Obama vetoed S. 1, the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act, which had been passed by Congress. In his veto message to the Senate, Obama cited procedural issues rather than any potential impacts of the pipeline itself. He wrote:

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Proterra introduces new extended range battery pack for electric transit buses; up to 180 miles

Electric transitbus manufacturer Proterra Inc. has launched a new extended-range product line. With the new TerraVolt XR extended-range battery, Proterra buses can now be configured to travel up to 180 miles (290 km) between charges. This newest high energy density battery complements the existing TerraVolt FC fast-charge battery which has been extensively tested over nearly one million customer revenue miles.

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Silicon nanoparticles show high capacity and cycling stability as Li-ion anode

A team at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) reports a new method for the synthesis of polycrystalline silicon nanoparticles for use as anode materials in Li-ion batteries in a paper in the journal Angewandte Chemie. As an anode for rechargeable Li-ion batteries, the as-prepared Si delivers the reversible capacity of 3083 mAh g−1 at 1.2 A g−1 after 50 cycles, and 1180 mAh g−1 at 3 A g−1 over 500 cycles.

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FCO Power advances Printed Fuel Cell SOFC stack for residential systems in existing apartments

FCO Power is progressing with the development of its next-generation solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) stack for residential fuel cell systems in existing apartments. Use of the stack would make it realistic to install fuel cells in existing apartments, which account for approximately 40% of housing in Japan, from 2020.

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Graphene ESD to partner with Stony Brook to develop new low-cost integrated ultra-high voltage supercapacitors

Lomiko Metals Inc. announced that Graphene Energy Storage Devices (Graphene ESD) has signed a research agreement with the Research Foundation of Stony Brook University (SBU). Graphene ESD will partner with the SBU Center for Advanced Sensor Technologies (Sensor CAT) to develop new supercapacitors designs for energy storage. Lomiko Metals Inc. currently owns a 40% stake in Graphene ESD and Mr. A. Paul Gill, CEO of Lomiko, is now appointed a Director of Graphene ESD. (Earlier post.)

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IC Bus CE series with PSI 8.8L propane engine available for order

IC Bus, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Navistar, announced the CE Series school bus powered by the Power Solutions International (PSI) 8.8-liter propane engine is available for order. The CE series PSI heavy-duty propane engine offers a cleaner, quieter and more user-friendly alternative to diesel that won’t sacrifice power, torque or durability.

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Purdue Research Foundation greenlights construction of $50M research institute for composite materials

Purdue Research Foundation Board of Directors recently approved construction of the $50-million, 62,000-square-foot Indiana Manufacturing Institute, where Purdue University researchers will expand research of composite materials manufacturing.

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Tennessee DEC announces Sustainable Transportation Awards and Forum

Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) Commissioner Bob Martineau announced the launch of the TDEC Sustainable Transportation Awards initiative to recognize outstanding and voluntary achievements by governments, businesses, industries, public and private institutions of higher learning, and utilities that demonstrate leadership in advancing sustainable transportation in the State.

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Ballard signs automotive and non-automotive fuel cell technology solutions contracts

February 23, 2015

Fuel cell company Ballard Power Systems signed two new Technology Solutions contracts, one with Ardica Technologies and one with an unnamed global automotive OEM. Under each contract Ballard will provide expertise in proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell technology in order to advance customer programs through development stages.

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Samsung SDI to acquire Magna International’s automotive battery pack business

Samsung SDI has agreed to acquire the battery pack business of Magna International, a leading global automotive supplier. Samsung SDI expects the acquisition to enhance its capabilities in batteries for electric vehicles by combining the company’s established position in battery cells and modules with Magna’s expertise in battery packs.

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Hydro-Québec and the Aquitaine Regional Council create subsidiary focused on new battery technologies

Hydro-Québec and the Aquitaine Regional Council recently formed SCE France, the activities of which will focus on research and technology transfer in transportation electrification and energy storage and conservation.

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Honda President Ito steps down, Takahiro Hachigo to replace him

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. announced that Takahiro Hachigo, currently the company’s Managing Officer, will become Senior Managing Officer effective in April 2015, and will become President, Chief Executive Officer and Representative Director in late June 2015. Takanobu Ito, the current President, Chief Operating Officer and Representative Director, will remain on the board and assume the post of Director and Advisor to Honda Motor. This management succession will occur following the final decision of the Honda Motor Board of Directors after the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting, scheduled for late June 2015.

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Novel nano-Si/(Fe, Cr) silicide nanocomposite Li-ion anode shows high capacity retention

A team of researchers from Kongju University in Korea, with colleagues from Samsung SDI, Sapphire Technology and MK Electronics have synthesized a novel nanocomposite—Si80Fe16Cr4—to alleviate the severe volume changes and associated performance impacts of silicon anode materials for rechargeable Li-ion batteries.

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Stable, high-capacity zinc iron oxide electrode for Li-ion batteries

A team from Australia and India have developed a novel zinc iron oxide nanocomposite ZnFe2O4–C as an electrode material for rechargeable Li-ion batteries. The composite ZnFe2O4–C electrodes are capable of delivering a very stable reversible capacity of 681 mAh g−1 (96% retention of the calculated theoretical capacity of ∼710 mAh g−1) at 0.1 C after 100 cycles.

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DOE to issue funding opportunity for larger wind turbine blades

February 22, 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) intends to issue, on behalf of the Wind and Water Power Technologies Office (WWPTO), a Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0001214) to support the development of innovative designs and processes for the manufacturing and assembly of wind turbine blades in order to facilitate deployment of the next generation of multi-megawatt wind turbines.

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Government of Canada introduces legislation to strengthen rail safety and accountability; “polluter pays”

February 21, 2015

Canada’s Minister of Transport, Lisa Raitt, introduced legislation in the House of Commons that will enhance railway safety and make the rail industry and crude oil shippers more accountable. The new Safe and Accountable Rail Act proposes amendments to the Canada Transportation Act and Railway Safety Act. Changes include a new liability and compensation regime for federally regulated railways, including minimum insurance requirements; a compensation fund financed by levies on crude oil shippers; increased information-sharing provisions; and stronger oversight powers for the Minister and Transport Canada inspectors.

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NPL novel reference electrode shows that cathode, not anode, is source of potential decay in PEM water electrolyzers

Scientists from the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in the UK have developed a novel reference electrode for polymer electrolyte membrane water electrolyzers (PEMWEs) and used it to measure the electrochemical surface area (ECSA) of Pt catalysts in situ for the first time. Their results showed that the decay in open-circuit potential of commercial PEMWEs is due to the platinum cathode, not to changes in the anode, as conventionally assumed.

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Valeo signs technical cooperation agreement with peiker for mobile connectivity solutions

February 20, 2015

Valeo has signed a technological cooperation agreement with peiker acustic GmbH & Co. KG, a supplier of on-board telematics and mobile connectivity solutions. The agreement will enable Valeo to broaden its range of automotive geolocation and mobile connectivity solutions.

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Renesas Electronics introduces 32-bit automotive microcontrollers specialized for instrument clusters in entry-level to mid-range cars

Renesas Electronics America announced the RH850/D1x Series of 32-bit automotive microcontrollers (MCUs) specialized for instrument clusters that deliver easy-to-access information to support a safer and rich driving experience. Designed for entry class and mid-range vehicle systems, the RH850/D1x Series integrates gauge control, graphics display and functional safety in one chip, while reducing the system BOM cost and scalable development offers, and helps realize instrument cluster systems with highly reliable color graphics LCD.

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Waseda team develops wide-temperature, high-voltage diamond transistor that can compete with SiC and GaN

A research group led by Professor Hiroshi Kawarada of Waseda University in Japan has developed a highly efficient hydrogen-terminated diamond MOSFET (metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor) that outperforms standard silicon transistors and can compete with silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) power semiconductors. The new transistor is expected to reduce power consumption in automobiles, trains, and robots.

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Morris Bullock, Ph.D., Daniel DuBois, Ph.D., PNNL Hydrogen Catalysis Team win 2015 ACS Catalysis Lectureship

ACS Catalysis and the American Chemical Society (ACS) Division of Catalysis Science & Technology announced that Morris Bullock, Ph.D., Daniel DuBois, Ph.D., and the Hydrogen Catalysis Team at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have won the 2015 ACS Catalysis Lectureship for the Advancement of Catalytic Science. This is the first team win for the Lectureship.

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Study finds methane leaks from three large US natural gas fields in line with EPA estimates

Tens of thousands of pounds of methane leak per hour from equipment in three major natural gas basins that span Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Pennsylvania, according to airborne measurements, but the overall leak rate from those basins is only about 1% of gas production there——lower than leak rates measured in other gas fields, and in line with EPA estimates. The analysis appears in an open access paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, published by the American Geophysical Union.

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UMTRI: fuel economy improvements are present throughout the sales-weighted distributions of same MY vehicles

Building on research that shows average fuel economy has improved 4.5 mpg between model years 2008 and 2014, University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle have documented sales-weighted distributions for the same model year vehicles (cars, pickup trucks, vans and SUVs). The analysis shows that fuel economy improvements are present throughout the distributions of vehicle fuel economy. In 2008, half of new-car buyers in the US bought vehicles that were rated at less than 20 mpg. Today, just over a quarter do so.

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Volvo Trucks: “Don’t Go Power Crazy”

Volvo Trucks in North America is assisting customers in finding the best powertrain torque package for their operation through a recently launched and easy-to-use online survey. Using the theme “Don’t Go Power Crazy,” Volvo is promoting the survey with several short videos emphasizing the importance of using the right amount of power for the job.

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Air Products and Suzuki Shokan jointly to develop hydrogen fueling for Japan’s material handling market

February 19, 2015

Air Products and Suzuki Shokan, an industrial gas company based in Tokyo, will work together on the design, construction and operation of hydrogen fueling stations for use in fueling the material handling vehicle market in Japan. Air Products and Suzuki Shokan will take Air Products’ proven hydrogen fueling technology and work jointly to make any needed infrastructure modifications in order to meet Japanese laws and regulations.

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UQM expands into fuel cell market, acquires fuel cell compressor business from Roush

Motor and controller company UQM Technologies Inc. will expand directly into the fuel cell business by taking over the fuel cell compressor module business from Roush Performance Products. These compressor modules are an integral component of hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles.

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Panda Power Funds jointly to develop 1,000 MW coal to natural gas conversion project; Marcellus Shale gas

Panda Power Funds has entered into a joint venture with Sunbury Generation LP to develop, finance, construct and operate a 1,000 megawatt natural gas-fueled, combined-cycle power project near Shamokin Dam in Snyder County, Pennsylvania. The Hummel Station generating facility will utilize the latest, most advanced emissions-control technology, making it one of the cleanest natural gas-fueled power plants in the US, according to Panda. While the new power station will supply 260% more power than the coal plant it replaces, key air emissions will be reduced by approximately 97%. The Hummel Generating Station will also use 97% less water for cooling purposes than the retired coal-fired Sunbury plant.

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EPA and State Department to partner on overseas real-time air quality monitoring; AirNow-International

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and State Department signed a statement of intent to launch a new partnership between the two agencies and US diplomatic missions overseas. This partnership will enhance the availability of outdoor air quality data and expertise at a number of US diplomatic missions. The State Department says it has an interest in providing sufficient air quality information to US citizens and government personnel overseas to empower them to make informed health decisions.

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45% of commercial and public EV charging units in ChargePlace Scotland network went unused in August 2014

Almost half of the electric vehicle charging units in the ChargePlace Scotland network may be unused from month-to-month, official data suggests, according to an analysis by the RAC Foundation. Figures for August 2014 show that of the 482 units (with 885 sockets) in the network, 217 (45%) were not plugged into at all during that month. (This does not include domestic charge points.) The remaining 265 (55%) were used at least once. ChargePlace Scotland is the initiative behind Scotland’s free charge point network.

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Saft to provide Li-ion SLI batteries fo Hawkei tactical vehicles

February 18, 2015

Saft was selected by Thales Australia to deliver Li-ion battery systems that have the potential to power up to 1,300 Hawkei military tactical vehicles. The Saft Li-ion battery system features an advanced, lightweight design within the dimensions of a traditional lead-acid battery, enabling easy integration into the vehicle. The system will power starting, lights, ignition and silent watch capabilities for the Hawkei vehicle.

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Rolls-Royce confirms development of new all-terrain model with new aluminum architecture

In an open letter, Peter Schwarzenbauer, Chairman and Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes, CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars (RRMC) confirmed that the company is developing an all-new Rolls-Royce all-terrain vehicle based on an all-new aluminium architecture. RRMC is a member of the BMW Group.

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Smartphones and sensors as personal, real-time pollution monitors

Air pollution varies widely over the course of a day and by location, even within the same city. Now scientists, reporting in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, have used smartphone and sensing technology better to pinpoint where and when pollution is at its worst.

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New non-noble-metal nanoparticle catalyst performs as well as platinum in HER

Researchers in Finland and Russia report the development of a non-noble-meal catalyst for the Hydrogen Evolution Reaction (HER) that exhibits catalytic properties superior to previously studied non-precious materials and comparable to those of platinum. Their paper is published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

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ITM Power delivers 2nd-generation Power-to-Gas electrolyzer system

ITM Power delivered the rapid response Power-to-Gas PEM electrolyzer system sold to RWE Deutschland AG within 10 weeks of receiving the order. RWE will use the unit in its Power-to-Gas demonstration plant in Ibbenbüren. The unit is the first second-generation Power-to-Gas ITM Power PEM electrolyzer system, and uses a higher current density, permitting higher hydrogen output per stack.

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Virginia Tech launching second annual 3D printed vehicle contest

Virginia Tech launched the second annual Spring Additive Vehicle Design Challenge, a competition for students to design a remote-controlled 3-D printed vehicle that can drive on ground and fly in the air. This year’s competition will expand beyond Virginia Tech and include participants from the US Air Force Academy, based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It also will serve as the launching point of a third national competition that will launch in August 2015 and include universities from across the nation.

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nanoFlowcell unveiling QUANTiNO low-voltage electric concept vehicle; 48V, 200 km/h, range of 1,000+ km

nanoFlowcell AG will unveil the QUANTiNO, the first QUANT low-voltage (48V) vehicle as a concept at the Geneva Motor Show in two weeks. The powertrain comprising the nanoFlow cell, buffer system and electric motors provides the QUANTiNO with a range of more than 1,000 km (621 miles). Top speed is 200 km/h (124 mph).

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CSX update on W.Va. derailment: 25 cars derailed, 20 in fires

February 17, 2015

In an update released today, CSX said that approximately 25 tank cars derailed yesterday in West Virgina (earlier post): 20 were involved in subsequent fires.

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Bosch wireless sensors on pavement report available parking spaces

At the Bosch ConnectedWorld conference in Berlin, the company unveiled wireless sensors, to be installed on pavement, that will create real-time maps of available parking spaces. These sensors recognize whether a parking space is occupied or not, and share this information via the internet.

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Ford hires investment banker Casesa to run global strategy

Ford Motor Company hired long-time auto analyst and investment banker John Casesa as group vice president, Global Strategy. Reporting to Ford President and CEO Mark Fields, Casesa will be the most senior leader and corporate officer overseeing global strategy and business development. The appointment is effective 1 March 2015.

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BorgWarner supplying turbochargers for VW Group’s new 1.4L 3-cylinder diesel

BorgWarner is supplying the advanced variable turbine geometry (VTG) turbochargers for the newly developed 1.4-liter three-cylinder diesel engines from the Volkswagen Group, for both the 55 kW (74 hp) and 66 kW (89 hp) variants. Both engines comply with Euro 6 emissions standards and improve fuel economy up to 21% compared with the predecessor vehicles.

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Ballard expects to provide 10 fuel cell modules for new FTA fuel cell bus programs

Ballard Power Systems expects to supply 10 FCvelocity-HD6 fuel cell modules to power clean energy buses as part of two projects that were recently awarded funding by the US Federal Transit Administration (FTA) under the Low and No Emission (LoNo) Vehicle Deployment Program. (Earlier post.)

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Subaru has produced 15M horizontally-opposed Boxer engines

Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI), the manufacturer of Subaru automobiles, today announced that total cumulative production of Subaru’s horizontally-opposed Boxer engines has reached 15 million units.

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Study finds that unregulated VSLS efficient at influencing climate through depletion of stratospheric ozone

Although halogens released from long-lived anthropogenic substances, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), are the principal cause of the recent depletion of stratospheric ozone, recent observations show that very short-lived substances (VSLS), with lifetimes generally under six months, are also an important source of stratospheric halogens. Now, a study led by a team at the University of Leeds in the UK reports that while the amount of ozone depletion arising from VSLS in the atmosphere today is small compared to that caused by longer-lived gases, such as CFCs, VSLS-driven ozone depletion is almost four times more efficient at influencing climate.

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Raw video of explosion after W Va. oil train derailment and fire

Monday afternoon, a CSX oil train (109 cars, two locomotives, carrying Bakken crude from North Dakota) derailed in West Virginia, resulting in a fire, with an as yet unspecified number of cars rupturing and exploding. WVNS earlier reported that firefighters with the Boomer Fire Department said that there have been at least six explosions in connection with the fire. WSAZ was filming an interview when one of the cars apparently exploded, resulting in this live footage of what appears to be a BLEVE (Boiling-Liquid Expanding-Vapor Explosion, earlier post):

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Juniper Research: smart city traffic systems to reduce congestion for over 700m drivers by 2019

February 15, 2015

A recent report from Juniper Research forecast that smart city traffic management and parking projects will reduce cumulative global emissions in the order of 164 MMT (million metric tonnes) of CO2 between 2014 and 2019—equivalent to the annual emissions produced by 35 million vehicles. Not only will this benefit the environment, but it will also significantly impact the quality of city dwellers’ lives, with some 700 million automobiles projected to be on city roads by 2019.

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SkyBitz and PSI collaborate to deliver integrated trailer tire pressure and location information for fleets

SkyBitz, a provider of remote asset tracking and information management solutions, and PSI, a leading provider of automatic tire inflation systems, announced a strategic collaboration resulting in an integrated trailer solution. Joint customers will be provided with integrated tire inflation data alongside asset information for managing their fleets.

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Navigant Research: smart city technology market to be worth more than $27.5B annually by 2023; $174.4B investment over decade

February 14, 2015

Navigant Research forecasts that the smart city technology market will grow from $8.8 billion annually in 2014 to $27.5B annually by 2023. This represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) during that period of 13.5%. Cumulative global investment in smart city technologies over the decade is expected to reach $174.4 billion.

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UK reports 25,000+ plug-in grant claims since 2010; changing criteria

The UK Department for Transport reports that more than 25,000 plug-in car and plug-in van grant claims have been submitted since the scheme began in 2010.

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Insights into low-temperature performance issues of Li-ion batteries

Researchers in Germany are providing some insight into the low-temperature performance issues of Li-ion batteries. In a paper in the Journal of Power Sources, they report on a combined in situ high-resolution neutron powder diffraction and electrochemical study on 18650-type Li-ion cells over a temperature range from 230 K to 320 K (-43 ˚C to +47 ˚C), with a focus on the graphite anode and the low temperature performance of the cell.

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Testing by recreational marine industry suggests up to 16.1% blends of isobutanol can be used in marine engines

February 13, 2015

A consortium of leading organizations from the recreational marine industry has completed more than four years of testing Gevo’s renewable isobutanol in marine engines. Results from the thousands of hours of testing suggest that isobutanol blends of up to 16.1% can be used in marine engines without deterioration of engine or boat performance.

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Getrag begins production of 7DCT300 dual-clutch transmission; hybrid versions in 2016

Transmission specialist Getrag has begun production of the new seven-speed 7DCT300 dual-clutch transmission. (Earlier post.) Getrag will supply European customers with the new transmission from its plant in Neuenstein, Germany. For the Asian market, the transmission will also be produced in China starting in 2017. Initially, the modern automated transmission will be used in the new Renault Espace, and further models and brands will follow.

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Study: stopping at red lights exposes drivers to high levels of particulates

UK commuters spend an average of about 1.5 hours a day at the wheel. Researchers at the University of Surrey have now found that where drivers spend just 2% of the journey time at traffic intersections managed by lights, this short duration contributes to about 25% of total exposure to nanoparticle emissions. Their study is published in the journal Atmospheric Environment.

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Toyota, Nissan, and Honda jointly to support hydrogen station infrastructure development

February 12, 2015

Toyota Motor Corporation, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., and Honda Motor Co., Ltd. have agreed to work together to help accelerate the development of hydrogen station infrastructure for fuel cell vehicles (FCVs). Specific measures to be undertaken by the three manufacturers will be determined at a later date.

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