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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.]

German team reconfigures Li-S battery for improved performance; new porous conductive separator coating

February 05, 2016

Researchers in Germany report significant improvement in specific capacity and cycling stability of “reconfigured” Li-S cells compared to a standard cell setup. At a constant charging rate of C/5, cells with their modified separator showed 2.5 times higher residual capacity (1016 mAh g−1) than cells with pristine separator (405 mAh g−1).

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HRL Laboratories achieves 1st demo of GaN CMOS FET technology

Researchers at HRL Laboratories, LLC, have achieved the first demonstration of gallium nitride (GaN) complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) field-effect-transistor (FET) technology. In doing so they have established that the semiconductor’s superior transistor performance can be harnessed in an integrated circuit. This breakthrough paves the way for GaN to become the technology of choice for power conversion circuits that are made in silicon today.

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Hyundai Heavy introduces first Tier III-compliant high pressure SCR for 2-stroke marine engines

Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), the world’s largest shipbuilder and a leading marine engine maker, has produced the first High Pressure Selective Catalytic Reduction (HP SCR) system for the significant reduction of NOx emission from 2-stroke marine engines.

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NREL patents method for continuous monitoring of materials during manufacturing; benefits for fuel cell components, semiconductor wafers

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) was recently issued a patent for a novel method that rapidly characterizes specialized materials during the manufacturing process. This approach significantly improves on standard quality control techniques by allowing for complete monitoring of materials without interrupting workflow.

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Researchers create graphene-like structure with transition metal atoms

An international group of physicists led by the University of Arkansas has created an artificial graphene-like structure with transition metal atoms in place of carbon atoms. The U of A-led group published its findings in Physical Review Letters.

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Change in magnesium alloy microstructure changes corrosion resistance and improves potential for transportation applications

February 04, 2016

Changing the microstructure in magnesium alloys improves their corrosion resistance, and so improves the possibilities for the transport sector to use these materials to decrease the weight of vehicles, according to work done by Mohsen Esmaily, researcher in Atmospheric Corrosion at Chalmers University in Sweden.

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New Flyer completes 1,150 mile in-service demonstration of the Xcelsior battery-electric bus for Miami-Dade Transit

New Flyer of America, a subsidiary of New Flyer Industries, the leading manufacturer of heavy-duty transit buses and motor coaches in the United States and Canada, has completed a two-week in-service demonstration with Miami-Dade Transit of the New Flyer Xcelsior heavy-duty battery-electric XE40 transit bus.

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Honda to begin sales of hybrid Odyssey minivan in Japan on Friday

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. will begin sales of an affordably-priced hybrid version as well as the newly refreshed gasoline-powered version of the Honda Odyssey and Odyssey Absolute premium minivans on Friday, 5 February, at dealerships across Japan. (Earlier post.) The hybrid is a new addition to the Odyssey lineup.

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Albemarle granted permit to increase lithium brine extraction rates in Chile; MOU for 27-year lithium quota

Albemarle Corporation, a premier specialty chemicals company and leader in the production of lithium and lithium derivatives, has been granted approval by the Environmental Assessment Commission (CEA) of the Antofagasta Region to increase its currently authorized lithium brine extraction rate at the company's facility in the Salar de Atacama, Chile. The increase will enable the company to meet the accelerating demand for lithium, especially high purity lithium compounds required for the production of lithium batteries.

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UMTRI: average new vehicle fuel economy in US in January up from December

The average fuel economy (window-sticker value) of new vehicles sold in the US in January 2016 was 25.1 mpg—up 0.2 mpg from the value for December 2015, and the first increase in eight months, according to the latest monthly report from Dr. Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle at University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI). This increase likely reflects the month-to-month seasonal decrease in sales of pickup trucks and SUVs, they said. Fuel economy is down 0.7 mpg from the peak reached in August 2014, but still up 5.0 mpg since October 2007 (the first month of their monitoring).

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US DOT releases assessment of DSRC technology for connected vehicles

February 03, 2016

The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) has released its Report to Congress assessing the status of the 5.9 Gigahertz dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) to enable connected vehicle technologies and applications. The assessment found that DSRC is ready for deployment and DSRC-based technologies and applications offer a path to a safer and more efficient surface transportation system.

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Scion brand to fold in to Toyota brand

Scion, established as a separate brand in 2003 to explore new products and processes to attract youth customers, will transition to the Toyota brand. Toyota said that Scion achieved its goals of developing unique products and processes, and bringing in new, younger customers. With more than one million cars sold, 70% of Scions were purchased by customers new to Toyota and 50% were under 35 years old.

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OSU-led team demonstrates effective vibration energy harvesting platform inspired by trees

Inspired by the damping mechanisms which sustain trees under wind and seismic loads, researchers at The Ohio State University and the University of Michigan are investigating the potential for the development of energy harvesting systems that efficiently convert the same motion- and wind-based excitations into electric power. In a paper in the Journal of Sound and Vibration, they report demonstrating that tree-like structures made with electromechanical materials can convert random forces—such as winds or footfalls on a bridge—into strong structural vibrations that are ideal for generating electricity.

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easyJet to trial electric taxi system in aircraft; H2 fuel cells, batteries and wheel motors

European carrier easyJet plans to test an electric taxi system later this year that utilizes a hydrogen fuel cell stowed in the hold, batteries charged by regenerative braking, and electric wheel motors. The energy can then be used by the aircraft when taxiing without needing to use the jet engines. Due to the high frequency and short sector lengths of easyJet’s operations, around 4% of the airline’s total fuel consumed annually is used when the airline’s aircraft are taxiing.

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IDTechEx forecasts more than 300M 48V mild hybrids worldwide through 2031

In a new report, Analyst firm IDTechEx forecasts more than 300 million 48V mild hybrids to be on the world’s roads by 2031. The report, “Mild Hybrid 48V Vehicles 2016-2031”, finds that, although they are not yet in series production, 48V mild hybrid vehicles are likely to sell in huge numbers because they can meet even the stringent emissions legislation planned for 2030, while improving performance to close to that of traditional strong hybrids at half the cost.

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Electric transit bus maker Proterra enters university market with order from ASUM

February 02, 2016

Battery-electric transit bus manufacturer Proterra has entered the university market with its first order from the Associated Students of the University of Montana (ASUM) Transportation for two Proterra 40-foot Catalyst Fast Charge buses and one semi-autonomous fast charger for its UDASH routes.

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Pure Power Technologies becomes leading independent aftermarket supplier of diesel fuel-injection systems

Pure Power Technologies (PPT) has been acquired from Navistar, Inc., by an investment team whose principals include the Smithfield Group and Kensington Capital Partners. As a result, PPT becomes the aftermarket’s leading independent supplier of high-performance diesel fuel-injection systems and precision machining products and systems for medium- and heavy-duty truck applications.

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Marvell introduces 1000BASE-T1 development platform with automotive-grade connectors from TE Connectivity; Gigabit Ethernet in automotive systems

Marvell has introduced a new automotive Ethernet reference platform integrated with TE Connectivity’s (TE) MATEnet modular and scalable connector for automotive Ethernet. The new development platform supports audio video bridging (AVB) switching solutions with 100BASE-T1 and 1000BASE-T1 Ethernet physical layer (PHY) capability. The platform also enables car manufacturers to quickly prototype automotive systems with Gigabit Ethernet for electrical and electronic (E/E) architectures including In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI), Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), Electronic Control Units (ECU) and Vehicle Domain Gateways.

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MIT spin-off nuTonomy secures $3.6M to fund self-driving car technology; delivering more human-like experience

nuTonomy Inc., a developer of advanced software for autonomous vehicles, closed a $3.6M seed funding round, with investments from Signal Ventures, Samsung Ventures, Fontinalis Partners and Dr. Steven LaValle. The funding will help support nuTonomy’s continued work in the US as well as in Singapore, where industry and government are jointly piloting autonomous vehicle technology.

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Allstate introduces optional ride-hailing insurance in California; more states this year

Starting this week, Californians who choose to drive for a Transportation Network Company (TNC) have a new option for insurance. Allstate now offers optional coverage for the time drivers are logged into a TNC app but have not yet accepted a TNC assignment. Allstate’s Ride for Hire product also provides for potentially lower coverage deductibles in the event a qualifying driver’s vehicle is damaged in an accident when they are driving a TNC passenger. Allstate plans to bring the optional coverage to a number of states in 2016.

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HELLA to begin production of Gen4 24GHz radar sensors in mid-2017

HELLA, an auto industry electronics and lighting expert, will launch production of its fourth-generation 24GHz radar sensors in mid-2017, replacing third-generation radar sensors that have been in series production since June of 2014.

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Synaptics partnering with Valeo on automotive touchscreen with haptic feedback

February 01, 2016

Synaptics Incorporated is collaborating with Valeo on an industry-first automotive touchscreen that combines capacitive touch, ClearForce force sensing technology and haptic feedback.

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Sensata Technologies introduces its smallest micro-fused strain gage for next-generation brake systems for hybrids and EVs

Sensata Technologies, a manufacturer of sensing, electrical protection, control and power management solutions, has developed a line of smaller, lighter Micro-fused Strain Gage (MSG) pressure sensors for use in next-generation brake systems for hybrid, electric, and conventional vehicles. The eXtra-small Form Factor (XFF) sensor is available for design-in beginning January 2016.

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AVA Biochem adds FDCA from biomass to its product portfolio

Leading 5-HMF producer AVA Biochem is expanding its product portfolio to include platform chemical FDCA (2,5-Furandicarboxylic acid). FDCA is one of the 12 building blocks identified by the US Department of Energy that can be converted into a number of high-value, bio-based chemicals or materials that can deliver high performance in a number of applications.

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Gulf Racing isobutanol fuels going to Houston Race Track

Gulf Racing Fuels announced that it has been selected as the Official Fuel of MSR Houston Race Track, a private membership country club race track in Houston, Texas. The track will offer the new Gulf ethanol-free gasolines—EPA Approved Gulf 93 and Gulf 100 with Isobutanol—a key factor in MSR Houston making the switch to Gulf Racing Fuels. Gulf will also deliver high octane Legend 116 leaded racing fuel at the pump.

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Iowa development authority supported corn ethanol project with $4.25M award

The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) board has awarded a dry-mill corn ethanol plant project a $4.25-million sales tax refund. The Farmers Energy Cardinal project had also requested including $13 million in investment tax credits, which the IEDA board did not approve.

The plant, which will represent a total capital investment of $189.9 million, is designed to produce 150 million gallons of corn ethanol per year.

The Des Moines Register reported that the award was against the recommendations from agency staff; IEDA has made second-generation ethanol a priority, rather than providing support for first-generation projects such as the Farmers Energy plant.

Ethanol and the election. The group America’s Renewable Future noted that twelve out of 14 presidential candidates support the RFS heading into the Iowa Caucus today. The Des Moines Register’s pollster, Selzer & Co., found that a majority of caucusgoers on both sides of the aisle support biofuels and the RFS—61% of Republicans and 76% of Democrats.

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Maryland approves nearly $100M for 172 New Flyer new diesel buses; $800K for hybrid bus retrofits

The Maryland Transit Administration is now in line to receive $97,845,148 to invest in 172 40-foot advanced clean diesel buses after receiving approval from the Maryland’s Board of Public Works.

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DOE announces $1M H2 Refuel H-Prize Competition finalist: SimpleFuel

January 30, 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced that SimpleFuel is the finalist for the $1-million H2 Refuel H-Prize Competition. (Earlier post.) SimpleFuel was selected by an independent judging panel and will have until July 2016 to deploy their small scale, on-site hydrogen generation and fueling system and prepare it for testing.

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Shell Oil replacing Ryder diesel trucks with with Ryder LNG trucks for operations in Louisiana and Texas

Shell Oil Company has signed an agreement with Ryder System for 15 liquefied natural gas (LNG) heavy-duty vehicles supporting oil and gas logistics operations in Lafayette, La. and Houston, Texas.

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Sandia segmented morphing rotor blade design could enable 50MW offshore wind turbines with 200-meter blades

January 29, 2016

Sandia National Laboratories researchers are working on a new design for 200-meter blades that could enable offshore 50MW wind turbines. Sandia’s work on extreme-scale Segmented Ultralight Morphing Rotor (SUMR) is funded by the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy program.

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Nuclear plant designers, operators form consortium to advance small reactor technology

Leading developers and potential customers of small modular reactors (SMR) have formed a consortium to advance the commercialization of the innovative reactor designs. The memorandum of understanding establishes an organization called SMR Start.

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sonnen accelerates US market efforts with solar-plus-storage technology package

sonnen, the European market leader for smart energy storage systems, announced a partnership with SolarWorld, the largest crystalline-silicon solar manufacturer in the US and PetersenDean, the nation’s largest residential roofing company with more than a million roofs under its belt. The new solar-plus-storage package offers US homeowners a straightforward path for using renewable energy.

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Siemens sets new performance and efficiency world record at Düsseldorf power plant

On 22 January 2016, Siemens handed over the combined cycle power plant equipped with a Siemens H-class gas turbine at the Lausward location in the Düsseldorf (Germany) harbor area to the customer and operator, the utility company Stadtwerke Düsseldorf AG. The turnkey plant sets three new records in world-wide comparison.

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Intelligent Energy signs LOI with drone manufacturer to develop fuel cell drones

Intelligent Energy has signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with a major drone manufacturer to develop hydrogen fuel cell powered drones. The deal will see the two companies work together in the first quarter of 2016 to develop technological solutions to increase drone flight time. The goal is for the deal to lead to a formal commercial arrangement for the solutions’ rollout.

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DOE announces SBIR/STTR FY16 Phase 1 Release 1 awards; four for fuel cell membrane development

January 28, 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced the 2016 Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Phase I Release 1 Awards, including four projects focused on durable and inexpensive polymer electrolyte membranes (PEM) for transportation and stationary fuel cell applications. (Earlier post.)

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PSA Peugeot Citroën to create a joint venture in Iran with Iran Khodro

PSA Peugeot Citroën, which has operated in Iran for more than 30 years, and Iran Khodro signed a joint venture agreement to produce latest-generation vehicles in Iran. This 50/50 joint venture lays the foundations for a strategic partnership between the two companies.

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API: US petroleum demand rose 1.1%; highest December deliveries in 5 years

Total US petroleum deliveries, a measure of consumer demand, in December rose by 1.1% from December 2014 to average nearly 19.7 million barrels per day, according to API’s Monthly Statistical Report for December 2015. These were the highest December deliveries in five years.

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ExxonMobil, Renewable Energy Group partner to research production of biodiesel from cellulosic sugars

January 27, 2016

ExxonMobil and Renewable Energy Group (REG) are partnering to study the production of biodiesel by fermenting renewable cellulosic sugars from sources such as agricultural waste. The agreement is between ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company and REG’s Life Sciences subsidiary. Terms were not disclosed.

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Ford CEO Fields elected to IBM Board of Directors

The IBM board of directors elected Mark Fields, president and chief executive officer, Ford Motor Company, to the board effective 1 March 1, 2016.

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Valence and EaglePicher enter into Li-ion strategic alliance

Valence Technology and EaglePicher Technologies have entered into a strategic alliance including a technology license agreement for certain Valence Lithium-Ion technology and future supply considerations. The agreement accelerates EaglePicher’s expanding Lithium-Ion based portfolio of products and applications that will be developed at its Lithium-Ion Center of Excellence in Joplin, Missouri.

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Sprig Electric pairs Tesla Powerpack with rooftop PV system

Silicon Valley-based Sprig Electric is among the first electrical contractors in the nation to pair Tesla’s Powerpack stationary battery system (earlier post) with a 350 kW commercial rooftop photovoltaic (PV) system to optimize energy savings. The pairing, installed by Sprig Electric at their corporate headquarters in San Jose, will cut the building’s total energy costs by 80-95%.

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Duryea Technologies develops electric supercharger

Duryea Technologies (founded in 1996 under the name “eCycle” with the objective of commercializing hybrid and electric motorcycles) has developed an electric supercharger for use in the consumer and commercial vehicle markets.

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Tamoil begins sales of 20% Neste NEXBTL renewable diesel blend in Italian Alps

January 26, 2016

Oil and energy company Tamoil has begun selling a cold-weather diesel blend containing a minimum 20% Neste NEXBTL renewable diesel to its corporate customers in the northern Italian Alps region. “Gasolio Artico Tamoil - New Generation Diesel” fuel reduces emissions and provides excellent performance in cold conditions.

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UQM Technologies to supply PowerPhase HD220 motor/controller to Kalmar for electric airplane tugs

UQM Technologies announced today that Kalmar Motor AB in Sweden has successfully passed vehicle trials with major airlines and plans on beginning production orders by mid-2016 using the PowerPhase HD220, UQM’s heavy-duty commercial traction electric motor/controller system, for their TBL50 airplane tugs.

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Report: Musk trims Telsa’s China EV expectations to 5,000 units this year

The Nikkei Asian Review reported that Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk said that the company has trimmed its China EV sales target for this year to 5,000 units, down from last year’s target of 10,000. Tesla has reported that it had sold 3,025 cars in China through the first nine months of 2015.

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One-step process under mild conditions for conversion of glycerol to solketal, STBE fuel additives

There has been growing interest in the potential for converting glycerol—a relatively large (about 10 wt %) byproduct of the conventional production of biodiesel (fatty acid methyl esters)—into solketal (2,2-dimethyl 1,3-dioxalane-4-methanol) for use as an oxygenated fuel additive or diesel combustion promoter.

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Siemens to acquire simulation software supplier CD-adapco for $970M

January 25, 2016

Siemens and CD-adapco have entered into a stock purchase agreement for the acquisition of CD-adapco by Siemens. The purchase price is $970 million. CD-adapco is a global engineering simulation company with software solutions covering a wide range of engineering disciplines including Fluid Dynamics (CFD), Solid Mechanics (CSM), heat transfer, particle dynamics, reactant flow, electrochemistry, acoustics and rheology.

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Rice U graphene composite may keep wings, blades and transmission lines ice-free; Joule heating

A thin coating of graphene nanoribbons in epoxy developed by the Rice University lab of chemist James Tour has proven effective at melting ice on a helicopter blade. The coating may be an effective real-time de-icer for aircraft, wind turbines, transmission lines and other surfaces exposed to winter weather, according to a new paper in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.

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Juniper: Apple Carplay and Android Auto to drive connected car market to $600M by 2020

A new study from Juniper Research estimated that the adoption of connected in-vehicle infotainment systems will produce revenues exceeding $600 million in 2020, representing a 10-fold increase on this year.

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BAIC EV opens new R&D center in Detroit

Earlier this month, China-based EV maker BAIC EV, opened a new R&D center in Detroit, Michigan, which will help the company evaluate overseas market demand, obtain core EV technology, build on brand influence, and eventually provide support for their international layout. This new R&D center, the second for the company in the United States, followed a successful debut of BAIC EV’s i-link™ Intelligent & Connected System (US version), the first Chinese system to apply 4G technology to the interaction between telematics and a cloud platform.

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Nissan announces UK production for future generation EV batteries

January 22, 2016

Nissan will produce a future generation of EV batteries at its manufacturing base in Sunderland, UK. Nissan’s UK battery plant is one of three Nissan battery production sites globally, also providing battery modules for Nissan’s all-electric van, the e-NV200, which is manufactured in the company’s plant in Barcelona, Spain.

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Orbital ATK successfully tests hypersonic engine combustor produced through additive manufacturing

Orbital ATK successfully tested a 3D-printed hypersonic engine combustor at NASA Langley Research Center. The combustor, produced through an additive manufacturing process known as powder bed fusion (PBF), was subjected to a variety of high-temperature hypersonic flight conditions over the course of 20 days, including one of the longest duration propulsion wind tunnel tests ever recorded for a unit of this kind. Analysis confirms the unit met or exceeded all of the test requirements.

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PNNL managing new Lightweight Materials National Lab Consortium

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is establishing a new consortium to support a vision of developing and deploying lightweight materials twice as fast, at a fraction of the cost, while increasing US competitiveness in manufacturing.

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Ford making start-stop standard across 2017 EcoBoost-equipped F-150 lineup

January 21, 2016

Ford is making Auto Start-Stop technology standard across the entire lineup of EcoBoost-equipped 2017 F-150 pickups.

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Schneider Electric and EverCharge collaborate to accelerate EV charging in multi-tenant buildings

Schneider Electric and EverCharge, a provider of intelligent, scalable, and fully managed electric vehicle (EV) charging solutions, announced a global collaboration to accelerate the build-out of EV charging infrastructure in urban buildings with multiple occupants including apartments, condominiums and office buildings.

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Bristol University team develops new 3D printing technique for composites

January 20, 2016

A team of engineers at the University of Bristol has developed a new type of 3D printing that can print composite materials. Their technique, described in an open-access paper in Smart Materials and Structures, uses ultrasonic waves to position carefully millions of tiny reinforcement fibres as part of the 3D printing process. The fibres are formed into a microscopic reinforcement framework that gives the material strength. This microstructure is then set in place using a focused laser beam, which locally cures the epoxy resin and then prints the object.

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3M introduces new magnet bonding adhesive system for electric motors

3M has introduced a new magnet bonding adhesive system designed to provide electric motor design and manufacturing engineers with an advanced tool for bonding permanent magnets to rotors and stators in high-efficiency permanent magnet (PM) electric motors.

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DuPont and ADM develop process for production of FDME from fructose; platform molecule for high-value bio-based chemicals

DuPont Industrial Biosciences (DuPont) and Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) have developed a new breakthrough process for the production of furan dicarboxylic methyl ester (FDME) from fructose. FDME is a high-purity derivative of furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA)—one of the 12 building blocks identified by the US Department of Energy that can be converted into a number of high-value, bio-based chemicals or materials that can deliver high performance in a number of applications.

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Motorola Solutions invests in Mg-ion battery company Pellion Technologies

Pellion Technologies, a startup commercializing magnesium-ion battery technology (earlier post), announced an investment by Motorola Solutions. Because magnesium is divalent, it can displace double the charge per ion (i.e., Mg2+ rather than Li+). As an element, magnesium is much more abundant than lithium, and more stable. Magnesium-ion batteries theoretically could offer good electrochemical performance, while being safer and less expensive than Li-ion batteries.

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IHS: late 2015 pipeline growth signals impending rise in global energy storage market

Battery cost reductions, government funding programs and utility tenders led to a 45% increase in the global energy storage pipeline in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2015 compared to the previous quarter. According to IHS Inc., the global pipeline of planned battery and flywheel projects had reached 1.6 gigawatts (GW) in Q4 2015.

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Leclanché to supply Li-ion Energy Storage Systems in one of largest grid storage projects in North America

Hecate Canada Storage II, LLP, an emerging Canadian Project Development and Electrical Systems Integrator, has selected Switzerland-based Leclanché as the exclusive partner to provide 13MW / 53MWh Li-ion battery Energy Storage Systems in one of the largest Grid Ancillary Services energy storage projects in North America. All the contracted facilities will be built near Toronto, Ontario.

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Dürr deploys 10,000th painting robot

January 19, 2016

The 10,000th Dürr painting robot is being deployed to Opel in Spain. The EcoRP E033 model will apply the primer coat on various Opel car bodies in Zaragoza. Dürr will deliver two primer stations with 16 painting robots and three stations for rocker panel coating to the automobile manufacturer.

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MINI partners with HAX to launch startup accelerator program

MINI and HAX, a division of venture capital firm SOSV, have launched a startup accelerator program to support, educate, and invest in compelling new businesses. Urban-X by MINI and HAX will combine the core competencies of MINI, including design, engineering, and usability, with HAX’s best-in-class acceleration processes, investing experience, and ability to help companies bring innovative technologies to market rapidly.

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Westport secures EPA certification for the Dedicated CNG and Bi-fuel CNG 2016 Ford F-150

Westport Innovations Inc. received certification from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the dedicated compressed natural gas (CNG) and bi-fuel CNG Westport WiNG Power System models of the Ford 5.0L F-150 trucks for Model Year (MY) 2016.

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Study finds recent decreases in percentage of licensed drivers across all age groups

An analysis by Dr. Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle at University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) has found recent decreases in the proportion of persons with a driver’s license across all age groups in the US.

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Argonne/JCESR team demonstrates first rechargeable calcium-ion battery

One potential path for delivering higher energy density storage that current Li-ion batteries is to use a multivalent ion such as Ca2+ or Mg2+. (Earlier post.) Now, researchers at Argonne National Laboratory and the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR) have demonstrated the first rechargeable calcium-ion battery.

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Zhejiang VIE Science and Technology leads US$10M Series B for wireless charging company Evatran

Evatran Group, Inc. and Zhejiang VIE Science and Technology Company (VIE), a leading manufacturer of automotive parts based in Zhejiang Province, China earlier this month moved to the second phase of a planned global expansion with Evatran’s Plugless EV charging technology. VIE’s total $3.2-million investment to date formally kicks off Evatran’s $10M Series B Raise with VIE as lead investor and plans for a third investment as the companies move forward in North America and China.

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Opel rejects VRT News report of modified diesel emissions software

Belgium-based VRT News has charged that Opel dealers have been modifying the software in the Zafira Tourer 1.6 diesel to change the emission behavior of the vehicles. Opel swiftly rebutted, noting that (a) service update 15-P-0444 (cited in the VRT News report) has nothing to do with changing emission levels; (b) no other recalls to achieve better emission values have been launched in 2015; and (c) service update 15-P-044 had been discussed with the German Type Approval Authority KBA.

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BMW using Hexcel CFRP in 7 Series B-pillar

January 18, 2016

BMW is using Hexcel CFRP technology to save weight and to reinforce the metal shell of the B-pillar in the BMW 7 Series. Hexcel supplies BMW with preforms made of unidirectional carbon prepreg set in various orientations and combined with adhesive. The prepreg is made from Hexcel’s HexPly M77 resin system that cures in 1.5 minutes at 160 °C.

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PowerCell Sweden receives 1st order for 100 kW PowerCell S3 prototype fuel cell stack for automotive application

Fuel cell company PowerCell Sweden AB has received a first order for a prototype of a 100 kW PowerCell S3 fuel cell stack from a European company that will use it in an automotive application.

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ABN AMRO bank new partner in KLM’s Corporate BioFuel Program for biojet fuel

The ABN AMRO bank has become the 12th partner in KLM’s Corporate BioFuel Program. Corporations participating in the KLM program pay a surcharge that covers the price difference between sustainable biofuel and conventional aviation fuel.

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Renault was Europe’s top EV brand in 2015

Renault is the best performing brand in Europe in electric vehicles sales, with a market share of 23.6% (25.2% if Twizy is included) and 23,086 units registered in 2015. In other terms, in 2015, one out of 5 electric cars sold in Europe was a Renault Z.E. vehicle.

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SOFC company Ceres Power and Honda sign new joint development agreement for power equipment

Ceres Power Holdings PLC has signed a new Joint Development Agreement with Honda R & D Co Ltd jointly to develop Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) stacks using Ceres Power’s metal-supported Steel Cell technology for a range of potential power equipment applications.

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Report: Mercedes-Benz introducing fuel cell GLC SUV next year, 4 EVs starting in 2018

Autocar quotes Mercedes-Benz’ head of R&D Dr. Thomas Weber as saying that the company will introduce a fuel cell version of its GLC SUV next year. The release of the GLC F-Cell will be followed by the introduction of four battery-electric cars starting in 2018.

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Report: Honda and GM to build fuel cell plant, mass production by 2025

January 17, 2016

The Asahi Shimbun reports that will set up a factory for the joint manufacture of automotive fuel cells, with production beginning by 2025 at the latest. In 2013, the two companies announced a long-term, definitive master agreement to co-develop next-generation fuel cell system and hydrogen storage technologies, aiming for the 2020 time frame. (Earlier post.)

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California Public Utilities Commission authorizes So Cal Edison to develop pilot program for 1,500 EV charging stations

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) authorized Southern California Edison to develop a pilot program to incentivize the deployment of approximately 1,500 electric vehicle charging stations and conduct education and outreach in support of electric transportation.

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Renault-Nissan: China to become top EV market by 2020

January 15, 2016

The Renault-Nissan Alliance posted a brief noting that China is poised to become the top electric vehicle market in the world by 2020. In 2014, China registered 75,000 EV sales, giving it a global market share of 25%. In the first quarter of 2015, it registered nearly double that number.

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DOE to award $12M to two companies to further next-generation nuclear reactor designs

The US Department of Energy (DOE) selected two companies—X-energy and Southern Company—for a combined $12 million in awards ($6 million each) to develop further advanced nuclear reactor designs. These awards, with a multi-year cost share of up to $80 million for both companies, will support work to address key technical challenges to the design, construction, and operation of next-generation nuclear reactors.

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2017 Hyundai Elantra launches with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

The 2017 Hyundai Elantra—Hyundai’s best-selling model in the US—launches this month with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Both smartphone integrations will be available on the 2017 Elantra’s seven-inch Display Audio touchscreen system with rearview camera and Hyundai’s eight-inch touchscreen navigation system with voice texting, access to music stored on the phone and third-party audio apps.

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Mammoet switches Dutch operations to Shell GTL fuel

Mammoet, the world’s largest service provider specializing in engineered heavy lifting and transport will use cleaner-burning Shell gas-to-liquids (GTL) fuel to power all its cranes and trucks in the Netherlands. The switch is expected to reduce emissions and help improve local air quality as well as lowering noise levels compared with conventional diesel.

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Automotive sales in Russia in 2015 down 35.7%

January 14, 2016

Sales of new passenger cars and LCVs in Russia decreased by 457% in December 2015, with a 35.7% drop for the entire year, according to figures released by The Automobile Manufacturers Committee of the Association of European Businesses (AEB) in Russia.

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Cal Energy awards nearly $700K to Andromeda Power for smart fast-charging system for EVs

The California Energy Commission has awarded a $681,693 grant (Agreement EPC- 15-015) to Andromeda Power, LLC to develop a smart, fast-charging system for electric vehicles. The system will enhance the integration of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) into the electricity grid using real time monitors and controls efficiently to enable automated demand response.

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Northwestern U team develops new 3D printing method for metallic objects

January 13, 2016

Engineers at Northwestern University have created a new way to print three-dimensional metallic objects using powder-based liquid inks. While current methods rely on vast metal powder beds and expensive lasers or electron beams, Northwestern’s new technique uses liquid inks and common furnaces, resulting in a cheaper, faster, and more uniform process. The Northwestern team also demonstrated that the new method works for an extensive variety of metals, metal mixtures, alloys, and metal oxides and compounds.

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Cypress Semiconductor expands automotive portfolio; new Traveo automotive MCU series

Cypress Semiconductor Corp.is expanding its automotive portfolio to help enable manufacturers to bring high tech automotive systems historically available only in luxury models to mainstream vehicles. The portfolio leverages a wide range of differentiated products that includes microcontrollers (MCUs), power management ICs (PMICs), memories and touch-sensing solutions.

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Renault Samsung SM3 Z.E. is Korea’s most popular EV

January 12, 2016

SM3 Z.E. (known in other markets as Fluence Z.E.), Renault Samsung Motors’ (RSM) battery-electric sedan, is Korea’s most popular EV. Total sales of the SM3 Z.E., which launched in Korea in November 2013, have reached 1,767 units; of those, 1,043 units were sold in 2015. Today, one out of three EVs in the country is an SM3 Z.E.

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Lexus brings all-wheel drive hydrogen fuel cell LF-FC flagship concept to Detroit

Lexus brought the all-wheel drive hydrogen fuel cell LF-FC flagship concept, unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show in October 2015 (earlier post), to the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit for its North American premiere.

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Electrovaya subsidiary Litarion receives US$16M contract for 40Ah Li-ion cells

Electrovaya announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, Litarion GmbH, has received a purchase order for about US$16 million to supply 40 Ah Lithium Ion cells (Litacell-LC40) to a US-based company.

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Ford and IBM working on pilot platform for real-time streaming analytics to improve mobility

Ford and IBM are working together on a pilot platform that allows research scientists to look at tiny bits of data—10 or 15 seconds worth at a time—to spot patterns, correlations and trends, and to write code to make more efficient transportation decisions. The platform, called the Ford Smart Mobility Experimentation Platform, underpins the Dynamic Shuttle pilot program now in operation on the company’s Dearborn campus (earlier post).

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Wind River and Ricardo partnering on autonomous driving systems

Wind River, a software provider for the Internet of Things (IoT), is teaming with Ricardo to deliver solutions for autonomous driving. Wind River will provide advanced automotive software systems, as well as architectural and engineering support. Ricardo will deliver expert integration with the physical vehicle systems.

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Powertech’s H2 fueling station increases number of fills

January 11, 2016

British Columbia—based Powertech Labs’ hydrogen fueling station, located onsite at the company’s headquarters, has increased the number of vehicles that it services. The station, the only 70 MPa fast-fill hydrogen fueling station in Canada, currently meets the fueling needs for Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai fuel cell electric vehicles, with a total of 9 vehicles using the station.

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New software, electric motors for 2017 Ford Fusion hybrid and plug-in hybrid

Ford has upgraded the software in its new 2017 Fusion Hybrid and Energi (plug-in hybrid) models to deliver a “more refined and engaging drive for customers,” the company announced at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).

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Chevrolet introduces Cruze Hatch; 1.4L turbo GDI and Stop/Start

Chevrolet introduced the 2017 Cruze Hatchback on the eve of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Developed with all the technologies and dynamic driving attributes of the all-new 2016 Cruze sedan, the hatch is equipped with a standard 1.4L turbo engine with direct injection and Stop/Start technologies, electric power steering and, on Premier models, a Z-link rear suspension.

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New bi-modal catalyst with high selectivity for jet-fuel range hydrocarbons from F-T synthesis

January 10, 2016

Researchers at the University of Toyama in Japan have developed a new Co/ZrO2–SiO2 catalyst with high-selectivity for jet fuel direct synthesis from syngas in Fischer–Tropsch synthesis (FTS) with varied 1-olefins as additives. A paper on their work is published in the journal Fuel.

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Silicon/reduced graphene oxide films as high performance anodes for Li-ion batteries

Researchers from the East China University of Science and Technology, Shanghai have synthesized a flexible freestanding silicon/reduced graphene oxide (Si/rGO) hybrid film anode for Li-ion batteries. The Si/rGO films, when applied as a free-standing LIBs anode, exhibit a high reversible specific capacity of 904 mAh g−1 at 200 mA g−1 (about 2 times higher than theoretical value of graphite anode), and maintain a long cycle life (650 mAh g−1 after 150 cycles).

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GM exploring Mobileye advanced mapping with OnStar Data; production deployment later this year

January 09, 2016

General Motors is exploring a new mapping technology from Mobileye that could use crowd-sourced real-time data (swarm intelligence) collected by OnStar for precise localization and high-definition lane data that supports fully autonomous driving.

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New efficient electrolysis process for direct hydrogen production from biomass; 16.7% of energy required for water electrolysis

Researchers at Georgia Tech, with colleagues at Hunan University and the Institute of Metal Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, have devised a novel, efficient electrolysis approach for hydrogen evolution directly from native biomasses—cellulose, lignin and even wood and grass powders—to hydrogen at low temperature. A paper on their work is published in the RSC journal Energy and Environmental Science.

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Mitsubishi Electric showcases EMIRAI 3 xDAS assisted-driving concept car at CES

January 08, 2016

Mitsubishi Electric Automotive America introduced its EMIRAI 3 xDAS concept car at CES 2016 this week. Building on the EMIRAI 2 xDAS, which was introduced at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, Mitsubishi Electric developed the EMIRAI 3 xDAS with evolved technologies for human machine interface (HMI), driver sensing, telematics, and light control.

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Study finds 6.3% spread in fuel economy obtained with maximum and minimum rolling resistance tires

A new report by University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) researcher Dr. Michael Sivak has found a 6.3% spread between the fuel economy obtained with maximum and minimum rolling resistance tires. At the average 2015 price of regular gasoline, the obtained fuel-consumption extremes result in a $78 difference in the annual cost of gasoline per light-duty vehicle, Sivak said.

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HDBaseT Alliance expands into automotive; GM new Board member; Daimler, Delphi members

The HDBaseT Alliance, the cross-industry group tasked with promoting and advancing HDBaseT technology, is expanding its activities into the field of automotive infrastructure. HDBaseT is a standard for the distribution of ultra-high-definition multimedia content, and is a solution for in-vehicle connectivity. GM has joined the Alliance's Board of Directors, as a Promoter member. Both Daimler and Delphi Automotive have joined as Contributor members.

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Volvo Cars cracks 500,000 unit marker in annual global sales for first time

Volvo Cars sold 503,127 cars worldwide in 2015, the first time it has sold more than half a million cars in its 89-year history. Volvo reported strong sales from all three core global regions. Sales in Europe rose 10.6% for the year to 269,249 units, representing 53.5% of total global volume. Volvo’s revival in the US gained momentum with sales in the US up 24.3% to 70,047 units in 2015. China was flat amid a challenging sales environment with 81,588 units, but looked stronger at the end of the year with sales up 11.4% in the fourth quarter.

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