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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.]

Mercedes-Benz investing ~€3B in new engine technology; new diesel family, particulate filters for gasoline engines

May 27, 2016

Mercedes-Benz is investing about €3 billion (US$3.4 billion) in engine technology to ensure further improvements in fuel consumption and emissions in gasoline and diesel engines in current as well as current vehicles, according to Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, Daimler Board of Management Member for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.

With the new E 220d, Mercedes-Benz introduced the completely newly developed four-cylinder diesel engine OM 654 (earlier post)—the first of a modular new diesel engine family that fulfills future RDE emissions requirements and that will be applied throughout the entire portfolios of Mercedes-Benz Cars and also at Mercedes-Benz Vans.

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PSA Group outlines powertrain production strategy: gasoline PHEVs, EVs and next-gen diesel and gasoline engines

May 25, 2016

As part of the energy transition process and in line with the technological offensive spelled out in its Push to Pass strategic plan (earlier post), PSA Group will focus on diversifying its offerings with plug-in hybrid gasoline systems and next-generation electric powertrains. The latter will be used in particular to equip e-CMP, its future electric platform developed in partnership with Dongfeng Motors. (Earlier post.) At the same time, the Group will continue to develop next-generation internal combustion engines, both gasoline and diesel.

For strategic reasons, PSA Group will manufacture the main electric powertrain components in France, signalling its determination to develop high-tech operations in profitable niche markets. The electric powertrain will be produced at the Trémery/Metz centre of excellence, while the gear systems will be manufactured at the Valenciennes plant.

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Geely raises $400M via Green Bonds sale to develop and produce TX5 range-extended electric London taxis

May 22, 2016

China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group (ZGH) has raised $400 million through the first Green Bond sale on the offshore market from a Chinese automobile company to support the design, development and production of range-extended electric vehicles by its UK subsidiary, the LondonTaxi Company (LTC), manufacturer of the iconic London Black Cab. The plug-in hybrid TX5 London Cab will be launched in the UK at the end of 2017 and in international markets in 2018.

ZGH is investing £300 million (US$435 million) in LTC’s new research and production facility in Ansty in the West Midlands region of the UK to develop the next-generation TX5. The new model was unveiled last October in London in the presence of the Chinese President Xi Jinping during his state visit to the UK. In addition to a new light-weight aluminium body structure and composite paneling, the TX5 benefits from a range-extended battery-electric vehicle system.

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Cummins unveils SmartEfficiency initiative for transit buses; diesel, hybrid and near-zero NOx engines

May 20, 2016

Cummins Inc. unveiled the SmartEfficiency initiative for transit buses, which focuses on improved uptime and reliability. As part of the SmartEfficiency initiative, Cummins revealed the 2017 L9 diesel and 2017 B6.7 hybrid engine systems; the ISL G Near Zero (NZ) NOx natural gas engine (earlier post); the isolated engine coolant loop system for the 2017 L9 and ISL G; and a new SmartSupport service program.

Available in 2017, the L9 for transit applications will continue to use the modular aftertreatment architecture. A SmartEfficiency-driven improvement is the isolated coolant loop for transit buses using an L9 or ISL G powertrain, which improves reliability and reduces downtime.

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Volvo Cars unveils CMA-based 40 series concepts; battery-electric and PHEV versions; first production in 2017

May 18, 2016

Volvo Cars unveiled two new 40 series concept cars, marking the official launch of its global small car strategy. The first new 40 series car is expected to go into production in 2017.

The new concept cars will be the first built around Volvo’s new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) (earlier post), which has been specially created for smaller cars. Volvo’s new global small car range will include a pure battery electric vehicle as well as Twin Engine plug-in hybrid powertrain variants, in line with the company’s commitment to the electrification of its entire portfolio. Volvo plans to have sold a total of up to 1 million electrified cars by 2025 globally. (Earlier post.)

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BMW introducing new quad-turbo 6-cylinder diesel in 7 Series; engine output up 5%, average fuel consumption down 11%

May 17, 2016

BMW is introducing its new quad-turbo, six-cylinder diesel, described several weeks ago at the Vienna Motor Symposium, in the BMW 750d xDrive and BMW 750Ld xDrive. The new diesel—billed by BMW as the world’s most powerful six cylinder diesel, generates maximum output of 294 kW/400 hp and peak torque of 760 N·m (560 lb-ft).

The 14 kW/19 hp (i.e. 5%) increase in output and peak torque up by 20 N·m (15 lb-ft) are accompanied by a 11% reduction in average fuel consumption and emissions over the predecessor model. Combined cycle fuel consumption is 5.9 – 5.7 l/100 km (39.8 – 41.2 mpg US); the corresponding CO2 emissions are 154 – 149 g/km. The engine comes standard with intelligent all-wheel drive.

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Sandia team develops autoignition model designed for efficient, accurate engine simulations

May 12, 2016

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have developed a model for how diesel engines autoignite. Understanding the fundamental processes that produce autoignition can lead to designs that improve engine efficiency and reduce emissions by optimizing the timing and location of ignition.

Sandia postdoctoral researcher Layal Hakim, working with mentors and Sandia principal investigators Guilhem Lacaze and Joe Oefelein, designed and implemented an optimized chemical model that describes autoignition of a diesel fuel surrogate and quantifies the degree of uncertainty in the model.

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Mitsubishi Motors admits to improper fuel consumption testing in 9 additional models

May 11, 2016

In April, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) admitted to manipulating fuel consumption testing data for some 625,000 mini-cars representing four models it manufactured for sale in Japan by itself and partner Nissan. (Earlier post.)

MMC now says that its internal hearings into the cheating suggest that the method used to cheat—the improper calculation of running resistance—was also applied in nine other models currently sold in Japan, as well as in other models no longer sold in Japan. The use of the calculations is also suspected on the RVR and some other models, and investigations into the background and details are ongoing and will be announced separately.

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Toyota R&D continues work on free piston linear generators for EVs; novel resonant pendulum control method

May 06, 2016

In 2014, a team at Toyota Central R&D Labs Inc. published two SAE papers on their work in developing a prototype 10 kW Free Piston Engine Linear Generator (FPEG) for B/C segment electric vehicles. (Earlier post.) The FPEG consists of a two-stroke combustion system, a linear generator, and a gas spring chamber; the unit offers potential for compact build, high efficiency and high fuel flexibility.

Now, the Toyota researchers report on a new FPEG control method to realize stable and flexible piston motion control for efficient electric power generation. They presented their work in a paper at the recent 2016 SAE World Congress.

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UPS updates 125 Workhorse E-GEN series hybrid electric step vans with smaller genset engine for better fuel economy

May 03, 2016

UPS announced an update to 125 Workhorse E-GEN series hybrid electric delivery trucks that improve fuel economy as part of the company’s broader Rolling Laboratory approach.

A compact, quiet-running 650cc 2-cylinder engine replaces the previous 2.4L 4-cylinder engine; charging capability remains the same, as does the electric range. The smaller engine will improve fuel economy, however. The updated trucks, which were originally purchased in September 2015, deliver up to four times the fuel economy of a gasoline-powered vehicle, UPS said. The trucks will be deployed in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, Ohio and Texas later this year.

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2017 Ford F-150 to offer 2nd-gen 3.5L EcoBoost with dual direct and port fuel injection; 10-speed automatic

The 2017 Ford F-150 will offer an all-new, second-generation 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine and 10-speed transmission. The new 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine will provide 30 lb-ft more peak torque compared with the first-generation 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine, up to a best-in-class 450 lb-ft (610 N·m) for a V6. F-150 remains the only truck in its segment to offer a twin-turbo V6 gasoline engine.

The all-new Ford-built transmission—the first volume-production 10-speed automatic transmission available to consumers from any automaker—will deliver improved acceleration and performance compared with previous six-speed automatic transmissions. More than 20 patents are approved or pending for the new powertrain combination.

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U Mich study explores performance of renewable diesel, FT diesel and ULSD in PCCI combustion

A team at the University of Michigan has investigated the performance of three different fuels—ultralow sulfur diesel (ULSD), diesel fuel produced via a low temperature Fischer–Tropsch process (LTFT), and a renewable diesel (RD), which is a hydrotreated camelina oil under partially premixed compression ignition (PCCI) combustion. Their paper is published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.

Partially premixed compression ignition (PCCI) combustion is an advanced, low-temperature combustion mode that creates a partially premixed charge inside the cylinder before ignition occurs. PCCI prolongs the time period for mixing of the fuel–air mixture by separating the end of injection and start of combustion. As a result, NOx and particulate matter (PM) emissions can be reduced simultaneously relative to those of conventional diesel combustion.

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Volkswagen brings new 3.0L diesels to Amarok pickup

May 02, 2016

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is fitting its premium pick-up, the Amarok, with the latest generation of Volkswagen V6 diesel engines. The top performing 3.0-liter unit will deliver 550 N·m (406 lb-ft) of torque at 1,500 rpm; 224 PS (221 hp, 165 kW); and meet the Euro 6 emissions standard. At 550 N·m, this maximum torque is 130 N·m higher than in the previous model.

The highest gear’s long gear ratio in the manual or 8-speed automatic gearbox reduces revs and fuel consumption during consistently fast driving, and thus helps reduce noise levels and CO2 emissions. The combined NEDC fuel consumption of the new Amarok with 224 PS and 8-speed automatic gearbox is expected to be 7.6 liters/100 km (around 31 mpg US). This corresponds to a new top level of 199 grams CO2/km.

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Roland Berger study outlines integrated vehicle and fuels roadmap for further abating transport GHG emissions 2030+ at lowest societal cost

April 30, 2016

A new study by consultancy Roland Berger defines an integrated roadmap for European road transport decarbonization to 2030 and beyond; the current regulatory framework for vehicle emissions, carbon intensity of fuels and use of renewable fuels covers only up to 2020/2021.

The study was commissioned by a coalition of fuel suppliers and automotive companies with a view to identifying a roadmap to 2030+ to identify GHG abatement options at the lowest cost to society. The coalition comprises BMW, Daimler, Honda, NEOT/St1, Neste, OMV, Shell, Toyota and Volkswagen. Among the key findings of the study were:

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Qoros and FreeValve partner on camless technology; new Qoros concept uses FreeValve PHEA

April 29, 2016

At Auto China in Beijing, Qoros Auto unveiled a concept car showcasing a new Qoros “Qamfree” engine featuring FreeValve’s Pneumatic-Hydraulic-Electric-Actuator (PHEA) technology. FreeValve and Qoros also announced a partnership for the continued development of the camless technology. FreeValve AB is a sister company to Koenigsegg Automotive.

FreeValve’s PHEA technology replaces the conventional camshaft and associated hardware, and allows the engine management system to have full control over each valve. Where camshaft technology has been limited to the relationship between the valves and the camshaft position, FreeValve’s fully variable valve actuation allows independent control over every valve’s precise opening/closing position and timing throughout the whole combustion cycle.

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VW introduces new, more efficient TSI engine generation; Miller cycle with higher compression and electric VTG turbo

April 28, 2016

Volkswagen is presenting the latest generation of the EA211 TSI evo at the 37th International Vienna Motor Symposium. The first model in this future generation of spark ignition engines is the 1.5-liter TSI. The fuel-efficient and high-torque gasoline-fueled TSI engine is set to launch in late 2016, initially with outputs of 96 kW and 110 kW.

The main technology elements of the new EA211 TSI evo result in efficiency benefits of up to 10% compared with the previous 1.4l TSI (92 kW). The improvements in fuel economy take effect across a wide range of the engine map—i.e, they do not merely apply under test bench conditions but also impact everyday driving. Among the key new/revised technologies are:

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Tula Technology reports up to 18% fuel economy gain in GM 6.2L V8 using Dynamic Skip Fire technology; emissions benefits too

April 25, 2016

In a paper presented at the 2016 SAE World Congress, Tula Technology, developer of Dynamic Skip Fire (DSF) cylinder deactivation technology, reported significant fuel economy gains of up to 18% over a conventional GM 6.2-liter V8 by operating using Dynamic Skip Fire. DSF—a software-enabled powertrain technology that integrates advanced digital signal processing with advanced powertrain controls—reduces the pumping losses while improving the combustion stability in spark ignition engines.

GM has been working closely with Tula Technology; in 2012, GM Ventures made an equity investment in Tula. (Earlier post.) In 2015, Delphi also took a stake in the Silicon Valley-based company. (Earlier post.)

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Volkswagen AG decides not to release interim report on diesel emissions investigation; cites current negotiations with US authorities

April 23, 2016

On Friday, Volkswagen AG announced that the Supervisory Board and the Management Board of Volkswagen have decided not to release the interim results of the investigation into the diesel emission cheating as originally planned. Disclosure of interim results at this point in time would “present unacceptable risks for Volkswagen” they company said and, therefore, cannot take place now.

The decision was based on the assessment of the US law firms retained by Volkswagen (Sullivan & Cromwell and Jones Day), which have both strongly advised against such a disclosure independently of each other.

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German report on VW diesel scandal finds large gap between lab and real-world NOx emissions for German automakers; 630K vehicles in voluntary recall

April 22, 2016

A German inquiry launched as a result of the Volkswagen diesel emission scandal has found that there is a large gap between homologated emissions values from lab testing and real-world driving results for all German manufacturers.

German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt, who presented the results of the inquiry on Friday, said that only Volkswagen had used a software defeat device that detected test cycles (Prüfzykluserkennung) and altered calibrations accordingly. However, other manufacturers do use a thermal window (Thermofenster) technique that cuts back on emissions treatment at certain temperatures—presumably to protect the engine against damage.

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NASA awards Aerojet Rocketdyne $67M to develop advanced solar electric propulsion system for space

April 20, 2016

NASA has awarded Aerojet Rocketdyne a $67-million contract to design and develop an Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS) for spaceflight. Work performed under the contract could potentially increase spaceflight transportation fuel efficiency by 10 times over current chemical propulsion technology and more than double thrust capability compared to current electric propulsion systems.

Such a system could significantly advance the nation’s commercial space capabilities, and enable deep space exploration missions, including the robotic portion of NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) and its Journey to Mars, NASA said.

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Continental introducing innovative annular catalytic converter for near-complete NOx reduction to meet RDE and SULEV 30 standards

April 19, 2016

Continental will present an innovative close-coupled annular catalytic converter that supports near-complete NOx conversion in downsized turbocharged gasoline engines at the 37th Vienna Motor Symposium next week.

The introduction of Real Driving Emissions (RDE) legislation will require vehicles with this widely used engine concept to meet strict NOx limits in all driving situations. This poses a new challenge by demanding efficient NOx reduction across a very broad spectrum of engine operating conditions, and not “just” in the current test cycles.

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Volvo Trucks used SuperTruck learnings to boost efficiency, performance in 2017 powertrains; wave piston, turbocompounding, injection

April 14, 2016

Key learnings from Volvo’s SuperTruck (earlier post) efforts played a critical role in the design and engineering of Volvo Trucks North America’s recently introduced 2017 powertrain, delivering improved fuel efficiency and performance to customers. (Earlier post.)

The development of several new features, such as the wave piston, turbo compounding and a common rail fuel injection system, was supported by the SuperTruck program, sponsored by the US Department of Energy (DOE).

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ARPA-E issues $30M NEXTCAR program funding opportunity; 20% reduction in energy consumption beyond current regulatory requirements

April 12, 2016

The Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) has issued a $30-million funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0001564) for the Next-Generation Energy Technologies for Connected and Automated On-Road Vehicles (NEXTCAR) program. (Earlier post.)

NEXTCAR seeks to fund the development of new and emerging vehicle dynamic and powertrain (VD&PT) control technologies that can reduce the energy consumption of future vehicles—light-, medium- and heavy-duty—through the use of connectivity and vehicle automation. The new program is seeking transformative technological solutions that will enable at least an additional 20% reduction in the energy consumption of future connected and automated vehicles (CAVs), compared to vehicles without these VD&PT control technologies. I.e., the NEXTCAR improvements are in addition to and beyond any currently expected future vehicle fleet fuel efficiency improvements that will be required or driven by Federal or State regulations.

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New ACE researchers propose new diesel combustion concept; pathway to >50% BTE without WHR

April 11, 2016

A team at Japan’s New ACE Institute—an industry-funded research initiative founded to develop a new diesel combustion concept—has developed a new diffusion-combustion-based concept with multiple fuel injectors to overcome the trade-offs of thermal efficiency with energy loss and exhaust emissions typical of conventional diesel engines.

In a presentation at the 2016 SAE High Efficiency IC Engine Symposium, Noboru Uchida, general manager of research for New ACE, outlined the basic approach, which he said potentially offers a pathway to greater than 50% brake thermal efficiency without the use of waste heat recovery systems. A paper on their concept is also published in SAE International Journal of Engines.

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CMU team identifies IVOCs emissions from on-road gasoline vehicles and small off-road engines as important SOA precursors

April 10, 2016

A team from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) has characterized the intermediate volatility organic compound (IVOC) emissions from on-road gasoline vehicles (LDGVs) and small off-road gasoline engines (SOREs). Although IVOC emissions only correspond to approximately 4% of NMHC emissions from on-road vehicles over the cold-start unified cycle, they are estimated to produce as much or more secondary organic aerosols (SOA) than single-ring aromatics. SOAs are an important component of atmospheric particulate matter.

The researchers said their results clearly demonstrate that IVOCs from gasoline engines are an important class of SOA precursors. Their paper, published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, provide observational constraints on IVOC emission factors and chemical composition to facilitate their inclusion into atmospheric chemistry models.

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Argonne VERIFI team improves code to enable up to 10K simultaneous engine simulations; paradigm shift in engine design

April 09, 2016

A team of scientists and engineers with the Virtual Engine Research Institute and Fuels Initiative (VERIFI) (earlier post) at the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory recently completed development of engineering simulation code and workflows that will allow as many as 10,000 engine simulations to be conducted simultaneously on Argonne’s supercomputer, Mira.

These simulations are typical “engineering-type” smaller scale simulations, which are used routinely for engine design within industry. This massive simulation capacity has opened up a new capability for industrial partners seeking new advanced engine designs.

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FEV showcasing 48V technology at 2016 SAE World Congress

April 08, 2016

FEV will showcase some of its 48-Volt technology capabilities at the 2016 SAE World Congress next week in Detroit. FEV says it believes that 48V technology will be the next evolution in in-vehicle power.

The proliferation of components and systems that require electrical power in today’s vehicle are pushing the standard 12-Volt battery to its limits. Under idle conditions and especially under low-temperature conditions, current 12V electrical systems can account for the entire power output of a conventional alternator, FEV notes.

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Audi refreshes A3 with new engines, driver assistance systems, virtual cockpit

April 06, 2016

Audi is refreshing the A3 with new engines—including the A3’s first 3-cylinder unit and a new 2.0L TFSI—new driver assistance systems and the Audi virtual cockpit. The new A3 is available in a three-door version and as a Sportback, a sedan and a Cabriolet.

The engine lineup for the new Audi A3 comprises six engines (three gasoline and three diesel units). Power output ranges from 81 kW (110 hp) to 140 kW (190 hp). All A3 models fulfill the EU6 standard. With the 1.0 TFSI, Audi is offering a three-cylinder model in the Audi A3 series for the first time.

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EIA: trends in downsized engine design leading to increased demand for higher-octane gasoline

Since 2013, the share of premium gasoline in total motor gasoline sales in the US has steadily increased to 11.3% in August and September 2015—the highest share in more than a decade, according to data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

This trend of increasing demand for higher octane gasoline is likely driven by changes in fuel requirements for light-duty vehicles (LDV) in response to increasing fuel economy standards, which will have widespread implications for future gasoline markets, according to EIA analysts.

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Groupe Renault taking two actions to reduce real-world NOx from diesel Euro 6b vehicles; deploying in July 2016

April 05, 2016

Groupe Renault has studied and is deploying a number of actions designed to reduce the NOx emissions of its diesel Euro 6b vehicles in customer driving conditions without a noticeable impact on performance or fuel consumption. The measures will be applied in factory on diesel Euro 6b vehicles from July 2016.

From October 2016, customers who have already taken delivery of a Diesel Euro 6b vehicle can arrange to have the modifications applied, free of charge, via a visit to their Renault dealer. Groupe Renault is implementing two changes:

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New Renesas 32-Bit MCUs for improved fuel efficiency in vehicle powertrain control applications

Renesas Electronics Corporation announced the 32-bit RH850/E1M-S2 microcontrollers (MCUs) for automotive powertrain control applications. The new MCUs provide high performance and advanced functionality to enable improved fuel efficiency. The RH850/E1M-S2 MCUs include four product versions, including the high-end R7F701216EABA (BGA304, 320MHz).

To help meet increasingly stringent fuel efficiency and CO2targets, engine control systems must optimize the ignition and fuel injection timing to match a variety of conditions, such as current combustion and driving status. Transmission control systems, for their part, must instantly select the optimal gear ratio to match the driving conditions, which change moment by moment, in order to minimize power loss in the transmission.

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BASF 2016 science competition seeks synthetic lubricant solutions for future high-efficiency vehicles

March 31, 2016

BASF has kicked off its second annual North American Science Competition. This year’s competition focuses on chemistries that can be used to develop a synthetic fluid to meet the needs of future high-performance, high-efficiency engines and transmissions.

With more advanced machinery, lubricating and functional fluids represent a steadily growing industry projected to reach $11 billion by 2020. Synthetic fluids, which are more expensive than petroleum-derived materials, address increasing market demands for higher quality and purity, increased performance and more stringent environmental standards. By developing high performing synthetic fluids with better thermal stability, BASF aims to extend the life cycle of these materials, reduce waste and support the development of more fuel-efficient vehicles.

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New Federal-Mogul Powertrain piston skirt coatings increase durability for the life of pistons

March 30, 2016

Federal-Mogul Powertrain has introduced two innovative piston skirt coatings: EcoTough-New Generation (for gasoline engines) and EcoTough-D (for diesel engines). Building on the proven performance of previous EcoTough coatings, the new formulations further reduce engine friction, wear and noise while dealing with the increasingly challenging loads and temperatures that exist in the latest downsized, turbocharged engines.

Gasoline and diesel engines require alternative solutions because of important differences in their relative combustion loads, piston geometry and the lubricity of their respective fuels. Federal-Mogul Powertrain has accommodated these differences by formulating specific coatings, each optimized for either gasoline or diesel application.

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Volvo Trucks unveils new powertrains featuring increased power and 2.2 to 6.5% better fuel efficiency

March 22, 2016

Volvo Trucks North America launched several new integrated powertrain solutions, offering increased fuel efficiency, productivity, reliability, packaging, comfort and uptime. Volvo’s new powertrain offerings include multiple engine enhancements, such as turbo compounding for the Volvo D13 engine; the introduction of Volvo I-Shift with Crawler Gears automated manual transmission; and a one-box Exhaust Aftertreatment System (EATS).

As a result of the improvements, Volvo is delivering between 2.2 to 6.5% better fuel efficiency with the 2017 engines compared with the previous generation.

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Audi unveils redesigned R18 diesel hybrid Le Mans racer for 2016 season

Audi unveiled its redesigned R18 diesel hybrid Le Mans racer for the 2016 World Endurance Championship (WEC) season. Among the new features in the R18 are a more radical aerodynamics concept, including a new safety cell; a Li-ion battery replacing the flywheel energy storage system; and a revised V6 TDI diesel engine. As a result, Audi’s LMP1 sports car is more powerful and more efficient than its predecessor; the new R18 consumes less fuel than any of the generations before it.

The new hybrid TDI powertrain delivers power output of more than 1,000 hp (746 kW), along with 10% less consumption that its immediate predecessor. The current V6 TDI consumes 32.4% less fuel than the first generation did in 2011.

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ORCnext project concludes waste heat recovery efficiency can be boosted by 20-25%

March 18, 2016

The four-year projet ORCNext, aimed at developing knowledge and design tools for next generation of Organic Rankine Cycles (ORCs), has concluded that waste heat recovery efficiency can be increased by 20 to 25% through appropriate cycle selection, efficient expanders, appropriate control and less oversizing of the heat exchangers.

The project, funded by the government agency IWT, ran from February 2012 to January 2016 and was a partnership between Ghent University, University of Antwerp, University of Liège and Atlas Copco.

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MIT Energy Initiative report on transforming the US transportation system by 2050 to address climate challenges

March 16, 2016

A new MIT Energy Initiative report spearheaded by John Heywood, Sun Jae Professor of Mechanical Engineering Emeritus at MIT, identifies three important paths forward reducing light-duty vehicle energy use and greenhouse gas emissions: improve the existing system and technologies for shorter-term benefits; conserve fuel by changing driver habits for nearer- to longer-term benefits; and transform the transportation system into one that is radically less carbon-intensive for longer-term benefits.

According to the report, “On the Road Toward 2050: Potential for Substantial Reductions in Light-Duty Vehicle Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” each element is separately important, but must collectively be pursued aggressively to achieve necessary emissions reductions. More research, development, and demonstration studies are needed to lay the foundation for such a long-term transformation.

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DOE to award $12.5M to improve efficiency of medium- and heavy-duty trucks as part of new tech track for US-China initiative

March 13, 2016

The US Department of Energy is soliciting applications (DE-FOA-0001542) for the formation of a Consortium to pursue five identified R&D topic areas related to improving the operating efficiency of medium- and heavy-duty trucks. The Consortium that is funded through this solicitation will form a new technical track under the US-China Clean Energy Research Center, a bilateral initiative to encourage R&D collaboration and accelerate technology development and deployment in both countries.

Funding available is $12.5 million, and will support the US Consortium. In parallel, and with equivalent resources, Chinese funding will support a collaborative counterpart Chinese Consortium. The US consortium will pursue five topics; responsive application will address all five. These are:

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Argonne and Marathon partner in DOE Optima initiative to co-optimize fuels and engines

March 10, 2016

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory is partnering with Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC) to support an ongoing effort by DOE to explore fuels and engines holistically in search of greater efficiency.

The collaboration between Argonne and MPC is designed to support the “Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines” initiative, which was recently launched jointly by the DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office and Bioenergy Technologies Office. (Earlier post.) The new collaboration leverages MPC’s and Argonne’s complementary capabilities in fuel design, analysis and production, as well as advanced engine combustion and emissions formation.

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Cal Energy awards GTI $1M grant to demo production-intent version of CWI 6.7L medium-duty natural gas engine with HD-OBD

The California Energy Commission awarded the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) a $1-million grant to demonstrate a production-intent advanced version of the Cummins Westport Inc. (CWI) ISB6.7 G natural gas engine. The advanced version engine meets the 2018 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Heavy-Duty On-Board Diagnostics (HD-OBD) requirements and will continue to meet California Air Resources Board’s (CARB’s) Optional Low NOx 0.1 g/bhp-hr emissions level.

This project lays the foundation for follow-on work to further reduce the NOx emissions from the current 0.1 g/bhp-hr level by 90% to 0.02 g/bhp-hr, the lowest of the CARB Optional Low NOx standards.

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Mercedes-Benz launches new E-Class; new engines, PHEV, driver assistance systems; DRIVE PILOT

March 09, 2016

Mercedes-Benz has launched the new tenth-generation E-Class, introduced at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) this January. (Earlier post.) The new generation features technology innovations in a number of areas, including driver assistance and powertrains, with new efficient engines and a plug-in hybrid version.

Initially, the E 200 d models of the new E-Class will be available with an all-new four-cylinder OM 654 diesel engine (earlier post), while the E 200 will be powered by a four-cylinder gasoline engine and the E 350 d by a six-cylinder diesel.

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EPA and NHTSA seeking comments on new data for Phase 2 Heavy-Duty National Program to reduce GHG

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have issued a Notice of Data Availability (NODA) related to the Phase 2 Heavy-Duty National Program proposed in July 2015 (earlier post) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption for new on-road heavy-duty vehicles and engines.

This NODA provides an opportunity to comment on the new information being made available by the EPA and by NHTSA, including memoranda and data, which been placed in the public dockets. Data relating to the potential stringency of the proposed standards includes:

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Rice study finds using natural gas for electricity and heating, not transportation, more effective in reducing GHGs

Rice University researchers have determined a more effective way to use natural gas to reduce climate-warming emissions would be in the replacement of existing coal-fired power plants and fuel-oil furnaces rather than burning it in cars and buses.

The Rice study by environmental engineer Daniel Cohan and alumnus Shayak Sengupta compared the net greenhouse gas-emission savings that could be realized by replacing other fuels in vehicles, furnaces and power plants. They found that gas-fired power plants achieved the greatest reduction—more than 50%—in net emissions when replacing old coal-fired power plants. The use of compressed natural gas in vehicles yielded the least benefit, essentially matching the emissions of modern gasoline or diesel engines.

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2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan EPA-rated at 28 mpg highway, 22 mpg combined; stop/start and PHEV still to come

March 08, 2016

The gasoline-powered version of the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan has earned a highway-cycle fuel-economy rating of 28 mpg US (8.4 l/100km) from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—a benchmark unsurpassed by any minivan on the US market and 12% better than the vehicle Pacifica replaces.

The Chrysler brand’s all-new minivan also has a calculated lifecycle Global Warming Potential (GWP) 9% less than the outgoing vehicle. GWP considers the environmental impact of fuel production and delivery, along with the implications of its consumption. FCA US LLC engineers used industry-standard software to calculate and compare the all-new Pacifica’s GWP with that of the outgoing vehicle over 124,274 miles (200,000 km) of operation.

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Cal Energy and NREL holding public workshop on Natural Gas Vehicle Research Roadmap

The California Energy Commission and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory are holding a workshop to solicit public feedback on the 2015 draft Natural Gas Vehicle Research Roadmap. The 2015 report updates the 2009 Natural Gas Vehicle Research Roadmap and provides the framework and foundation for future investments in research, development, demonstration, and deployment.

The report includes research recommendations on 1) range and storage; 2) engine performance and availability; 3) vehicle emission and environmental performance; and 4) analysis and information sharing. Low natural gas prices, increased supplies, and a changing regulatory landscape have impacted the natural gas vehicle market. These changes have also impacted traditionally fueled vehicles, changing the overall vehicle technology market.

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Audi SQ7 features new V8 TDI, 48V system, electric compressor

March 03, 2016

Audi is introducing a diesel-engined S model to its Q7 model line. The newly developed 4.0-liter V8 diesel delivers 320 kW (435 hp) and 900 N·m (663.8 lb-ft), with estimated NEDC fuel consumption of 7.4 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (31.8 mpg US), corresponding to CO2 emissions of 194 grams per kilometer (312.2 g/mi). The SQ7 accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 4.8 seconds; top speed is 250 km/h (155.3 mph) (governed).

Among its features are an electric compressor with a supporting 48V subsytem that augments the work of the two turbochargers. Audi engineers will present a paper on the new V8 TDI at the upcoming Vienna Motor Symposium in April.

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2016 Mazda CX-9 shows 32% improvement in EPA-estimated fuel economy over predecessor; SKYACTIV-G 2.5 turbo

March 02, 2016

Mazda North American Operations released EPA-estimated fuel economy figures for its all-new 2016 Mazda CX-9. Certified at an EPA-estimated 22 mpg city/28 mpg highway/25 mpg combined, when equipped with front-wheel drive, the 2016 CX-9 achieves best-in-class (MY 2016 midsize, three-row, non-hybrid crossover SUVs for sale in the US) city and combined fuel economy ratings and class-leading highway fuel economy.

The second-generation CX-9’s efficiency reflect a 32% improvement compared to its predecessor. (In Canada, NR Canada estimates of fuel consumption put the improvement at 35%.)

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DOE launching $80M Supertruck II initiative; ≥ 55% BTE; awards $12M for 3 medium- and heavy-duty plug-in projects

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is launching SuperTruck II, an $80-million funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0001447), subject to congressional appropriations, for research, development and demonstration of long-haul tractor-trailer truck technology.

The project is a follow-on to the successful $240-million SuperTruck I initiative (earlier post), the goal of which was to develop tractor-trailers that were 50% more efficient on a ton‐mile‐per-gallon basis than baseline models by 2015. Two teams have already exceeded this goal and two are on track to meet it.

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China R&D company introduces micro-turbine range extender technology at Geneva

March 01, 2016

Techrules, a new China-based automotive R&D company, made its global debut at the 2016 Geneva International Motor Show with the unveiling of a Turbine-Recharging Electric Vehicle (TREV) series hybrid system applied in a 6-motor, all-wheel drive supercar concept.

TREV is a range extender system that uses a micro-turbine (fueled either by liquid or gaseous fuels) to generate electricity that charges a battery pack. The battery powers the motors that drive the wheels. In 2010, Jaguar introduced a similar concept, the C-X75 extended range electric vehicle that used twin gas micro-turbines from Bladon Jets to power two switched reluctance generators from SR Drives. (Earlier post.)

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Dearman: zero-emission transport refrigeration systems could have a major impact on air quality

February 26, 2016

New analysis by Dearman suggests that zero-emission transport refrigeration systems could cut overall engine pollution from refrigerated vehicles by up to 93% and have a major impact on air quality. One application of Dearman’s engine technology is to provide high efficiency, zero-emission transport refrigeration units (TRUs). (Earlier post.)

The findings of Dearman’s research indicate that equipping a Euro6-standard 17-tonne rigid body truck with a zero-emission refrigeration system, as opposed to a diesel-powered unit, would cut the vehicle’s overall engine emissions of particulate matter by 93%, and reduce NOx emissions by 73%.

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Pierburg GmbH electric compressor for turbos

February 24, 2016

Pierburg GmbH, part of the KSPG Group, has developed an electric compressor for spontaneously boosting the charge pressure of engines fitted with an exhaust-gas turbocharger. This component allows pressure to be increased regardless of the exhaust-gas energy availability.

The compressor is compatible with both gasoline and diesel engines. Initial prototypes are now being tested by various customers. The electric compressor fits in well and without any constraints with the proven strategy of downsizing, the company said.

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Mercedes-Benz Trucks approves HVO renewable diesel for its medium- and heavy-duty engines; neat or blended

February 22, 2016

With immediate effect, Mercedes-Benz Trucks is granting approval for the use of Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) renewable diesel for the in-line six-cylinder engine variants of the Mercedes-Benz OM 470, OM 471 (first generation) and OM 936 as well as the in-line four-cylinder variants of the OM 934 meeting the Euro VI emissions standard. The engines are designed as standard to make use of the new HVO fuel. The approval applies to all engine variants whatever their output category.

HVO is a renewable diesel produced from waste materials such as waste fat, used cooking oil and also oil from crop plants. The HVO raw material is sourced from controlled and certified cultivation facilities and as such does not compete with foodstuff production. A leading example is Neste’s NEXBTL.

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Germany launches new study of oxymethylene ethers for optimizing clean diesel combustion

February 15, 2016

The German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) via FNR (Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e.V.), BMEL’s central project-coordinating agency in the area of renewable resources, is funding a 3-year study of oxymethylene ethers (OME) as clean diesel fuels with €800,000 (US$894,000).

Oxymethylene ethers (OME) are synthetic compounds of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen (CH3O(CH2O)nCH3). Due to their high oxygen concentration, they suppress pollutant formation in combustion. As diesel fuels, they reduce the emission of carbon black and NOx. Ford is currently leading a €3.5-million (US$3.9-million) research project, co-funded with the German government, to test cars running on monooxymethylene ether (OME1) and DME. (Earlier post.)

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Mercedes-Benz introducing new diesel family in E 220 d this spring; new OM 654 with 13% lower fuel consumption; diesel “indispensable”

Mercedes-Benz is introducing a new family of diesel engines, starting with the new all-aluminum four-cylinder OM 654, which will make its world premiere in the new E-Class E 220 d in spring 2016.

The modular family of engines will find broad application across the entire range of Mercedes-Benz cars and vans. There are plans for several output variants as well as longitudinal and transverse installation in vehicles with front-, rear- and all-wheel drive.

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New SwRI consortium to target advances in gasoline and diesel engine aluminum cylinder head designs

February 09, 2016

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) announced the formation of a new consortium in partnership with leading castings solutions provider Grainger & Worrall (G&W) to advance automotive cylinder head designs. The Aluminum Head Evaluation, Analysis, and Durability (AHEAD) consortium seeks to reduce the weight while improving the durability of aluminum cylinder heads—an increasingly important need as materials and components are pushed to their limits in modern engines.

Initially, AHEAD will target advances for aluminum cylinder heads used in both gasoline and diesel engines, such as casting processes, structural design, measurement and prediction of residual stresses, and aluminum alloy materials that resist high-temperatures. More advanced projects could include new alloy development, cylinder head transient analysis, materials characterization, and others.

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U Toronto study measures GDI emissions in urban near-road environment

February 05, 2016

A study of emissions from gasoline direct injection (GDI) vehicles in an urban near-road environment in Toronto over a wide range of weather conditions (February 2014 to January 2015) found that—other than for NOx and CO—the GDI engines had elevated emissions compared to the Toronto fleet.

In four campaigns over the year-long study, the team from the University of Toronto measured emissions 15 meters from the roadway, then converted the measurements to fuel-based emission factors (EFs). BC (black carbon) EFs were in the 73rd percentile; BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene-xylenes) EFs were in the 80–90th percentile; and size-resolved PN (particle number) EFs were in the 75th percentile during wintertime measurements.

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Study shows viability of RCCI in a two-stroke engine; higher efficiency than direct-injection spark ignition

A team at the Engine Research Center (ERC), University of Wisconsin-Madison has demonstrated the viability of reactivity-controlled compression ignition (RCCI) in a two-stroke engine. (Earlier post.) A paper on their work is published in Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part D: Journal of Automobile Engineering.

RCCI is a dual-fuel combustion technology developed by Dr. Rolf Reitz and colleagues at the ERC. RCCI, a variant of Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI), provides more control over the combustion process and has been shown to have the potential to lower fuel use and emissions significantly. The RCCI process uses in-cylinder fuel blending with at least two fuels of different reactivity and multiple injections to control in-cylinder fuel reactivity to optimize combustion phasing, duration and magnitude.

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Federal-Mogul Powertrain cuts engine valve development time using new simulation model

January 28, 2016

Federal-Mogul Powertrain has developed a simplified transient dynamic simulation model of valve closing action in order to predict dynamic loading on engine valves. By improving the accuracy of calculated deformation and stress under load, the technique enables valve fatigue life to be estimated more reliably and helps to ensure optimum material selection from the early stages of a new engine design.

In the design of intake and exhaust valves for combustion engines, especially those with a high degree of forced induction by supercharging or turbocharging, particular attention is paid to the loading conditions during valve closing.

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New Porsche Boxsters up to 13% more fuel efficient with new turbocharged four-cylinder flat engines

January 27, 2016

Porsche has restructured its Boxster mid-engine roadster lineup, introducing the new 718 Boxster and 718 Boxster S. The launch of the new 718 Boxster generation represents the first time since the late 1960s that Porsche is implementing sports cars with four-cylinder flat (i.e., horizontally opposed, or “boxer”) engines. The outgoing Boxsters were equipped with 2.7-liter, 6-cylinder boxer engines.

The centerpiece of the new model series is the newly developed four-cylinder flat engine with turbocharging. The 718 Boxster develops 220 kW (300 hp) of power from 2.0 liters of engine displacement, while the 718 Boxster S attains 257 kW (350 hp) from 2.5 liters of displacement.

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Hyundai introduces 2017 Elantra with two new powertrains; up to 35 mpg combined with new 1.4L TGDI

January 26, 2016

Hyundai’s all-new 2017 Hyundai Elantra arrives in dealerships this month, featuring two new, more efficient powertrains; lower weight; improved stiffness, and a number of safety and connectivity technologies. Elantra is one of Hyundai’s all-time best-selling models; the 2017 version starts at $17,150—$100 less than the award-winning model it replaces.

The standard engine available on the base SE and Limited trim is a 2.0-liter Nu MPI (multi-port injection) Atkinson four-cylinder engine producing a peak 147 hp (110 kW) at 6,200 rpm and 132 lb-ft (179 N·m of torque at 4,500 rpm.

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New BMW Brilliance engine plant with light metal foundry in China; high-voltage battery production to come

January 22, 2016

BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) opened a new engine plant with a light metal foundry in Shenyang today. The new location will produce the latest generation of the BMW TwinPower Turbo three and four-cylinder gasoline engines and forms part of the BBA production network based in Shenyang in Northeastern China.

In addition to combustion engines, the new engine plant will also produce high-voltage batteries for future Plug-in Hybrid models. As with engine assembly, this project will entail close cooperation between BBA and the BMW Group to ensure knowledge transfer from high-voltage battery production in Germany.

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DOE announces $58M in funding for advanced vehicle technologies

January 21, 2016

US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz used the Washington DC Auto show as the venue to announce $58 million in funding for vehicle technology advancements. (Earlier post.) (DE-FOA-0001384: Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Vehicle Technologies Program Wide Funding Opportunity Announcement) DOE also released a report highlighting the successes of itsAdvanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program.

Pre-announced in December, a $55-million funding opportunity will solicit projects across vehicle technologies such as energy storage, electric drive systems, materials, fuels and lubricants and advanced combustion. Secretary Moniz also announced that two innovative projects at CALSTART and the National Association of Regional Councils will receive $3 million to develop systems that help companies combine their purchasing of advanced vehicles, components, and infrastructure to reduce incremental cost and achieve economies of scale.

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Ricardo and GTI partner on new lower-emissions medium- and heavy-duty natural gas engine technologies for California

January 20, 2016

Ricardo will partner with Gas Technology Institute (GTI) on two major contracts to enable natural gas engines to provide a viable, fuel-efficient, and less polluting alternative to diesel power for medium and heavy-duty commercial vehicles on the highways of California.

Despite California’s substantial progress in reducing emissions from heavy-duty trucks and other mobile sources, diesel trucks remain major contributors to statewide emissions of NOx, greenhouse gases (GHG), and diesel particulate matter (PM). By 2031, the South Coast Basin will exceed mandatory air quality standards unless NOx emissions are reduced 90% compared with today.

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Driving Chevrolet’s 2015 Impala Bi-Fuel sedan

January 19, 2016

Chevrolet offers the 2015 Impala full-size sedan as an all-new bi-fuel model—the only manufacturer-produced full-size sedan in North America that can run on both compressed natural gas (CNG) and gasoline. Available at the end of 2015 to both fleet and retail customers in either LS or LT trims, the bi-fuel Impala features a dedicated version of the standard 3.6L V–6, with specific valves and hardened valve seats for improved wear resistance and durability with the CNG fuel system. The engine, mated to a six-speed automatic, is rated at an estimated 260 hp (195 kW) on gasoline and 230 horsepower (172 kW) on CNG.

EPA figures put combined fuel economy in gasoline mode at 20 mpg combined (17 mpg city/25 mpg highway), and 19 mpg combined (16 mpg city/24 mpg highway) with natural gas. That works out to 437 grams CO2 per mile with gasoline, and 343 g CO2/mile with natural gas.

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ORNL team reviews fuel-injection strategies for low-temperature gasoline compression ignition

January 18, 2016

The potential for using low temperature combustion (LTC) in compression ignition engines (i.e., diesel) to reduce NOx and PM while maintaining high efficiency has attracted a great deal of research interest over the past several years. While achieving LTC with diesel fuel over a wide operating range has been shown to be difficult for several reasons, gasoline, with its high volatility and low chemical reactivity, offers a more attractive fuel option for LTC.

Accordingly, in the industry’s quest for lower fuel consumption and emissions, a number of schemes for achieving LTC gasoline compression ignition have emerged. Now, a team of researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s National Transportation Research Center (NTRC) has published a comprehensive, open-access review of a variety of fuel injection strategies being investigated for LTCGCI. The paper is available for download from the International Journal of Engine Research.

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California ARB rejects VW 2-liter diesel recall plan and issues Notice of Violation

January 12, 2016

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) is rejecting VW’s submitted recall plan for 2-liter diesel passenger vehicles sold in California between 2009 and 2015 which were sold with the software defeat devices. It also notified VW of violations of California air quality regulations associated with the company’s use of a defeat device in those cars.

This rejection only applies to VW’s diesel 2.0L vehicles, not 3.0L vehicles. The submission of the recall plan for 3.0L vehicles is due to ARB on 2 February 2016. ARB made public three separate official documents related to its actions: A transmittal letter signed by Executive Officer Richard W. Corey; the rejection of VW’s submitted recall plan; and the formal Notice of Violation. ARB said that VW’s recall plan fell short in a number of areas, including:

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HRL Labs team develops 3D printing process for ceramics; propulsion components, microelectromechanical systems and more

January 01, 2016

Researchers at HRL Laboratories have achieved a new milestone in 3D printing technology by developing a process that overcomes the limits of traditional ceramic parts and enables the development of high temperature, high strength ceramic components. Because ceramics cannot be cast or machined easily, three-dimensional (3D) printing enables a big leap in geometrical flexibility. A paper on their work is published in the journal Science.

The extremely high melting point of many ceramics makes them challenging for additive manufacturing as compared with metals or polymers. The HRL team developed pre-ceramic monomers that are cured with ultraviolet light in a stereolithography 3D printer or through a patterned mask, forming 3D polymer structures that can have complex shape and cellular architecture.

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Dalian team proposes jet controlled compression ignition to control PCCI phasing in a hybrid pneumatic engine

December 30, 2015

Researchers at the Dalian University of Technology have proposed a novel method to control premixed charge compression ignition (PCCI) phasing in internal combustion engines in all load operations. High-pressure air jet controlled compression ignition (JCCI) is based on a compound thermodynamic cycle and is implemented in a hybrid pneumatic engine (HPE) as proposed by Schechter in 1999.

The application of HPE is also beneficial to the fuel consumption and emissions because of its several flexible operation modes. A paper on the use of JCCI is published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.

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DOE to issue $56M funding opportunity for vehicle technologies in January

December 20, 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) will issue, on behalf of the Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO), a FY 2016 Vehicle Technologies Program Wide Funding Opportunity Announcement, with an estimated $56 million of total program funding, in the January 2016 timeframe.

VTO supports a broad technology portfolio aimed at developing and deploying advanced highway transportation technologies that reduce petroleum consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, while meeting or exceeding vehicle performance and cost expectations. Research, development, and deployment efforts are focused on reducing the cost and improving the performance of a mix of near- and long-term vehicle technologies including advanced batteries, power electronics and electric motors, lightweight and propulsion materials, advanced combustion engines, advanced fuels and lubricants, and other enabling technologies. The January 2016 FOA thus may include the following Areas of Interest, covering that spectrum of interests:

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EPS advancing diesel engine for general aviation applications; 30-50% lower fuel consumption than gasoline

December 19, 2015

Engineered Propulsion Systems (EPS) has developed and is advancing a 4.3-liter, 8-cylinder diesel engine for general aviation (GA) applications. Based on a CGI (compacted graphite iron) cylinder block, the Graflight V-8 (formerly called the Vision 350, earlier post) will enable 30-50% lower fuel consumption and emissions compared to conventional aero engines, according to the company.

As an example, EPS suggests that a Cirrus SR22 (a single-engine four- or five-seat composite aircraft) fitted with the Graflight V-8 could carry the equivalent of two additional passengers flying the same distance as with a Continental gasoline 315 horsepower engine while still realizing a 40% reduction in fuel cost. Engine and flight tests are currently underway and EPS expects Federal Aviation Authority approvals during 2017.

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Infiniti introducing new advanced 3.0L V6 twin-turbo engines for 2016 Q50; up to 6.7% improvement in fuel efficiency

December 18, 2015

Infiniti has developed a new advanced compact and lightweight 3.0-liter V6 twin-turbo engine which is making its debut in a 400 hp configuration for the new 2016 Infiniti Q50, which will premiere at the North American International Auto Show in January.

Key engine features include a compact, lightweight aluminum-alloy engine block and cylinder heads; Gasoline Direct Injection (DIG) system; optimized turbine blade design; turbine speed sensor; electronic wastegate actuator; water-cooled engine charging; e-motor valve timing control; and an integrated exhaust manifold.

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DOE BETO seeking input on Optima initiative for co-optimization of fuels and engines

December 17, 2015

The US Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) have released a request for information (RFI) (DE-FOA-0001460) titled “Co-Optimization of Fuels and Engines” (Optima).

The Optima program is a key collaborative initiative being pursued by EERE, VTO, and BETO. The Optima initiative is focused on the development of new fuels and engine architectures that are co-optimized—i.e., designed in tandem to maximize performance and carbon efficiency. (Earlier post.) The initiative intends to accelerate the widespread deployment of significantly improved fuels and vehicles (passenger to light truck to heavy duty commercial vehicles) by 2030. Specifically, Optima is targeting a reduction in per-vehicle petroleum consumption by 30% versus the 2030 business as usual.

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Achates OPGCI project targeting 50% fuel efficiency gains over downsized GDI engine at reduced cost

Achates Power will work with Delphi Automotive and Argonne National Laboratory on its ARPA-E-funded project to develop an innovative opposed-piston, gasoline compression ignition (OPGCI) engine. (Earlier post.) The engine should yield fuel efficiency gains of more than 50% compared to a downsized, turbo-charged gasoline direct injection engine, while reducing the overall cost of the powertrain system, said Fabien Redon, Vice President, Technology Development at Achates Power.

ARPA-E will provide initial funding of $9 million to this project over three years; Achates Power, Argonne and Delphi expect to spend a total of $13 million on the program, including cost share. The $9-million award is “one of the largest single ARPA-E awards ever made,” noted Chris Atkinson, the ARPA-E program manager for the Achates project.

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German KBA ratifies fixes for Volkswagen 1.2, 1.6 and 2.0L diesels; implementation begins in January

After a review, the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) has fully ratified the measures proposed by Volkswagen to address the NOx emissions issues in Europe for the 1.2-liter EA189 diesels as well as the 1.6- and 2.0-liter versions. (Earlier post.) The vehicle owners will shortly be informed about the next steps. Volkswagen will begin implementation right at the start of 2016.

The 1.2-liter and 2.0-liter engines will get a software update. Labor time will be just under half an hour. The 1.6-liter engines will also get a software update. In addition, a “flow rectifier” will be fitted in front of the air mass sensor. The labor time for implementing these measures will be less than an hour.

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SwRI-led AC2AT consortium launches second year of advanced emissions research with focus on improving aftertreatment and fuel efficiency strategies

The Advanced Combustion Catalyst and Aftertreatment Technologies (AC2AT) consortium, led by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), will focus on four research projects in its second year. (Earlier post.)

During the first year of work, the consortium made progress in its understanding of the complex nature of emissions from today’s high-performance, high-efficiency gasoline and diesel engines, said Dr. Cary Henry, a manager in SwRI’s Engine, Emissions, and Vehicle Research Division who leads the AC2AT consortium. This year’s focus will be on specific projects to improve aftertreatment and fuel efficiency strategies for these engines.

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Opel to begin publishing WLTP fuel consumption numbers in Q2 2016; improving SCR for NOx reductions

December 15, 2015

Beginning in Q2 2016, and in addition to the official fuel consumption and CO2 information, Opel will start publishing fuel consumption numbers recorded under the WLTP cycle, starting with the new Astra.

In addition, Opel’s diesel engineers have recently started working on an initiative to implement NOx emission improvements on SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) diesel applications. This is a voluntary and early improvement towards the RDE (Real Driving Emissions) legislation that goes into effect in Europe in 2017. Opel said it is committed to providing the testing authorities transparency.

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Study quantifies impact of fuel composition on PM emissions from gasoline direct injection engines

December 14, 2015

Researchers from Tsinghua University and Peking University have investigated the effects of fuel properties on particulate emissions gasoline direct injection engines (GDI). The study results, reported in the journal Fuel, demonstrated that the fuel composition has a significant on particulate emissions from GDI engines.

Although turbocharged GDI engines offer the attractive combination of both increased fuel efficiency and performance due to their higher volumetric efficiencies at high load, they also tend to produce more PM than PFI engines, with PM mass levels exceeding those of diesels equipped with diesel particulate filters, as well as conventional port-fuel injected vehicles. (Storey et al., 2014).

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Torotrak introduces new technologies to enhance V-Charge variable supercharger

Torotrak Group presented new technologies for low-cost, high efficiency drive systems at the Berlin CTI symposium and exposition. These developments will allow Torotrak’s V-Charge variable supercharging technology (earlier post) to compete with the latest boosting solutions coming to market, but without their integration challenges.

In a technical paper titled, “Low-cost developments in full-toroidal variator technology”, Chris Gaskell, one of the design engineers responsible for new concepts and intellectual property for the Torotrak Group, introduced and described two new proprietary technologies, called PitchSteer and DriveDisconnect.

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Volkswagen AG provides details on investigations into NOx cheating; origin and fixes; new strategic direction

December 10, 2015

At a press conference in Germany today, Volkswagen Group executives provided details on the status of its investigation—which is being coordinated by a special committee of the Supervisory Board—into the diesel emissions debacle. (Earlier post.)

Approximately 450 internal and external experts are involved in the investigations, which are being conducted in two phases. An internal review, being conducted by a task force of experts from various Group companies with a clearly defined mandate and a deadline, is focused on the mandate to Group Audit by the Supervisory Board and the Management Board to investigate relevant processes, reporting and monitoring systems, and the associated infrastructure.

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U Wisconsin team investigates RCCI and GCI in single engine using adaptive dual-fuel injector

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have investigated blending the benefits of reactivity controlled compression ignition (RCCI) and gasoline compression ignition (GCI) using QuantLogic’s novel adaptive dual-fuel injector which is capable of direct injecting both gasoline and diesel fuel in a single cycle.

Working with Deyang Hou, the founder of injection technology company QuantLogic, they reported on the computational optimizations of RCCI and GCI in a paper in the International Journal of Engine Research.

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Volkswagen: CO2 “irregularities” issue largely concluded; no unlawful changes

December 09, 2015

In early November, the Volkswagen Group announced that during the course of its internal investigation into the diesel emission cheating issue, it had uncovered “irregularities” when determining type-approval CO2 levels. (Earlier post.) Some 800,000 vehicles in Europe could be affected, the company said.

Today, Volkswagen announced that, “following extensive internal investigations and measurement checks,” almost all of those model variants do correspond to the CO2 figures originally determined.

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Westport and GTI awarded $900,000 to advance natural gas combustion technology; ESI with high frequency corona discharge ignition

Westport Innovations Inc., together with the Gas Technology Institute (GTI), has been awarded US$900,000 towards a program to advance state-of-the-art natural gas combustion technology. The work will feature Westport’s enhanced spark ignited (ESI) natural gas engine technology (earlier post) with the integration and demonstration of high frequency corona discharge ignition on an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partner’s engine. The engine has a displacement of between 1 and 1.5 liters per cylinder and is targeted at medium-duty commercial vehicle applications.

Using 100% dedicated natural gas as fuel, Westport’s ESI technology optimizes the combustion and thermal efficiencies of the engine by taking full advantage of the ultra-high octane performance fuel properties of natural gas. The technology enables a “downsized” natural gas solution that is cost-competitive while providing similar levels of power, torque, and fuel economy to a larger diesel engine.

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Argonne study shows high-energy X-rays give industry affordable way to optimize cast iron

December 08, 2015

Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory, in partnership with Caterpillar, have used high-energy synchrotron X-ray tomography to perform quantitative 3D-characterization of the distribution of graphite particles in high-strength compacted graphite iron (CGI). The size and morphology of graphite particles play a crucial role in determining various mechanical and thermal properties of cast iron.

The study results, published in Scripta Materialia showed that high-energy X-ray tomography can reveal previously unknown behaviors of graphite in cast iron, such as the growth of nodules, as it undergoes various treatments.

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Researchers develop alkali- and sulfur-resistant tungsten-based catalysts for SCR NOx control

December 07, 2015

Researchers at Fudan University, with colleagues at the University of Jinan and Chongqing University, have developed alkali- and sulfur-resistant tungsten-based catalysts for SCR NOx emissions control. A paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Alkali metals and sulfur oxides are two kinds of the well-known poisons of catalysts used in the selective catalytic reduction (SCR) of NOx with NH3 from both stationary and mobile sources. At the 2015 AIChE Annual Meeting in Houston last month, Yasser Jangjou and William Epling presented a paper on sulfur poisoning of the SCR reaction, noting that sulfur is a common automotive catalyst poison even for the newer metal-exchanged small pore zeolite selective catalytic reduction (SCR) catalysts.

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ICCT-led test of 73 Euro 6 diesels finds large difference in NOx results under NEDC and more realistic WLTC

December 02, 2015

A team from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) with colleagues from the US, China and Germany tested 73 Euro 6 diesel passenger cars on a chassis dynamometer over both the European type-approval cycle (NEDC, cold engine start) and the more realistic Worldwide harmonized light-duty test cycle (WLTC version 2.0, hot start) between 2012 and 2015. The cars featured three different types of NOx control technologies (8 EGR only, 40 LNT, and 25 SCR).

In a paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, they reported that while most vehicles met the Euro 6 legislative limit of 0.08 g/km of NOx over NEDC, the average emission factors rose significantly over WLTC. The findings, the team said, illustrate how diesel NOx emissions are not properly controlled under the current, NEDC-based homologation framework.

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ARPA-E awards U-M $1.9M to develop advanced low-cost high-efficiency engine; boosting, highly dilute combustion and 48V system

December 01, 2015

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) will award approximately $1.9 million to a project to develop a high-efficiency engine system that integrates a compact micro-hybrid configuration of a supercharger with an electric waste heat recovery system and employs high rates of recirculated exhaust gases.

When combined with a sophisticated control strategy, this approach provides a solution for suboptimal engine breathing that is typical of transient engine operation. The performance is projected to match that of a naturally aspirated engine and have a 20% increase in fuel efficiency compared to a turbocharged downsized engine, at a cost that is half that of a mild-hybrid system.

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Dearman begins on-vehicle testing of Gen 2 transport refrigeration system powered by liquid air engine; lighter, more efficient

November 28, 2015

Dearman has begun on-vehicle testing of the Generation 2 zero-emission transport refrigeration system. The system is powered by an innovative, liquid nitrogen Dearman engine, which replaces the standard diesel engine. (Earlier post.) As a result, the Dearman system is zero-emission, producing no harmful NOx or particulates, and it helps to significantly reduce CO2 emissions.

Dearman began testing a Generation 1 transport refrigeration system on a truck in early 2015. Since then the Dearman engine has been re-designed and it is already proving to be 30% lighter, 30% smaller, and 30% more efficient than its predecessor.

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VW’s relatively simple technical fixes for cheating 1.6 and 2.0L diesels accepted by KBA; 1.2L fix coming by end of month

November 25, 2015

The Volkswagen Group has proposed the specific technical fixes for the non-compliant 1.6-liter and 2.0-liter diesel EA 189 engines equipped with the software defeat device resulting in excessive NOxemissions to the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (Kraftfahrtbundesamt, KBA). Following an examination, these measures have been ratified by the KBA. (The remedies announced by Volkswagen AG apply only to affected TDI vehicles in Europe, and not to affected TDI vehicles in the United States and Canada.)

For the 1.6-liter diesel, a “flow transformer” will be fitted directly in front of the air mass sensor. This mesh will calm the swirled air flow in front of the air mass sensor and thus improving the measuring accuracy of the air mass sensor. The air mass sensor determines the current air mass throughput—a very important parameter for the engine management for an optimum combustion process.

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DUH charges that Renault Espace diesel emits 13-25 times Euro 6 NOx limit; Renault disputes

The 1.6-liter Renault Espace diesel is the latest vehicle to come in the emissions crosshairs of German environmental NGO Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH). DUH published results of emissions testing by the University of Bern showing that NOx emissions from New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) driven tests with a warm engine exceed the applicable limit for Euro 6 vehicles 13- to 25-fold.

Renault immediately issued a statement disputing the Umwelthilfe findings, and asserted that Espace complies with applicable regulations, just as do all Renault vehicles.

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Achates Power wins $9M from ARPA-E to develop gasoline compression ignition medium-duty multi-cylinder opposed-piston engine

November 24, 2015

Achates Power, the developer of a family of two-stroke compression-ignition opposed-piston engines (earlier post), has been selected by APRA-E under its OPEN 2015 solicitation (earlier post) for an award of more than $9 million to develop a multi-cylinder opposed piston engine operating with compression ignition that uses gasoline as the fuel.

The unthrottled nature of the compression ignition process provides high engine efficiency while achieving compliant exhaust emissions with conventional, low-cost aftertreatment. This—in addition to the opposed engine architecture—could increase fuel efficiency by 40-50% over the comparable spark-ignited gasoline engine, Achates said.

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Audi to revise auxiliary emission control devices for US V6 TDI 3L diesel, resubmit to EPA and ARB; mid-double-digit million euro cost

November 23, 2015

Audi will revise, document in detail, and resubmit for US approval certain parameters of the engine-management software used in the US version of the V6 TDI 3 liter diesel engine.

The action plan is the result of the discussions held between a delegation from Audi AG and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in response to the 2 November EPA notice of violation (NOV) in which Audi was informed that AECDs (Auxiliary Emission Control Devices) were not sufficiently described and declared in the application for US type approval. That will now be done with the updated software and the documentation. (Earlier post.)

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KIT researchers developing low-pressure carbonitriding process for hardening steel with methylamine; applications in downsized engines

A team at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is developing a new low-pressure process for hardening steel using methylamine. The new low-pressure carbonitriding (enriching low-alloy steels with carbon and nitrogen) process saves time and process gas. Steels hardened in this way are suited for use in components subjected to high mechanical and thermal loads in downsized, energy-efficient and low-emission engines of the future.

The KIT researchers, along with their colleagues at Bosch, presented the process in a recent paper published in HTM - Journal of Heat Treatment and Materials.

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Volkswagen submits recall plan for 2-liter diesel cars to California Air Resources Board; ARB to respond

November 21, 2015

The Volkswagen Group of America (VW) submitted a recall plan to the California Air Resources Board (ARB) on Friday, responding to the violations described in ARB’s 18 September 2015 letter to VW concerning illegal defeat devices in 2-liter diesel-powered vehicles, model years 2009-2015. (Earlier post.)

The submission of the plan triggers a review by ARB of up to 20 business days of all elements of the plan. Based on ARB’s review, VW may be required to revise and resubmit all, or specific elements of the recall plan. ARB will also consult with US EPA during this process to develop a national recall plan.

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Elio introduces Gen5 three-wheeler prototype at LA Auto Show

November 20, 2015

Elio Motors introduced its three-wheeled P5 fifth-generation prototype at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The company is targeting a launch date of late 2016 for the enclosed vehicle that is expected to deliver to 84 mpg and retail for a targeted base price of $6,800.

The P5 is the company’s first prototype to feature the 0.9-liter, 3-cylinder 60 hp (45 kW) engine designed specifically for Elio Motors by engine developer IAV. (Earlier post.)

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New Ford Escape launching with two new EcoBoost engines with standard Auto Start-Stop

November 17, 2015

The new Ford Escape, being showcased at the Los Angeles Auto Show, is the first Ford vehicle to make Auto Start-Stop standard with either of two EcoBoost engines new to the model—a 1.5-liter and 2.0-liter twin-scroll.

The start-stop technology senses when the vehicle is sitting idle and shuts off the engine to conserve fuel, resulting in a 4 percent to 6 percent improvement in fuel economy in stop-and-go traffic. The engine restarts automatically—in less than half a second—when the driver releases the brake pedal.

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Kia outlines 5-year plan for more green vehicles; Optima PHEV, Niro hybrid, FCV; $10.2B investment

November 16, 2015

Kia Motors outlined its mid- to long-term plans for the development of a greatly increased range of environmentally friendly vehicles, with the goal of becoming a leader in the low-emissions car market by 2020. Kia said it intends to expand its green car line-up from four current models to 11 by 2020, including hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery-electric and fuel cell electric vehicles.

The five-year development plan will see Kia further increase its investment in research and development (R&D) into fuel-efficient technologies and new products, with a range of all-new models and highly advanced powertrains for global markets.

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DOE releases SBIR/STTR FY16 Phase 1 Release 2 topics; hydrogen, electric vehicles, more efficient combustion engines; biogas-to-fuels

The US Department of Energy has announced the 2016 Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Phase I Release 2 Topics, covering eight DOE research program organizations.

Among the many topics listed are magnetocaloric materials development for hydrogen delivery; two hydrogen technology transfer opportunities (TTO); EV traction batteries and power electronics; new combustion engine technologies; and the co-utilization of CO2 and methane in biogas to produce higher hydrocarbon fuels. DOE plans to issue the full Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) on 30 November 2015.

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VW: 430,046 MY 2016 vehicles in Europe affected by “CO2 issue”

November 14, 2015

On 3 November, Volkswagen AG announced that during the course of its internal investigation into the diesel emission cheating issue, it had uncovered “irregularities” when determining type-approval CO2 levels, affecting around 800,000 vehicles from the Group. (Earlier post.)

Volkswagen AG has now announced that of those affected vehicles, 430,046 units are MY 2016 vehicles from the Volkswagen (281,617 units, 65.5%); Škoda (83,262 units, 19.4%); SEAT (32,161 units, 7.5%); VW Commercial (17,253 units, 4%); and Audi (15,733 units, 3.7%) brands.

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Aramco opens R&D center in Detroit area; fuels research with focus on novel fuels/engines systems for reduced CO2

The Aramco Research Center-Detroit was inaugurated as one of three US-based research and development (R&D) centers aimed at expanding the global research capabilities of Saudi Aramco, the leading global integrated energy and chemicals company. The new facility, located in Novi, Mich., and owned and operated by US subsidiary Aramco Services Company, further strengthens the company’s global fuels research program.

Aramco’s fuels technology program is focused on reducing the overall environmental impact, cost and complexity of both current and future fuel-engine systems. With a global refining presence, Aramco brings a perspective into how fuels can be designed and matched to engines for higher performance and lower emissions. A planned outcome of Aramco’s research is to generate vehicle and fleet demonstrations to showcase the benefits of novel fuel/engine systems.

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Chevy Colorado diesel pickup EPA-rated at up to 31 mpg highway

November 12, 2015

The 2016 Chevrolet Colorado two-wheel drive with the Duramax turbo-diesel (earlier post) will be the most fuel efficient pickup in the US, offering an Environmental Protection Agency-estimated 31 mpg (7.58 l/100 km) highway fuel economy. The EPA-estimated highway fuel economy for 2016 Colorado four-wheel drive diesel is 29 mpg.

The EPA has issued a Certificate of Conformity for the Chevrolet Colorado Duramax diesel. The agency expressed no issues or concerns following its recent extensive testing and evaluation of the emission control system on the Colorado Duramax diesel.

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