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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.]

INL analysis of 5 large-scale PEV and charging projects finds public charging infrastructure not needed everywhere to enable PEV adoption

October 01, 2015

Idaho National Laboratory has released the voluminous findings from its analysis of five large-scale PEV and charging infrastructure projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Collectively, these projects represent the largest-ever deployment, data collection and analysis, and reporting of PEV and charging infrastructure petroleum reduction benefits. The results will be used to support and refine activities of the US Department of Energy’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge.

The key finding of INL’s assessment of the results was that public charging infrastructure is not needed everywhere to enable PEV adoption. Instead, the results suggest that charging infrastructure should be focused at homes, workplaces and public “hot spots” that serve multiple venues.

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$70M H2ME project launches in Europe to deploy 325 fuel cell vehicles and 29 refueling stations

September 24, 2015

A large coalition of European partners has launched the €63-million (US$70-million) project Hydrogen Mobility Europe (H2ME). H2ME is co-funded with €32 million (US$36 million) from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU). The project will support the deployment of 325 Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs), including 125 fuel-cell range-extended electric vans, and 29 Hydrogen Refueling Stations (HRS) across Europe.

Together with the project HyFive, which started last year, H2ME complements the pre-existing plans for more than 50 stations, and will create a European network of at least 85 stations (the largest in the world).

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TTI/INRIX study shows US traffic congestion back at pre-recession levels; average travel delay/commuter 2x that in 1982

August 27, 2015

A new report produced by INRIX and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) shows that traffic congestion in the US has returned to pre-recession levels. Washington, D.C. tops the list of gridlock-plagued cities, with 82 hours of delay per commuter, followed by Los Angeles (80 hours), San Francisco (78 hours), New York (74 hours), and San Jose (67 hours).

According to the 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard, travel delays due to traffic congestion caused drivers to waste more than 3 billion gallons of fuel and kept travelers stuck in their cars for nearly 7 billion extra hours—42 hours per rush-hour commuter. The total nationwide price tag: $160 billion, or $960 per commuter. Other top-level findings include:

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Clean Energy to build new CNG stations for multiple transit agencies and large school district; agreements with trucking, refuse and others

August 26, 2015

Clean Energy Fuels Corp. will construct new compressed natural gas (CNG) stations for Arlington Transit (ART) in Arlington County, Virginia; Nassau Inter-County Express (NICE) in Long Island, NY; and North Kansas City (MO) School District, which is set to become the largest school district in the US to transition its school bus fleet to CNG. The company also announced additional agreements across transportation market segments of transit, refuse, trucking and the bulk fuel market.

Transit. NICE has awarded Clean Energy the contract to design, build and operate and maintain a new CNG station that will, upon completion, replace its existing Mitchel Field station, and operate and maintain the existing CNG stations. The five-year contract valued at just over $13 million will extend the partnership between NICE and Clean Energy and will support a fleet of over 200 CNG buses. Clean Energy currently supports another 100 CNG buses at an additional station and provides a total of 4.6 million GGEs of CNG annually for the NICE bus fleet. Completion of the new station is expected for summer 2017.

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BMW launches BMW i ChargeForward pilot in SF Bay Area

August 04, 2015

The BMW Group Technology Office, together with Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), have launched an 18-month pilot of the BMW i ChargeForward Program in the San Francisco Bay Area. The program is now issuing calls to participating BMW i3 drivers in the Bay Area to request the interruption of the charging of their EVs for one hour.

Working with a group of nearly 100 BMW i3 drivers, selected from approximately 400 applicants, BMW i ChargeForward will demonstrate how intelligent management of electric vehicle charging can contribute to optimizing electric power grid efficiency while reducing total cost of electric vehicle ownership. The study has two parts: (1) a managed charge pilot program involving BMW i3 owners; and (2) a battery second-life energy storage system.

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Qualcomm and BRUSA sign commercial wireless electric vehicle charging license agreement

July 29, 2015

BRUSA Elektronik AG, an automotive Tier 1 power electronics supplier, has licensed Qualcomm Incorporated’s Halo (earlier post) patented inventions to commercialize Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC) systems for Plug-In Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (EVs). Under the terms of the agreement, Qualcomm granted to BRUSA a royalty-bearing patent license to develop, make and supply WEVC systems for certain automobile manufacturers.

BRUSA, which has been working on its own Inductive Charging System (ICS) for wireless power transfer (WPT), developed its own coil geometry: FRAME technology. The coil is rectangular and enables inductive charging of electric vehicles with the integration of power electronics both in the vehicle and in the base plate, enabling a one-box system.

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Sandia Labs partnering with Red and White Fleet to develop high-speed H2 fuel cell passenger ferry and world’s largest H2 refueling station

July 28, 2015

Sandia National Laboratories and San Francisco’s Red and White Fleet are partnering in a project—SF-BREEZE (San Francisco Bay Renewable Energy Electric vessel with Zero Emissions)—to develop a high-speed, hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered passenger ferry and refueling station. The hydrogen refueling station is planned to be the largest in the world and serve fuel cell electric cars, buses and fleet vehicles in addition to the ferry and other maritime vehicles.

The US Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) is funding a feasibility study to examine the technical, regulatory and economic aspects of the project. The outcome of the feasibility study will be a “Go/No-Go” recommendation to proceed with the actual design and build of the ferry and hydrogen station.

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BMW brings Enlighten real-time signals app into car

July 27, 2015

The BMW Group is the first manufacturer to bring the EnLighten App, by Connected Signals, into the car. Drivers of BMW Vehicles with iOS Devices will be able to see traffic signal data on the vehicle’s display in real time. The EnLighten app makes driving in cities easier by helping the driver anticipate traffic signal changes, which can increase safety and help save fuel by avoiding unnecessary acceleration.

The EnLighten app shows the current status of the traffic light in front of the car in real time as well as a countdown to when the signal will change. Based on the current vehicle position, as well as its speed, the EnLighten app offers a recommendation about whether or not to stop for the traffic light or proceed through. An audio alert notifies the driver about a pending change in the signal they are approaching.

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Researchers show use of MFRE can at least double wireless power transfer efficiency; more efficient than metamaterials

July 23, 2015

Researchers at North Carolina State University and Carnegie Mellon University have shown that passing wireless power transfer through a magnetic resonance field enhancer (MR-FE)—which could be as simple as a copper loop—can at least double transfer efficiency as compared to transferring through air alone. MR-FE use could potentially boost transfer efficiency by as much as 5,000% in some systems, the researchers said.

Wireless power transfer works via magnetic coupling or inductive coupling, and can achieve very high efficiency when the distances between the transmitter and receiver are small—less than a few centimeters. In such a case, the transmitter and receiver are strongly coupled, with a high coupling coefficient (usually greater that 0.9). As distance increases, the strength of the coupling decreases. Enhancing wireless power transfer efficiency over greater distances—to support, for example, the wireless charging of electric vehicles—has thus been a major goal of many research groups.

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NIST calculates H2 pipeline can cost up to 68% more than nat gas pipeline; proposes code change to reduce cost

July 20, 2015

Pipelines to carry hydrogen cost more than other gas pipelines because of the measures required to combat the damage hydrogen does to steel’s mechanical properties (e.g., hydrogen embrittlement, HE) over time. Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have now calculated that hydrogen-specific steel pipelines can cost as much as 68% more than natural gas pipelines, depending on pipe diameter and operating pressure.[1] By contrast, a widely used cost model[2] suggests a cost penalty of only about 10%.

However, according to the new NIST study, hydrogen transport costs could be reduced for most pipeline sizes and pressures by modifying industry codes[3] to allow the use of a higher-strength grade of steel alloy without requiring thicker pipe walls.

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Total hydrogen station in Munich first to feature standard compressed H2 and BMW cryo-compressed H2 technology

July 16, 2015

Total has opened a hydrogen filling station on Munich’s Detmoldstraße. The station, which completes the European HyFIVE project’s South Cluster—comprising Stuttgart, Munich, Innsbruck and Bolsano—is the first public filling station at which the two pumps dispense hydrogen using two different types of refueling technology: industry-standard 700 bar CGH2 hydrogen storage technology (SAE J2601); and cryo-compressed hydrogen storage technology (CCH2).

Cryo-compressed hydrogen storage, being developed by the BMW Group based on its long experience with cryogenic storage, involves storing gaseous hydrogen at low temperature on board the vehicle at a pressure of up to 350 bar. It is currently at the advanced development stage and will only come on stream for general use over the longer time frame. CCH2 tanks offer up to 50% more hydrogen storage capacity than 700 bar tanks and can support a driving range of more than 500 kilometers (310 miles).

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ELIX Wireless introduces MDC-based 10kW wireless charging solution

July 15, 2015

ELIX Wireless introduced the E10K Wireless Charging System, a wireless charging solution that delivers a full 10kW of wireless power transfer. The E10K Wireless Charging System is based on ELIX Wireless’ patented Magneto-Dynamic Coupling (MDC) technology. MDC, developed at the University of British Columbia, is based on two rotating permanent magnets in transmitter and receiver, rather than resonant inductive technology. (Earlier post.) ELIX Wireless rolled out its initial product offering, the E1K Wireless Charging System, to customers in early 2015. The E10K Wireless Charging System is now commercially available to customers and partners.

Typical wireless charging solutions available in the market today are based on inductive technologies and deliver up to 7.7kW. To meet the demand for a faster, higher power wireless charging solution that can operate under extreme environmental conditions, ELIX Wireless developed the E10K Wireless Charging System. E10K “building blocks” can be combined together to create even higher power systems.

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Hyundai-Kia America and Mojo Mobility partnering on wireless fast-charging project

July 08, 2015

Hyundai-Kia America Technical Center, Inc., (HATCI) and Mojo Mobility, Inc., a wireless power technology company, have been awarded funding from the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Vehicle Technologies (VT) program to research and develop a system for wireless fast-charging an electric vehicle at up to a 19.2 kW power transfer rate. The two have already been partnering on a DOE-funded project on high-efficiency, low-EMI and positioning-tolerant wireless charging of EVs.

Mojo Mobility’s Near Field Power technology is able to meet charging power levels ranging from 1 W to 90 W and higher for mobile devices and up to 20 kW for electric vehicles. The wireless charging systems are capable of transferring their high power without need for precise alignment between the charger and the vehicle.

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China’s ZTE pushing ahead with high-power wireless charging vehicle test deployment

July 06, 2015

ZTE Corporation, China’s largest listed telecommunications equipment company, is developing high-power wireless charging systems and services for electric vehicles, with a focus on public charging infrastructure. At a China-US workshop on electric vehicle standardization held in June (earlier post), Academus Tian, VP of ZTE New Energy Vehicle Co., presented an overview of ZTE’s efforts in wireless power transfer (WPT).

Tian said that ZTE’s inductive charging WPT module has a potential capacity of up to 30 kW, with a gap of 20 cm and efficiency of up to 90%. The footprint of the device is less than 1 m2; frequency is 85 kHz. ZTE, which has aggressively partnered with a number of passenger and commercial vehicles makers over the past few years, has recently launched a series of commercial vehicle (bus) WPT trials.

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Toyota, Nissan and Honda agree on details of H2 station support in Japan

July 01, 2015

Toyota Motor Corporation, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., and Honda Motor Co., Ltd. have agreed on key details of their joint support project for the development of hydrogen station infrastructure in Japan. (Earlier post.) The joint project (conducted alongside the Japanese government’s support for hydrogen stations) will cover one-third of the hydrogen station operating expenses incurred by infrastructure companies, and was first announced on 12 February.

Annual financial support per station is limited to ¥11 million (US$89,000). (The annual limit is ¥13 million (US$106,000) where two or more mobile stations are operated.) The partners envision funding support until around 2020. 100 hydrogen stations will be constructed initially, with a gradual increase expected thereafter. The total value of the support is estimated at around ¥5-6 billion (US$41-$49 million).

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Automakers develop consensus list of priority locations for next 19 H2 fueling stations in California

June 16, 2015

The automaker OEM Advisory Group (OEM AG) of the California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP) has developed a consensus list of recommended station priority locations for the next 19 hydrogen stations to be built in California. The OEM AG members are American Honda, General Motors, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen.

The priority locations represent general geographic areas that the OEM AG suggests be considered by the California Air Resources Board (ARB), station developers and the California Energy Commission (CEC) in planning the next phase of hydrogen station network development in California. (Earlier post.) The automakers consider their recommendations as preliminary and expect to refine them further through subsequent analysis and further consultation with stakeholders prior to future solicitations.

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CA Energy Commission awards CSE $1.5M for development of standards-based smart EV charging platform; first employment of ISO/IEC 15118

June 12, 2015

The California Energy Commission has awarded a $1.5 million grant to the Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE) to lead development of an advanced management platform for integrating electric vehicle (EV) charging with utility-scale energy systems. CSE will work closely with KnGrid, a leader in vehicle-grid communications, to create a standardized platform that optimizes charging benefits for both grid operators and vehicle owners. The result will be the first data platform to employ the international ISO/IEC 15118 standard for flexibly managing vehicle charging with data from the power grid.

The project team will develop and implement the first standards-based smart charging platform, termed a “demand clearing house” (DCH) in the international ISO/IEC 15118 protocol (entitled “Road vehicles - Vehicle to grid communication interface”), that will consolidate real-time grid profiles from local utilities and energy market pricing from the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) with simultaneous charging of grid-connected EVs.

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1st major utility proposal for EV charging infrastructure presented to CPUC

June 05, 2015

A diverse set of public interest groups, automakers, labor unions, and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) submitted a proposed settlement to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to accelerate the deployment of smart electric vehicle (EV) charging stations that would support the utility grid in San Diego.

The application is California’s first utility pilot proposal to help develop charging infrastructure, and, through pricing that allows for customer-managed charging, to manage transportation electrification load to support the evolving needs of an electrical grid increasingly dominated by variable renewable energy.

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Overhead fast charging system for electric buses from Fraunhofer and partners

June 01, 2015

Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Transportation and Infrastructure Systems IVI and its several partners in the EDDA Bus project, have developed a pantograph fast-charging solution for electric buses that supports route-based opportunity charging. Operational system testing of a converted bus and its charging station began in Dresden in November last year.

The solution is based on four core technologies: the Dresden-based company M&P GmbH designed a charging station with very high charging capacities; HOPPECKE Advanced Battery Technology GmbH supplied special batteries designed for such high power capacities; Vossloh Kiepe GmbH was responsible for adapting the power electronics; and the contact system located on the roof of the bus was realized by Fraunhofer IVI together with Schunk Bahn- und Industrietechnik GmbH.

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USDA to invest up to $100M to boost infrastructure for renewable fuel use; seeks to double number of higher blend ethanol fuel pumps

May 29, 2015

US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will invest up to $100 million in a Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership to support the infrastructure needed to make more renewable fuel options available to American consumers. USDA will post a Notice of Solicitation of Applications in June.

Specifically, USDA will administer competitive grants to match funding for state-led efforts to test and evaluate innovative and comprehensive approaches to market higher blends of renewable fuel, such as E15 and E85. States that are able to provide greater than a one-to-one ratio in funding will receive higher consideration.

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Daimler enters stationary energy storage market with ACCUmotive battery systems; 500 kWh unit already on line for grid stabilization

Daimler is entering the commercial and residential stationary energy storage system (ESS) market with its wholly-owned subsidiary Deutsche ACCUmotive. The announcement comes four weeks after Tesla Motors announced its own entry into the ESS market with the home PowerWall Li-ion battery system (earlier post), although Daimler has been considering the move for several years.

Daimler’s first industrial-scale lithium-ion unit is already on the grid and is being operated by the partner companies The Mobility House AG and GETEC Energie AG. The 96-module ESS currently has a total capacity of more than 500 kWh; it will be increased step-by-step to 3000 kWh by the partners in the coming weeks. Daimler AG is planning to collaborate with EnBW AG for distribution to customers in Germany. Daimler is also aiming to enter into cooperation with other sales and distribution partners both in Germany and at international level.

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Daimler and Qualcomm announce strategic collaboration on connected car technologies, wireless EV charging

May 24, 2015

Daimler AG and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. (QTI), a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, announced a strategic collaboration focused on connected car technologies. In the first phase of the collaboration, the companies will focus on transforming future vehicles with mobile technologies that enhance in-car experiences and vehicle performance such as 3G/4G connectivity; wireless charging technology for in-vehicle use; and implementation of the Qualcomm Halo Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC) technology.

In addition, the companies are jointly assessing the application of Qualcomm Technology’s newly developed Automotive Solutions.

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SAE World Congress panel highlights progress on H2 infrastructure and fuel cell vehicle commercialization

May 12, 2015

Although the SAE World Congress has been running panel sessions on fuel cell vehicle commercialization since 2005, this year was the first in which three participating automakers—Toyota, Hyundai and Honda—had fuel cell vehicles that customers can buy now or within a year. (Earlier post.) Many other OEMs are also working on development of fuel cell vehicles as well.

The PFL 799 technical executive expert panel at this year’s world Congress, chaired by Jesse Schneider (from BMW), invited those automakers as well as infrastructure leaders to discuss their progress in fuel cell technology and hydrogen infrastructure and challenges remaining. Participants included Hyundai, GM, Honda, Toyota, Linde and Air Liquide.

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ITM Power awarded US$4.3M for hydrogen refueling stations in London

March 30, 2015

ITM Power has been awarded a total of £2.89 million (US$4.3 million) by the UK Hydrogen Refueling Stations (HRS) Infrastructure Grants Scheme, run by the Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV). The award is to build two new HRS in London, sited with strategic partners and for the upgrading of four existing ITM Power refueling stations.

£1.89 million ($2.8 million) has been awarded to ITM Power and its partners to invest in two new HRS in London at strategic locations suitable for Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) roll-out. Both HRS will incorporate on-site hydrogen generation using the company’s PEM HGas electrolyzer platform. ITM Power will work closely with OEM FCEV providers to determine the best locations for siting.

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Simon Fraser study finds PEV success not tied to awareness of public chargers; implications for policy makers

March 17, 2015

A new Canada-wide study conducted by Simon Fraser University researchers found that awareness of public chargers is not a strong predictor of plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) interest; other variables are more important, such as the availability of level 1 (110/120-volt) charging at home. The results have important implications for governments with limited budgets to support the EV market, suggests Jonn Axsen, Assistant Professor in the School of Resource and Environmental Management.

The study, conducted by Axsen and two of his graduate students, is published in the journal Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment. The researchers also recently presented their study to the National Academy of Sciences’ Transportation Research Board in Washington, DC.

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H2 Logic delivers H2 fast fueling station for Hamburg; first to achieve German CEP SAE J2601 approval

Shell Deutschland Oil GmbH inaugurated a new hydrogen fueling station based on H2Station technology from H2 Logic in Hamburg. The fueling station is the first in Germany to achieve Clean Energy Partnership (CEP) approval in accordance with the latest 2014 version of the SAE J2601 after third-party acceptance and verification tests. The standard ensures a fast and reliable fueling of hydrogen at 70MPa pressure, which provides long driving range. (Earlier post.)

The new hydrogen refueling station in Hamburg is part of a planned initial network of 50 stations in the country by 2015. This will be a first step in a planned continued roll-out of up to 400 stations onwards 2023, as part of the €350-million (US$369-million) H2Mobility Germany initiative.

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DOE to award up to $35M to advance fuel cell and hydrogen technologies; fuel cell range extenders

March 03, 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced (DOE-FOA-0001224) up to $35 million in available funding to advance fuel cell and hydrogen technologies, and to enable early adoption of fuel cell applications, such as light duty fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). (Earlier post.)

As FCEVs become increasingly commercially available, the Energy Department is focused on reducing the costs and increasing technical advancements of critical hydrogen infrastructure including production, delivery, and storage. This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) covers a broad spectrum of the Fuel Cell Technology Office (FCTO) portfolio with areas of interest ranging from research and development (R&D) to demonstration and deployment projects.

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Cal Energy Commission adopts report outlining how state transforming transportation system to meet climate goals

February 26, 2015

The California Energy Commission adopted its 2014 Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) Update, which outlines, among many things, how the state is working to transform the transportation system to zero- and near-zero technologies and fuels to meet its climate and clean air goals. This report highlights the importance of incentives in helping speed this transition and specifically explores the role Assembly Bill 8, which makes more than $2 billion available for public investment, can play in helping to achieve this progress.

The Energy Commission also approved almost $16 million in research grants to help develop the next generation of energy efficient technologies for commercial and residential buildings; $11 million for projects to convert feedstock and waste into biofuels; and about $900,000 for natural gas innovations.

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Siemens researching use of infrastructure radar sensor networks to support parking management

Siemens is researching the use of infrastructure sensor networks in an advanced parking management solution intended to counter the increasing parking space crisis in cities. The system, analogous to vehicle-based research underway by Ford Motor on the same problem (earlier post), will be used this spring for the first time in a pilot project in Berlin.

In the Siemens concept, networks of stationary sensors collect information about the parking situation in cities. The information is forwarded to the drivers in order to make it easier for them to find unoccupied parking spaces. In addition, the data is transmitted to a parking management center so that cities can intelligently manage their parking spaces.

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NEESC releases 2015 hydrogen & fuel cell development plans for eight Northeastern states; power generation and transportation

February 20, 2015

The Northeast Electrochemical Energy Storage Cluster (NEESC), administered by Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology Inc. (CCAT), released the 2015 Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Development Plans for each of the eight states in the Northeast US. The state-specific plans focus on hydrogen and fuel cell applications that are both technically and economically viable, and recommend specific goals for stationary and transportation hydrogen fuel cell deployment to meet economic, environmental, and energy needs.

Cumulative goals for the Northeast states include approximately 1,300 megawatts of installed stationary fuel cell capacity; 10,800 fuel cell electric vehicles; 640 fuel cell powered buses; and 110 hydrogen refueling stations to support the fuel cell electric vehicles and buses.

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DOE workshop report on common opportunities and challenges in expanding use of H2 and natural gas vehicles

Hydrogen and natural gas share a number of common entry to market barriers. Image from DOE EERE Fuel Cell Technologies Office. Click to enlarge.

Sandia National Laboratories, supported by the DOE’s Vehicle Technologies and Fuel Cell Technologies Offices, recently released the workshop report “Transitioning the Transportation Sector: Exploring the Intersection of Hydrogen Fuel Cell and Natural Gas Vehicles.”

Held in September 2014, the workshop considered common opportunities and challenges in expanding the use of hydrogen and natural gas as transportation fuels. Organized by Sandia, the American Gas Association, and Toyota, the workshop included participants from the auto industry, freight delivery fleets, gas suppliers, gas storage developers, utilities, academia, industry associations, national laboratories, and federal and state governments.

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Battery charging company CTEK licenses WiTricity technology for wireless vehicle battery charging

February 18, 2015

Leading automotive battery charger manufacturer CTEK Corporation has entered a technology and patent license agreement with wireless power transfer technology company WiTricity, enabling CTEK to commercialize WiTricity’s patented technology to create high performance, efficient wireless charging systems for a wide range of battery charging and battery conditioning applications in various automotive and powersports applications.

By providing a flexible and efficient method of wireless power transfer, CTEK will begin to develop a line of products that will bring a new level of convenience and ease to battery charging. Future applications should make it possible for drivers to simply park over a contact patch in their garage or parking spot, leaving the battery to charge in their absence. Owners who have vehicles for occasional use, such as classic cars or powersports machines that only come out at the weekend, could also take advantage of such a device.

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Volkswagen of America to invest $10M in EV charging infrastructure by 2016; calls for more legislative support to spur EV adoption

February 10, 2015

Volkswagen of America will invest $10 million by 2016 to support the build-out of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the US, said Jörg Sommer, vice president, product marketing and strategy. At the same time, Sommer said in his presentation at the 2015 Electric Drive Congress in Washington DC, continued legislative support is needed to reach the next level of electric vehicle adoption.

In January, Volkswagen of America and BMW of North America, together with ChargePoint, announced an initiative to create more express charging corridors along heavily-traveled routes on the East and West Coasts; specifically to install nearly 100 DC Fast Chargers across both coasts aiming to have charging sites no more than 50 miles apart. (Earlier post.) This program is one component of the $10-million commitment Volkswagen is making to support the build-out of the electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

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PG&E proposes major build-out of 25,000 electric vehicle charging stations in California

February 09, 2015

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has filed an application with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for permission to build an estimated 25,000 electric vehicle (EV) chargers at sites across its service area in Northern and Central California—8 times the number currently installed. If approved, this program would be the largest deployment of EV charging stations in the country, PG&E said.

The cost of the plan would be shared by all electric customers as a contribution to helping the state meet its clean air and climate goals. The total impact on system average bundled rates would be minimal in 2016 and 2017 and would average only a tenth of a cent per kilowatt-hour over the next five years of the program. A typical residential customer would pay about 70 cents more per month over the period 2018 to 2022, according to PG&E.

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USDOT releases broad agency announcement for the Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment Program

January 31, 2015

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has released a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for funding projects for Phase 1: Concept Development of the Connected Vehicle (CV) Pilot Deployment Program. (DTFH6115R00003)

DOT is sponsoring connected vehicle research to leverage the potentially transformative capabilities of wireless technology to make surface transportation safer, smarter, and greener. These efforts have resulted in a considerable body of research that is now in hand to support pilot deployments. The Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment Program is now seeking operational deployments of connected vehicle applications that synergistically capture and utilize new forms of connected vehicle and mobile device data to improve multimodal surface transportation system performance and enable enhanced performance-based systems management.

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DOE to issue $35M funding opportunity for hydrogen and fuel cell technology; Class 1-2 fuel cell plug-in hybrids

January 24, 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) intends to issue a $35-million funding opportunity (FOA DE-FOA-0001224) (earlier post) covering a broad spectrum of its Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) portfolio with topics ranging from research and development (R&D) to demonstration and deployment projects.

In particular, the R&D areas of interest for this FOA will include hydrogen production via microbial biomass conversion; low PGM (Platinum Group Metal) catalyst development for PEM fuel cell applications; development of an integrated intelligent hydrogen dispenser; and fuel cell and hydrogen manufacturing R&D focusing on hydrogen delivery pipeline manufacturing R&D. This FOA also includes demonstration topic areas that will help to accelerate adoption of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies with specific interest in mobile hydrogen refuelers; fuel cell powered range extenders for light duty hybrid electric vehicles; and a Communities of Excellence topic featuring hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.

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VW, BMW and ChargePoint partner to create SAE Combo DC fast charging corridors on the East and West Coasts

January 22, 2015

In a major boost to the availability of public fast charging stations with SAE Combo connectors (J1772, earlier post), Volkswagen of America and BMW of North America, together with ChargePoint, the largest electric vehicle charging network, announced at the Washington Auto Show an initiative to create more express charging corridors along heavily-traveled routes on the East and West Coasts.

In the initial phase, the aim is to install nearly 100 DC Fast charging ports across both coasts, with plans to expand the program to increase access to fast charging across the country. The installations will occur both within and between relevant metro areas, strategically spaced at a maximum of 50 miles (80 km) apart. Each fast charging location along the express charging corridors is expected to include up to two 50 kW DC fast chargers or 24 kW DC fast chargers with the SAE Combo connector. The 50 kW fast chargers will also have a CHAdeMO connector available, according to Volkswagen, while the 24 kW units will be SAE Combo only, at least to start.

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BMW and Total begin field tests of AdBlue pumps in Germany

January 21, 2015

In Germany, BMW and Total have officially begun the field testing of AdBlue pumps installed at three fueling stations in Munich and Berlin. AdBlue, used in Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) NOx aftertreatment systems for modern diesels, is stored in an auxiliary tank in the car. The AdBlue filler neck is found underneath the fuel filler flap or in the engine compartment, depending on the BMW diesel model.

The pump is in lieu of a separate hand-held container of AdBlue, as currently used. Both parties expect to gain new insights into the practice of fueling the auxiliary AdBlue tanks from the field tests—especially from a customer perspective. The experience from the field trial will be used further to develop the AdBlue dispenser technology and to ensure the best user experience, the companies said.

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Cal State LA hydrogen station becomes first in state certified to sell to the public by the kilogram

The Cal State L.A. (CSULA) Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility has become the first hydrogen station in California to be certified to sell fuel to the public by the kilogram measure. Although the state currently has other other hydrogen stations “open to the public”, these stations have had to sell hydrogen by the tank, explained Michael Dray, the technical operations manager of the Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility at CSULA.

Selling by the tank required a flat price be paid, irrespective of the actual amount of hydrogen dispensed. The state Division of Measurement Standards barred even a mention of a sale price per unit, Dray said.

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California approves another $18M for clean energy projects; $12M for alternative vehicles

January 15, 2015

The California Energy Commission approved nearly $18 million to fund projects that will help the state meet its climate and energy goals. Twelve million dollars will go toward three alternative fuel projects, $4 million will help fund two geothermal projects and $3.5 million will help fund local energy efficiency projects.

The three alternative fuels projects will receive funding through the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP), which supports technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on petroleum-based fuels. Recipients include:

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BMW presents research application for inductive charging at CES

January 07, 2015

At CES, BMW is demonstrating a research application for inductive—i.e. wireless—battery charging using a BMW i8. Earlier this year, BMW and Daimler agreed jointly to develop and to implement one common technology for wireless recharging high-voltage batteries of electric drive and plug-in hybrid vehicles. (Earlier post.)

Inductive charging provides reliable, wear-free and user-friendly EV battery charging using a magnetic field, without the need for a hard-wired connection between the vehicle and the power source. The system comprises a primary and a secondary coil. The primary coil is fitted in a base pad underneath the vehicle, for example on or embedded in the garage floor. The secondary coil is integrated in the underside of the BMW i8.

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Volkswagen showcases inductive charging w/ “power lift”, autonomous and semi-autonomous capabilities & gesture control at CES

January 06, 2015

At the 2015 CES in Las Vegas, Volkswagen is showcasing the ongoing development of more connected, more intelligent vehicles by demonstrating four main aspects of emerging mobility technology: computer-controlled drive systems; app and smartphone integration; intuitive vehicle operation; and autonomous and semi-autonomous driving.

These technologies are realized in several different vehicles for CES: the e-Golf Intelligent Charge with inductive charging (with “power lift”); an e-Golf with Trained Parking; the Golf R Touch concept with gesture control; and the Connected Golf—an e-Golf equipped with the latest generation (MIB II) infotainment system incorporating a range of apps, smartphones and tablets via a progressive interface management system.

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USDOT preparing to issue solicitation for Phase 1 of Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment program

December 23, 2014

The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) is preparing to issue (on or before 15 January 2015) a solicitation for a full and open competition to procure services for the Connected Vehicle (CV) Pilot Deployment program, Phase 1: Concept Development. Accordingly, USDOT has issued the synopsis notice (DTFH6115R00003) for Phase 1.

USDOT will conduct the CV Pilot Deployment program will be conducted under three phases: Phase 1: Concept Development Phase; Phase 2: Design/Build/Test; and Phase 3: Maintain and Operate. USDOT intends to enter into contracts for performance of Phase 1 only. Only awardees of Phase 1 Contracts will be eligible for Phase 2 and 3 Cooperative Agreements. The anticipated period of performance for the Phase 1 contracts is no more than 12 months.

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DOE releases report from 6 projects evaluating EV charging impacts on grid and customer charging behaviors

December 21, 2014

Charging patterns with (TOU) and without (RES) whole house time-of-use rate during summer weekdays at Progress Energy, one of the participating utilities. (Peak period is in gray.) Click to enlarge.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has released a report detailing the findings from six utilities which evaluated operations and customer charging behaviors for in-home and public electric vehicle charging stations. The work was done under the DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability’s (OE) Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG program).

This report provides the results of these SGIG projects to help individual utilities determine how long existing electric distribution infrastructure will remain sufficient to accommodate demand growth from electric vehicles, and when and what type of capacity upgrades or additions may be needed. The report also examines when consumers want to recharge vehicles, and to what extent pricing and incentives can encourage consumers to charge during off-peak periods.

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Washington governor proposes slate of measures to curb GHG emissions & transition state to cleaner energy; cap-and-trade and EV incentives

December 17, 2014

Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced a set of proposals to transition Washington to cleaner sources of energy and to meet greenhouse gas (GHG) emission limits adopted by the state Legislature in 2008. The proposals build on a comprehensive executive order issued by the governor in April.

Cap-and-trade. The proposed “Carbon Pollution Accountability Act” (CPAA) would create a new, market-based program that sets an annual limit CO2 emissions; major emitters will need to purchase “allowances” for their emissions. Each year, the number of available allowances will decline to ensure emissions are gradually reduced. The Governor’s office projects that the program will generate about $1 billion in the first year, and more thereafter, which will be used for transportation, education, tax relief for working families and other purposes.

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Sandia Labs and Linde partner to expand hydrogen fueling network; performance-based design for stations

New Linde hydrogen station. Click to enlarge.

Sandia National Laboratories and Linde LLC have signed an umbrella Cooperative Research & Development Agreement (CRADA) they expect to accelerate the development of low-carbon energy and industrial technologies, beginning with hydrogen and fuel cells.

The CRADA will begin with two new research and development projects to accelerate the expansion of hydrogen fueling stations to continue to support the market growth of fuel cell electric vehicles now emerging from the major auto manufacturers. The first will focus on performance-based design for hydrogen stations. The second focuses on safety aspects of the NFPA code.

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Scania to test wirelessly charged plug-in hybrid city bus for the first time in Sweden

Starting June 2016 a prototype for a new Scania plug-in hybrid bus (based on Scania Citywide Low Entry) will go into daily operation in Södertälje. Click to enlarge.

Scania is undertaking intensive research into various types of electrification technologies that could replace or complement combustion engines. Inductive charging is among the options the company is exploring and would enable vehicles wirelessly to recharge their batteries via electrified roads.

Now, for the first time in Sweden, Scania and the Stockholm based Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) plan to test the wireless charging technology in real-life conditions. Starting June 2016, a prototype for a new Scania plug-in hybrid bus (based on Scania Citywide Low Entry) will go into daily operation in Södertälje as part of a research project into sustainable vehicle technology.

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ABB-led consortium launches $10.5M project to install fast chargers along key European highways

December 16, 2014

A 5-partner consortium led by ABB has launched a €8.4-million (US$10.5-million) project, co-funded 50% by the European Union, to install a corridor of high-quality fast chargers along key European motorways until the end of 2015. In addition to ABB, the consortium includes the Dutch e-mobility operator and retailer Fastned B.V.; the Danish e-mobility operator CLEVER A/S; the Swedish public utility and e-mobility operator Öresundskraft AB; and the German Testing and Certification Institute VDE Prüf-und Zertifizierungsinstitut GmbH.

The aim of the ELECTRIC project is to create an open-access fast-charging corridor situated along major motorways connecting Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands via a total of 155 chargers, with up to 30 in the Netherlands, 23 in Denmark, 35 in Sweden and 67 in Germany.

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Fujitsu launches hydrogen station data management service to support spread of fuel-cell vehicles

In conjunction with the start of sales of Toyota’s Mirai fuel cell vehicle in Japan (earlier post), Fujitsu launched a hydrogen station data management service, the first in Japan, enabling people to access real-time information on the location and hours of operation of hydrogen stations, both stationary and mobile.

The service uses the Fujitsu Intelligent Society Solution SPATIOWL cloud service to integrate information on the location of hydrogen stations and operating hours input by registered hydrogen suppliers. Information on the hydrogen stations is then transmitted in real time by car companies, through their data centers, to the car navigation systems and smartphones of fuel-cell vehicle users.

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Siemens, Duke Energy and Ford demonstrate lower cost home smart charging technology for plug-ins; due on market next year

December 05, 2014

Siemens Energy Management Division has teamed with Duke Energy and Ford to demonstrate the results of an 18-month effort to reduce the cost and expand electric vehicle charging technologies. Held at the Duke Energy Envision Center in Erlanger, Ky., and utilizing a Ford Fusion Energi Plug-In Hybrid, Siemens provided the first UL-approved residential electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) to demonstrate the ability to monitor status, report energy use, and be controlled locally from the local area network and from the cloud.

In 2012, Siemens was awarded $1.6 million in development funding from the US Department of Energy (DOE) to support research aimed at significantly reducing the current costs of electrical vehicle (EV) chargers and developing “smart” charging capabilities that support power grid efficiency and consumer demand.

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Toyota bringing vehicle-infrastructure cooperative systems to some new models in Japan in 2015

November 26, 2014

Starting next year, some of Toyota Motor Corporation’s new models will be compatible with advanced vehicle-infrastructure cooperative systems that use a wireless frequency reserved for Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). This compatibility will be offered as an option for the “Toyota Safety Sense P” active safety package that will be made available in 2015 on select new models sold in Japan.

The systems will use the dedicated ITS frequency of 760 MHz for road-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-vehicle communication to gather information that cannot be obtained by onboard sensors. At intersections with poor visibility, information about oncoming vehicles and pedestrians detected by sensors above the road will be conveyed via road-to-vehicle communication, and information about approaching vehicles will be conveyed via vehicle-to-vehicle communication, with audio and visual alerts warning drivers when necessary.

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Honda to provide $13.8M to FirstElement Fuel to support build out of California hydrogen refueling infrastructure

November 20, 2014

Seeking to expand California’s public hydrogen refueling station network as a means to support the wider introduction of fuel-cell vehicles, Honda will provide $13.8 million in financial assistance to FirstElement Fuel to build additional hydrogen refueling stations around the state. Additional state grants, combined with the Honda financing, could enable FirstElement to add at least 12 stations to its California hydrogen network.

FirstElement received grants totaling nearly $27 million from the California Energy Commission earlier this year to build a network of 19 stations around the state. The state of California has a plan to invest $200 million into hydrogen station development over the next several years. This financial support from Honda, along with anticipated future grants from the State of California, will allow FirstElement to expand its network of stations by more than 50%, to at least 31 stations.

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NXP and partners launch European test drive to showcase the future of Communicating Cars

November 12, 2014

Ready for the test drive. Click to enlarge.

NXP Semiconductors N.V. and industry partners Siemens, Honda, and Cohda Wireless have launched a “Communicating Cars” test drive along the ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems) Corridor across Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. Starting from the electronica trade show in Munich yesterday, the tour will see a convoy of Honda smart vehicles drive through 1300 km (808 miles) of roads, including ITS test fields in Munich, Vienna and Helmond fitted with Siemens intelligent traffic infrastructure.

The demo cars, which are fitted with secure NXP communications technology, will showcase the benefits of smarter traffic control including improved road safety and reduced pollution.

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Tritium launches Fast Cities Network charging initiative; Australia’s largest fast charging network for EVs

November 11, 2014

The Fast Cities Network. Click to enlarge.

Brisbane, Australia-based Tritium, developer of the Veefil Electric Vehicle (EV) Fast Charger, has launched a Fast Cities Network initiative to establish Australia’s largest fast-charging network in Australia and the first in Eastern Australia. Located within the SE Queensland region, the proposed 430 km (267-mile) network will create an electric super highway, showcasing intra-city and intercity travel for EVs in Brisbane and the Gold Coast area.

The Fast Cities Network will connect Brisbane to Noosa, Toowoomba and Byron Bay, making charging quick, easy and convenient for drivers of pure electric and hybrid vehicles. Twelve Veefil fast charge points will be strategically located along major transport corridors, meeting around 95% of the travel needs of people living in South East Queensland.

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Ongoing market rollout for SAE hydrogen fueling standards

November 10, 2014

At the Fuel Cell Seminar and Energy Exposition (FCS&EE) today in Los Angeles (co-sponsored by the US Department of Energy (DOE), Toyota and Honda, among others), SAE is providing a short course on “SAE H2 Fueling Standardization”; the course is presented by Jesse Schneider from BMW and Steve Mathison from Honda, both of whom have been deeply involved in the development of the SAE hydrogen fueling standards. (Earlier post.) The event is the most recent example of a concerted effort to educate stakeholders and encourage the implementation of the SAE hydrogen fueling standards.

Validated in the lab and proven in the field over the last decade, these standards provide the basis for hydrogen fueling for the first generation of infrastructure worldwide. There are currently four SAE standards in this area: the geometry of the fueling nozzle-receptacle interface (SAE J2600); hydrogen fuel quality (SAE J2719); FCEV to hydrogen station communication (SAE J2799); and hydrogen fueling (SAE J2601).

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Opinion: Debunking the myths—Why fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) are viable for the mass market

November 07, 2014

by Dr. Henri Winand, CEO of Intelligent Energy

2014 has been a year of rapid growth for the fuel cell market with positive progress being made globally, especially in markets such as US, UK, Germany, France and Japan. Public-private investment initiatives, government funding for infrastructure and consumer subsidies, falling production costs and notably, the commitment to future OEM launches of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs)—all indicate a clear road to adoption. The findings from last year’s UK H2 Mobility report support this conclusion, outlining that FCEVs represent an attractive and sustainable long-term business proposition and that they can deliver important environmental and economic benefits to the UK.

Despite the recent progress, a number of myths around the use, power efficiency and cost of fuel cells still exist.

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DOE seeking feedback on findings of hydrogen production and delivery workshops

October 29, 2014

The US Department of Energy's Fuel Cell Technologies Office has issued two requests for information (RFIs) seeking feedback from the research community and relevant stakeholders about electrolytic hydrogen production (DE-FOA-0001188) and hydrogen delivery research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) activities (DE-FOA-0001187) aimed at developing technologies that can ultimately produce and deliver low-cost hydrogen.

The purpose of these RFIs is to solicit feedback from industry, academia, research laboratories, government agencies, and other stakeholders on issues related to electrolytic hydrogen production pathways and hydrogen transmission and distribution, specifically with respect to reports developed at workshops on the topics convened by the DOE in February.

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DOE launches $1M H2 Refuel H-Prize for small-scale hydrogen refueling

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) and the Hydrogen Education Foundation (HEF) launched the $1-million H2 Refuel H-Prize. The two-year competition challenges America’s engineers and entrepreneurs to develop affordable systems for small-scale hydrogen fueling. This H-Prize competition is intended to assist in expanding the hydrogen infrastructure across the country to support more transportation energy options for US consumers, including fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).

The H2 Refuel H-Prize will award a $1-million prize to the top refueler system entry that can produce hydrogen using electricity and/or natural gas (energy sources commonly available to residential locations) and dispense the hydrogen to a vehicle. Systems considered would be at the home-scale and able to generate and dispense 1-5 kg H2/day for use at residences, or the medium-scale, generating and dispensing 5-50 kg H2/day. Medium-scale systems would serve a larger community with multiple users daily, such as a large apartment complex or retail centers to fuel small fleets of vehicles (e.g., light duty automobiles, forklifts or tractors).

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EPRI and partners to stage public demo of Open Vehicle-Grid Integration (VGI) Platform software

October 14, 2014

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), along with several auto manufacturers, utilities, and regional transmission organizations, will demonstrate the Open Vehicle-Grid Integration (VGI) Platform software system, developed by EPRI and Sumitomo Electric Industries. The software is an advanced software platform for integrating plug-in electric vehicles (PEV) with smart grid technologies. (Earlier post.)

The live demonstration will showcase demand response and load curtailment capabilities through a single standards-based interface. The demonstration will involve 8 EV manufacturers, and attendees will include representatives from the state and federal public agencies involved with clean energy and transportation technologies, as well as the utility and automotive industries.

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UK putting up nearly $18M to establish initial hydrogen refueling network of up to 15 stations

October 09, 2014

UK Business Minister Matthew Hancock announced up to £11 million (US$17.7 million) of funding to help establish an initial network of up to 15 hydrogen refueling stations by the end of 2015. Of the £11 million, £7.5 million (US$12 million) will come from government and £3.5 million (US$5.6 million) from industry. Toyota earlier this month announced that the UK will be one of the first markets for its FCEV when it goes on sale next year.

Of the funding, £2 million (US$3.2 million) will go to upgrade 6 to 8 existing hydrogen refueling stations (already operational or under development in the UK) and take them from demonstrator projects to publicly accessible sites.

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Daimler, Linde to invest €20M in 20 new H2 fueling stations in Germany, 13 by end of 2015; green hydrogen

October 08, 2014

Daimler and The Linde Group are partnering with oil and gas companies TOTAL, OMV, Avia and Hoyer this year to build 20 new hydrogen fueling stations in Germany, with 13 to be completed by the end of 2015. Daimler and Linde are each investing around €10 million for ten fueling stations each. The ‘H2 Mobility’ initiative, of which Daimler, Linde, TOTAL and OMV are also part, agreed last year on a detailed plan of action to expand the hydrogen fueling network to around 400 stations by 2023. (Earlier post.)

Linde already secures half of the hydrogen for existing Clean Energy Partnership (CEP) hydrogen fueling stations from “green” sources, and it will power the 20 new stations with fully regenerative hydrogen. The gas is obtained from crude glycerol—a by-product of biodiesel production—at a dedicated pilot plant at Linde’s gases center in Leuna. (Earlier post.) The plant reprocesses, pyrolyzes and reforms raw glycerol to produce hydrogen.

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Linde close to completing its first retail H2 fueling station in the US; next-generation ionic compressor

October 06, 2014

Design of the IC 90 ionic compressor. (US+EU Version) Source: Linde. Click to enlarge.

Linde LLC is close to completing the first retail hydrogen fueling station the company will operate in the US. The station, which Linde expects to be online before the end of the year, is being installed at the Ramos Oil Company multi-fuel station in West Sacramento, California, where Ramos currently retails gasoline, diesel, bio-diesel, ethanol-85, methanol, and racing fuels.

At the heart of the hydrogen fueling system is the 900-bar Linde IC 90 ionic compressor: the next generation of hydrogen compression technology which enables higher throughput and enhanced back-to-back fueling. (The 900 bar pressure enables drivers to refuel quickly at 700 bar.) Linde currently has the IC 50 ionic compressor installed at California’s AC Transit bus refueling station.

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