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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.]

NIST study suggests severe corrosion in underground gasoline storage tanks may require component replacement sooner than expected; 500K USTs in US

July 30, 2014

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Optical micrographs of severe corrosion on steel alloy samples exposed to ethanol and acetic acid vapors—conditions typical of underground gasoline storage tanks—after 355 hours, 643 hours, and 932 hours. Source: NIST. Click to enlarge.

In recent years, field inspectors in nine states have reported many rapidly corroding underground gasoline storage tank (UST) components such as sump pumps. These incidents are generally associated with use of gasoline-ethanol blends and the presence of bacteria, Acetobacter aceti, which convert ethanol to acetic acid, a component of vinegar. Corrosion can result in failures, leaks and contamination of groundwater, a source of drinking water.

Following up on the inspectors’ findings, a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) laboratory study has demonstrated severe corrosion—rapidly eating through 1 millimeter of wall thickness per year—on steel alloy samples exposed to ethanol and acetic acid vapors. Based on this finding, NIST researchers suggest gasoline stations may need to replace submersible pump casings, typically made of steel or cast iron, sooner than expected.

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EPRI, 8 automakers and 15 utilities to create an open grid integration platform for plug-in electric vehicles

July 29, 2014

The Electric Power Research Institute, 8 automakers and 15 utilities are working to develop and to demonstrate an open platform that would integrate plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) with smart grid technologies enabling utilities to support PEV charging regardless of location. The open platform will simplify and streamline V2G (vehicle-to-grid) communications, enabling PEVs to provide grid services and increasing the overall value proposition of plug-in vehicles.

The goal of this program is to develop a cloud-based, central server that would receive grid requests from a utility—such as Demand Response—and then translate and standardize that request so it could be relayed to all appropriate plug-in vehicles in the designated area. Automakers would be expected to develop and deploy technologies compatible with these smart grid communications.

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BMW introduces compact i DC Fast Chargers; ChargeNow DC Fast program for no-cost 30-min charge through 2015

July 28, 2014

BMW of North America launched its BMW i DC Fast Chargers, which can charge the BMW i3 all-electric vehicle’s battery up to 80% in 30 minutes, at the Plug-In 2014 conference. The fast chargers are a joint development between BMW and Bosch Automotive Service Solutions.

BMW also announced its new ChargeNow DC Fast program in cooperation with NRG eVgo, in which BMW i3 drivers in California can enjoy no-cost unlimited 30 minute DC fast charging, at NRG eVgo Freedom Station sites equipped with DC Combo Fast Charging, through 2015.

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California Energy Commission approves $46.6M for hydrogen refueling and $2.8M for EV charging projects

July 24, 2014

The California Energy Commission gave final approval for nearly $50 million in grant awards for hydrogen refueling and electric charging construction projects recommended for funding in notices of proposed awards published in April and May.

California’s zero-emission vehicle goal is to get 1.5 million hydrogen, battery electric, and plug-in electric vehicles on the roadway by 2025. In response to this directive, the Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP) has already allocated nearly $400 million to help bolster statewide infrastructure and create a viable market for zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), and to promote alternative fuels.

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SwRI receives $1.8M DOE award to develop linear motor reciprocating compressor for hydrogen

July 23, 2014

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Compression is a major contributor to the cost of hydrogen fueling. Source: Elgowainy et al. Click to enlarge.

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) will begin work in August on a $1.8-million contract awarded by the US Department of Energy DOE to develop, to fabricate and to test a linear motor reciprocating compressor (LMRC). The contract is one of 10 awarded by DOE for projects that will advance hydrogen production and delivery technologies for this fuel source. (Earlier post.)

In its 2012 Multi-Year Research, Development and Demonstration Plan, DOE notes that hydrogen fueling station compressor flow rates may be 5 - 100 kg/hr and require compression pressures as high as 90 MPa (900 bar). (Consumer vehicles will likely require gaseous hydrogen compressed to 70 MPa to meet acceptable range targets.) At present, hydrogen delivery (which includes compression) and storage is an expensive operation. Capital costs are high, and the equipment used is often inefficient and unreliable, leading to costly routine maintenance, repairs and downtime.

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NIST develops prototype meter test for hydrogen refueling stations

July 22, 2014

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The TFF. Click to enlarge.

To support the fair sale of gaseous hydrogen as a vehicle fuel, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a prototype Transient Flow Facility (TFF) to test the accuracy of hydrogen fuel dispensers. The TFF generates transient flow, pressure, and temperature conditions similar to those that occur when a hydrogen-powered vehicle is refueled.

In a paper published in the journal Flow Measurement and Instrumentation, the NIST team reports using the TFF to assess the performance of two Coriolis meters (used to measure mass flow). However, they noted, the TFF can test other meter types and protocols, making it ideal for testing prototype field calibration standards for gaseous fuel dispensers.

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ABB and Volvo Buses partnering on fast-charging system for hybrid and electric buses

ABB and Volvo Buses are partnering to co-develop and to commercialize electric and hybrid buses with open standards-based direct current (DC) fast charging systems. The cooperation will create a city-wide standardized charging system for electric and electric hybrid buses that can charge buses quickly through an automatic roof-top connection system at bus stops or through cabled charging systems overnight.

This approach, based on internationally accepted standards (EN61851-23), enables maximum re-use of existing e-mobility technologies, thereby ensuring a rapid deployment of urban e-mobility. The first joint project will be the implementation of Volvo Electric Hybrids and ABB’s automatic e-bus chargers in the Luxembourg public transport system, where as many as 12 Volvo Electric Hybrid buses operated by Sales-Lentz will be running on existing lines by 2015.

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SAE publishes SAE J2601 standard to harmonize H2 fueling of Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles worldwide

July 16, 2014

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SAE J2601 enables fast refueling for all light-duty fuel cell vehicles. Photo courtesy of Shell. Click to enlarge.

SAE has published the J2601 standard, “Fueling Protocols for Light Duty Gaseous Hydrogen Surface Vehicles”, the light duty hydrogen fueling protocol which will serve as a baseline for the first generation of infrastructure for refueling Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEVs). (Earlier post.)

This standard will be used to harmonize the protocol for hydrogen fueling stations worldwide for both 35 MPa and 70 MPa. Obtaining extended driving ranges with hydrogen fueling is accomplished by compressing hydrogen to 70 MPa (or H70).

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Linde starts small-series production for hydrogen fueling stations; agreement with Iwatani for delivery of 28 units

July 14, 2014

In Vienna, the Linde Group officially opened the first small-series production facility for hydrogen fueling stations. Linde extensively modernized and expanded the Vienna Application Centre specifically for this project. A number of hydrogen fueling innovations have originated from this research and development hub in Vienna in recent years, including Linde’s energy-efficient, compact ionic compressor, the IC 90. (Earlier post.)

Highlights of the new small-series production concept include a high degree of standardization across all components, which are installed in a compact 14-foot container for ease of transport and integration in existing fueling stations.

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Review: Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD with bi-fuel CNG option

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View of the CNG tank in the bed of a Silverado 2500HD with bi-fuel option. Click to enlarge.

GM’s 2015 Chevy Silverado 2500HD with the bi-fuel (natural gas) option (earlier post) offers buyers—primarily commercial and fleet buyers—a strong natural-gas option in the ¾-ton pickup market that combines the excellent qualities of the base Silverado 2500HD with the economic (lower cost) and environmental (lower emissions of GHGs and criteria pollutants) benefits of natural gas fuel and packages the two together seamlessly.

As with any vehicle choice, there are trade-offs that need to be balanced against target use. In the case of the 2500HD bi-fuel, the two main trade-offs are a reduction in power and torque in CNG mode compared to gasoline mode, and the loss of a portion of the bed of the truck to the 3,600 psi CNG tank and its box-like enclosure. (It looks like a hefty black tool box mounted across the front of the bed.) Of those two trade-offs, only the second is permanent. The driver can easily switch from CNG to gasoline with the flick of a switch, essentially reverting the 2500HD to its conventional gasoline cousin, with the accompanying boost in power and torque for occasions that might call for it.

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Sandia study finds more California gas stations could provide H2 than previously thought; NFPA 2 code

July 08, 2014

A study by researchers at Sandia National Laboratories concludes that a number of existing gas stations in California can safely store and dispense hydrogen, suggesting a broader network of hydrogen fueling stations may be within reach.

The report examined 70 commercial gasoline stations in the state to determine which, if any, could integrate hydrogen fuel, based on the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) hydrogen technologies code published in 2011. The study determined that 14 of the 70 gas stations—i.e., 20%—involved in the study could readily accept hydrogen fuel and that 17 more possibly could accept hydrogen with property expansions. Under previous NFPA code requirements from 2005, none of the existing gasoline stations could readily accept hydrogen.

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TransWiseway and IBM partnering to build largest connected vehicles platform in China; Internet of Vehicles

May 30, 2014

IBM is collaborating with Beijing TransWiseway Information Technology Co. Ltd. to build the largest connected vehicles platform in China. The cloud-based platform will use advanced analytics for applications that offer real-time, in-vehicle services to mobile devices, such as weather advisories, traffic alerts and alternate route suggestions.

TransWiseway teamed with IBM to design an Internet of Vehicles (IoV) platform to connect millions of trucks as well as tens of millions of devices and sensors from vehicles. Using IBM Internet of Things technologies, the trucks and vehicles are connected to the Internet as well as with each other on this single IoV platform. The new IoV platform is expected to connect with 1.5 million trucks next year and ultimately with 10 million in two to three years.

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Japan automakers form joint venture to advance electric charging infrastructure: Nippon Charge Service

Toyota Motor Corporation, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Honda Motor Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation have jointly established a new company, Nippon Charge Service, LLC, to promote the installation of chargers for plug-in electric vehicles (PHVs, PHEVs, EVs). The goal is to help build a charging network that offers more convenience to drivers in Japan.

The new company will promote the installation of chargers, for the good of society and to expand the use of electric-powered vehicles. Related industries are also expected to benefit. Development Bank of Japan Inc. (DBJ) will support the joint effort of the four automakers by investing in the new company with its “Fund for Japanese Industrial Competitiveness”.

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The Volvo Group studies potential for dynamic charging for city buses with test electric road

May 19, 2014

The Volvo Group, in collaboration with the Swedish Transport Administration, will study the potential for building electrified roads on which city buses can be charged inductively at the same time as the bus is in operation (dynamic charging). A 300- to 500-meter electric road may be built for test operations in central Gothenburg during 2015.

The Volvo Group will develop a detailed proposal within the framework of innovation procurement from the Swedish Transport Administration. The proposal entails building a road section equipped with wireless charge technology and developing vehicles that will automatically charge their batteries when passing such a road section.

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Lord Drayson launches business to commercialize efficient wireless power transfer over distances; ongoing partnership with Imperial College London

May 07, 2014

Lord Drayson has launched Drayson Wireless Limited, a new venture to commercialize technology developed at Imperial College London (ICL) for the efficient wireless transfer of power over longer distances. Working closely with Imperial Innovations plc, Drayson Wireless will rapidly bring the technology to market in numerous applications and sectors.

The Drayson Wireless near-field systems can transfer up to 1.5 kW over a distance of up to 0.5 m using a lightweight receiver weighing less than 0.3 g/W. In addition, Drayson Wireless long distance power transfer system can transfer up to 10 mW at distances up to 5 m. The systems operate at high efficiencies (over 80% end-to-end efficiency), while operating through variable vertical offsets, separation distances and angular misalignments.

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Toyota to provide financial assistance to FirstElement for construction of H2 refueling network in California

May 02, 2014

Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) and its affiliate Toyota Motor Credit Corporation (TMCC) have entered into a group of financial agreements with FirstElement Fuel Inc. (FE) to support the long-term operation and maintenance expenses of new hydrogen refueling stations in California.

FirstElement was selected by the California Energy Commission for a proposed award of $2,902,000 to construct two 100% renewable refueling stations in Los Angeles, and $24,667,000 for 17 stations in other key locations in California. (Earlier post.) Toyota’s actual amount of financial assistance will be based on an analysis of the grant award to FirstElement by the California Energy Commission’s (CEC) Notice of Proposed Awards (NOPA) announced yesterday, and final approval of the NOPA, anticipated in June.

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Sandia Labs and NREL leading new DOE hydrogen infrastructure project; H2FIRST

May 01, 2014

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A new project launched by the US Department of Energy (DOE) and led by Sandia National Laboratories and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will work in support of H2USA, the public private partnership introduced in 2013 by the Energy Department and industry stakeholders to address the challenge of hydrogen infrastructure. (Earlier post.)

Established by the Energy Department’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Sandia- and NREL-led Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure Research and Station Technology (H2FIRST) project will draw on existing and emerging core capabilities at the national labs and aim to reduce the cost and time of new fueling station construction and improve the stations’ availability and reliability. By focusing on these aspects of the hydrogen fueling infrastructure, the effort hopes to accelerate and support the widespread deployment of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles.

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DOE issues draft loan solicitation for up to $4B for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects; drop-in biofuels a key area

April 16, 2014

The US Department of Energy (DOE) issued a draft loan guarantee solicitation for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects located in the US that avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse gases. The Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy Projects Loan Guarantee solicitation is intended to support technologies that will have a catalytic effect on commercial deployment of future projects, are replicable, and are market ready.

When finalized, the solicitation is expected to make as much as $4 billion in loan guarantees available to help commercialize technologies that may be unable to obtain full commercial financing.

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Opbrid Bůsbaar demonstrates ultra-fast charging at 625 Amps; pathway to 2-3 minute bus charging

April 15, 2014

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The infrared photo shows a temperature increase of only 9.8 degrees at the junction between the pantograph and the overhead charging rail of the Opbrid Bůsbaar at 625 A. Click to enlarge.

During recent tests of Hybricon Bus Systems’ new Arctic Whisper (HAW) urban bus in Umeå, Sweden (earlier post), the Opbrid Bůsbaar achieved ultrafast charging at 625 amps for 6 minutes. This paves the way for charging at 500 – 1000 kW or more to achieve 2- to 3-minute charges at the end stations of longer bus routes. It also allows all-electric heating and 5 – 6 minute charging for the upcoming 18 m 4WD Arctic Whisper articulated bus.

The Opbrid Bůsbaar is an overhead, pantograph-based fast-charging station for buses. In the future, this technology may enable other applications such as medium-distance electric buses or even long distance buses and trucks, the company said.

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Survey of power management control technologies for HEVs and PHEVs suggests future need to consider vehicle as part of larger system

April 11, 2014

A comprehensive survey of major power management control algorithms for hybrid-electric (HEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) proposes that future work will need to consider the vehicle as part of a larger system which can be optimized at an even larger scale.

This type of large-scale optimization will require the acquisition and processing of additional information from the driver and conditions outside the vehicle itself, suggests Dr. Andreas Malikopoulos, Deputy Director of the Urban Dynamics Institute and an Alvin M. Weinberg Fellow in the Energy and Transportation Science Division with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

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Partners launch $51M hydrogen fuel cell vehicle and infrastructure project in Europe

April 03, 2014

Automakers, hydrogen fuel suppliers, the Mayor of London’s Office and energy consultancies launched the £31-million (US$51-million) European HyFive project at City Hall in London. Five different manufacturers will deploy a total of 110 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles at several European locations (Bolzano, Copenhagen, Innsbruck, London, Munich, Stuttgart) and develop new clusters of hydrogen refueling stations.

Locations are being sought for three new hydrogen refueling stations in London, one in Aarhus and in Odense (Denmark) and one in Innsbruck (Austria). They are expected to be operational by 2015, by which time some of the manufacturers in the partnership will have started to put hydrogen fueled cars on sale in some European markets.

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SAE taskforce completes two technical standards on hydrogen refueling; harmonizing the global infrastructure

March 24, 2014

To support the impending roll-out of hydrogen fueling infrastructure and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV), SAE International’s Fuel Cell Standards Taskforce has completed two technical standards: SAE J2601, “Fueling Protocols for Light Duty Gaseous Hydrogen Surface Vehicles”; and SAE J2799, “Hydrogen Surface Vehicle to Station Hardware and Software”. The standards have been created to harmonize hydrogen fueling worldwide for both 35 MPa and 70 MPa pressures.

J2601. SAE J2601 (also with J2799) fuels fuel cell vehicle hydrogen storage systems quickly to a high state of charge (SOC) without violating the storage system operating limits, explained Jesse Schneider, Sponsor of both Standards SAE J2601 & J2799, in a presentation at the SAE 2014 Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium earlier this year. SAE J2601 defines parameters for a hydrogen fueling experience similar to conventional fueling and is considered one of the key standards required for the commercialization of fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen stations.

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Ford installing GE WattStation chargers, charging network at facilities

March 20, 2014

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The WattStation Connect network will enable Ford to gather information on charging station use. Click to enlarge.

Ford Motor Company, in conjunction with GE, will supply electric vehicle charging stations at Ford facilities nationwide, beginning with facilities in and around its headquarters. Ford will begin installing the GE WattStation Level 2 charging stations across its North American campuses, developing a workplace charging network at nearly every Ford facility in the United States and Canada.

Ford now offers three plug-in vehicles: the battery electric Focus Electric, and the C-MAX Energi and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrids. Ford Fusion Energi and C-MAX Energi drivers typically make three of their four daily trips in all-electric mode, based on data from Ford’s MyFord Mobile app. Ford estimates that its customers now have logged 65 million all-electric miles, increasing at a rate of 290,000 electric miles per day.

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Researchers developing DC micro smart grid for charging EV fleets; Li-ion, redox flow batteries and renewables

March 07, 2014

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Up to 30 electric vehicles at a time can recharge in Fraunhofer IAO’s parking garage. Click to enlarge.

A team from Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO, together with Daimler AG and the Institute for Human Factors and Technology Management at the University of Stuttgart, is developing both the charging infrastructure and the energy management systems required to manage large fleets of EVs in a project called charge@work.

The aim of charge@work is to design a micro smart grid (MSG) capable of supplying the EV fleet with electricity produced exclusively from renewable sources. This year will see the installation of a photovoltaic unit and a small wind power system at the Fraunhofer Institute Center Stuttgart IZS, where up to 30 electric vehicles at a time can recharge at AC charge spots in the Fraunhofer Campus parking garage.

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Honda R&D installs hydrogen refueling station for field validation of new MC Fill dynamic fast-fill protocol

March 04, 2014

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MC Method control diagram, from a 2013 DOE-hosted webinar on hydrogen refueling. MC Fill allows dynamic control of refueling based on gas temperature. Click to enlarge.

Preparing for the 2015 introduction of the next Honda fuel cell-electric vehicle (FCEV), Honda R&D Americas has installed an advanced hydrogen refueling station on its Torrance, California campus to serve as a platform for demonstrating and validating its MC Fill hydrogen fueling protocol. Honda, which is also participating in the SAE J2601 work on a standardized light-duty vehicle hydrogen fueling protocol, will make the new research station available to other automakers to further validate the MC Fill protocol’s performance and functionality.

As with the J2601 protocol, which is due to be published soon (likely in April), the MC Fill fast-fill protocol is designed for fuel systems that store hydrogen at a pressure of up to 700 bar (70MPa or 10,000 psi). The primary differentiator between the current J2601 approach and Honda’s MC Fill is that Honda offers dynamic control of the refueling rate based on the measured gas temperature rather than a lookup table to control the pressure ramp rate, said Steve Mathison, Senior Engineer at Honda R&D Americas.

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Navigant Research forecasts global annual sales of wireless charging equipment for light-duty EVs will surpass 300,000 units by 2022

February 27, 2014

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Navigant projections of wireless EVSE sales. Click to enlarge.

In a new report, “Wireless Charging Systems for Electric Vehicles”, Navigant Research forecasts that worldwide sales of wireless EV charging equipment for light-duty vehicles will grow by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 108% from 2013 to 2022, reaching annual sales of slightly less than 302,000 units in 2022.

Until recently, wireless charging systems were in the R&D and pilot stages only, but now products have begun to reach the market. In 2013, Bosch announced a sales and distribution agreement with Evatran, maker of the Plugless Power system, with products scheduled to reach the market in the first quarter of 2014. Toyota has begun verification testing of its newly developed wireless battery charging system based on WiTricity technology. (Earlier post.)

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President Obama, DOT Secretary Foxx announce $600M for 6th round of TIGER funding for transportation projects

US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx joined President Barack Obama to announce that $600 million will be made available to fund transportation projects across the country under a sixth round of the US Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) competitive grant program.

The announcement was made at the Union Depot in St. Paul, Minnesota, which received $35 million in the first round of TIGER funding to renovate the facility and restore tracks. As in previous rounds, the FY 2014 TIGER Discretionary Grants are for capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure, and are to be awarded on a competitive basis for projects that will have a significant impact on the US, a metropolitan area, or a region.

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Toyota to begin wireless vehicle charging system verification testing

February 13, 2014

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) will begin verification testing of its newly developed wireless battery charging system for plug-in electric vehicles—such as plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles—in late February in Aichi Prefecture, Japan. The system can charge a vehicle parked in alignment over a coil on the surface of the ground, making the charging process simpler and more convenient.

The charging system uses magnetic-resonance technology, which transmits electricity by utilizing the magnetic resonance resulting from changes in magnetic field intensity between a coil on the ground that transmits and a coil on the vehicle that receives.

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State Department releases Keystone XL Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

February 01, 2014

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Incremental well-to-wheels GHG emissions from WCSB Oil Sands Crudes Compared to Well-to-Wheels GHG Emissions from Displacing Reference Crudes Click to enlarge.

The State Department released the long-anticipated and voluminous Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (Final Supplemental EIS) for the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline project. The document is posted on State’s Keystone project site, which it has run since the beginning of the Keystone XL Presidential permit process in 2008.

The analysis in the Final Supplemental EIS builds on the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement released on 1 March 2013 (earlier post) as well as the documents released in 2011 as part of the previous Keystone XL Pipeline application. Notable changes since the prior Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement include an expanded analysis of potential oil releases; an expanded climate change analysis; an updated oil market analysis incorporating new economic modeling; and an expanded analysis of rail transport.

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DOE issues Request for Information on financing strategies for light-duty H2 fueling infrastructure

December 13, 2013

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) (DE-FOA-0001055) for light-duty fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) fueling infrastructure financing strategies within the context of an early market introduction.

The purpose of this RFI is to solicit feedback from the financial/investment/business community and light-duty vehicle (LDV) hydrogen transportation stakeholders. This input will augment financing strategies that DOE analyzes for public deployment of infrastructure for supporting FCEV introduction in US markets. Such financing strategies should maximize financing, for example, with debt and equity, while minimizing public incentives.

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Ford unveils Fusion Hybrid research vehicle for autonomous driving

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Ford Fusion Hybrid automated research vehicle with four LiDAR sensors. Click to enlarge.

Ford, in conjunction with the University of Michigan and State Farm, unveiled a Ford Fusion Hybrid automated research vehicle that will be used to make progress on future autonomous driving and other advanced technologies.

The result of an ongoing project that builds on more than a decade of Ford’s automated driving research, the Fusion Hybrid automated vehicle will test current and future sensing systems and driver-assist technologies. Ford’s goal is to advance development of new technologies with its supplier partners so these features can be applied to the company’s next generation of vehicles.

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INL releases results of testing of Evatran Plugless 3.3 kW Level 2 wireless charging system

December 11, 2013

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System efficiency at 100mm gap for 3.3kW output plotted against primary coil position relative to secondary coil (mm). Source: INL. Click to enlarge.

Idaho National Laboratory researchers recently released independent testing results of a wireless charging system designed for plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). The system tested, Evatran’s Plugless 3.3 kW Level 2 Charging System, uses inductive technology to wirelessly charge a PEV’s traction battery, which powers the vehicle. The Plugless system is the first wireless power transfer technology to be independently documented and published.

INL researchers performed 2,600 separate tests of Evatran’s Plugless Level 2 Charging System, which included testing at different distances and varying alignments, said Jim Francfort, INL’s principal investigator for advanced technology vehicles. INL continues to conduct independent testing of PEVs and charging systems.

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Euro Parliament Transport Committee backs draft directive mandating expansion of alternative fuel stations; grandfathering CHAdeMO

November 26, 2013

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Minimum number of publicly-accessible recharging points for electric vehicles in each member state. Click to enlarge.

EU member states would have to ensure that specified numbers of publicly-available electric vehicle recharging points and hydrogen and natural gas stations are built by 2020, under a draft directive endorsed by the Transport and Tourism Committee of the European Parliament on Tuesday. The draft rules aim to reduce dependence on oil and boost take-up of alternative fuels, so as to help achieve a 60% cut in greenhouse gas emissions from transport by 2050.

Private sector players should play a leading role in developing this infrastructure, but member states should provide tax and public procurement incentives for them to do so, say the members of Parliament (MEPs). The directive specifies that:

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California Energy Commission to award up to $29.9M to hydrogen refueling infrastructure projects

November 24, 2013

The California Energy Commission (CEC) will award up to $29.9 million to projects to develop hydrogen refueling infrastructure in California (PON-13-607).

The solicitation has two goals: 1) to develop infrastructure necessary to dispense hydrogen transportation fuel; and 2) to provide needed Operation and Maintenance (O&M) funding to support hydrogen refueling operations prior to the large—scale roll—out of Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs). CEC will provide funding to construct, to upgrade, or to support hydrogen refueling stations that expand the network of publicly accessible hydrogen refueling stations to serve the current population of FCVs and accommodate the planned large—scale roll—out of FCVs beginning in 2015.

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Inaugural PlugInsights report highlights need to expand public fast charging

November 15, 2013

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The study shows that home charging is dominant. Data: PlugInsights. Click to enlarge.

Electric vehicle software and information services company Recargo Inc., has launched a plug-in vehicle (PEV) research firm—PlugInsights—which released an inaugural report addressing the experiences, behaviors and opinions around charging a plug-in vehicle in America.

The sample for the study was drawn from PlugInsights’ PEV panel, comprising more than 3,700 plug-in drivers of 17 different vehicle makes and models of plug-in hybrid, mid-range battery-electric vehicles and long-range battery electric vehicles (the Teslas), mathematically modeled to reflect the “real world”. The growing panel will be the data source for upcoming PEV studies, and will be used for custom survey and focus group research with PlugInsights clients.

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SAE task force agrees on frequency of operation and power classes for wireless power transfer for light-duty plug-in vehicles

SAE International J2954 Task Force for Wireless Power Transfer (WPT) of Light Duty, Electric and Plug-in Electric Vehicles, has agreed upon two key factors for the Technical Information Report (TIR) on interoperability for the first phase of pre-commercial development: a common frequency of operation (85 kHz) and the definition of three power classes for light duty vehicles: WPT 1, 2 and 3.

Made up of OEMs, WPT Suppliers, industry experts and government representatives, the Task Force plans to complete the TIR in early 2014. The SAE Technical Information Report will be followed by publication of SAE J2954 Standard, based on field data confirmation.

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NCSU team proposes new system for dynamic wireless EV charging

Researchers from North Carolina State University are proposing a new topology appropriate for dynamic wireless charging—i.e., wireless charging on the go. Currently, at peak efficiency, the new system can transmit energy at a rate of 0.5 kilowatts (kW). The team’s goal is to move from 0.5 kW into the 50 kW range.

The system, outlined in a paper published in IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics, features a transmitter made from segmented multiple coils, each of which broadcasts a low-level electromagnetic field and is powered by a single inverter. A receiver coil that is the same size as each of the transmitter coils is placed in a car or other mobile platform. (The size of the coils is important, because coils of the same size transfer energy more efficiently.)

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CMU study finds limited dedicated residential parking and charging a significant barrier to mainstream EV adoption

November 12, 2013

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Selected forecasts of US PEV sales with barriers to fleet penetration from limited residential charging infrastructure. Traut et al. Click to enlarge.

An analysis by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University of parking and charging availability for electric vehicles in the US has concluded that limited availability of dedicated residential parking—and hence charging opportunities—is a significant barrier to mainstream electric vehicle adoption. The study, which was funded in part by grants from the National Science Foundation, CMU’s Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research, General Motors, Ford and Toyota, is to appear in the journal Transportation Research (Part D).

The team, led by Professor Jeremy Michalek, assessed existing and potential charging infrastructure for plug-in vehicles in US households using data from the American Housing Survey and the Residential Energy Consumption Survey. The team found that while approximately 79% households have off-street parking for at least some of their vehicles, only an estimated 56% of vehicles have a dedicated off-street parking space—and only 47% at an owned residence. Only approximately 22% vehicles currently have access to a dedicated home parking space within reach of an outlet sufficient to recharge a small plug-in vehicle battery pack overnight.

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Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Mitsubishi to provide financial assistance for EV charging infrastructure in Japan

Toyota Motor Corporation, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Honda Motor Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation have agreed on the details of specific financial assistance they will provide to installers of charging stations for electric vehicles (PHVs, PHEVs, and EVs). This announcement follows an agreement the four companies announced in July jointly to promote the construction of a user-friendly network of charging infrastructures. (Earlier post.)

In order for electric vehicles to become widely adopted, the partners point out, it is imperative that charging infrastructure be made widely available as quickly as possible. By assisting installers with the part of their costs not covered by government subsidies, the four companies intend to promote wider availability of chargers to make electric vehicle use more convenient.

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DOE Inspector General criticizes agency’s handling of disclosures over Ecotality awards

November 08, 2013

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has issued a report concluding that DOE “had not fully disclosed known concerns regarding Ecotality’s ability to meet its EV project obligations” to the Office of Inspector General prior to completion of an earlier audit, and thus prior to Ecotality’s bankruptcy filing in September. (Earlier post.)

The OIG concluded that DOE had not provided information that raised questions about Ecotality’s ability to meet its project goals, including completing planned EV charger installations and the collection of EV usage data—even though the data had a “readily apparent” connection to the OIG audit then underway.

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Consortium including Volvo Car Group completes successful study of EV wireless charging

October 24, 2013

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Inductive battery charging components. Click to enlarge.

A consortium of companies, including Volvo Car Group, Bombardier Transportation and the coachbuilder Van Hool, has successfully completed a 3-year research project studying the possibilities of inductive charging for electric vehicles. (Earlier post.) The results show that this technology for transferring energy via an electromagnetic field has “great potential,” according to Volvo.

The inductive charging project was initiated by Flanders’ Drive, a research and test center for the automotive industry in the Flanders region in Belgium and was partly funded by the Flemish government. Volvo Cars supplied the car for the inductive charging project: a Volvo C30 Electric with a power output of 89 kW (120 hp) and a 24 kWh battery pack.

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BRUSA picks up awards at eCarTec Munich 2013 for wireless charging and electric truck; synchronous motor shortlisted

October 17, 2013

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The two components of BRUSA’s Inductive Charging System. Click to enlarge.

BRUSA won two of the eCarTec Awards presented at eCarTec Munich 2013 trade fair. BRUSA’s new ICS inductive charging system and the E-FORCE electric truck won in their particular categories, while BRUSA’s synchronous motor was shortlisted in the category of “Drive Technology, System Electrics, Testing Systems”.

BRUSA Inductive Charging System. BRUSA’s ICS was the winner in the category “Energy, Infrastructure, Connection Technology”. The new system only comprises a floor and vehicle plate—the required power electronics are integrated.

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Car Charging Group acquires Blink-related charging assets of ECOtality; Access Control Group and Intertek buyers of other assets

October 11, 2013

Blink Acquisition, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Car Charging Group, Inc., a nationwide provider of electric vehicle (EV) charging services, won the bid to purchase the Blink-related assets of bankrupt ECOtality. (Earlier post.) The assets included in the transaction are all of Blink’s inventory: more than 12,450 installed electric vehicle Level II charging stations; the 110 DC Fast charging station;, and the Blink network, which is the turnkey operating system for EV drivers, commercial businesses, and utilities, that services the Blink stations.

Blink Acquisition is paying $3,335,000 in cash, plus payment or satisfaction of cure costs and the assumption of Assumed Liabilities (i.e., agreements with the US government). The Blink deal does not include Minit-Charger, which manufactures and distributes fast-charging systems for material handling and airport ground support vehicles; this business was acquired for $250,000 by Access Control Group. Nor does it include ETEC LABS, ECOtality’s research and testing resource for governments, automotive OEMs and utilities; this was acquired by Intertek Testing for $750,000.

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Navigant Research projects global market for plug-in charging equipment to grow to 4.3M units and $5.8B in revenue in 2022

October 02, 2013

The market for plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) has expanded in recent years in parallel with the deployment of publicly accessible charging stations, mainly funded by government programs. According to a new report from Navigant Research, there are now almost 64,000 public charging stations installed globally. Overall, Navigant Research expects global sales of electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) to grow from around 442,000 units in 2013 to 4.3 million in 2022, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 28.8%. The company expects revenue from the sales of EVSE to grow from $567 million in 2013 to $5.8 billion in 2022 at a CAGR of 29.4%.

Residential EVSE sales are directly driven by the increase in PEV sales, as many drivers purchase a charger for exclusive use at home. Commercial charging, which includes workplace, public and private chargers, is more indirectly tied to PEV growth and is still driven to a great degree by government support, the market research firm observed. However, this dynamic is changing, as government programs in some regions are coming to a close.

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CARB draft of updated AB 32 Scoping Plan for climate change actions post-2020; pushing for greater transportation reductions

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has released the public discussion draft of the required update to the AB 32 Scoping Plan. (Earlier post.) The Scoping Plan describes the comprehensive range of efforts California must take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and meet the state’s long-term goals to combat climate change.

AB 32 requires the Scoping Plan to be updated every five years. The original Plan, first released in 2008, was developed on the principle that a balanced mix of strategies is the best way to cut emissions and grow California’s economy in a clean and sustainable direction. This draft update continues with that approach and focuses on three questions:

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H2 Mobility initiative agrees on $474M plan for hydrogen refueling network in Germany; 400 stations by 2023

September 30, 2013

The six partners in the “H2 Mobility” initiative (earlier post)—Air Liquide, Daimler, Linde, OMV, Shell and Total—have signed an agreement in principle upon a specific action plan for the construction of a Germany-wide hydrogen refueling network for fuel cell powered electric vehicles.

Under the plan, the current network of 15 filling stations in Germany’s public hydrogen infrastructure will be expanded by 2023 to about 400 H2 filling stations. As a first step, the partners intend to deploy 100 hydrogen stations in Germany over the next 4 years. This would ensure a need-related supply for fuel cell powered electric vehicles to be introduced into the market in the next years, the partners said.

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Kawasaki Heavy to build first ocean-going liquid hydrogen tanker with demo in 2017; H2 for transport, industry, power in Japan

September 28, 2013

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KHI’s view of a “CO2-free hydrogen chain”. Source: KHI. Click to enlarge.

The Nikkei reports that Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. (KHI) will build the first ocean-going ships to carry liquefied hydrogen (LH2), with plans for a demonstration test by 2017 in which liquefied hydrogen will be shipped from the state of Victoria in Australia to Japan. The project will cost ¥60 billion (US$610 million), according to the report.

As part of Japan’s WE-NET (World Energy Network) research program of the New Sunshine Project begun in 1993, Kawasaki and its other industrial colleagues in Japan have been considering the large-scale marine transportation of liquid hydrogen for some time (e.g., Abe et al., 1998). KHI has previously discussed the concept of such a hydrogen-carrying vessel as part of its Business Vision 2020.

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Ford launches electric vehicle charging network for employees; hoping to increase number of all-electric trips

September 16, 2013

Ford Motor Company is installing a new workplace plug-in vehicle charging network at nearly every Ford facility in the US and Canada. Ford will install charging stations at more than 50 company offices, product development campuses and manufacturing facilities. Installation will begin later this year and roll out throughout 2014.

Ford employees will be able to charge the all-electric Focus Electric, as well as Ford’s two plug-in hybrids—the Fusion Energi and C-MAX Energi—at the charge stations. The service will initially be free to employees for the first four hours. Ford estimates it will cost the company about $0.50 fully to charge a vehicle.

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Burns & McDonnell develops bi-directional fast chargers for SPIDERS program

September 01, 2013

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Bi-directional fast charger at Ft. Carson. Click to enlarge.

A team of Burns & McDonnell engineers, along with subcontractor Coritech Services, has developed a system of bidirectional, fast-charging stations for a fleet of plug-in electric vehicles at Fort Carson, Colo. This first-of-its-kind system will push power back to the base microgrid when needed to meet installation demand or improve overall power quality.

On 29 August, the team successfully commissioned five bidirectional chargers and the aggregating control system as part of the Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security (SPIDERS) microgrid project at Fort Carson. (Earlier post.) Commissioning was performed using both Boulder Electric Vehicle and Smith Electric trucks, which are being provided for use on SPIDERS under separate agreements with the US Army’s Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) and Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC).

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KAIST rolling out dynamic wireless charging in buses in South Korea

August 08, 2013

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The OLEV bus in Gumi. Click to enlarge.

The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) is trialing a bus application for its Online Electric Vehicle (OLEV) technology, a dynamic wireless charging technology that recharges a vehicle’s battery while the vehicle is in motion. (Earlier post.) An OLEV bus thus requires no pantographs to feed power from electric wires strung above the tram route.

Following the development and operation of commercialized OLEV trams (at an amusement park in Seoul) and shuttle buses (at KAIST campus), respectively, the city of Gumi in South Korea, beginning on 6 August, is providing its citizens with OLEV public transportation services. After the successful operation of the two OLEV buses by the end of this year, Gumi City plans to provide ten more such buses by 2015.

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SoCal Edison white paper shares data about PEV usage and charging

August 06, 2013

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About 50% of the more than 12,000 PEV owners in SCE territory charge at Level 1. Click to enlarge.

Southern California Edison (SCE) released a white paper summarizing learnings from its Electric Vehicle (EV) readiness program. The paper, “Charged Up: Southern California Edison’s Key Learnings about Electric Vehicles, Our Customers and Grid Reliability,” shares information based on customer data and utility operations gathered since SCE began to prepare the distribution system and its customers for widespread electric vehicle (EV) adoption in its service territory.

Currently, SCE customers lease or own more than 12,000 plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), both battery electric (BEVs, for about 35%) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs, for about 65%)—about 10% of national EV sales. (SCE estimates that by 2020, there will be about 350,000 PEVs in its service territory.) Because California leads the nation in EV adoption, other utilities and stakeholders in the auto industry may find the information from the white paper useful, SCE suggested.

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Exploring the adoption of EVs in the US, Europe and China; charging scenarios and infrastructure

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Aspirational targets among seven countries participating in the Electric Vehicle Initiative would see growth from just under 2 million EV and PHEVs to just under 20 million by 2020. Source: “Electric Vehicle Grid Integration”. Click to enlarge.

A recently published paper by M.J. Bradley & Associates, commissioned by the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP) and the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), examines key drivers of EV adoption in the US, Europe and China, with an emphasis on vehicle charging scenarios and infrastructure.

This report examines hurdles to EV adoption in these regions, and identifies critical success factors that should guide policymakers in the transportation and electric sectors. Accelerating the pace of EV market growth requires a coordinated evolution in both sectors, the report argues, from the power plant to the charging station to the vehicle. Supportive policies should work to ensure that EV owners are able to capture the full economic value of their decision to fuel switch from electricity to gasoline, including any benefits to the grid operator, and any emission reduction benefits, in addition to realizing the savings from replacing gasoline or diesel fuel with electricity.

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AKASOL providing Li-ion systems for Bombardier PRIMOVE; wireless charging

August 05, 2013

German Li-ion battery systems specialist AKASOL is supplying Li-ion battery systems for Bombardier’s PRIMOVE system. (Earlier post.) PRIMOVE is a Business Unit of Bombardier that specializes in creating market-ready solutions in the field of electromobility; its portfolio comprises integrated charging, battery, and power solutions for all types of electric rail and road vehicles. The wireless PRIMOVE charging technology permits automatic inductive rapid charging with up to 200 kW of power.

AKASOL’s water-cooled PRIMOVE Li-ion battery systems feature an extremely compact size and low weight. Depending on use, the energy capacity of the system packs varies between 50 and 90 kWh. Under the Bombardier partnership, AKASOL will supply 5-10 MWh of its Li-ion battery systems to Bombardier by the end of 2014 for use in various applications and at sites of operation around the world. Starting in 2015, volume should rise to a middle to high double-digit MWh range.

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