[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.]
Volvo Car Group begins production of new VEA 4-cylinder engine family
May 13, 2013
Volvo Car Group is now starting production of the first engine variants in the new, high-efficiency four-cylinder Volvo Engine Architecture (VEA) family. (Earlier post.) The development and production take place in-house at Volvo Car Group.
VEA consists of four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines. Together with driveline electrification, VEA replaces the previous eight engine architectures on three different platforms. The new engines will be introduced between 2013 and 2015. Almost 20,000 engines will be produced in 2013, and by the end of the year the production pace will be 2000 units a week.
Obama Administration launches $200M competition for three new manufacturing innovation institutes; WBG power electronics, lightweight metals and digital manufacturing
May 09, 2013
The Obama Administration is launching competitions to create three new manufacturing innovation institutes with a Federal commitment of $200 million across five Federal agencies: Defense, Energy, Commerce, NASA, and the National Science Foundation. The effort is part of President Obama’s proposed $1-billion investment to create a network of 15 manufacturing innovation institutes across the country. (Earlier post.)
The Department of Energy will lead one of the new institutes on “Next Generation Power Electronics Manufacturing” for wide bandgap semiconductors such as silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) (DE-FOA-0000683). The Department of Defense will lead the other two, focused on “Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing” and “Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation”.
PARC launches ARPA-E-funded co-extrusion printed battery project
April 30, 2013
PARC, a Xerox company, has launched a project with the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) under the 2012 Open Funding Opportunity. (Earlier post.) The Printed Integral Battery Project will leverage a PARC invented co-extrusion (CoEx) technology (earlier post) to demonstrate a lithium-ion battery manufacturing process that deposits the entire functional battery in a single pass.
The conventional lithium-ion battery manufacturing process requires that the two electrodes of a battery be made in two separate steps, and then combined together in a third step—each step adding cost that contributes to the high price of the final product. PARC’s Printed Integral Battery deposits the entire battery cell—cathode, separator, anode—in one single pass.
DOE launches Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative; awards $23.5M to 5 more manufacturing R&D projects
March 26, 2013
The US Department of Energy (DOE) launched the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative (CEMI), which will focus on growing US manufacturing of clean energy products and boosting US competitiveness through major improvements in manufacturing energy productivity. The initiative includes private sector partnerships, new funding from the Department, and enhanced analysis of the clean energy manufacturing supply chain that will guide DOE’s future funding decisions.
As a part of its increased focus on manufacturing research and development, DOE also awarded $23.5 million to 5 innovative manufacturing research and development projects. This new funding for advanced manufacturing—as well as the $54 million invested in 13 projects during the first round of selections in June of 2012 (earlier post)—is to serve as a ground floor investment in CEMI.
NAMII selects awardees of initial call for additive manufacturing applied research
March 24, 2013
NAMII, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, awarded on August 2012 (earlier post), and driven by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), announced the awardees of its initial call for additive manufacturing (AM) applied research and development projects from NAMII members. NAMII will provide $4.5 million in funding toward these projects with the matching cost share from the awarded project teams totaling $5 million.
Additive manufacturing uses a digital model to construct objects in layers. The method can create complex 3-D shapes and produces far less scrap than conventional methods. The seven selected projects span a variety of metals and polymeric additive manufacturing processes and materials with near-term technical achievements impacting multiple key markets within a few months.
ARPA-E to award up to $20M for technologies for primary domestic processing of light metals (Al, Mg, Ti); vehicle lightweighting
March 22, 2013
The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) has issued a Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0000882) for up to $20 million for the Modern Electro/Thermochemical Advancements for Light-metal Systems (METALS) program. METALS is to support the development of innovative technologies for cost-effective processing and recycling of aluminum, magnesium and titanium (Al, Mg and Ti).
ARPA-E also last week issued a Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0000881) for up to $20 million to fund the development of bioconversion technologies to convert methane into liquid fuels. (Earlier post.)
Nano-spaced stacking faults create stronger, lightweight magnesium alloys; potential for structural applications in automotive and aerospace
March 14, 2013
|Summary of room temperature tensile yield strength and uniform elongation of earlier efforts and the new work. Numbers adjacent to data points are references cited in Jian et al. Source: Jian et al. Click to enlarge.|
Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new technique for creating ultra-strong magnesium alloys that maintain good ductility. By introducing stacking faults with nanoscale spacing into a magnesium alloy using conventional hot rolling, they produced a yield strength of 575 MPa, an ultimate strength of 600 MPa, and moderate ductility (uniform elongation of 5.2%).
The nano-spaced stacking faults are essentially a series of parallel fault-lines in the crystalline structure of the alloy that isolate any defects in that structure. The process can lead to Mg alloys with superior mechanical properties with potential structural applications in the automobile and aerospace industries, the researchers suggested in an open access paper in the journal Materials Research Letters.
Nissan to expand use of Advanced High Tensile Strength Steel into up to 25% of new model parts; 1.2 GPa ultra high strength steel for weight reduction
March 12, 2013
|Relationship of material strength and elongation in steel plates. Source: Nissan. Click to enlarge.|
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. plans to expand the use of Advanced High Tensile Strength Steel (AHSS) into up to 25% of the vehicle parts (measured by weight) installed in its new production models starting in 2017 as one of its initiatives to help reduce vehicle weight.
Nissan, in collaboration with Nippon Steel Corporation and Kobe Steel, Ltd., earlier developed 1.2 gigapascal (GPa) Ultra High Tensile Strength Steel with High Formability. (Earlier post.) Prior to the development of 1.2GPa ultra high strength steel it had been difficult to use high tensile steels for vehicle parts with highly-complex shapes. This steel is first employed in the new Infiniti Q50, which goes on sale in North America in 2013.
Audi and BMW Group join Aluminium Stewardship Initiative; seeking a standard for sustainable aluminum
February 28, 2013
AUDI AG and the BMW Group, along with Hydro and Rexam, have joined the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) to help develop a global standard for sustainable aluminum. Aluminium is the world’s second most used metal after steel, and is of specific importance to the automotive industry due to its combination of its light weight, durability and strength.
The Aluminium Stewardship Initiative was founded in the autumn of 2012 and aims to develop the first version of a sustainability standard for aluminum by the end of 2014, with the support of the environmental organization IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). Founding members of the Initiative are AMCOR Flexibles, AMAG, Constantia Flexibles, Constellium, Nespresso, Rio Tinto Alcan, and Tetra Pak.
Volkswagen to produce XL1 diesel plug-in hybrid at Osnabrück; 261 mpg US
February 21, 2013
|The XL1. Click to enlarge.|
Volkswagen has confirmed that its XL1 Super Efficient Vehicle, featuring fuel consumption of 0.9 l/100 km (approx. 261 mpg US), will go into limited production at the company’s Osnabrück factory in Germany. The plug-in diesel-electric hybrid, which Volkswagen will showcase at the Geneva show, can cover a distance of up to 50 km (31 miles) in all-electric mode.
The XL1 is low weight (795 kg), aerodynamic (Cd 0.189) and with a low center of gravity (1,153 mm high). This gives it the ability to cruise on the road at a constant speed of 100 km/h (61 mph) using just 6.2 kW / 8.3 hp, Volkswagen says. In all-electric mode, the XL1 requires less than 0.1 kWh to cover a driving distance of more than one kilometer.
Honda develops new technology to join steel and aluminum, with first application to outer door panel of mass production vehicles
February 18, 2013
|Structure of door panels. Click to enlarge.|
Honda Motor Co., Ltd. has developed a technology to join steel and aluminum and applied it to enable adoption of aluminum for an outer door panel, which has conventionally been made of steel. Honda will adopt this technology first to the North American version of the all-new Acura RLX, which will go on sale in the United States in March 2013, and will expand application sequentially to other models.
To join together the dissimilar metals of steel and aluminum, the simultaneous establishment of several different technologies was required such as technologies to prevent corrosion (electrical corrosion) and thermal deformation caused by the different expansion rates of steel and aluminum.
DOE seeking comment on draft $50M solicitation for new projects over 11 areas of interest to improve vehicle performance and decrease fuel consumption
February 02, 2013
The US Department of Energy (DOE) Vehicle Technology Program is seeking public comment on the draft of an upcoming solicitation (DE-FOA-0000793) totaling more than $50 million for new research projects that will develop advanced technologies to improve vehicle performance and increase fuel economy. As part of the Advanced Vehicle Power Technology Alliance between DOE and the Department of the Army, the Army plans to contribute $3.5 million in co-funding for several areas where there are joint development opportunities. The FOA supports the President’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge. (Earlier post.)
DOE will release the final version after a period of public comment and revision. The FOA contains a total of 11 areas of interest (AOIs) in the general areas of advanced lightweighting and propulsion materials; advanced battery development; power electronics; advanced heating, ventilation, air conditioning systems; and fuels and lubricants. Specific AOIs are:
Honda Transmission contracts with Juhl Wind for two utility-scale wind turbines at Ohio plant; up to 10% of electricity for operations
January 25, 2013
Honda Transmission Mfg. of America, Inc. announced an agreement with Juhl Wind, Inc. to develop, install, and operate two utility-scale wind turbines (each rated at about 2MW) to generate electricity for the plant’s operations.
The plant manufactures automatic transmissions, gears and four-wheel-drive systems, including the next-generation Earth Dreams transmission technology. The two wind turbines will supply up to approximately 10% of the plant’s electricity. Based on their location and actual wind speeds, combined output from the two wind turbines is estimated at 10,000-megawatt hours (MWh) per year.
Volkswagen inaugurates 9.5 MW solar park at Chattanooga plant in US; key element of VW Group’s strategic sustainability targets
January 24, 2013
|The 9.5 MW solar park at Chattanooga is owned and operated by Silicon Ranch; VW has signed a 20-year power purchase agreement. Click to enlarge.|
Volkswagen inaugurated its largest solar facility in the world—also the largest solar facility operated by an automaker in the US—at its plant in Chattanooga, TN, which produces the Passat model for North America. The Volkswagen Chattanooga Solar Park has a peak output of 9.5 MW. The power will be used directly in production; solar power will provide up to 12.5% of the electric power required in full-capacity operation and 100% of demand when the plant is not in production.
The new solar park is an integral part of Volkswagen’s worldwide sustainability strategy, which includes generating more power within the Group from renewable energy sources, said Volkswagen Group Officer for the Environment, Energy and New Business Areas, Wolfram Thomas.
DOE, ArcelorMittal partnership boosts efficiency of major steel manufacturing plant; 504 boiler project captures blast furnace gas flare
December 17, 2012
|Simplified process diagram that shows existing process components and the new elements of the 504 project. Source: NETL. Click to enlarge.|
ArcelorMittal has inaugurated a new, energy recovery and reuse boiler that recycles waste gas generated through its blast furnace process (for ironmaking) and uses it to generate electricity to help power the ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor steel manufacturing plant in East Chicago, Indiana—the largest steelmaking complex in North America.
ArcelorMittal is a major supplier to the North American automotive industry, as well as the broader transportation sector, with customers in the trucking, off- highway, agricultural equipment, and railway industries.
Nissan launches EV battery manufacturing in Smyrna plant
December 12, 2012
Nissan has launched production in its new battery plant in Smyrna, Tenn. The plant, which is making battery components for the ramp-up of production of the 2013 Nissan LEAF early next year, is located adjacent to Nissan’s existing vehicle assembly plant in Tennessee, which itself has been retooled to accommodate production of the Nissan LEAF.
Combined, the construction of the battery plant and modification of the Smyrna manufacturing facility represent an investment of up to $1.7 billion when built to full capacity. The project is supported by a US Department of Energy (DOE) loan for up to $1.4 billion, issued as part of the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program, program authorized by Congress as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. (Earlier post.)
GM looking to combination of internal R&D and external investments for new technology; focus on five key areas; the importance of generational change
November 20, 2012
General Motors is leveraging two separate organizations—its internal R&D group and the recently formed GM Ventures—to accelerate innovation and to introduce new technology to keep the company on the forefront of the technology revolution now taking place in the automotive industry, according to John Lauckner, GM’s Chief Technology Officer; Vice President, Global Research & Development; and President, GM Ventures.
During a talk at the recent Electrification Experience symposium (earlier post), Lauckner briefly outlined GM’s efforts to leverage three sources of technology: technology developed in house, through R&D or advanced engineering; technology from outside the company from startups; and technology from suppliers and engineering firms. GM is focusing on five key areas, Lauckner said:
GM testing industry-first thermal-forming process for lightweight magnesium sheet metal
October 23, 2012
|Trunk lid inner panel is the first use of GM process for magnesium sheet metal. Click to enlarge.|
General Motors is testing an industry-first thermal-forming process and proprietary corrosion resistance treatment for lightweight magnesium sheet metal that will allow increased use of the high-strength alternative to steel and aluminum. Magnesium weighs 33% less than aluminum, 60% less than titanium, and 75% less than steel.
GM wants to expand its use of low-mass parts on vehicles around the world and will pursue licensing opportunities related to this novel technology. The goal is for suppliers to be able to use the process to provide significant amounts of magnesium sheet that will trim pounds from vehicle mass.
Nearly $50M in research funding awarded by NSF-Led National Robotics Initiative to develop next-generation robotics
September 15, 2012
The National Science Foundation (NSF), in partnership with NASA, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), awarded just under $50 million to grantees around the country for the development and use of robots that cooperatively work with people and enhance individual human capabilities, performance and safety. These agencies have also issued a new joint solicitation to fund an additional 25-40 awards.
These mark the first round of awards of the Obama Administration’s National Robotics Initiative (NRI) launched with NSF as the lead federal agency just over a year ago as part of the president’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Initiative. (Earlier post.) Each federal agency announced its awards Friday morning; NSF itself is announcing 31 of the awards totaling nearly $30 million.
Purdue researchers discover that sliding metals show fluid-like behavior
September 13, 2012
Researchers at Purdue have discovered a swirling, fluid-like behavior in a solid piece of metal sliding over another. Numerous mechanical parts from bearings to engine pistons undergo such sliding, and the new insights into the mechanisms of wear and generation of machined surfaces could help improve the durability of these metal parts.
Using in situ imaging, including a microscope and high-speed camera, the researchers found bumps, folds, vortex-like features and cracks forming on the metal surface—phenomena normally associated with fluids, not solids, said Srinivasan Chandrasekar, a Purdue University professor of industrial engineering who is working with postdoctoral research associates Narayan Sundaram and Yang Guo. The findings were surprising because the experiment was conducted at room temperature and the sliding conditions did not generate enough heat to soften the metal.
Global auto production may hit 80+ million units this year; hybrids below 2% of total output
September 11, 2012
|Worldwide light-duty vehicle production. Source: Worldwatch. Click to enlarge.|
Production of light-duty passenger vehicles (cars and light trucks) rose from 74.4 million in 2010 to 76.8 million in 2011, and 2012 may bring an all-time high of 80 million or more vehicles, according to new research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute for its Vital Signs Online service. Hybrids remain below 2% of total vehicle output.
Global sales of passenger vehicles increased from 75.4 million to 78.6 million over the same period, with a projected 81.8 million in 2012, writes report author and Worldwatch Senior Researcher Michael Renner. The major driver of increased production and sales are the emerging economies, especially China.
New process for predicting cold cracking in welding of high-strength steels could lower development times and costs
September 08, 2012
Cold cracking in the weld metal and the heat-affected zone (HAZ) when welding high-strength steel is a well-known problem that industry has spent decades trying to prevent through various mechanisms. Cold cracks usually form when the weld cools down below 250 °C (hence the term “cold crack”). Cold cracking is also known as hydrogen cracking or delayed cracking, and is associated with the formation of brittle microstructures as martensite in the presence of diffusible hydrogen as well as of tension stresses.
Whether such cold cracking occurs, and how quickly, depends on how high the concentration of hydrogen in the steel is, how the residual stress turns out, and how its microstructure is configured. Predicting the probability of cracking has been difficult up to now. This has presented major quality assurance challenges for sectors such as automotive, which is looking to the lighter weight, higher strength steels as a means to reduce vehicle weight and hence fuel consumption.
2013 Accord featuring first use of new Honda emissions aftertreatment catalyst and new technology to weld together steel and aluminum
September 06, 2012
|The new catalyst enhances the performance of palladium, also allowing a reduction in rhodium use. Click to enlarge.|
The 2013 Honda Accord, due to go on sale in the US on 19 September, features the first use of a new Honda-developed catalyst which significantly reduces the precious metals required in catalysts for emissions aftertreatment. Honda will continue to adopt this catalyst sequentially to other models.
The 2013 Accord also features first use of a new technology for the continuous welding of the dissimilar metals of steel and aluminum. Honda applied this for the first time to the vehicle subframe, a key component of a vehicle body frame. Honda will expand application sequentially to other models after the Accord.
Obama Administration launches new public-private institute to support innovation in additive manufacturing technology with $30M in federal funding
August 16, 2012
The Obama Administration launched a new public-private institute for innovation in additive manufacturing technology. Additive manufacturing is defined in ASTM 2792-12 as a process of joining materials to make objects from three-dimensional (3D) model data, usually layer upon layer, as opposed to subtractive manufacturing methodologies. Synonyms include additive fabrication, additive processes, additive techniques, additive layer manufacturing, layer manufacturing and freeform fabrication.
Additive manufacturing can encompass metals, polymers, and electronics (earlier post) and will have implications in a wide range of industries including defense, aerospace, automotive, and metals manufacturing. The Department of Energy anticipates that additive processes would be able to save more than 50% energy use compared to today’s subtractive manufacturing processes.
DOE selects 7 projects for up to $21.75M in funding to develop stronger and lighter materials for cars and trucks
August 13, 2012
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected for funding seven new projects to accelerate the development and deployment of stronger and lighter materials for the next generation of cars and trucks. These projects include the development and validation of modeling tools to deliver higher performing carbon fiber composites and advanced steels, as well as research into new lightweight, high-strength alloys for energy-efficient vehicle and truck engines.
The Energy Department will provide $8 million this year for these awards, and has requested an additional $13.75 million next year, subject to congressional appropriations, to support the completion of these projects over the next two to four years. DOE’s investments are leveraging an additional $11 million from the private sector.
GM Ventures invests in nano-structured steel alloys company NanoSteel; potential for light-weighting
August 06, 2012
General Motors Ventures LLC has invested in NanoSteel Company, a developer of proprietary nano-structured steel material. GM Ventures joined lead shareholders EnerTech Capital and Fairhaven Capital Partners and five existing investors to complete the Series C financing round. Terms of the GM Ventures investment were not disclosed.
Through the development of patented alloys, NanoSteel has created a new class of steel that allows automotive engineers and designers to reduce weight through the use of thinner, higher strength gauges while maintaining the structural integrity needed for safety. The new advanced high-strength steels (AHSS) offer exceptional combinations of strength and ductility for automotive structures, with measured strength/elongation performance of 950 MPa/35%, 1200 MPa/30% and 1600 MPa/15% respectively.
Ford deploying single manufacturing operating system that to support global expansion with improved efficiencies, better capacity utilization
Ford Motor Company is rolling out a single manufacturing operating system intended to deliver improved efficiencies, increase capacity utilization and make the company an industry leader in lowest total cost production, said John Fleming, Ford executive vice president, Global Manufacturing, at the Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars In Traverse City, Michigan, today.
Ford is adding capacity around the world, including a broad expansion in Asia Pacific Africa (APA), where the company is adding nine new plants. The facilities will increase APA’s capacity to produce 2.9 million vehicles a year, part of a global plan to meet Ford’s goal of selling 8 million vehicles per year by mid-decade.
ETI announces £2.5M lower drivetrain HDV efficiency project
July 27, 2012
The UK Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has launched a three-year, £2.5-million (US$3.9-million) project to improve the efficiency of Heavy Duty Vehicles (HDV) by cutting the amount of parasitic losses in the lower drivetrain system by 50%. The ETI is a public-private partnership between global energy and engineering companies—BP, Caterpillar, EDF, E.ON, Rolls-Royce and Shell—and the UK Government.
Parasitic losses caused by the churning of the lubricating oil and component friction in HDVs and off-road vehicle drivetrains can account for more than 10% of overall vehicle energy losses. This project will look to improve the overall system design, with a synergistic focus on gears, bearings, surface treatments, lubricant flow and lubricant composition.
Renault, LG Chem and CEA preparing to sign three-way agreement concerning next-generation traction battery development and production; European plant, based in France
Renault, LG Chem and CEA (France’s Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission) are preparing to sign a three-way agreement in September concerning next-generation battery production.
In 2010, Renault and the CEA initiated a strategic partnership in the areas of clean vehicles and mobility. As part of this partnership, they signed several research agreements including a strategic cooperation contract for new battery technologies. Renault says that the results achieved by its R&D Laboratory and the CEA in new-generation batteries for electric vehicles have made it possible to enter the preparation phase for industrial production.
University Of Dayton Research Institute wins $3M funding to develop materials for additive manufacturing of aircraft engine components
The Ohio Third Frontier awarded $3 million to the University of Dayton Research Institute to provide specialized materials for use in additive manufacturing. UDRI will work with program partners, Stratasys, PolyOne and Rapid Prototype Plus Manufacturing Inc. to develop aircraft-engine components for GE Aviation—who also collaborated on the program proposal—as well as parts and components for ATK Aerospace Structures, Boeing, Goodrich, Honda, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.
3-D printing technology has existed for about 20 years, but additive manufacturing in its current form is only about five years old, said Brian Rice, head of UDRI’s Multi-Scale Composites and Polymers Division and program lead for the Third Frontier-funded Advanced Materials for Additive Manufacturing Maturation program. (Earlier post.)
New lightweight aluminum piston from Federal-Mogul enables further downsizing of gasoline engines
July 10, 2012
|The new Advanced Elastoval II piston. Click to enlarge.|
Federal-Mogul Corporation has developed a lightweight, high-strength aluminium piston that enables engine manufacturers to increase the power density and efficiency of boosted, direct injected gasoline engines. The Advanced Elastoval II piston enters series production later this year in a new European passenger car, where it contributes to gains in fuel economy and reductions in CO2 emissions.
Specific power outputs in engines are likely to increase from current levels of around 95 kW/L to 130 kW/L to coming years. Peak combustion pressures will rise from 110 bar to 130 bar and even 160 bar in engines using alternative fuels such as E100, compressed natural gas (CNG) or others, Federal-Mogul notes.
Stratasys and Oak Ridge National Laboratory partner to advance additive manufacturing for production use
Stratasys, a maker of additive manufacturing machines for prototyping and producing plastic parts, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) are partnering to develop fused deposition modeling (FDM) additive manufacturing for production use.
The project, which builds upon a collaboration that leverages ORNL’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF) to foster energy-efficient production using additive manufacturing materials and processes, aims to develop FDM additive manufacturing technology to make it a mainstream manufacturing process in addition to being a prototyping tool. The project targets two main objectives:
In-wheel electric drive company Protean receives $84M in funding; to build production plant in China
Protean Electric, developer of in-wheel electric drive systems (earlier post), received $84 million in new funding from GSR Ventures, New Times Group, Oak Investment Partners and the city of Liyang, Jiangsu Province, China. This capital will be used to bring Protean’s electric drive technology to production by establishing manufacturing facilities in Liyang.
The funding is led by GSR Ventures, a venture capital firm based in Beijing and Silicon Valley. They will be joined by the New Times Group, a Liyang-based industrial group. Oak Investment Partners, Protean’s first venture investor, is also participating in this round of funding. The city of Liyang is partnering to provide prototype manufacturing support, with favorable industrial policy.
Researchers develop optimized electrospray technique for ultra-low platinum loading in fuel cells with high performance
July 03, 2012
|The electrospray (top) and the deposited nanostructure (bottom). Source: UNED. Click to enlarge.|
A group of researchers from UNED (National Distance Education University) in Spain reports developing an optimized electrospray method for manufacturing the membrane electrode assembly (MEA) in PEM fuel cells with ultra-low platinum loadings that exceed US Department of Energy (DOE) targets.
Optimization of the control parameters result in electrosprayed layers with nanostructured fractal morphologies with dendrites formed by clusters (about 100 nm diameter) of a few single catalyst particles rendering a large exposure surface of the catalyst.
Univ. of Exeter team develops selective laser melting process to produce 3D aluminum composite parts; automotive and aerospace applications
|A complex SLM part from the University of Exeter. Click to enlarge.|
Engineers at the University Exeter (UK) have developed a new method for making three-dimensional reinforced aluminium composite parts by using Selective Laser Melting (SLM)—a form of additive layer manufacturing (ALM), also sometimes generally called 3D printing. (3D printing is a specific process within the larger ALM domain.) The Exeter method could produce strong, lightweight and complex parts for car manufacturing and the aerospace industry less expensively and more accurately than current methods, according to the team.
SLM builds components up by melting successive layers of powder using a laser source that fuses the material in a pattern corresponding to the final product; the process originated at Fraunhofer ILT in Aachen, Germany some 20 years ago. The specific SLM technique for reinforced aluminum composites is being developed at the University of Exeter’s Centre for Additive Layer Manufacturing. The technique has the potential to manufacture aluminium composite parts such as pistons, drive shafts, suspension components, brake discs and almost any structural components of cars or airplanes.
DOE awards $54M to 13 projects for transformational manufacturing technologies and materials; top two awards go to carbon fiber materials and electrodes for next-gen batteries
June 12, 2012
The US Department of Energy (DOE) awarded more than $54 million—leveraging approximately an additional $17 million in cost share from the private sector—for 13 projects to advance transformational technologies and materials that can help manufacturers significantly increase the energy efficiency of their operations and reduce costs.
The top two awards, one of $9 million to a project led by Dow Chemical, and one of $8.999 million to a project led by PolyPlus, will fund projects tackling, respectively, the manufacturing of low-cost carbon fibers and the manufacturing of electrodes for ultra-high-energy-density lithium-sulfur, lithium-seawater and lithium-air batteries.