[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.]
President Obama announces two new public-private manufacturing innovation institutes; new manufacturing innovation institute competition
February 25, 2014
President Obama announced two new manufacturing innovation institutes led by the Department of Defense supported by a $140-million Federal commitment combined with more than $140 million in non-federal resources: (1) a Detroit-area-headquartered consortium of businesses and universities, with a focus on lightweight and modern metals manufacturing; and (2) a Chicago-headquartered consortium of businesses and universities that will concentrate on digital manufacturing and design technologies.
Obama also launched a competition for a new manufacturing innovation institute to build US strength in manufacturing advanced composites, the first of four new competitions to be launched this year.
Honda begins 2015 Fit production at new plant in Mexico; plant designed exclusively for subcompacts
February 23, 2014
Honda continued the expansion of its manufacturing operations in North America with the production start of the redesigned 2015 Honda Fit at a new, automobile plant of Honda de Mexico, S.A. de C.V. (HDM). The start-up of the Celaya Plant increases Honda’s annual automobile production capacity in North America to approximately 1.92 million units. In 2013, more than 90% of the Honda and Acura automobiles sold in the US were produced in North America; this is expected to exceed 95% when the Celaya plant reaches full capacity.
Located in Celaya, Guanajuato, the US$800-million plant began production less than two years after construction started in early 2012, and will employ 3,200 associates with an annual capacity of 200,000 vehicles and engines when it reaches full production later this year. In addition to the 2015 Honda Fit, the plant will begin production late this year of an all-new compact SUV.
IHS Automotive forecasts global production of plug-in vehicles to rise by 67% this year
February 04, 2014
|Global electric vehicle production forecast for 2014. Source: IHS Automotive. Click to enlarge.|
Driven by tighter emission standards in Europe, worldwide production of plug-in electric vehicles(PEVs)—including both battery-electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models—will increase by 67% this year, according to IHS Automotive, driven by Polk. The jump in the PEV market this year contrasts with an expected 3.6% rise in global manufacturing of all motor vehicles expected in 2014.
Total production of PEVs is projected to rise to more than 403,000 this year, up from slightly more than 242,000 in 2013. Growth will accelerate sharply from the 44% increase in 2013, based on data from the new IHS Automotive Hybrid-EV Portal. In December 2013, IHS projected total global automotive sales in 2014 of 85 million, roughly resulting in an expected approximate 0.5% share for PEVs in the global market this year.
DOE to award up to $12M for technologies to produce renewable carbon fiber from biomass
The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award (DE-FOA-0000996) up to $12 million in funding to advance the development of a cost-competitive pathway to produce high-performance carbon fiber for vehicle lightweighting from renewable non-food biomass. Reducing a vehicle’s weight by just 10% can improve fuel economy by 6% to 8%.
Carbon fiber composites are lightweight, yet strong, materials that can greatly improve vehicle fuel efficiency when incorporated into structural and non-structural components. Carbon fibers are polymers that are typically made from petroleum and natural gas feedstocks (propylene and ammonia, respectively) that react to form acrylonitrile (ACN) which is then polymerized and spun into polyacrylonitrile (PAN).
Constellium and UACJ plan JV in US to produce Body-in-White aluminium sheet for the automotive industry
January 24, 2014
Constellium N.V, a global aluminum products company formerly known as Alcan Engineered Products and headquartered in Amsterdam, and UACJ Corporation (UACJ), a Japan-based global aluminum manufacturer, are joining forces with a view to supply and market aluminum Body-in-White sheet to the North American automotive industry. To achieve this goal, Constellium and UACJ, through Tri-Arrows Aluminum Inc. (TAA), (UACJ’s subsidiary with Sumitomo Corporation and Itochu Group), intend to create a joint venture company in the United States, as an equal partnership, to serve the North American market.
The JV is expected to include a continuous heat treatment and conversion line with an initial target capacity of 100,000 metric tons supplied by cold rolled coils from both partners’ rolling mills. The planned facility is designed to allow for expansion beyond 100,000 tons. The total joint investment by both parties is expected to amount to approximately $150 million.
Study first to quantify amount of US pollution resulting from Chinese manufacturing for exports
January 21, 2014
|Average annual percentage of black carbon pollution related to Chinese exports. Credit: Lin et al. Click to enlarge.|
Chinese air pollution blowing across the Pacific Ocean is often caused by the manufacturing of goods there for export to the US and Europe, according to findings of a new study to be published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
China is responsible for only a small percentage of the annual pollution in the US, but powerful global winds known as “westerlies” can push airborne chemicals across the ocean in days, particularly during the spring, causing dangerous spikes in contaminants. Dust, ozone and carbon can accumulate in valleys and basins in California and other Western states.
President Obama announces new $140M public-private manufacturing innovation institute focused on power electronics
January 16, 2014
President Obama announced the selection of a consortium of businesses and universities, led by North Carolina State University, to lead a manufacturing innovation institute for next-generation power electronics. (Earlier post.)
More specifically, the Next Generation Power Electronics Institute is focused on making wide bandgap (WBG) semiconductor technologies cost-competitive with current silicon-based power electronics in the next five years. Compared to silicon-based technologies, wide bandgap semiconductors can operate at higher temperatures and have greater durability and reliability at higher voltages and frequencies—ultimately achieving higher performance while using less electricity.
CAR report quantifies automotive’s position as a leading high-tech industry
January 08, 2014
|Percentage of Global R&D Spending by Industry, 2013. Source: Booz & Company “Global Innovation”; Battelle R&D Magazine; Center for Automotive Research 2012. Click to enlarge.|
A newly-released report by the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) concludes that the automotive industry is not only “high-tech,” it is frequently a leader in technological developments and applications. The report, supported by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, measures the technological nature of today’s auto industry and compares it to other sectors of the economy often viewed as technologically advanced.
The report authors acknowledge the difficulty of defining “high-tech” in an ever-changing economic environment. After reviewing of the works of several researchers and government agencies, CAR developed a working definition to differentiate high-tech industries from other sectors. Broadly, high-tech industries generally have the following characteristics:
SMDI design study produces twist beam concept that reduces mass ~30% relative to baseline assembly
December 06, 2013
|Twist beam assembly mass comparison. Click to enlarge.|
Results of a new design study for a lightweight steel proof-of-concept twist beam (used in suspensions) by the Steel Market Development Institute’s (SMDI) Automotive Applications Council indicate that the preferred U-Beam Design based on 22MnB5 tubular construction with DP780 and SPFH540 sheet achieves a 30.0% mass reduction relative to the baseline assembly, at a 12–15% premium in manufacturing cost at production volumes of 30,000 to 250,000 vehicles per year, respectively.
An S-Beam Design based on 22MnB5 sheet, DP780 tube and HSLA550 materials was predicted to have a 14.9% mass reduction relative to the baseline assembly. The objective of the study was to develop a twist beam design achieving a 15–25% mass reduction with equivalent structural and elasto-kinematic performance relative to the baseline design at a ≤ 10% cost premium.
LanzaTech-Shougang joint venture in China earns RSB certification for waste steel mill gas to biofuel process
November 05, 2013
Beijing Shougang LanzaTech New Energy Science & Technology Co., Ltd. has earned the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials Services Foundation’s (RSB’s) sustainability certification for the joint venture’s facility that converts waste steel mill gases to sustainable biofuels. LanzTech and the Shougang Group signed the joint venture agreement in September 2011.
The facility, which utilizes LanzaTech’s waste gas fermentation technology (earlier post), is the first RSB-certified biofuel plant in China, and the first of its kind anywhere to receive this key certification for industrial carbon capture and utilization. The RSB is a global sustainability standard and certification system for biofuels and biomaterials production.
PwC’s Autofacts forecasts global light vehicle assembly to reach 81.8M units in 2013, up 3.3% from 2012
October 30, 2013
Global light vehicle assembly will reach 81.8 million units in 2013, representing a 3.3% year-over-year gain, according to Autofacts, PwC’s automotive analyst group. While there has been speculation around the long-awaited recovery of the European Union (EU), 2013 is poised to mark a turning point, setting the stage for recovery in 2014. This will bring the region in sync with the recent recoveries in North America and Eastern Europe and the continued growth in developing Asia-Pacific and South America, according to the consultancy.
“Consumer demands and regulatory requirements are motivating the global automotive industry to push ahead with technological breakthroughs on a larger scale,” said Rick Hanna, PwC’s global automotive leader. “Innovation ranging from new investments in lightweight materials, advanced drivetrains and infotainment systems to fresh approaches in engaging customers, will continue to shape the industry. The automakers that effectively leverage high-tech advancements in vehicles, mobile devices and data analytics will likely gain a competitive advantage in this dynamic market.”
Canada awards $30M to 10 automotive R&D projects; from electrified powertrains to hot stamping
October 28, 2013
The Government of Canada has awarded C$30 million (US$29 million) through the Automotive Partnership Canada (APC) initiative to 10 university-industry partnerships to advance innovative automotive technologies. With a total project value of more than C$52 million (US$50 million), the funding includes some $22 million from industry and other partners.
The largest award from APC is $8,928,200 to the McMaster University-Chrysler partnership (earlier post) for the development of next generation electrified powertrains. (Earlier post.) However, the selected projects include a range of technologies from hot stamping of parts to hydrogen fuel cell stacks.
Ford expands use of near-dry machining to six plants worldwide
October 17, 2013
|Left: Wet flood machining. Right: MQL machining. Graphics: Unist Inc. Click to enlarge.|
Ford Motor Company has added its near-dry machining process—Minimum Quantity Lubrication (MQL)—to six plants globally, a number that will nearly double in the next few years.
Machining metal pieces generates friction and heat. Conventional wet machining floods the work piece with metal-working fluids, requiring large amounts of fluid to cool and lubricate the cutting tools. MQL eliminates conventional flood coolant from the machining processes, lubricating cutting tools with a fine spray of oil directed exactly when and where it is needed. MQL reduces oil mist generation; biological contamination of coolant; waste water volume; costs for capital equipment; and regulatory permitting. MQL also improves recycling and transport of coolant contaminated chips.
New manufacturing technologies deliver lighter and stiffer 2014 Corvette
October 07, 2013
|Aluminum resistance spot welding in Bowling Green. (Photo by Joe Imel for Chevrolet) Click to enlarge.|
General Motors’ $131-million investment in technology at the Bowling Green Assembly Plant, such as the first production use of a GM-patented process allowing aluminum to be spot welded to aluminum (earlier post), is producing the strongest and most precisely built Corvette in its six-decade history.
The new technologies enable more accurate and efficiently produced subassemblies, such as the frame and the components attached to it. Enhanced, laser-based three-dimensional inspection systems verify overall assembly tolerances targeted to be 25% tighter than the previous-generation Corvette.
EPA recognizes Volkswagen Chattanooga with a Green Power Leadership Award for on-site generation
September 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 Chattanooga has received a 2013 Green Power Leadership Award from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—the only automaker to be so recognized. The annual awards recognize the country’s leading green power users for their commitment and contribution to helping advance the development of the nation’s voluntary green power market.
Volkswagen Chattanooga was one of only four organizations nationwide to receive a Leadership Award in the category of on-site generation of green power. (The others were Apple; the County of Santa Clara, CA; and Kaiser Permanete.) The award recognizes EPA Green Power Partners who distinguish themselves using on-site renewable energy applications, such as solar photovoltaic (PV) or landfill gas. Volkswagen Chattanooga is currently generating more than 13 million kWh of green power annually from its on-site 9.5 MW solar energy system, which is enough green power to meet 12% of the organization’s electricity use. (Earlier post.)
NIST awards $7.4M in grants for additive manufacturing research
September 19, 2013
The US Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is awarding grants totaling $7.4 million to fund two research projects aimed at improving measurement and standards for the rapidly developing field of additive manufacturing (AM).
Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is a group of new technologies that build up objects, usually by laying down many thin layers on top of each other. In contrast, traditional machining creates objects by cutting material away. Additive manufacturing processes face a variety of hurdles that limit their utility for high-value products and applications.
DOE awards $45M to 38 advanced transportation technology projects; $3M from the Army
September 04, 2013
The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award more than $45 million to 38 new projects that accelerate the research and development of advanced vehicle technologies. Through the Advanced Vehicle Power Technology Alliance between the Energy Department and the Department of the Army, the Army is contributing an additional $3 million in co-funding to support projects focused on lightweighting and propulsion materials, batteries, fuels, and lubricants.
The 38 projects span five major areas: advanced lightweighting and propulsion materials; advanced batteries; power electronics; fuels and lubricants; and efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.
Ultrasonic welding in the battery pack for the Cadillac ELR
August 02, 2013
GM is using ultrasonic welding in the 16.5 kWh battery pack in the new Cadillac ELR extended-range electric luxury coupe that goes on sale in North America in early 2014 (earlier post). The battery-specific welding process is a result of collaboration among GM’s Manufacturing Systems Research Lab, Advanced Propulsion Center, and Brownstown Battery Assembly plant near Detroit. GM first applied the process on the Chevrolet Volt and further refined it for ELR.
Ultrasonic welding uses specialized tools called an anvil and horn to apply high-frequency vibrations to the battery’s copper and aluminum electrodes. This introduces oscillating shear forces at the interface between two metals, causing elastoplastic deformation at the interface. This ultimately results in a structure similar to that of a diffusion weld that does not require melting-point temperatures or joining material such as adhesives, soldering or fasteners.
ZF opens passenger car transmission plant in the US; emphasis on 9-speed automatics
July 26, 2013
|Manufacturing 8-speed automatics at Gray Court. Click to enlarge.|
ZF Friedrichshafen AG has officially opened its new plant for automatic passenger car transmissions in the US. Located in South Carolina, ZF Transmissions Gray Court, LLC will produce about 1.2 million transmissions at this plant annually; this includes 400,000 8-speed and 800,000 9-speed automatic transmissions (earlier post). The new plant expands the existing capacities at the Saarbrücken location to produce 8-speed automatic transmissions.
So far, ZF has invested around €300 million (US$399 million) in building the new location, which is around 130 kilometers (81 miles) north-west of Columbia. A total of approx. €450 million (US$598 million) is planned for investment into the new location—the largest single investment in the almost century-long history of ZF, emphasized Dr. Konstantin Sauer, ZF Board Member responsible for finance and the North American region.
Renault-Nissan jointly developing new vehicle program for growth markets; CMF-A for affordability
July 17, 2013
CEO and Chairman Carlos Ghosn confirmed that the Renault-Nissan Alliance is developing all-new vehicles to meet the specific demands of new car buyers in the world’s fastest growing economies.
The announcement marks the first all-new program developed from the ground up by Renault SAS and Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., teams working side by side from inception. The program, internally named CMF-A, covers the most affordable category of cars in the Common Module Family (CMF, earlier post), Renault-Nissan’s modular system of vehicle architecture. Development work on CMF-A began last year at the Renault Nissan Technology Business Centre, a Chennai, India-based engineering facility.
BYU friction bit joining process bonds aluminum to cast iron
July 15, 2013
Engineers at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Utah and the University of Ulsan in South Korea have used friction bit joining (FBJ) to bond dissimilar combinations of aluminum alloy A356 and grey cast iron.
The process of friction bit joining uses a small, consumable bit to create a solid-state joint between metals. The method was invented by BYU manufacturing engineering technology professor Michael Miles and retired BYU professor Kent Kohkonen, in their collaboration with local Orem-based company MegaStir Technologies, a joint venture between Schlumberger and Advanced Metal Products. MegaStir provides both low- and high-temperature friction stir welding (FSW) systems.
GM to double models with 40 mpg highway or better by 2017; ongoing manufacturing efficiency improvements
July 12, 2013
Describing its product goals and tracking progress toward its 2020 manufacturing priorities in its 2012 Sustainability Report, General Motors reaffirmed its commitment to further reduce the energy used and the environmental impacts of building and operating an automobile.
GM has made three product commitments for 2017 related to its sustainability strategy: to have 500,000 vehicles on the road in the US with some form of electrification (earlier post); to double the number of US models that can achieve an EPA-estimated 40 mpg US (5.9 l/100 km) highway or better; and to reduce the average CO2 tailpipe emissions of its US fleet by 15%. Opel also estimates it will reduce the average carbon tailpipe emissions from its fleet by 27% by 2020.
UK government and industry to invest >$1.5B in Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) for low carbon vehicles; technology roadmaps for 5 priority areas
The UK government and automotive industry are investing £500 million (US$755 million) each over the next 10 years in an Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) to research, to develop and to commercialize the technologies for the low carbon vehicles of the future. Backed by 27 companies in the sector, including supply chain companies, the commitment is expected to secure at least 30,000 jobs currently linked to producing engines and create many more in the supply chain.
The investment forms part of the report “Driving success – an industrial strategy for growth and sustainability in the UK automotive sector”, published jointly by the government and industry. It follows the recent plans for construction, aerospace and other key sectors to secure sustainable future growth in the economy.
Renault makes public its lifecycle study of Fluence ICE vs Fluence EV
July 11, 2013
|Renault’s comparison of the carbon footprint of EV and ICE vehicles over production, operation and end of life. The EV footprint (Fluence Z.E.) is shown with both UK and French grid mixes. Click to enlarge.|
Renault recently made public the findings of an internal study, published first in October 2011, detailing and comparing the lifecycle assessments (LCAs) of the battery-electric and two internal combustion engined versions (gasoline and diesel) of the Renault Fluence. The study used the series production versions launched in 2011, with the assumption of operation for 150,000 km (93,205 miles). (Since the BEV version has a shorter range, Renault noted, the way in which the miles are accumulated could differ from that of the ICE vehicles.)
The publication gives the opportunity for an “apples-to-apples” comparison between the environmental impacts of the two types of powertrains: same manufacturer, same model, same boundary conditions. Nevertheless, Renault noted, the study is contrasting a new technology (EVs) with a well-developed one; “environmental progresses are expected in a short term thank to key process improvement and massification of the production.”
Ricardo joins OSMC in commitment to Modelica-based CAE; IGNITE for vehicle performance and fuel economy
July 08, 2013
|Different views of Modelica: Libraries of model components, models in textual or schematic view, model animation, and plots of model signals. Source: Modelica Association. Click to enlarge.|
Ricardo Software has joined the Open Source Modelica Consortium (OSMC), demonstrating the company’s commitment to Modelica-based CAE and paving the way for launch of the forthcoming IGNITE software product. Modelica is a non-proprietary, object-oriented, equation-based language for the modeling of complex cyber-physical systems—i.e., containing mechanical, electrical, electronic, hydraulic, thermal, control, electric power or process-oriented subcomponents.
Ricardo’s forthcoming IGNITE product is a physics-based system simulation package—operating in Modelica—that focuses on complete vehicle performance and fuel economy. With a planned launch later this summer, IGNITE will allow engineers quickly to identify important variables and constraints and find optimal vehicle designs.
Ford advancing rapid freeform sheet metal forming technology; CAD-driven tool may reduce costs and delivery time for parts
July 03, 2013
Ford Motor Company is developing a new form of manufacturing technology—rapid freeform sheet metal forming—that has the potential to reduce costs and delivery time for sheet metal parts needed in smaller quantities. The project is part of a three-year, $7.04-million US Department of Energy grant to advance next-generation, energy-efficient manufacturing processes. (Earlier post.)
Led by Ford, other collaborators include Northwestern University, The Boeing Company, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Penn State Erie. Five innovative manufacturing projects were awarded a total of $23.5 million by DOE in March to advance clean manufacturing and help US companies increase their competitiveness.
White House announces new commitments in support of Materials Genome Initiative
June 24, 2013
The Obama Administration and academic and industry partners announced a series of commitments in support of the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI, earlier post), a public-private endeavor that aims to cut in half the time it takes to develop novel materials that can fuel advanced manufacturing.
The MGI, overseen by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, helps to coordinate Federal materials science research across multiple agencies and encourages private-sector and academic researchers to develop and share basic materials science discovery data to speed innovation—much as geneticists accelerated the Human Genome Project by openly sharing basic DNA sequence data. Newly announced commitments are:
Volkswagen CrossBlue Coupé plug-in makes its European debut; showcasing the MQB
June 20, 2013
|Engine compartment of the CrossBlue Coupé plug-in hybrid shows the transverse-mounted 3.0L V6; DSG is to the right, with the power electronics unit mounted above it. Click to enlarge.|
Volkswagen brought the new CrossBlue Coupé plug-in hybrid sporty mid-size SUV show car, introduced in April at Auto Shanghai 2013 (earlier post), to a media event in Berlin for its European premiere.
The CrossBlue Coupé—based off the Volkswagen Group’s MQB architecture (the Group’s modular assembly kit for vehicles with transverse-mounted engines)—features a transverse-mounted turbocharged direct-injection (TSI) 220 kW (295 hp) 3.0L V6 gasoline engine (EA 390) and six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission with 40 kW electric motor (DQ 400 E) in the engine compartment. The DQ 400 E hybrid transmission is also being applied in the upcoming Audi A3 plug-in hybrid. (Earlier post.)
Ford LCA harmonization study clarifies benefits of lightweighting for vehicle life cycle energy use and GHG emissions
May 29, 2013
|Correlation between weight reduction and life cycle primary energy demand for (a) component and (b) total vehicle scenarios. Credit: ACS; Kim and Wallington. Click to enlarge.|
While reducing vehicle weight (lightweighting) by replacing steel and iron with alternatives such as aluminum, magnesium, and composites decreases fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions during vehicle use, it can increase energy consumption and GHG emissions during vehicle production.
Hyung Chul Kim and Timothy J. Wallington at Ford Motor’s Systems Analytics and Environmental Sciences Department set out to clarify the lifecycle benefits of vehicle lightweighting in a meta-analysis of previously published life cycle assessments (LCAs). While numerous studies assay the benefits of lightweighting, the wide variety of assumptions used makes it difficult to compare results from the studies, the pair noted in their paper, published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
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.