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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.]

Magnesium alloy VSC Machine successfully begins trial operation at GM China Advanced Technical Center

April 04, 2014

Magnesium alloy VSC machine. Click to enlarge.

The GM China Advanced Technical Center (ATC) in Shanghai announced the operation of its magnesium alloy Vertical Squeeze Casting (VSC) machine—the first designed for developing next-generation magnesium castings. GM said that this achievement marks a breakthrough in its lightweight materials research.

Squeeze casting is a process in which molten metal is introduced to casting cavities with minimum turbulence and then solidifies under very high pressure (typically above 100 MPa) within closed dies. The absence of turbulent metal flow, aided by the high applied pressure, can suppress gas porosity, notes Ohio State University Professor Alan Luo in a 2013 review of magnesium casting technologies.

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3-year, $75.7M eRamp power electronics research project launches at Infineon

April 02, 2014

The three-year research project “eRamp”, intended to strengthen and expand Germany and Europe as centers of expertise for the manufacture of power electronics, launched at Infineon Technologies in Dresden. Twenty-six research partners from six countries are participating. Infineon, a global market leader in power semiconductors, is leading the €55-million (US$75.7-million) project.

Power electronics—the electronic components and their power semiconductors—help keep the loss of electrical energy as low as possible and help minimize power consumption in a wide variety of applications, including hybrid and electric drive systems. eRamp research activities will focus on the rapid introduction of new production technologies and further exploration of chip packaging technologies for power semiconductors.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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