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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.]

NSF to award up to $4.8M to research projects in catalysis and biocatalysis

July 26, 2015

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems (CBET) has issued a new $4.8-million funding opportunity announcement (PD 15-1401) to advance research in catalytic engineering science and to promote the development of beneficial catalytic materials and reactions.

Research in the Catalysis and Biocatalysis program should focus on new basic understanding of catalytic materials and reactions, utilizing synthetic, theoretical, and experimental approaches. Target applications include fuels; specialty and bulk chemicals; environmental catalysis; biomass conversion to fuels and chemicals; conversion of greenhouse gases; and generation of solar hydrogen; as well as efficient routes to energy utilization.

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Honda opens new Silicon Valley facility to advance connected mobility; refreshed 2016 Accord; Honda Xcelerator

July 24, 2015

Honda officially opened its new Silicon Valley R&D facility, using the occasion to unveil a refreshed 2016 Accord featuring Honda’s first application of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Honda also announced a new open innovation R&D initiative—Honda Xcelerator—which will provide resources to breakthrough technology innovators to help rapidly develop prototypes with the potential to transform the automotive experience.

Honda’s Silicon Valley operation, which was first established in 2000, is charged with researching and prototyping innovations and harnessing new ideas and technology. Current areas of focus include connected mobility; novel human-machine interfaces; supporting app developers through initiatives such as Honda Developer Studio; and computer science research for vehicle intelligence. Silicon Valley engineers also spearhead the company’s working relationship with Silicon Valley-based technology companies.

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Electrochemical Society and Toyota announce fellowship winners for projects in green energy technology

July 15, 2015

The ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship Selection Committee has selected three recipients who will receive $50,000 each for the inaugural fellowships for projects in green energy technology. The winners are Professor Patrick Cappillino, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth; Professor Yogesh (Yogi) Surendranath, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Professor David Go, University of Notre Dame.

The Electrochemical Society (ECS), in partnership with the Toyota Research Institute of North America (TRINA), a division of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. (TEMA), launched the inaugural ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship about six months ago. More than 100 young professors and scholars pursuing innovative electrochemical research in green energy technology responded to ECS’s request for proposals.

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Stanford launches major new natural gas research initiative

June 13, 2015

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Stanford University has launched a new research initiative to study comprehensively the development and use of natural gas. The new program will expand Stanford’s research on energy and the environment by focusing additional resources on the growing importance of natural gas.

US production has risen almost 50% in the past 10 years, and global demand for gas is anticipated to outpace all other fossil fuels. More than 35 professors and research staff from a dozen Stanford academic departments have already affiliated with the Natural Gas Initiative.

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Oak Ridge Lab, Hyundai Motor collaborating through new R&D agreement

June 09, 2015

Hyundai Motor Company and the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have signed an agreement intended to strengthen the automaker’s US research and development portfolio. The MOU is an expression of intent and does not create a legally binding obligation, nor does it commit funds from either party.

Hyundai Motor Company and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp. will be identifying and providing R&D needs of the automotive industry; providing feedback and evaluation technology concepts; consulting with ORNL on R&D topics related to the industry; and developing potential Hyundai-sponsored projects to be carried out under separate, legally binding agreements.

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US$7.5M JOSPEL project to develop energy efficient climate control for EVs; leveraging Joule and Peltier effects

June 03, 2015

A trans-European collaboration aims to develop a novel energy efficient climate control system to help reduce the energy used for passenger comfort in electric vehicles by at least 50%. Even in today’s modern electric vehicles, a lot of energy is wasted on heating or cooling, in turn limiting the already relatively short range by further draining the battery capacity.

The aim of the €6.7-million (US$7.5-million) JOSPEL project is to develop an efficient, electrical climate control system using an integrated approach that combines the application of the Joule and Peltier effects; efficient insulation of the vehicle interior; energy recovery from heat zones; increased battery life as a side effect of thermal management; reduced battery energy consumption via the integration of Peltier cooling; innovative automated and eco-driving strategies; and the electronic control of power flows.

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DOE to re-fund Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis with $75M for solar fuels R&D

April 29, 2015

The US Department of Energy announced $75 million in funding to renew the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), a DOE Energy Innovation Hub originally established in 2010 with the goal of harnessing solar energy for the production of fuel. (Earlier post.)

Under the renewal plan, the five-year-old center would receive funding for an additional five years of research, subject to Congressional appropriations. JCAP researchers are focused on achieving the major scientific breakthroughs needed to produce liquid transportation fuels from a combination of sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide, using artificial photosynthesis.

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Volkswagen Group invested €11.5B (US$12.9B) in R&D in 2014; ongoing focus on electromobility and digitalization of vehicles

March 02, 2015

The Volkswagen Group invested €11.5 billion in research and development last year, more than ever before and more than any other company worldwide. Speaking on the eve of the Geneva International Motor Show, Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, underscored the Group’s increasingly aggressive R&D stance: “Volkswagen is an innovation think tank. We develop technologies that point the way well into the future.

According to Winterkorn, the company now employs 46,000 researchers and developers as well as more than 10,000 IT experts, all of whom are working on the mobility of the future such as alternative drive concepts or the digitalization of vehicles and factories. He went on to say that the car manufacturer is positioning itself at the forefront of automotive change with its forward-looking “Future Tracks” program. (Earlier post.)

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Toyota Central R&D exploring controlling catalysts at the quantum level for optimized performance and reduced costs

February 17, 2015

The Frontier Research Center (FRC) at Toyota Central R&D Labs in Japan is investigating the development of catalysts controlled at the quantum level. This level of control should result in an an extreme reduction of precious metal usage in automotive exhaust catalysts and/or fuel cells, said Dr. Yoshihide Watanabe, program manager of the Quantum Controlled Catalysis Program at the FRC.

Metal cluster chemistry (a cluster is a group of atoms or molecules formed by interactions varying in strength from very weak to strong) has been developing rapidly since the mid-20th century. Some naturally occurring clusters are known to be involved in catalytic reactions, and there is great interest in the potential use of synthetic clusters in industrial applications such as catalysis.

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SLAC X-ray laser provides first glimpse of a chemical bond being born; implications for more efficient chemistry

February 13, 2015

Scientists have used an X-ray laser at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory to get the first glimpse of the transition state where two atoms begin to form a weak bond on the way to becoming a molecule. This fundamental advance, reported in Science and long thought impossible, will have a profound impact on the understanding of how chemical reactions take place and on efforts to design reactions that generate energy, create new products and fertilize crops more efficiently.

The experiments took place at SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), a DOE Office of Science User Facility. Its brilliant, strobe-like X-ray laser pulses are short enough to illuminate atoms and molecules and fast enough to watch chemical reactions unfold in a way never possible before. The researchers used LCLS to study the CO oxidation reaction—the same reaction that neutralizes carbon monoxide (CO) from car exhaust in a catalytic converter.

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Ford opens new Silicon Valley research center; focus on connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, big data

January 22, 2015

Ford has opened its new Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto, growing its global research team and accelerating the company’s work in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience and big data.

The new Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto joins Ford’s global network of research and innovation centers, including its location in Dearborn, Michigan, which focuses on advanced electronics, human-machine interface, materials science, big data and analytics; and Aachen, Germany, which focuses on next-generation powertrain research, driver-assist technologies and active safety systems.

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Electrochemical Society & Toyota announce ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship for projects in green energy technology

December 16, 2014

ECS, in partnership with the Toyota Research Institute of North American (TRINA), a division of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. (TEMA), has launched the ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship and is requesting proposals from young professors and scholars pursuing innovative electrochemical research in green energy technology.

The purpose of the ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship is to encourage young professors and scholars to pursue research in green energy technology that may promote the development of next-generation vehicles capable of utilizing alternative fuels. Electrochemical research has already informed the development and improvement of innovative batteries, electrocatalysts, photovoltaics and fuel cells. Through this fellowship, ECS and TRINA hope to see more innovative and unconventional technologies borne from electrochemical research.

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DOE Bioenergy Technologies Office updates 5-year program plan; commercially viable hydrocarbon biofuel technologies by 2017; <$3/GGE

November 23, 2014

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BETO high-level schedule. Click to enlarge.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BTO) has updated its Multi-Year Program Plan (MYPP), which delineates the goals and structure of the office. BTO is one of the 10 technology development offices within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) at DOE.

The MYPP identifies the research, development, demonstration, and deployment (RDD&D) activities the Office will focus on over the next five years and explains why these activities are important. The MYPP is intended for use as an operational guide to help BETO manage and coordinate its activities, as well as a resource to help communicate its mission and goals to stakeholders and the public.

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DOE to seek emerging technology with “FY 2015 Vehicle Technologies Office Incubator” funding opportunity

November 16, 2014

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) intends (DE-FOA-0001243) to issue, on behalf of the Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO), a Funding Opportunity Announcement titled “FY 2015 Vehicle Technologies Office Incubator” (DE-FOA-0001213). The VTO runs a significant R&D portfolio in support of the development and deployment of a broad range of efficient and environmentally friendly highway transportation technologies. The new FOA is not an extension of those portfolio programs.

Rather, the Vehicle Technologies Incubator FOA will fund small (<500 employee) businesses and US colleges, universities, institutions of higher learning and university-affiliated research institutions with approaches and solutions that are not currently represented in the Office’s Multi-Year Program Plan and/or existing project portfolio in a meaningful or significant way.

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Volkswagen Group PhD Day in Wolfsburg: 600 experts, 95 theses

November 04, 2014

More than 600 experts attended Volkswagen Group’s PhD Day, when 95 young scientists presented their research findings at the MobileLifeCampus in Wolfsburg, Germany. PhD students from the Volkswagen Passenger Cars, ŠKODA, Audi, Porsche, MAN and Scania brands as well as from Volkswagen Group China presented their doctoral theses on topics from twelve different specialist departments.

26 young scientists conducted research in the field of drive technology; 14 in production; eleven in electronics; 11 in vehicle technology; and nine focused on various aspects of human resources, organization and IT. Their projects focused on topics such as driver assistance systems; personnel development; e-mobility; and sales and marketing. In total, Volkswagen supports some 490 young men and women studying for their doctorates.

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Europe launches 7-year, €1B R&D program for new metals: “Metallurgy Europe”

September 15, 2014

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Program overview of Metallurgy Europe as presented in a 2012 position paper from the ESF. Click to enlarge.

European industry has launched Metallurgy Europe, a 7-year, €1-billion ($1.3-billion) R&D program in the field of metals research and manufacturing. The program was recently been selected as a new Eureka Cluster, and it will integrate the efforts of more than 170 companies and laboratories from across 20 countries.

Some of the largest engineering companies in Europe have joined forces, including Airbus Group; BP; Siemens; Daimler; Rolls-Royce; BMW; Thales; AvioAero; PSA Group; BAE Systems; Philips; Ruag; Sener; Bombardier; OHB Systems; Linde Group; ESI; Rolex; Richemont; ArcelorMittal; Sandvik; Bruker; SKF; Johnson Matthey; Tata Steel; GKN; Boston Scientific; ThyssenKrupp; Outokumpu; Haldor Topsøe and Fiat. More than 60 small and medium-sized companies are also teaming up.

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Jaguar Land Rover investing $1.6M in two new Centers of Excellence for Engine Combustion Research at Oxford and University College London; gasoline and diesel

September 10, 2014

Jaguar Land Rover announced the creation of two new Centers of Excellence for Engine Combustion Research at two leading UK universities. The £1-million (US$1.6 million) investment will be shared equally between University College London (UCL) and the University of Oxford to support the development of new research facilities and fund two 5-year study programs.

Each center will focus on specific combustion technologies, both targeting higher engine efficiency. The work at UCL’s Department of Mechanical Engineering will be dedicated to spark ignition in gasoline engines, led by Dr. Pavlos Aleiferis. At the University of Oxford’s Department of Engineering Science, Dr. Martin Davy will lead the project on compression ignition in diesel engines.

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Toyota expands Collaborative Safety Research Center with $35M; focus on transition to automated vehicle and connected vehicle technologies

September 04, 2014

With a new $35-million commitment that extends the center’s effort to the 2020s, Toyota’s Collaborative Safety Research Center (CSRC) is significantly expanding its mission to advance automotive safety research, with a new focus on the challenges and opportunities that evolving vehicle technologies will present over the next decade. CSRC will concentrate on supporting a safe transition to the future of mobility, particularly through emerging automated- and connected-vehicle technologies.

The CSRC was formed in January 2011 with three charter members; the first phase of research will conclude in 2016. Research under the new mission will focus on: developing human/machine interface (HMI) guidelines for next-generation automated and connected vehicle systems; the optimal user skills to operate these technologies safely; and the challenges posed by a US vehicle fleet that will likely feature automated and connected vehicles, as well as traditional ones, traveling the same roads.

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DOE to award more than $55M to 31 projects for plug-in and efficient vehicle technologies; Delphi receives $10M to further GDCI

August 14, 2014

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding more than $55 million to 31 new projects to accelerate research and development of vehicle technologies that will improve fuel efficiency and reduce costs under a program-wide funding opportunity announced in January. (DE-FOA-0000991, earlier post.) These new projects are aimed at meeting the goals and objectives of the President’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge (19 projects), as well as improvements in other vehicle technologies such as powertrains, fuel, tires and auxiliary systems (12 projects).

The largest single award ($10 million) goes to Delphi Automotive Systems to further the development of its Gasoline Direct-Injection Compression Ignition (GDCI) low-temperature combustion technology (earlier post) that provides high thermal efficiency with low NOx and PM emissions. The largest number of awards (9) in a single area of interest goes to developing beyond Li-ion battery technologies.

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