[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.]
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
DOE Bioenergy Technologies Office updates 5-year program plan; commercially viable hydrocarbon biofuel technologies by 2017; <$3/GGE
November 23, 2014
|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.
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.
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.
Europe launches 7-year, €1B R&D program for new metals: “Metallurgy Europe”
September 15, 2014
|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.
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.
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.
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.
IBM launches $3B, 5y research initiative on chip grand challenges; 7nm and beyond and post-silicon
July 11, 2014
IBM is investing $3 billion over the next 5 years in two broad research and early stage development programs to push the limits of chip technology needed to meet the emerging demands of cloud computing and “Big Data” systems. Bandwidth to memory, high speed communication and device power consumption are becoming increasingly challenging and critical in these areas, just as the underlying chip technology is facing numerous significant physical scaling limits.
The first research program is aimed at so-called “7 nanometer and beyond” silicon technology that will address serious physical challenges that are threatening current semiconductor scaling techniques and will impede the ability to manufacture such chips. The second is focused on developing alternative technologies for post-silicon era chips using entirely different approaches, which IBM scientists and other experts say are required because of the physical limitations of silicon based semiconductors.
DOT to award almost $9M to keep Ann Arbor connected vehicle R&D environment going for another 3 years
July 09, 2014
The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued a grants notice (DTFH6114RA00002) for the award of $8,991,669 (as a 50% cost-share) to maintain for an additional three years the unique connected vehicle research and testing environment the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) developed in Ann Arbor under the Safety Pilot. (Earlier post.) The grant notice has a “sole source requirement,” with application eligibility limited to UMTRI.
The Connected Vehicle Test Environment (CVTE) was developed as a real-world model deployment test site for enabling wireless communications among vehicles and with roadside equipment for use in generating data to enable driver safety warning systems. The CVTE encompasses vehicles of various types that include a mix of integrated, retrofit, and aftermarket safety devices.
NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2 reaches orbit
July 02, 2014
by Jack Rosebro
At 2:56 AM PST today, NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2 (OCO-2) was successfully launched into orbit from Space Complex 2 West at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base, riding on a two-stage Delta II 7320-10 launch vehicle. Consisting of a single observing instrument, the Observatory is designed to provide precise measurements of atmospheric CO2, and is NASA’s first satellite mission dedicated to studying concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
OCO-2 will not be measuring CO2 directly; but rather the intensity of the sunlight reflected from the presence of CO2 in a column of air. This measurement is unique like a fingerprint, and can be used for identification. The OCO-2 instrument will use a diffraction grating to separate the incoming sunlight into a spectrum of multiple component colors.
DOE awards $100M in 2nd funding round for 32 Energy Frontier Research Centers
June 24, 2014
The US Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding $100 million in the second round of funding for Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs); research supported by this initiative will enable fundamental advances in energy production, storage, and use.
The 32 projects receiving funding were competitively selected from more than 200 proposals. Ten of these projects are new while the rest received renewed funding based both on their achievements to date and the quality of their proposals for future research.
Japanese automobile industry establishes joint Research Association of Automotive Internal Combustion Engines (AICE)
May 20, 2014
Eight Japanese automakers and one automobile research institute—Suzuki Motor; Daihatsu Motor; Toyota Motor; Nissan Motor; Fuji Heavy Industries; Honda R&D; Mazda Moto; Mitsubishi Motors; and Japan Automobile Research Institute (JARI)—have jointly established the Research Association of Automotive Internal Combustion Engines (AICE). AICE’s president is Keiji Otsu, Managing Officer, Honda R&D.
The participating automakers will work together to identify and to present research needs that address issues and challenges facing the automakers in the area of more fuel efficient combustion technologies for internal combustion engines and technologies which achieve cleaner tailpipe emissions.