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Audi is testing a new technology that eases many assembly activities at its plant in Neckarsulm: the “chairless chair.” The carbon-fiber exoskeleton allows employees to sit without a chair. At the same time, it improves their posture and reduces the strain on their legs. The chairless chair, which Audi has... Read more →

Beijing researchers engineer K. pneumoniae to produce 1-butanol

Researchers at Beijing University of Chemical Technology have engineered Klebsiella pneumoniae—a pathogen—to produce 1-butanol. A paper on their work appears in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels. Although K. pneumoniae is a pathogenic microorganism, it has been studied widely because of its ability to metabolize glycerol and its similar genetic... Read more →

TM4 receiving $3.7M to develop low-cost wheel motors

TM4, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hydro-Québec, is receiving $3.7 million in funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada’s (SDTC) SD Tech Fund, through the ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative, to develop low-cost wheel motors for electric and hybrid vehicles. The objective of this project is to design an in-wheel motor electric drive... Read more →

POSTECH researchers develop new high-strength, lightweight steel

Researchers at Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) in South Korea have developed a new type of steel with improved tensile strength and lightness. In their approach, they effectively utilized a brittle intermetallic compound (B2) that metallurgists usually try to suppress by modifying B2 morphology and dispersion in the... Read more →

RMIT team demonstrates talking drone aircraft that interacts with air traffic controllers

Researchers at RMIT University in Australia have developed a talking drone that can interact with air traffic controllers like a human pilot. The development, they say, is a critical step towards the full integration of unmanned aircraft systems into civil airspace. The project, part of a larger research initiative that... Read more →

NREL refines method to convert lignin to nylon precursor

A new study from the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) demonstrates the conversion of lignin-derived compounds to adipic acid, an important industrial dicarboxylic acid produced for its use as a precursor to nylon, plasticizers, lubricants, polyesters, and other popular products and chemicals. Published in the RSC journal Energy... Read more →

Researchers in China investigate use of coal as source of lithium

Coal could become a major source of the metal lithium, according to a review of the geochemistry by scientists from Hebei University of Engineering in China published in the International Journal of Oil, Gas and Coal Technology. Worldwide annual consumption of lithium grew from 15,100 tonnes in 2003 to 37,000... Read more →

UK announces $49M for plug-in infrastructure through 2020, $17M for low emission vehicle technology

The UK government will provide £32 million (US$49 million) up to 2020 to support the installation of chargepoints for plug-in vehicles. Homes, hospitals, train stations and A-roads will be some of the locations. In addition, the government announced another £11 million (US$17 million) of funding to support 15 low-emission vehicle... Read more →

DOE issues Request for Information on aggregating purchases of alternative fuel vehicles

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a request for information (DE-FOA-0001312) to solicit feedback from industry, academia, research laboratories, government agencies, and other stakeholders on issues related to purchasing/procurement processes designed to coordinate and consolidate bulk alternative fuel vehicle (AFV), advanced vehicle orders, and vehicle subsystems. DOE anticipates... Read more →

California approves sale of DME as compression-ignition engine fuel

The California Department of Food and Agriculture has approved specifications for dimethyl ether (DME) used as fuel in compression ignition engines. (The Department of Food and Agriculture Division of Measurement Standards has the responsibility for establishing and enforcing the quality standards for spark- and compression-ignition engine fuels sold in California.... Read more →

Global automotive supplier Magna International Inc. will debut MILA Plus, an two-seat plug-in hybrid sports car, at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show. The lightweight (1,520 kg, 3,351 lb) concept vehicle, the latest member of the MILA family of concept vehicles (earlier post), offers an all-electric range of 75 km with... Read more →

New catalyst delivers high yield of biofuel 5-EMF

Researchers in China have developed an effective method for the conversion of carbohydrates into liquid biofuels 5-ethoxymethylfurfural (EMF) over a magnetic solid acid catalyst (Fe3O4@C—SO3H). A paper on their work is published in the journal Fuel. Ethoxymethylfurfural has an energy density of 8.7 kWh/L—very close to that of regular gasoline... Read more →

Senators Feinstein, Toomey introduce bill to repeal ethanol mandate in RFS

US Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) have introduced a bill to abolish the corn ethanol mandate in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is also a co-sponsor of the measure. The federal mandate for corn ethanol is both unwise and unworkable. Our bill addresses... Read more →

Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell drivers in SoCal accumulate more than 238,900 miles

Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell drivers recently accumulated more than 238,900 miles on the roads of Southern California—a distance Hyundai chose to highlight as the average distance from the earth to the moon. Hyundai has delivered more than 60 Tucson Fuel Cells since its introduction to the US market in June... Read more →

Cal Energy Commission adopts report outlining how state transforming transportation system to meet climate goals

The California Energy Commission adopted its 2014 Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) Update, which outlines, among many things, how the state is working to transform the transportation system to zero- and near-zero technologies and fuels to meet its climate and clean air goals. This report highlights the importance of incentives... Read more →

Audi is presenting the second generation of its high-performance R8 sports car at the upcoming Geneva show, featuring new V10 engines, newly developed quattro drive, and a new multimaterial Audi Space Frame (ASF) combining aluminum and carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). The top of the range version delivers 449 kW... Read more →

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have developed a new zinc-polyiodide redox flow battery offering more than two times the energy density of the next-best flow battery used to store renewable energy and support the power grid. Lab tests revealed the demonstration battery discharged 167 Wh l-1 of electrolyte.... Read more →

Siemens researching use of infrastructure radar sensor networks to support parking management

Siemens is researching the use of infrastructure sensor networks in an advanced parking management solution intended to counter the increasing parking space crisis in cities. The system, analogous to vehicle-based research underway by Ford Motor on the same problem (earlier post), will be used this spring for the first time... Read more →

Europe moves forward on the Energy Union; transport key element

The European Commission has adopted the European Energy Union package—a framework strategy for a resilient energy union with a forward-looking climate change policy. As a next step, the Commission will present it to the EU institutions. The European Council will discuss the Energy Union at its meeting in March 2015.... Read more →

Electrovaya and Mondelez Canada partner on Li-ion batteries for forklifts

Li-ion maker Electrovaya is working with Mondelez Canada on forklift batteries. This should enhance productivity, reduce emissions and reduce power requirements by up to 35% by replacing lead acid batteries used in the material handling equipment. Electrovaya plans to deliver lithium-ion battery packs with intelligent battery management systems (iBMS) to... Read more →

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) has selected 11 projects to receive up to $10 million in funding through the fuel cell technology incubator FOA (earlier post) in support of innovations in fuel cell and hydrogen fuel technologies. The intention of these selections is to... Read more →

In 2014, 75,331 new electrically chargeable vehicles (ECVs, or plug-in vehicles, PEVs) were registered in the EU, a 36.6% rise, according to figures released by the ACEA. In Q4 2014 PEV registrations in the EU decreased slightly (‐7.7%), totalling 24,552. Of these, pure battery electric vehicles (BEVs) represented about half... Read more →

Aventine installs $2.4M corn-oil separation system at ethanol plant

Aventine Renewable Energy Inc. has installed a $2.4-million Valicor corn-oil separation system (COSS) at its Nebraska Energy LLC plant in Aurora, Nebraska. The system began operations in early January. Since corn oil has a higher market value, removing the oil improves dried distillers grain processing properties. High production levels and... Read more →

McPhy Energy and De Nora partner on electrolyzers

The French company McPhy Energy, specializing in hydrogen-based solutions for industrial and energy storage, and the Italian De Nora group, a provider of electrochemical products and services, announced a technology partnership agreement. Under this agreement, De Nora will supply McPhy Energy with activated electrodes for its range of new-generation alkaline... Read more →

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) will stage the global debut of the Mitsubishi Concept XR-PHEV II at the 85th Geneva International Motor Show. The Concept XR-PHEV II is a small crossover powered by a new plug-in hybrid EV (PHEV) system. Mitsubishi said it expects the Concept XR-PHEV II to become MMC’s... Read more →

Starting in April, Park24 Co., Ltd. and Toyota Motor Corporation will trial a car-sharing service in central Tokyo using the Toyota “i-Road”, an ultra-compact three-wheeled electric vehicle. (Earlier post.) The i-Road, designed for flexibility and ease of use, will be paired with Park24’s “Times Car Plus” service, which allows members... Read more →

A*STAR, IREQ silicate nanoboxes as high-performance cathodes for Li-ion batteries

Researchers from Singapore’s Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) of A*STAR and Québec’s IREQ (Hydro-Québec’s research institute) have synthesized silicate-based nanoboxes that could more than double the energy capacity of lithium-ion batteries as compared to conventional phosphate-based cathodes. A paper on their work is published in the journal Nano Energy.... Read more →

Chevrolet one of 16 organizations across US recognized by EPA for Climate Action; only automaker

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded 2015 Climate Leadership Awards to 16 organizations and one individual representing a wide array of industries from finance and manufacturing to retail and technology for showing what the agency said was exemplary corporate, organizational, and individual leadership in response to climate change. One... Read more →

At the Los Angeles Auto Show, Audi presented the Audi prologue concept car, featuring a mild hybrid powertrain with a 48V electrical subsystem. (Earlier post.) At the upcoming Geneva show, Audi will show a new variant of the prologue—the Audi prologue Avant—featuring a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Both prologue variants provide... Read more →

Yields of glucose, xylose, and arabinose from CELF- and dilute acid-pretreated corn stover solid. “D” equals day. Source: UCR. Click to enlarge. Researchers at the University of California, Riverside led by Professor Charles Wyman, the Ford Motor Company Chair in Environmental Engineering, have developed a novel biomass pretreatment called co-solvent-enhanced... Read more →

Volkswagen presents Gen 3 MQB-based Touran; engines up to 19% more fuel efficient

At the Autostadt in Wolfsburg, Germany, Volkswagen showcased the new Touran MPV. The completely redeveloped Touran is the first MPV to be based on the modular transverse matrix (MQB); it offers a range of six new economical engines and an extensive line-up of assistance and infotainment systems. The public premiere... Read more →

SwRI wins $20M EPA contract for emissions and fuel consumption testing, analytical services

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has been awarded a five-year, $20.16-million contract by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide testing and analytical services related to vehicle emissions and fuel consumption. Key areas of support include emissions characterization and technology assessment. SwRI can develop test procedures and equipment for regulated... Read more →

Proterra introduces new extended range battery pack for electric transit buses; up to 180 miles

Electric transitbus manufacturer Proterra Inc. has launched a new extended-range product line. With the new TerraVolt XR extended-range battery, Proterra buses can now be configured to travel up to 180 miles (290 km) between charges. This newest high energy density battery complements the existing TerraVolt FC fast-charge battery which has... Read more →

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have developed a new electrolyte that allows lithium-sulfur, lithium-metal and lithium-air batteries to operate at 99% efficiency, while having a high current density and without growing dendrites that short-circuit rechargeable batteries. An open-access paper on their work is published in the journal Nature... Read more →

Maxity Electric with fuel cell range extender. Click to enlarge. Renault Trucks and the French Post Office (La Poste) will introduce on an experimental basis, and as a first in Europe, an electric truck equipped with a hydrogen-powered range extender. The range-extended 4.5-ton Maxity Electric model doubles th electric truck... Read more →

Silicon nanoparticles show high capacity and cycling stability as Li-ion anode

A team at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) reports a new method for the synthesis of polycrystalline silicon nanoparticles for use as anode materials in Li-ion batteries in a paper in the journal Angewandte Chemie. As an anode for rechargeable Li-ion batteries, the as-prepared Si delivers... Read more →

BASF and Toda Kogyo close agreement for JV specializing in cathode materials for Li-ion batteries

BASF and Toda Kogyo formally established “BASF Toda Battery Materials LLC” with the closing of their joint venture agreement announced in October 2014. (Earlier post.) The new company will provide cathode active materials (CAM) for lithium-ion batteries in Japan. BASF Toda Battery Materials was established with 66% equity from BASF... Read more →

Making the Mirai fuel cell vehicle

In Japan, Toyota Motor held a production ceremony at the Motomachi Plant, which first began production in 1959, to mark the production of the Mirai fuel cell vehicle, which the company launched in November 2014, and began selling in Japan in December 2014. (Earlier post.) Motomachi has been home to... Read more →

FCO Power is progressing with the development of its next-generation solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) stack for residential fuel cell systems in existing apartments. Use of the stack would make it realistic to install fuel cells in existing apartments, which account for approximately 40% of housing in Japan, from 2020.... Read more →

Graphene ESD to partner with Stony Brook to develop new low-cost integrated ultra-high voltage supercapacitors

Lomiko Metals Inc. announced that Graphene Energy Storage Devices (Graphene ESD) has signed a research agreement with the Research Foundation of Stony Brook University (SBU). Graphene ESD will partner with the SBU Center for Advanced Sensor Technologies (Sensor CAT) to develop new supercapacitors designs for energy storage. Lomiko Metals Inc.... Read more →

IC Bus CE series with PSI 8.8L propane engine available for order

IC Bus, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Navistar, announced the CE Series school bus powered by the Power Solutions International (PSI) 8.8-liter propane engine is available for order. The CE series PSI heavy-duty propane engine offers a cleaner, quieter and more user-friendly alternative to diesel that won’t sacrifice power, torque or... Read more →

Purdue Research Foundation greenlights construction of $50M research institute for composite materials

Purdue Research Foundation Board of Directors recently approved construction of the $50-million, 62,000-square-foot Indiana Manufacturing Institute, where Purdue University researchers will expand research of composite materials manufacturing. Purdue is a recognized leader in composite materials, and the research that will be carried out in this new facility will advance this... Read more →

SDG&E piloting integration of EVs and energy storage systems into CAISO energy markets for demand response services

In a pilot vehicle-to-grid project, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is actively bidding a group of energy storage systems and electric vehicle fleets as one resource directly into the California Independent System Operator’s (CAISO) energy markets. These markets include those that address short-term imbalances in electricity supply caused by... Read more →

Tennessee DEC announces Sustainable Transportation Awards and Forum

Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) Commissioner Bob Martineau announced the launch of the TDEC Sustainable Transportation Awards initiative to recognize outstanding and voluntary achievements by governments, businesses, industries, public and private institutions of higher learning, and utilities that demonstrate leadership in advancing sustainable transportation in the State. According... Read more →

Ballard signs automotive and non-automotive fuel cell technology solutions contracts

Fuel cell company Ballard Power Systems signed two new Technology Solutions contracts, one with Ardica Technologies and one with an unnamed global automotive OEM. Under each contract Ballard will provide expertise in proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell technology in order to advance customer programs through development stages. These latest... Read more →

Samsung SDI to acquire Magna International’s automotive battery pack business

Samsung SDI has agreed to acquire the battery pack business of Magna International, a leading global automotive supplier. Samsung SDI expects the acquisition to enhance its capabilities in batteries for electric vehicles by combining the company’s established position in battery cells and modules with Magna’s expertise in battery packs. Samsung... Read more →

The Ricardo RapidSR switched reluctance drive motor avoids the use of rare earth elements. Click to enlarge. Ricardo has developed a new prototype 85 kW synchronous reluctance motor designed primarily for electric vehicle traction applications. The motor avoids the use of expensive rare earth elements, while delivering strong performance at... Read more →

Hydro-Québec and the Aquitaine Regional Council create subsidiary focused on new battery technologies

Hydro-Québec and the Aquitaine Regional Council recently formed SCE France, the activities of which will focus on research and technology transfer in transportation electrification and energy storage and conservation. SCE France, as a subsidiary of Hydro-Québec, will set up a laboratory dedicated to research and technology transfer in the Aquitaine... Read more →