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Pipe: Advanced tech

newsclips -- ARB Newsclips for September 30, 2014.

Tue, 2014-09-30 19:16
ARB Newsclips for September 30, 2014.

exams -- Deputy Executive Officer, Air Resources Board (CEA B)

Tue, 2014-09-30 16:41
Final Filing Date: October 10, 2014.

DOE will award up to $25M to reduce costs of algal biofuels to less than $5/gge by 2019

Tue, 2014-09-30 14:26

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $25 million in funding to reduce the cost of algal biofuels to less than $5 per gasoline gallon equivalent (gge) by 2019. (Earlier post.)

The release of the new funding opportunity announcement (DE-FOA-0001162) occurred on the first full program day for the Algae Biomass Summit in San Diego, at which algae entrepreneurs, researchers, investors, producers and end-users are gathering to share developments, as well as to explore the ongoing challenges of technology, financing and commercialization. DOE Assistant Secretary EERE David Danielson, the opening keynote speaker for the summit, said that the agency is “all in” on algae fuels.

Algae biomass can be converted to advanced biofuels that offer promising alternatives to petroleum-based diesel and jet fuels. Additionally, algae can be used to make a range of other valuable bioproducts, such as industrial chemicals, bio-based polymers, and proteins. However, barriers related to algae cultivation, harvesting, and conversion to fuels and products need to be overcome to achieve the Department’s target of $3 per gge for advanced algal biofuels by 2030. To accomplish this goal, the Department is investing in applied research and development technologies that achieve higher biomass yields and overall values for the algae.

Funding from the new FOA, entitled “Targeted Algal Biofuels and Bioproducts (TABB)”, will support projects in two topic areas:

  • Topic Area 1 awards (anticipated at 1–3 selections) will range from $5–10 million and focus on the development of algae cultures that, in addition to biofuels, produce valuable bioproducts that increase the overall value of the biomass.

  • Topic Area 2 awards (anticipated at 3–7 selections) will range from $0.5–1 million and will focus on the development of crop protection or carbon dioxide utilization technologies to boost biomass productivity in ways that lead to higher yields of algae.

Under Topic Area 1, multi-disciplinary consortia will pursue technology improvements that will lead to higher overall values for the algae. This will be achieved by developing and improving yields of high-impact bioproducts (e.g. specialty or commodity chemicals or polymers or proteins) and biofuels. Consortia are required for this topic because of the broad range of expertise and facilities needed to develop technologies from algae cultivars to finished biofuels and bioproducts. A critical component of this topic area is that bioproducts are expected to increase the overall value of the algal biomass and still allow for biofuel production.

DOE emphasized that a critical component of this topic area is that bioproducts are expected to increase the overall value of the algal biomass and still allow for biofuel production. Examples of research routes that could help meet this objective include but are not limited to:

  • Co-production of specific molecules with downstream applications as petro-chemical replacements.

  • Redirection of carbon flux to a metabolic pathway that results in synthesis of a valuable chemical.

  • Improving a strain to make a valuable protein.

Under Topic Area 2, single investigator or small teams will pursue technology improvements that will result in increased biomass productivity leading to higher overall feedstock yields. This will be achieved by projects that focus on advancements in either: 1) crop protection; or 2) CO2 utilization. Achieving higher feedstock yields continues to be one of the most significant barriers to algal biofuels.

Biological contamination presents one of the greatest challenges in cultivating robust, reliable algal cultures that meet target performance (growth rate, target product generation, culture density, etc.) specifications. Novel, safe, and effective strategies need to be developed to control culture contamination events that result in diminished target feedstock yield(s). Additionally, integrated pest management systems need to be developed to control pathogens and herbivores. Examples of research that would contribute to crop protection include but are not limited to:

  • Rapid detection systems to enable preventative treatments to ponds.

  • Biological systems and/or engineering to increase resilience of culture.

  • Novel chemical treatment protocols that are scalable, environmentally acceptable, and economically feasible.

Algae utilize a diversity of carbon concentrating mechanisms to maintain adequate carbon stores for photosynthesis. Obtaining adequate carbon is affected by the transfer of dissolved inorganic carbon into the cultivation system, levels of biologically available carbon, and sequestration of carbon by algae.

Reservoirs could include atmospheric CO2, supplied CO2, and biologically available carbon in the cultivation system. Enhancing transfer efficiency could enhance productivity through ensuring adequate intracellular carbon stores, as well as lower operating costs through more efficient utilization of carbon sources. Target improvements may be measured through enhanced photosynthetic efficiency, increased carbon efficiency, and improved rates of transfer, either into carbon reservoir, or uptake by algae from the reservoir.

Improvements must result in improved productivity that could lead to higher feedstock yields. Examples of research that could help meet this objective include, but are not limited to:

  • Mechanical engineering solutions for mixing and gas exchange.

  • Alternative/Advanced CO2 or C supply-system development.

  • Improved carbon uptake through strain engineering.

Successful projects under this FOA will need to integrate techno-economic modeling and life-cycle assessment into experimental plans. This will be captured to some extent in the required technical and financial data. After award selection, DOE will use these data will be used to establish a baseline and targets.

DOE issues draft loan guarantee solicitation for up to $12.6B for advanced nuclear energy projects

Tue, 2014-09-30 13:31

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a draft solicitation that would provide up to $12.6 billion in loan guarantees for Advanced Nuclear Energy Projects. Once finalized, these loan guarantees will provide critical financing to help commercialize advanced nuclear energy technologies, supporting projects that are often unable to secure full commercial financing due to their scale and use of innovative technology.

Authorized by Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Advanced Nuclear Energy Projects Solicitation would provide loan guarantees to support construction of innovative nuclear energy and front-end nuclear projects in the United States that reduce, avoid, or sequester greenhouse gas emissions. While any project that meets the eligibility requirements may apply, the Department has identified four key technology areas of interest in the draft solicitation:

  • advanced nuclear reactors;
  • small modular reactors;
  • upgrades and uprates at existing facilities; and
  • front-end nuclear projects.

The Department welcomes public comment on a range of issues and will consider public feedback provided during the 30-day public comment period in defining the scope of the final solicitation. The draft solicitation can be found online at http://www.energy.gov/lpo.

Once the solicitation is finalized, the Department’s Loan Programs Office (LPO) will have open solicitations in four areas, including the $8 billion Advanced Fossil Energy Projects Solicitation; the $4 billion Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy Projects Solicitation; and the $16 billion Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program.

Currently, LPO supports a diverse portfolio of more than $30 billion in loans, loan guarantees, and commitments, supporting more than 30 projects nationwide. The projects that LPO has supported include one of the world’s largest wind farms; several of the world’s largest solar generation and thermal energy storage systems; and more than a dozen new or retooled auto manufacturing plants across the country.

Chrysler’s Ram Truck increases EcoDiesel mix to 20% of Ram 1500 production; double expectations

Tue, 2014-09-30 10:14

Chrysler’s Ram has decided to increase the 3.0-liter V-6 EcoDiesel powertrain mix to 20% of the total Ram 1500 production volume—double the initial expectation. The EcoDiesel delivers 240 hp (179 kW), 420 lb-ft (569 N·m) of torque with up to 9,200 pounds (4,173 lbs) of towing capability and 28 mpg highway (8.4 l/100 km) in the full-size half-ton pickup. (Earlier post.)

When the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel opened for orders earlier this year, Ram Truck received more than 8,000 requests within three days, which quickly filled the initial allocation for the powertrain.

Innovation sometimes comes with risk, but being first to market with a diesel engine for the half-ton segment has shown to be a great decision for the Ram Brand. The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is a game-changer in the industry, and has proved to be a key to conquest sales over our competitors.— Bob Hegbloom, President and CEO — Ram Truck Brand, Chrysler Group LLC

Ram truck is the only manufacturer currently to offer a light-duty diesel powertrain. Nearly 60% of all Ram 1500 EcoDiesel sales are conquests over competitors, Ram said, an achievement considering the traditional brand-loyal strength of the segment. The premium powertrain also contributes to an increase in the Ram 1500s Average Transaction Price according to J.D. Power.

The engine’s block and bedplate are made from lightweight Compacted Graphite Iron (CGI). Its performance is enhanced by the MultiJet 2 common-rail fuel-injection system. MultiJet 2’s high-dispersion nozzles and servovalve can accommodate up to eight fuel-injection events per cylinder cycle. This mitigates noise and improves low-speed throttle response, while also reducing fuel consumption and emissions.

The all-new 3.0-liter EcoDiesel features Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR); high-pressure cooled Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR); variable swirl intake ports; and a variable-geometry turbocharger. All contribute to 50-state compliance with Tier 2-Bin 5/LEV II emissions regulations.

Ram Truck worked with powertrain supplier VM Motori (Fiat Group Automobiles) to increase production to meet North American consumer demand. The 3.0-liter EcoDiesel engine is manufactured by VM Motori in Cento, Italy. Chrysler Group has utilized VM Motori diesel engines since 1992.

The total increase in EcoDiesel mix will be completed by the end of November at both Warren Truck Assembly Plant in Michigan and Saltillo Truck Assembly Plant in Mexico.

The 2015 Ram 1500 features a number of fuel-saving systems, including the TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission, thermal management system, pulse-width modulation and active aerodynamics with grille shutters and air suspension.

Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is a fuel-saving technology for the Ram 1500, which reduces parasitic electrical load. The technology not only eliminates unnecessary load on the alternator but also improves the durability of benefitting systems. The forward cooling fan takes advantage of PWM, adding a 0.2% improvement in fuel efficiency.

As opposed to a “fixed” displacement compressor, the variable displacement compressor (VDC) automatically varies its pumping capacity to meet air conditioning demands rather than working in an on/off fashion. As a result, the variable displacement compressor lessens loads on the engine, reducing parasitic losses for enhanced fuel efficiency and helping to maintain a consistent cockpit temperature. The technology also reduces related noise and vibration annoyances.

When the interior cabin temperature is higher than what’s desired (outside the automatic temperature control setting), the VDC increases refrigeration capacity until the desired temperature is reached. Once the temperature is reached, the VDC automatically reduces its capacity to maintain the desired temperature rather than shutting off completely.

The overall result is smoother compressor transitions, less noise and greater fuel efficiency.

Like the VDC, the pulse-width modulated (PWM) blower continually controls fan speeds for optimal performance in all driving scenarios; quiet, efficient operation; and virtually unnoticeable performance. Not unlike other PWM applications that debuted on the 2013 Ram 1500, the pulse-width blower ensures an infinite amount of varying fan speeds to satisfy every customer-requested condition in relation to the air conditioning system.

Fraunhofer holding 3rd annual workshop on Li-sulfur batteries in November

Tue, 2014-09-30 08:00

Fraunhofer IWS in Dresden, Germany will hold its 3rd annual workshop on Lithium-sulfur batteries from 12-13 November 2014. Fraunhofer says that Lithium-sulfur batteries are the most promising choice for future energy storage systems, with novel materials such as nanostructured carbon/sulfur composite cathodes, solid electrolytes and alloy-based anodes expected to enhance significantly the cell’s performance.

As with the prior Lithium-Sulfur Battery Workshops in 2012 and 2013, this year’s symposium will bring together an international audience of scientists and industrial customers.

The sole OEM presentation will be a talk by Dr. Oliver Gröger from Volkswagen AG on recent developments on Li-sulfur batteries with silicon anodes and a comparison to commercially available NMC-based batteries.

Volkswagen AG filed a patent application in October 2012 (published in December 2013) on a new metal-sulfur battery system (e.g., lithium-sulfur, although other metals from the group of lithium, sodium, magnesium, calcium, aluminum and zinc are supported), with a focus on a novel multi-layered separator to reduce polysulfide shuttling and dendrite growth from the metal anode; Dr. Gröger was one of the inventors.

Chinese scientists unveil liquid-phase 3D printing method using low-melting-point metal alloy ink

Tue, 2014-09-30 07:00

Conventional 3D metal printing (additive manufacturing) is generally restricted to metals with a high melting point, and the process is can be rather time consuming. Now, scientists at the Beijing Key Laboratory of CryoBiomedical Engineering, part of the Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, have developed a new conceptual method of liquid-phase 3D printing for quickly making conductive metal objects. The “ink” consisting of a metal alloy that has a melting point slightly above room temperature.

Compared with the air-cooling in a conventional 3D printing, the liquid-phase-manufacturing offers a much higher cooling rate and thus significantly improves the speed in fabricating the target metal objects. This unique strategy also efficiently prevents the liquid metal inks from air oxidation, which is hard to avoid otherwise in an ordinary 3D printing.

The paper by researchers Liu Jing and Wang Lei is published by the journal SCIENCE CHINA Technological Sciences.

In recent years, these scientists state, metals with a low melting point, especially metals that melt at room temperature, have attracted extensive attention in the areas of computer chip cooling, thermal interface materials, and microfluidics. In their new study, a four-element alloy, Bi35In48.6Sn16Zn0.4, was developed and adopted as the printing ink.

The scientists likewise developed a streamlined fabrication process. First, a 3D object is generated as a computer-aided design (CAD) model, and then converted into an STL (STereoLithography) file. The STL file is imported into an open-source software program that generates slices of the object as a set of horizontal layers and that generates tool paths for each layer. The printing ink is dropped into a liquid phase cooling fluid via an injection needle; the object is printed layer by layer.


Droplet deposition process (from A to F) in an ethanol cooling fluid. Credit: Science China Press. Click to enlarge.

During the process of liquid phase 3D printing, several factors affect the final printing quality.

The types and properties of the printing ink dominate the fabrication process. In principle, any metal with a low melting point (or less than 300°C) can be selected as a printing ink on condition that an appropriate cooling liquid is available. The ink material can be an alloy based on gallium, bismuth, or indium, or even a mixture of these alloys and nanoparticles.

Compared to conventional metal prototyping techniques, liquid phase 3D printing offers several distinct advantages, the researchers said:

  1. At a relatively high speed of manufacturing, the process of printing metal objects in a liquid phase can be used to form three-dimensional structures. The temperature field and flow field of the cooling fluid can be flexibly controlled. Through regulating the flow velocity and direction of the cooling fluid, some unique 3D metal structures can be realized, e.g. a 3D rotating body.

  2. 3D electromechanical systems can be printed. A conductive liquid metal can be used in conjunction with nonmetal materials (e.g. plastic) to form 3D functional devices that include supporting structures and conductive devices. The combination of liquid phase 3D printing and conventional printing can meet all kinds of objectives.


The injection needle array of a future liquid phase 3-D printer. Credit: Science China Press. Click to enlarge.

In the new study, researchers at the Beijing Key Laboratory of CryoBiomedical Engineering also describe a possible future liquid-phase 3D printer. To optimize the accuracy and speed of 3D printing, they propose adopting a combination of a syringe pump array and a syringe needle array.

In this system, the syringe pump array is used to extract the liquid metal solution, while the syringe needle array is deployed to inject the liquid metal ink into the cooling fluid. The injection needles can be replaced conveniently with others of different sizes to meet various printing objectives.

Transforming digital 3D models into printed structures and controlling each needle's injection speed are completed through a computer-implemented process. In this way, 3D metal objects are printed on the bottom of a trough holding the cooling fluid, formed of water, ethanol or other substance.

This work was partially supported by the Key Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. KGZD-EW-T04).

Resources

  • Wang L, Liu J (2014) “Liquid phase 3D printing for quickly manufacturing conductive metal objects with a low melting point alloy ink.” SCI CHINA TECHNOL SC, Vol. 57 (9): 1721-1728 doi: 10.1007/s11431-014-5583-4

Study finds solo hybrid drivers in California HOV lanes amplify congestion, create up to $4,500 per car in adverse social costs annually

Tue, 2014-09-30 06:00

Allowing single-occupant low-emission cars in California to use high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on congested highways exacerbates the congestion and causes up to about $4,500 per car in adverse social costs annually, including increased commute times and carbon dioxide emissions, according to a new study in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.

The authors, from Cornell University, University of Colorado, UC Irvine and UC Berkeley, calculated that the Clean Air Vehicle Stickers (CAVS) policy results in a best-case cost of $124 per ton of reductions in greenhouse gases; $606,000 per ton of nitrogen oxides reduction; and $505,000 per ton of hydrocarbon reduction—exceeding those of other options readily available to policymakers.

The California law enabling single-occupant access to the HOV lanes was meant to stimulate sales for fuel-efficient, ultra low-emission vehicles, with the goals of reducing dependence on foreign oil and saving money at the gasoline pump. Between August 2005 and June 2011, California law allowed owners of hybrid vehicles achieving at least 45 mpg (5.2 l/100 km) to purchase a Clean Air Vehicle Sticker for $8, allowing them to drive on carpool lanes regardless of the number of occupants in the car. However, two-thirds of the sticker registrants had hybrid cars already on the road, the authors noted; in other words, the stimulus effect was lower than expected.

While the original clean air sticker policy expired in 2011, a new HOV-exception program with 40,000 stickers for electric, hydrogen fuel cell, and plug-in hybrid vehicles started in 2012.

While adding a single hybrid to any HOV lane at 2 a.m. creates no congestion or social costs, said the researchers, adding one hybrid driver at 7 a.m. on weekdays to an already congested road such as Interstate 10 in the Los Angeles area appends $4,500 per car in annual costs (in pollution and time) to society.

With the addition of solo-driver hybrids on already congested highways, HOV lane traffic climbs above 30% beyond socially optimal levels, according to the research. Thus, carpooler congestion costs substantially outweigh the green benefits of hybrids, the researchers concluded.

The economists suggested several alternatives:

  • Instead of letting the solo-driver hybrids into rush-hour carpool lanes, the state should provide a tax credit for hybrid vehicles, much like the federal government.

  • Policymakers could ration HOV access via congestion pricing, which could relieve congestion and improve air pollution.

  • Having commuters use buses may represent the win-win in terms of pollution and congestion that policymakers were hoping with the CAVS [sticker] policy, the researchers suggested in the paper.

Even if vehicles were truly zero emission, policies that promote their adoption at the expense of exacerbating congestion still generate substantial losses of time for high-occupancy vehicle commuters, they explain in the paper.

To reduce congestion in that interstate corridor and to be fair to commuters in high-occupancy vehicles, the economists suggest a congestion toll of 45 cents per mile, and for hybrid and low-emission vehicles, a reduced congestion toll amounting to 38 cents per mile.

Resources

  • Antonio Bento, Daniel Kaffine, Kevin Roth and Matthew Zaragoza-Watkins (2014) “The Effects of Regulation in the Presence of Multiple Unpriced Externalities: Evidence from the Transportation Sector,” AEJ: Policy Volume. 6, Issue 3 doi: 10.1257/pol.6.3.1

Honeywell Global Turbo Forecast projects 49M turbocharged vehicle sales, $12B revenue per year by 2019

Tue, 2014-09-30 05:01

The automotive turbocharging industry will generate $12 billion in revenue by equipping 49 million vehicles with turbochargers annually by 2019, according to Honeywell Turbo Technologies’ 2014 Global Turbo Forecast. The continued growth of turbocharging technologies will be driven by requirements for manufacturers to meet global environmental emissions regulations and bolstered by strong demand in emerging markets.

Automakers are turning to downsized turbocharged engines to satisfy more stringent global fuel economy and emission regulations and customer demand for better-performing vehicles. Turbochargers can help downsized engines improve fuel economy as much as 20 to 40% in gasoline and diesel engines, respectively, when compared with larger naturally aspirated engines and still provide the same or better engine performance. In addition to improving fuel efficiency, downsized turbocharged engines also reduce harmful exhaust emissions.

Continued pressure to improve the driver experience and meet future industry requirements is spurring the positive trend seen in this year’s forecast, which include double-digit growth in both North America and China. We expect the industry to produce more than 200 million new turbo-equipped vehicles during the next five years, driving continued demand for well-designed, boosted engines that reduce fuel consumption and improve vehicle performance.—Honeywell Transportation Systems president and CEO Terrence Hahn

IHS Automotive Senior Director for Long Range Planning Philip Gott, who has been tracking the automotive industry and the technologies automakers are using around the world to help improve performance, noted that:.

During the past decade, turbochargers have moved from a niche technology in the high-performance market segment to an integral part of manufacturers’ mainstream emission control and fuel economy strategies. Because they are compatible with virtually all engine technologies, they represent a global growth opportunity, making substantial gains even in the limited-growth markets of the US, Japan and Europe.


Regional growth projections. Source: Honeywell Turbo. Click to enlarge.

Among the projections from Honeywell Turbo’s latest forecast are:

  • China leading global turbo growth: The world’s fastest-growing automotive market is expected to increase turbo penetration from 23% in 2014 to 41% in 2019, thereby doubling the number of turbocharged vehicles sold each year to more than 13 million.

  • US adding turbos at double-digit rate: As the second-fastest-growing global market, North America’s turbo market will grow by 14% per year in the next five years to more than 8 million total turbocharged vehicles by 2019, equating to 38% of the market.

  • Europe adding gasoline turbos to world’s largest turbodiesel fleet: Turbo penetration in Europe is already the highest globally and will grow 2% by 2019 from 67% to 69% with an expected 16 million total turbocharged vehicles sold each year.

  • Turbo mix in India to shift toward more gasoline applications: Honeywell projects turbo penetration to increase 2%, from 46% in 2014 to 48% in 2019, with the total number of turbocharged vehicles sold each year approaching 3 million units.

  • Japan adding turbos despite expected decline in overall sales: Honeywell projects turbo penetration will increase by 5% from 18% in 2014 to 23%, reflecting annual sales of 1.3 million turbocharged vehicles by 2019.

  • Korea turbo penetration outpacing production: Honeywell projects turbo penetration to increase by 3% from 42% in 2014 to 45%, reflecting annual sales approaching 1 million turbocharged vehicles in 2019.

  • South America adding turbo technologies to mix: Honeywell projects turbo penetration to increase by 7% from 17% in 2014 to 24%, reflecting annual sales approaching 2 million turbocharged vehicles in 2019.

The Honeywell Global Turbo Forecast is a proprietary analysis and estimate of automotive industry trends and is based on comprehensive data received from global vehicle-makers, third-party analysts and industry experts.

Global regulatory standards have automotive manufacturers leveraging the performance and efficiency of turbocharged engines to provide an improved driver experience and achieve industry environmental requirements. Europe, China and the United States are all facing more stringent regulations in the years ahead, beginning with Europe’s Euro 6 standard affecting new vehicle production starting January 2015.

High-growth regions, including China, Brazil, Russia and India, are contributing to the adoption of turbo as the emerging middle class in these regions takes advantage of the technology’s greater reliability, performance and fuel efficiency. Regulations and emerging regions will fuel turbo growth worldwide.

Honeywell continues to play a key role in the global adoption of turbo technology and each year launches an average of 100 new turbo applications. Honeywell has more than 500 programs in its product development pipeline and works with nearly every major global manufacturer. Its advanced turbo technologies cover the broadest range of engine applications, from micro-cars and light automobiles to construction vehicles and the racing circuit.

Velocys raises £52 ($85) million for smaller scale GTL

Tue, 2014-09-30 05:00

On the heels of three new projects announced in the past three months, Velocys has raised approximately $85 million through an oversubscribed equity placing, priced at a premium to the market price. The new funds will be used to build upon the company’s recent successes and maintain commercial momentum, helping to further accelerate adoption of Velocys technology following the start of construction of its first commercial project.

The new projects include:

  • The construction of a commercial plant using Velocys technology in Oklahoma, through a joint venture with Waste Management, NRG Energy and Ventech Engineers International, formed to develop GTL plants in the United States and other select geographies (earlier post);

  • The acquisition of a leading project developer of smaller scale GTL in North America, together with its 2,800 bpd Ashtabula GTL project in Ohio (earlier post); and

  • A $70-million endorsement of the company’s customer Red Rock Biofuels, received as a grant from the US Department of Defense to construct a 1,100 bpd biomass-to-liquids plant in Oregon using Velocys technology (earlier post).

    Southwest Airlines also recently signed an agreement with Red Rock Biofuels LLC (RRB) to purchase low carbon renewable jet fuel. (Earlier post.)

Velocys enables modular gas-to-liquids (GTL) plants to convert unconventional, remote and problem gas into valuable liquid fuels. Systems based on the company’s technology are significantly smaller than those using conventional technology, enabling modular plants that can be deployed cost effectively in remote locations and on smaller fields than is possible with competing systems.

Topsøe researchers analyze hydrotreating catalyst at single-atom level; potential for more efficient catalysts for cleaner fuels

Tue, 2014-09-30 04:00

Cover courtesy of S. Nygaard, Haldor Topsøe A/S. Click to enlarge.

Researchers from Haldor Topsøe A/S have analyzed an industrial-style MoS2-based hydrotreating catalyst at the single-atom level using electron microscopy. With this method, the sites of single cobalt atoms, which are responsible for promoting sulfur removal from oil distillates, are resolved. The study is published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

Co-Mo-S is the active part in Haldor Topsøe’s series of TK catalysts; the cobalt serves as a promoter of the functional properties of the transition metal dichalcogenide (TMD) MoS2. The researchers obtained images—achieved following decades of attempts—disclosing detailed knowledge about the structure of the catalyst. The research could mean more efficient catalysts for oil refineries in the near future, promoting a cleaner environment and helping industry to deal with increasingly tight and more stringent environmental legislation.

Specifically, using aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy and electron energy loss spectroscopy, the researchers found that the Co atoms occupy sites at the (−100) S edge terminations of the graphite-supported MoS2 nanocrystals in the catalyst.

Each Co atom has four neighboring S atoms that are arranged in a reconstructed geometry, which reflects an equilibrium state. The structure agrees with complementary studies of catalysts that were prepared under vastly different conditions and on other supports, the team said.

In contrast, they found a small amount of residual Fe in the graphite competes for the S edge sites, so that promotion by Co is strongly sensitive to the purity of the raw materials. The team concluded that their single-atom-sensitive analytical method offers a guide for advancing preparative methods for promoted transition metal dichalcogenide (TMD) nanomaterials.

These first-ever images show exactly how the individual atoms in the catalysts are arranged. Knowing how the atoms are arranged in the real catalysts helps to explain what makes a catalyst good or bad. In particular we need to know the exact position of Co, as that element is a spice that really makes the catalyst stand out.

Such images are very difficult to obtain and at the edge of what is physically possible, simply because we need to distinguish each and every atom in the crystallites. We have therefore worked for a long time with Dr. Quentin Ramasse at the SuperSTEM facility in Daresbury and Dr. Christian Kisielowski at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. Especially Quentin has a highly sophisticated microscope available that made it possible to obtain these first-ever images.—Stig Helveg, co-author

Topsøe’s researchers and Drs. Ramasse and Kisielowski have been closely collaborating over the last five years, now leading to their third cover-page paper in Angewandte Chemie.

Background. Gasoline, diesel and other fossil fuels contain small amounts of sulfur and nitrogen which are emitted to the atmosphere during fuel combustion. These elements are harmful to the human health and the environment. Catalytic processes are therefore implemented in oil refineries to reduce the S and N emissions. However, more efficient catalysts are urgently needed to keep up with the increasing oil consumption, dirtier oil, and tighter and more stringent environmental legislation.

Today the catalyst consists of small crystallites of the mineral molybdenum disulfide (MoS2); cobalt (Co) atoms are attached the crystallites to boost the catalysis.

Since the 1970’es, the structure of the catalyst has been debated intensively in the scientific world. In the 1980’s, researchers at Topsøe suggested the Co-Mo-S model which at that time was fundamentally different from established beliefs and thus created much debate. Although the model is widely accepted today, no one has ever seen, atom-by-atom, the Co-Mo-S catalyst of the type used in oil refineries.

Resources

  • Zhu, Y., Ramasse, Q. M., Brorson, M., Moses, P. G., Hansen, L. P., Kisielowski, C. F. and Helveg, S. (2014), “Visualizing the Stoichiometry of Industrial-Style Co-Mo-S Catalysts with Single-Atom Sensitivity.” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 53: 10723–10727. doi: 10.1002/anie.201405690

workshops -- New Workshop(s) posted to ARB's website

Mon, 2014-09-29 22:00
One or more workshops/meetings have been scheduled and are now located in ARB's Workshop Calendar.

newsclips -- ARB Newsclips for September 29, 2014.

Mon, 2014-09-29 18:14
ARB Newsclips for September 29, 2014.

BMW teams up with Baidu in autonomous driving project in China

Mon, 2014-09-29 15:48

BMW’s autonomous driving research prototypes have already driven thousands of kilometers in highly automated—i.e. self-driving—mode on German highways. In February 2013, the focus shifted to European motorways when BMW launched a joint project with Continental. Now, BMW is embarking on a research project which will pave the way for highly automated driving in China.

Over the next two years, the BMW Group will build prototype research vehicles for use in highly automated driving trials on Chinese roads. Whereas typical features which must be taken into account in Europe include tunnels, national borders and toll stations, China’s fast-expanding urban centers also present the engineers with challenges such as multi-level highways. BMW is taking on this new engineering challenge because it believes that only with a complete command of all the technical fundamentals will it be possible to help clarify the legal issues surrounding highly automated driving.

The BMW Group is teaming up with internet giant Baidu as its Chinese partner in this latest ambitious research project. Baidu operates China’s largest search engine and is also a provider of map services and cloud services. The highly automated prototypes developed in this joint project will initially be operated on urban highways in Beijing and Shanghai.

Background. “Vision Zero” is a strategy for achieving “accident-free mobility” that is being pursued right across Europe in many different arenas—social, political, scientific and industrial. Highly automated driving is capable of bringing Vision Zero a significant step closer to reality. In addition to the safety aspect, the aim is to enhance comfort and efficiency as well. The BMW Group believes that highly automated driving will play a major part in ensuring sustainable personal mobility in the future.

An “electronic co-pilot” system is not only able to relieve the driver of monotonous or repetitive driving tasks, but can also take over full control of the vehicle if desired.

As early as October 2009, in the TrackTrainer project, highly automated vehicles from the BMW Group were already demonstrating their ability to follow an ideal line around race tracks—including the Nürburgring North Loop, by accounts the most challenging racing circuit in the world. Important input has also been provided by the BMW Emergency Stop Assistant.

If the driver is suddenly incapacitated, this system is able to switch to highly automated driving mode and bring the vehicle safely to a stop at the side of the road before automatically calling for help. The BMW Group incorporated the results from this development work in a highly automated vehicle that underwent road testing on German motorways in 2011. Meanwhile, the highly automated research prototype presented at CES 2014, which is based on a BMW 2 Series Coupe, boasts further perfected control technology. This is rooted in BMW’s view that, in order to offer robust and dependable driver stress relief in tiring situations, highly automated driving systems must be capable of coping with all potential vehicle dynamics scenarios, right through to extreme situations such as a sudden emergency.

Roland Berger: Russian embargo against the Western automotive industry would hit Russia harder

Mon, 2014-09-29 13:10

A decision by Russia to retaliate against sanctions imposed by the European Union and the US over Ukraine by imposing strong Russian sanctions—i.e., an embargo—on car imports from Europe and the US could undermine a faltering Russian economy even more, according to a new analysis by Germany-based Roland Berger Strategy Consultants.

Economic downturn and political uncertainty have kept revenues in the Russian automotive market on a downward trend for months now. In the first eight months of the year the market fell 12%, tumbling by some 25% in July and August. As Russia struggles with an ailing economy, rising inflation and a volatile currency, there’s no sign of a recovery any time soon, the consultancy said.

In the new study—“Russian automotive market update: what would be the real cost of sanctions?”—Roland Berger consultants devised three scenarios to illustrate the impact of sanctions on the Russian automotive industry.

Scenario 1: Ten percentage point rise in import duties for European and American OEMs. The forecasted market volume of 2.2 million new cars for 2015 would see only a slight drop.

European and American OEMs with production facilities in Russia could increase their local production to circumvent the higher import duties. This would raise the price level only marginally.—Roland Berger Partner Jürgen Reers

Russia itself would benefit; notwithstanding the lower income from taxes on sales, an increase in import duties would boost Russian state coffers by an extra €55 million, said Roland Berger Partner Uwe Kumm.

Scenario 2: Import ban on cars from the EU and the US with retail price of €30,000 or less. If Russia banned imports of cars in the lower to mid-range price segment, in other words those priced up to €30,000, the hole this would leave in the Russian market could largely be filled. Here, too, increased imports from Asia and ramped-up production volumes from the European and American OEMs’ local plants could take the heat off the market.

Scenario 3: Embargo on all car imports from the EU and US. This scenario would see almost 110,000 fewer vehicles sold on the Russian market in 2015. The country could then expect falling revenue from sales taxes and import duties.

By imposing such measures, the Russian state would hurt itself the most. Our calculations indicate that Russia would lose around 1.4 billion euros in tax and duty income in 2015.—Uwe Kumm

European and American automakers would be hit hard as well: Profits from their Russian business could shrink by €550 million in the coming 12 months. The only winners in these sanction scenarios are the Asian car manufacturers from China or Korea, who would be able to greatly expand their market share within a very short time, noted Reers.

The Roland Berger experts believe the Russian crisis will last another year or two and continue to dampen the Russian automotive market; Western OEMs should prepare themselves for this now.

But the Russian government, too, should eschew further sanctions and focus instead on improving the underlying conditions so as to stabilize the market long term and make local production more competitive. There are various conceivable options here, from banning the use of old vehicles to implementing funding programs to stimulate sales. The country should also foster local component production in particular as a means of improving the local cost base for OEMs.

In the long-term view, producing cars in Russia needs to make more economic sense than importing vehicles.—Uwe Kumm

Pennsylvania’s Public-Private Partnership Board approves CNG project for public transit, private fleet fueling

Mon, 2014-09-29 12:50

Pennsylvania’s Public-Private Partnership (P3) Board has approved a project seeking a private partner to develop compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations at public transit agencies around the state that would also provide public access to the facilities. Through the project, the private partner will design, build, finance, operate and maintain CNG filling stations at up to 37 transit facilities. Each fueling site must provide access to CNG for public transit and other CNG vehicles alike.

In addition, PennDOT will enter into a CNG supply contract with the selected partner as well as purchase agreements with each of the transit agencies. PennDOT would receive a portion of the fuel sales revenue, with the money being returned to transit agencies to assist with future capital projects.

To kick off the project, PennDOT will release a Request for Qualifications to solicit interested parties and expects to invite qualified teams to submit proposals early next year. A project team could be selected in summer 2015.

In September 2012, Corbett signed into law the Public and Private Partnerships for Transportation Act, which authorized P3 projects in Pennsylvania. This law allows PennDOT and other transportation authorities and commissions to partner with private companies to participate in delivering, maintaining and financing transportation-related projects.

As part of the P3 law, the seven-member Public Private Transportation Partnership Board was appointed to examine and approve potential public-private transportation projects. If the board determines a state operation or project would be more cost-effectively administered or delivered by a private company, the department or appropriate transportation agency can advertise a competitive RFP and enter into a contract with a company to completely or partially deliver the transportation-related service or project.

In 2013, Pennsylvania became the second-largest natural gas producing state in the nation. The abundance of low-cost natural gas has driven electric and natural gas prices down nearly 40%t since 2008, saving the average Pennsylvania resident nearly $1,200 annually in lower energy costs. After importing 75% of its natural gas just five years ago, Pennsylvania has become a net exporter of gas for the first time in more than 100 years.

Argonne tool predicts economic impacts of building new natural gas stations

Mon, 2014-09-29 12:41

Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have developed a new tool for analyzing the economic impacts of building new compressed natural gas fueling stations. Called JOBS NG, the tool is freely available to the public.

JOBS NG is designed to help states and local governments evaluate possible economic benefits related to natural gas stations when they are setting new policies. It can also help developers quantify proposals.

Our model estimates the jobs created and economic output at every stage in the process, beginning with station design and construction and continuing through the operation and maintenance of the station and the sale of natural gas fuel.—Marianne Mintz, Argonne systems analyst who built the tool

The analysis extends to the equipment for the station—accounting for the raw materials that go into components as they are mined, refined, distributed and assembled. The model, which is customizable by state or census region, also accounts for ripple effects as new jobholders purchase goods and services elsewhere in the economy

JOBS NG is the third in a series of tools designed to estimate economic impacts of energy investments, all based on standard equations used by the Department of Labor to estimate the effects of investment dollars in a region. Earlier tools calculated similar impacts for developing hydrogen fueling stations and for deploying fuel cells in forklifts and for backup power. All three tools are available online, along with information and guides for using the models.

Development of this tool was supported by the US Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program, an initiative of the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Clean Cities works with a network of nearly 100 coalitions to advance the nation’s economic, environmental and energy security by supporting local actions that reduce transportation-sector petroleum consumption.

Magna providing composite liftgate assembly for BMW i3 EV

Mon, 2014-09-29 12:26

Magna International Inc. is leveraging its advanced composites and exteriors systems expertise to produce an innovative, lightweight composite liftgate assembly on the BMW i3.

Magna’s collaboratively-designed liftgate achieves the BMW i brand appearance and vehicle mass requirements through the use of a lightweight composite structure which integrates the liftgate’s functional systems.

Locking and latching systems, rear windshield wiper system, interior trim, exterior painted trim finishes, electrical power and signal distribution, tail-lights, rear window and a unique glass outer panel are all integrated using a fully automated accelerated joining technology. The module is a completely assembled lightweight closure, ready for installation on the vehicle.

The liftgate assembly is being produced at a Magna facility in the Czech Republic, using advanced manufacturing and bonding processes to ensure a high-quality product scalable for high-volume production. The fully assembled module is transported to BMW Group’s Leipzig facility for direct assembly in line.

Promised VW Passat plug-in hybrid to debut at Paris show; both sedan and wagon

Mon, 2014-09-29 09:56

Passat GTE sedan. Click to enlarge.

In his remarks before the opening of the Geneva Motora Show in March 2014, Volkswagen Group Chairman of the Board of Management Prof. Dr. Winterkorn said that a plug-in hybrid version of the Volkswagen Passat would join the Group’s range of low-CO2 vehicles “soon.” (Earlier post.)

Accordingly, at the Paris Motor Show, Volkswagen will introduce the new Passat GTE plug-in hybrid, the Volkswagen brand’s third plug-in hybrid (after the XL1, earlier post and Golf GTE, earlier post) and its first plug-in hybrid offered in both sedan and wagon styles. The Passat GTE leverages the Volkswagen Group’s MQB-based plug-in hybrid powertrain, also seen in the VW Golf GTE and the Audi A3 e-tron. (Earlier post.) The Passat GTE will be launched in the second half of next year in Europe.



Passat GTE wagon. Click to enlarge.   Passat GTE sedan. Click to enlarge.

Based on the new eight-generation Passat (earlier post), the new Passat GTE combines a 1.4-liter TSI engine and electric motor for maximum power output of 218 PS (215 hp, 160 kW) and a driving range of more than 600 miles (965 km), with up to 31 miles (50 km) of that in all-electric mode.

The engine develops 156 PS (115 kW) at 5,000 rpm; the electric motor, powered by a 9.9 kWh Li-ion battery pack, produces 85 kW / 15 PS. The maximum torque of the plug-in hybrid drive system is 400 N·m (295 lb-ft). The NEDC consumption (for hybrid vehicles) is more than 117 mpg US (under 2.0 l/100 km) and 13.0 kWh/100 km; these values equate to CO2 emissions lower than 45 g/km.


Under the hood. Click to enlarge.

The gearbox is the DQ400E six-speed DSG with three clutches (dual clutch plus disengagement clutch) that was specially developed for hybrid use. Whenever possible, the disengagement clutch disengages the TSI from the driven front axle and shuts it off—such as in phases of coasting; in this case, the Passat GTE makes use of the car’s kinetic energy and coasts without any added propulsive power.

Additional components of the hybrid drive include the power electronics (converts DC power from the battery to AC power for the electric motor) and a charger. An electro-mechanical brake servo and an electric air conditioning compressor also ensure optimal and energy-efficient operation of the brakes and air conditioner in “E-Mode”.

The MQB-based Passat GTE accelerates to 62 mph (100 km/h) in less than 8.0 seconds and achieves a top speed of more than 136 mph (219 km/h); in “E-Mode,” 80 mph (129 km/h).

The Passat GTE can be driven in four different modes: “EMode”, “Hybrid”, “Battery Charge” and “GTE”. The driver can always see which mode is active on the multifunction display of the instrument cluster.

Upon starting the car, the Passat GTE is automatically in “E-Mode” (except when the battery is not sufficiently charged or the outside temperature is very low, in which case the TSI takes over immediately). When a minimum charge level of the battery has been reached or when there is very high demand for power, the drive system automatically switches over to the “Hybrid” mode.

In this state, “E-Mode” is deactivated, and the Passat GTE now behaves like a classic full hybrid vehicle that charges the battery regeneratively during deceleration and automatically uses the TSI and/or electric motor, depending on the situation. The charge state of the battery is maintained at a constant level in this mode.

By pressing the “E-Mode” button (to the left of the gear lever), the driver can manually switch to “E-Mode.” This button simultaneously opens a window in the infotainment system, in which the three “E-Mode”, “Hybrid” and “Battery Charge” modes can be directly selected.

In addition to the “E-Mode” and “Hybrid” modes, the driver can set another mode via the infotainment system menu: “Battery Charge”. In this mode, the high-voltage battery is charged during driving. By pressing the “GTE” button (also to the left of the gear lever), the driver can switch to “GTE” mode which activates the sporty nature of the Passat GTE.

In this mode the characteristics of the accelerator pedal, gearbox and steering are made sportier. In connection with optional DCC, the chassis is firmer. The tuning of the TSI is also more performance oriented. In addition, in the “GTE” mode the TSI and electric motor work together to make the full system power and the maximum system torque available.

There are two ways to charge the battery in the Passat GTE via the charging socket in the radiator grille. First: the standard charging cable is plugged into a 230 volt electrical socket (in Europe). The battery is then charged by alternating current (AC) from the mains at a power level of 2.3 kW. From completely flat, it can be fully charged (100% battery charge level) in four hours and 15 minutes.

Volkswagen also offers an optional wall box for a garage or carport which charges at a power level of 3.6 kW. Using this method, the battery is fully charged after only two hours and 30 minutes. There are also public charging stations that charge electric cars at a level of 3.6 kW.

The Passat GTE is an independent equipment line. On the one hand, its standard equipment includes many features also available in other models of the range, either as an option or without extra charge, depending on the equipment version: LED headlights, Driver Alert System, Automatic Post-Collision Braking system, Front Assist including City Emergency Braking function, rain sensor and ParkPilot. On the other hand, as a high-tech flagship, the Passat GTE features several unique elements and equipment upgrades which distinguish it from the rest of the Passat range.

In the upper section of the front end, the Passat GTE can be recognised by a specific chrome radiator grille unit with additional blue line. The front bumper was also redesigned, with distinctive cross panels in the lower air inlet and C-shaped LED daytime running lights.

The “C”-shaped LED daytime running light and the blue line in the radiator grille unit are stylistic devices—blue is the Volkswagen “e-mobility color” and in conjunction with the C-shaped daytime running light, it constitutes an identifying feature of all Volkswagen’s electric and plug-in hybrid models. When viewed from the side, 17-inch “Astana” alloy wheels identify the Passat GTE as a plug-in hybrid.

The interior was likewise fine-tuned for the new drive system. With a menu matrix for the functions and displays related to the drive system, the engineers and interface designers at Volkswagen TE (Technical Development Center) tailored features such as the standard “Composition Media” infotainment system and the instrument cluster (with power meter) for the plug-in hybrid drive.


Click to enlarge.

In addition, the innovative Active Info Display with specific displays will be also available as an option for the Passat GTE. Standard details such as the blue ambient lighting, leather-trimmed multifunction steering wheel with blue decorative stitching, GTE specific gear knob with blue stitching and seats covered in “Sevilla” cloth with a blue basic structure have also been especially configured to the Passat GTE. Furthermore, the interior was enhanced by the “Waves” design (aluminium look) and “Piano Black” (high-gloss black) as well as a GTE logo in front of the gear shift gate.

The owner of the new Passat GTE can make use of the “CAR-NET e-Remote” app, by which the charging of the battery, for instance, can be started via smartphone. Likewise, all climate control functions can be activated via the smartphone. In addition, information on the vehicle status, state of charge of the battery, recent driving data or last parking position can be queried. It is also possible to check whether the doors are closed and the lights turned off.

The new Passat GTE will be launched with the high resolution 6.5-inch display of the standard “Composition Media” infotainment system. Optional: the “Discover Media” (also with a 6.5-inch display) and “Discover Pro” (with an 8.0-inch display) radio-navigation systems. Both devices feature numerous additional functions in the Passat GTE. They include a “range monitor”, an “energy flow indicator”, “zero-emission statistics”, “e-manager” and – when the optional navigation system is installed – the “360° range” feature.

  • Range monitor: depicts the momentary electric driving range of the Passat GTE; the additional range potential that can be achieved by turning off auxiliary consumers that might be in use is also shown.

  • Energy flow indicator: this indicator utilizes animated graphics to depict the energy flow when accelerating (blue arrows) as well as braking, i.e. regenerative braking (green arrows).

  • e-Manager: up to three departure and charging times can be programmed here, and heating or cooling of the interior can be activated via the stationary air conditioning, which comes as a standard feature.

  • 360° range: the driving range in “E-Mode” is shown by the so-called 360° zone on the map of the surrounding area. The highlighted zone depicts the one-way electric driving range of the car. Charging stations can be displayed and used in route calculation.

On the left side of the instrument cluster the Passat GTE’s power meter supplements the tachometer and shows information such as whether the high-voltage battery is being charged by regeneration or whether—and how much—energy is being consumed. The speedometer is still on the right side.

A color display, which is located between the power meter and speedometer, continually displays the electric driving range and the momentary operating mode. In a separate LED field in the lower segment of the multifunction display, the “READY” message also appears after starting the e-motor, indicating that the car is ready to be driven. This is done because the electric motor cannot be heard when the car is stopped.

Volkswagen is offering an optional instrument cluster that has been designed as a full interactive display: the Active Info Display. All instruments— thus also the specific displays in the Passat GTE—are implemented virtually. Navigation information can be shown in 2-D or 3-D views on a 12.3-inch display.

Its resolution of 1,440 x 540 pixels enables extremely precise, high-quality graphics and interactive display of all details. In the Navigation mode, for example, the speedometer and tachometer are relocated to the sides to make more room for the map display. Information on driving, navigation and assistance functions can be integrated into the graphic areas of the speedometer and tachometer as needed.

Data that is displayed on the center console via the infotainment system, such as phone contact pages or CD covers, can also be shown in the Active Info Display in the Passat. In fact, the driver can find all information relevant to driving in his or her direct field of view. As described above, he or she can pull up important data he needs according to the situation at hand and then use it in an individually selected display.

With the market launch of the plug-in hybrid, a total of nine drive versions, covering a power range from 92 kW / 125 PS to 206 kW / 280 PS, will be available for the European version of the Passat. All versions meet the EU 6 emissions standard.

The Passat GTE also constitutes an integral part of the strategy for electric mobility at Volkswagen. After the XL1, e-up!, e-Golf and Golf GTE, the Passat GTE is the fifth, or sixth model (sedan and wagon) that can be operated by electric motor with zero emissions.

Promised VW Passat plug-in hybrid to debut at Paris show; both sedan and wagon

Mon, 2014-09-29 09:56

Passat GTE sedan. Click to enlarge.

In his remarks before the opening of the Geneva Motora Show in March 2014, Volkswagen Group Chairman of the Board of Management Prof. Dr. Winterkorn said that a plug-in hybrid version of the Volkswagen Passat would join the Group’s range of low-CO2 vehicles “soon.” (Earlier post.)

Accordingly, at the Paris Motor Show, Volkswagen will introduce the new Passat GTE plug-in hybrid, the Volkswagen brand’s third plug-in hybrid (after the XL1, earlier post and Golf GTE, earlier post) and its first plug-in hybrid offered in both sedan and wagon styles. The Passat GTE leverages the Volkswagen Group’s MQB-based plug-in hybrid powertrain, also seen in the VW Golf GTE and the Audi A3 e-tron. (Earlier post.) The Passat GTE will be launched in the second half of next year in Europe.



Passat GTE wagon. Click to enlarge.   Passat GTE sedan. Click to enlarge.

Based on the new eight-generation Passat (earlier post), the new Passat GTE combines a 1.4-liter TSI engine and electric motor for maximum power output of 218 PS (215 hp, 160 kW) and a driving range of more than 600 miles (965 km), with up to 31 miles (50 km) of that in all-electric mode.

The engine develops 156 PS (115 kW) at 5,000 rpm; the electric motor, powered by a 9.9 kWh Li-ion battery pack, produces 85 kW / 15 PS. The maximum torque of the plug-in hybrid drive system is 400 N·m (295 lb-ft). The NEDC consumption (for hybrid vehicles) is more than 117 mpg US (under 2.0 l/100 km) and 13.0 kWh/100 km; these values equate to CO2 emissions lower than 45 g/km.


Under the hood. Click to enlarge.

The gearbox is the DQ400E six-speed DSG with three clutches (dual clutch plus disengagement clutch) that was specially developed for hybrid use. Whenever possible, the disengagement clutch disengages the TSI from the driven front axle and shuts it off—such as in phases of coasting; in this case, the Passat GTE makes use of the car’s kinetic energy and coasts without any added propulsive power.

Additional components of the hybrid drive include the power electronics (converts DC power from the battery to AC power for the electric motor) and a charger. An electro-mechanical brake servo and an electric air conditioning compressor also ensure optimal and energy-efficient operation of the brakes and air conditioner in “E-Mode”.

The MQB-based Passat GTE accelerates to 62 mph (100 km/h) in less than 8.0 seconds and achieves a top speed of more than 136 mph (219 km/h); in “E-Mode,” 80 mph (129 km/h).

The Passat GTE can be driven in four different modes: “EMode”, “Hybrid”, “Battery Charge” and “GTE”. The driver can always see which mode is active on the multifunction display of the instrument cluster.

Upon starting the car, the Passat GTE is automatically in “E-Mode” (except when the battery is not sufficiently charged or the outside temperature is very low, in which case the TSI takes over immediately). When a minimum charge level of the battery has been reached or when there is very high demand for power, the drive system automatically switches over to the “Hybrid” mode.

In this state, “E-Mode” is deactivated, and the Passat GTE now behaves like a classic full hybrid vehicle that charges the battery regeneratively during deceleration and automatically uses the TSI and/or electric motor, depending on the situation. The charge state of the battery is maintained at a constant level in this mode.

By pressing the “E-Mode” button (to the left of the gear lever), the driver can manually switch to “E-Mode.” This button simultaneously opens a window in the infotainment system, in which the three “E-Mode”, “Hybrid” and “Battery Charge” modes can be directly selected.

In addition to the “E-Mode” and “Hybrid” modes, the driver can set another mode via the infotainment system menu: “Battery Charge”. In this mode, the high-voltage battery is charged during driving. By pressing the “GTE” button (also to the left of the gear lever), the driver can switch to “GTE” mode which activates the sporty nature of the Passat GTE.

In this mode the characteristics of the accelerator pedal, gearbox and steering are made sportier. In connection with optional DCC, the chassis is firmer. The tuning of the TSI is also more performance oriented. In addition, in the “GTE” mode the TSI and electric motor work together to make the full system power and the maximum system torque available.

There are two ways to charge the battery in the Passat GTE via the charging socket in the radiator grille. First: the standard charging cable is plugged into a 230 volt electrical socket (in Europe). The battery is then charged by alternating current (AC) from the mains at a power level of 2.3 kW. From completely flat, it can be fully charged (100% battery charge level) in four hours and 15 minutes.

Volkswagen also offers an optional wall box for a garage or carport which charges at a power level of 3.6 kW. Using this method, the battery is fully charged after only two hours and 30 minutes. There are also public charging stations that charge electric cars at a level of 3.6 kW.

The Passat GTE is an independent equipment line. On the one hand, its standard equipment includes many features also available in other models of the range, either as an option or without extra charge, depending on the equipment version: LED headlights, Driver Alert System, Automatic Post-Collision Braking system, Front Assist including City Emergency Braking function, rain sensor and ParkPilot. On the other hand, as a high-tech flagship, the Passat GTE features several unique elements and equipment upgrades which distinguish it from the rest of the Passat range.

In the upper section of the front end, the Passat GTE can be recognised by a specific chrome radiator grille unit with additional blue line. The front bumper was also redesigned, with distinctive cross panels in the lower air inlet and C-shaped LED daytime running lights.

The “C”-shaped LED daytime running light and the blue line in the radiator grille unit are stylistic devices—blue is the Volkswagen “e-mobility color” and in conjunction with the C-shaped daytime running light, it constitutes an identifying feature of all Volkswagen’s electric and plug-in hybrid models. When viewed from the side, 17-inch “Astana” alloy wheels identify the Passat GTE as a plug-in hybrid.

The interior was likewise fine-tuned for the new drive system. With a menu matrix for the functions and displays related to the drive system, the engineers and interface designers at Volkswagen TE (Technical Development Center) tailored features such as the standard “Composition Media” infotainment system and the instrument cluster (with power meter) for the plug-in hybrid drive.


Click to enlarge.

In addition, the innovative Active Info Display with specific displays will be also available as an option for the Passat GTE. Standard details such as the blue ambient lighting, leather-trimmed multifunction steering wheel with blue decorative stitching, GTE specific gear knob with blue stitching and seats covered in “Sevilla” cloth with a blue basic structure have also been especially configured to the Passat GTE. Furthermore, the interior was enhanced by the “Waves” design (aluminium look) and “Piano Black” (high-gloss black) as well as a GTE logo in front of the gear shift gate.

The owner of the new Passat GTE can make use of the “CAR-NET e-Remote” app, by which the charging of the battery, for instance, can be started via smartphone. Likewise, all climate control functions can be activated via the smartphone. In addition, information on the vehicle status, state of charge of the battery, recent driving data or last parking position can be queried. It is also possible to check whether the doors are closed and the lights turned off.

The new Passat GTE will be launched with the high resolution 6.5-inch display of the standard “Composition Media” infotainment system. Optional: the “Discover Media” (also with a 6.5-inch display) and “Discover Pro” (with an 8.0-inch display) radio-navigation systems. Both devices feature numerous additional functions in the Passat GTE. They include a “range monitor”, an “energy flow indicator”, “zero-emission statistics”, “e-manager” and – when the optional navigation system is installed – the “360° range” feature.

  • Range monitor: depicts the momentary electric driving range of the Passat GTE; the additional range potential that can be achieved by turning off auxiliary consumers that might be in use is also shown.

  • Energy flow indicator: this indicator utilizes animated graphics to depict the energy flow when accelerating (blue arrows) as well as braking, i.e. regenerative braking (green arrows).

  • e-Manager: up to three departure and charging times can be programmed here, and heating or cooling of the interior can be activated via the stationary air conditioning, which comes as a standard feature.

  • 360° range: the driving range in “E-Mode” is shown by the so-called 360° zone on the map of the surrounding area. The highlighted zone depicts the one-way electric driving range of the car. Charging stations can be displayed and used in route calculation.

On the left side of the instrument cluster the Passat GTE’s power meter supplements the tachometer and shows information such as whether the high-voltage battery is being charged by regeneration or whether—and how much—energy is being consumed. The speedometer is still on the right side.

A color display, which is located between the power meter and speedometer, continually displays the electric driving range and the momentary operating mode. In a separate LED field in the lower segment of the multifunction display, the “READY” message also appears after starting the e-motor, indicating that the car is ready to be driven. This is done because the electric motor cannot be heard when the car is stopped.

Volkswagen is offering an optional instrument cluster that has been designed as a full interactive display: the Active Info Display. All instruments— thus also the specific displays in the Passat GTE—are implemented virtually. Navigation information can be shown in 2-D or 3-D views on a 12.3-inch display.

Its resolution of 1,440 x 540 pixels enables extremely precise, high-quality graphics and interactive display of all details. In the Navigation mode, for example, the speedometer and tachometer are relocated to the sides to make more room for the map display. Information on driving, navigation and assistance functions can be integrated into the graphic areas of the speedometer and tachometer as needed.

Data that is displayed on the center console via the infotainment system, such as phone contact pages or CD covers, can also be shown in the Active Info Display in the Passat. In fact, the driver can find all information relevant to driving in his or her direct field of view. As described above, he or she can pull up important data he needs according to the situation at hand and then use it in an individually selected display.

With the market launch of the plug-in hybrid, a total of nine drive versions, covering a power range from 92 kW / 125 PS to 206 kW / 280 PS, will be available for the European version of the Passat. All versions meet the EU 6 emissions standard.

The Passat GTE also constitutes an integral part of the strategy for electric mobility at Volkswagen. After the XL1, e-up!, e-Golf and Golf GTE, the Passat GTE is the fifth, or sixth model (sedan and wagon) that can be operated by electric motor with zero emissions.

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