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Lake Pomme de Terre is located in one of the premier recreational boating regions of the country. Gevo is now working to strategically roll out its marine fuel blend to marinas on other lakes including Lake of the Ozarks and Table Rock Lake, as the company ramps up isobutanol sales to marine, outdoor equipment and off-road vehicle markets.
Oil and Octane Shop of Springfield, Missouri enabled testing of Gevo’s isobutanol by supplying test blends to major marine engine manufacturers, such as Mercury Marine. Following the success of these tests, Oil and Octane Shop has been recommending the use of isobutanol to its marina customers, including Harbor Marina.
In June, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) officially endorsed isobutanol as a drop-in fuel for marine and recreational boat engines. Gevo’s bio-based isobutanol helps meet renewable fuel and clean air standards, while solving concerns that many boaters have with ethanol-blended fuels.
Harbor Marina owner Todd Spencer said he made the decision to offer isobutanol-blended gasoline to his recreational boating customers once he concluded that it would be a superior renewable fuel for their boats. Gevo’s isobutanol is moisture resistant, does not cause phase separation and helps reduce engine corrosion. It is a highly stable, high octane marine fuel.
Lightweight metals leader Alcoa is expanding its R&D center in Pennsylvania to accelerate the development of advanced 3D-printing materials and processes. Alcoa will produce materials designed specifically for a range of additive technologies to meet increasing demand for complex, high-performance 3D-printed parts for aerospace and other high-growth markets such as automotive, medical and building and construction.
The $60-million expansion is under construction at the Alcoa Technical Center near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Alcoa also unveiled its Ampliforge process, a technique combining advanced materials, designs and additive and traditional manufacturing processes. Using the Ampliforge process, Alcoa designs and 3D-prints a near complete part, then treats it using a traditional manufacturing process, such as forging. The Company has shown that the process can enhance the properties of 3D-printed parts, such as increasing toughness and strength, versus parts made solely by additive manufacturing.
Further, the Ampliforge process significantly reduces material input and simplifies production relative to traditional forging processes. Alcoa is piloting the technique in Pittsburgh and Cleveland.
Alcoa’s approach to advancing additive manufacturing includes:
Materials Leadership: Alcoa’s material scientists will produce proprietary aluminum, titanium and nickel powders designed specifically for 3D-printing. These powders will be tailored for various additive manufacturing processes to produce higher strength 3D-printed parts, and meet other quality and performance requirements. Alcoa has a long history in metal alloy and powder development, having invented more than 90% of the aluminum alloys used in aerospace today and with a 100-year history in aluminum metal powder development for rocket fuel, paint and other products.
Combination of Process and Design: Alcoa will further its development of advanced 3D-printing design and manufacturing techniques—such as Alcoa’s Ampliforge process—to improve production speeds, reduce costs, and achieve geometries not possible through traditional methods. Direct production of 3D-printed metal parts represents a new way to manufacture aerospace components and requires a new suite of innovative design tools to realize its full potential.
Qualification Expertise: With the industry’s longest-running history of certifying aerospace components and qualifying processes, Alcoa will use its testing and process control expertise to overcome challenges with certifying new 3D-printed parts, starting with aerospace applications.
The expansion of the Alcoa Technical Center builds on Alcoa’s additive manufacturing capabilities in California, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Texas. The company has been creating 3D-printed tools, molds and prototypes for the past 20 years and owns and operates one of the world’s largest HIP (Hot Isostatic Pressing) complexes in aerospace, a technology that strengthens the metallic structures of traditional and additive manufactured parts made of titanium and nickel based super-alloys.
Through the recent RTI acquisition, Alcoa gained 3D printing capabilities in titanium, other specialty metals and plastics for the aerospace, oil and gas and medical markets. This expansion positions Alcoa to industrialize its advanced 3D printing capabilities across these and other manufacturing facilities.
Federal-Mogul Powertrain has developed a new premium diesel piston aluminium alloy: DuraForm-G91. In benchmarking tests, the new alloy—which will be on display at the IAA show later this month—provides between three and five times the component life of established as-cast materials in modern, highly loaded, diesel engines. The increased strength of the new material also supports higher mechanical loads, allowing engines to operate at higher specific power and more efficiently.
The enhanced alloy properties facilitate piston designs with a lower compression height and reduced mass. The resulting benefits of less reciprocating mass and smaller, lighter cylinder blocks contribute to vehicle CO2 emissions reduction.
DuraForm-G91’s composition delivers increased fatigue strength, particularly in the high temperature range typically associated with highly loaded diesel pistons.
The improved silicon and intermetallic morphology provides a microstructure with increased resistance to complex thermomechanical loading, while maintaining the required thermo-physical properties, such as expansion, density and thermal conductivity.—Dr. Frank T. H. Dörnenburg, Director of Technology, Global Pistons, Federal-Mogul Powertrain
DuraForm-G91 was developed using advanced testing techniques that shorten the validation period to production readiness. Federal-Mogul used specially designed accelerated base engine tests combined with engine-like rig testing procedures, said Roman Morgenstern, Specialist, Material Development and Characterization, Global Pistons, Federal-Mogul Powertrain. Engine-like rig testing combines thermomechanical fatigue (TMF) with high cycle mechanical fatigue (HCMF), which directly reflects the fatigue-critical load conditions seen by automotive diesel pistons in the engine.
In both engine testing and TMF-HCMF testing, DuraForm-G91 demonstrated three to five times the fatigue life of current as-cast alloys. During isothermal high cycle mechanical fatigue testing at temperatures above 350°C, the improvement was even more pronounced, at more than eight times the life.
Additional engine testing has shown wear rates equal to those of the best current aluminium-silicon based piston materials. Extensive casting development trials have been carried out to deliver consistently high material integrity and optimize the casting parameters. With internal engine development testing almost complete, the first sample pistons have been released to customers for evaluation. The technology can be applied to light-duty and heavy-duty diesel pistons.
Further details of DuraForm-G91 will be emerge during the IAA.
Reductions in the average fuel burn of new commercial aircraft have returned to the long-term average after stagnating from 2000 to 2010. However, according to a new report from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), manufacturers continue to lag the UN’s fuel efficiency goals for new aircraft; on average, industry is about 12 years behind the 2020 and 2030 aspirational goals established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
The authors of the ICCT report, which updates its 2009 report on the topic (earlier post), do expect to see an accelerating improvement rate in the foreseeable future due to the introduction of new, more efficient aircraft designs such as the a320neo, 737 MaX, and 777X. Despite that, when comparing the ICAO fuel burn technology goals (a 40% improvement in fuel efficiency for new single-aisle (SA) and small twin-aisle (STA) aircraft in 2020 relative to 2000 levels) with fuel burn trend projections, they found the 12-year time lag between the projected fuel burn improvement and the time needed to reach ICAO’s goals.
The new study by Dr. Daniel Rutherford and Anastasia Kharina refined the 2009 study methodology, with changes including the analysis of fuel efficiency trends under the ICAO’s CO2 standard metric value (MV), in addition to the fuel/tonne-kilometer metric used in the previous study.
The new study uses 9 test points (combinations of three payloads and three range test points) to obtain a fuel efficiency metric for each aircraft type, rather than the single test point of the earlier work. Aircraft seating density was standardized by type in order to eliminate the effect of changing (usually increasing) average seat densities over time.
The changes resulted in higher estimated average nominal fuel burn values than the earlier work, but maintained the overall trend over time.
Between 1968 and 2014 the average fuel burn of new aircraft fell approximately 45%, or a compound annual reduction rate of 1.3%. The rate of efficiency improvement has varied significantly over time—the average fuel efficiency improved by 2.6% per year during 1980s, while little or no improvement was seen during the 1970s and in the period from 1995 to 2005.
The analysis suggests that the average fuel burn of new aircraft began to fall again in 2005. By 2010, the average fuel burn of new aircraft fell by 1.1% per year on the fuel/passenger-km metric and a somewhat smaller amount (0.7%) on the ICAO MV. In total, the average fuel burn of new aircraft dropped by approximately 10% from 2000 to 2014 on a fuel/passenger-km basis, corresponding to an 11% increase in fuel efficiency—against to the maximum potential of 40% identified ICAO’s fuel burn review.
One of the drivers of the new focus on efficiency is fuel cost. However, based on their analysis, Rutherford and Kharina suggest that fuel prices alone may not provide a consistent, long-term motivation for fuel efficiency improvements in the aviation sector. The authors suggest that continued oil market volatility, combined with evidence that the industry is lagging its technological potential, highlights the need for a meaningful CO2 standard to help industry meet its environmental goals.
Anastasia Kharina, Daniel Rutherford (2015) “Fuel Efficiency Trends For New Commercial Jet Aircraft: 1960 to 2014”
DEINOVE, a biotech company developing innovative processes for producing biofuels and bio-based chemicals by using Deinococcus bacteria, has produced muconic acid in their laboratory using second-generation substrates. (Earlier post.)
DEINOVE recently announced that it had deployed a new R&D platform dedicated to the production of muconic acid, a versatile chemical intermediate the derivatives of which—caprolactam, terephthalic acid (a precursor to PET) and adipic acid—are widely used in the plastics industry (notably for automotive and packaging applications), the production of synthetic fibers for textiles or industry (mainly nylon) and food (acidifying agent).
DEINOVE has since obtained proof of concept in their laboratory for the transformation of second-generation cellulose-based materials into muconic acid. Furthermore, the improvements made to the strains have made it possible to multiply production by five compared to the previous trials carried out on monosaccharide-based model substrates, glucose and xylose.
Cellulose is one of the main components in biomass, plants and wood, as well as in paper and cardboard (also called second-generation materials). This is a complex molecule (sugar chains with 6 carbon atoms) that have to be broken down into monosaccharides before fermentation (hydrolysis).
BlueIndy has placed into service in Indianapolis, Indiana the first 50 of an eventual 500 electric vehicles (Bluecars) that provide convenient, cleaner transportation with the swipe of a membership card. This is the France-based Bolloré Group’s first electric car sharing service in the US. Bolloré Group already operates car sharing services in several other cities, including the world’s largest EV sharing service—Autolib—in Paris.
The Bluecars run on Lithium Metal Polymer (LMP) batteries developed by Bolloré and have a range of 120 miles between charges.
As of today, 125 parking spaces are equipped with charge points. Reserved parking spots mean no need to look for parking. As BlueIndy builds out across the city, customers will be able to take advantage of up to 1,000 parking spaces in 200 BlueIndy stations outfitted with charging infrastructure and easy-to-use customer kiosks.
Drivers will simply swipe their card across the BlueIndy car windshield. The car will automatically unlock and welcome the driver back to BlueIndy with his or her own favorite radio stations stored from previous trips.
The standard BlueIndy membership costs $9.99 per month. Members pay $4.00 for the first 20 minutes they use the car, and 20 cents for each minute thereafter. Membership can be obtained via BlueIndy’s website or at BlueIndy enrollment kiosks. A BlueIndy smartphone app is also available. Memberships may be purchased for a day, a week, a month, or a year.
BlueIndy’s car sharing service complements the city’s long-term public transit strategy, which includes expansion of IndyGo and bicycle lanes.
BMW is using the upcoming IAA in Frankfurt to showcase four production BMW brand plug-in hybrid models from different vehicle segments—one newly announced. BMW eDrive is the new drive system technology used in all the electrically powered vehicles from BMW i and the plug-in hybrid models from BMW. Alongside BMW TwinPower Turbo technology for combustion engines, intelligent lightweight design and optimized aerodynamics, BMW eDrive technology is therefore one of the most important elements in the EfficientDynamics strategy designed to increase power and further reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
Coinciding with the world premiere of the new generation BMW 7 Series, BMW is highlighting the plug-in hybrid variant of the luxury sedan, the BMW 740e (earlier post). The plug-in hybrid BMW 330e (earlier post) with plug-in hybrid drive is being added to the model line-up for the new BMW 3 Series. Also sharing the stand will be a newly announced plug-in hybrid from the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, the BMW 225xe. Together with the soon-to-be-launched BMW X5 xDrive40e (earlier post) also on display at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, the BMW eDrive technology initially developed for BMW i cars will be available for BMW models spanning four different vehicle segments in 2016.
BMW 225xe.The BMW 225xe, arriving in spring 2016, pairs a 100 kW/136 hp 1.5-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine with 65 kW electric traction motor and a 7.7 kWh Li-ion battery pack. Maximum all-electric range is 41 kilometers (25 miles). Driving the rear wheels with the electric motor and the front wheels with the combustion engine’s power produces an electrified all-wheel-drive system that is distinct in the BMW 225xe’s segment and promises outstanding traction in all weathers, especially in adverse conditions. The combustion engine sends its power to the front wheels via a six-speed Steptronic transmission and delivers up to 220N·m (162 lb-ft) of torque.
The high-voltage starter-generator takes on a multi-tasking role in the BMW 225xe. Integrated via a belt drive, it starts up the combustion engine and can provide a brief power boost when accelerating from a standstill with its peak torque of 150 N·m (111 lb-ft). It also serves as a generator under braking and on the overrun and uses brake energy recuperation to feed energy back into the 7.7 kWh lithium-ion battery. In addition, the combustion engine uses the integrated high-voltage starter-generator to charge the batteries during a journey, if required.
The plug-in hybrid drive has an overall system output of 165 kW/224 hp and peak torque of up to 385 Newton meters (284 lb-ft). Average fuel consumption (combined) in the BMW 225xe is a 2.1–2.0 liters/100 km, which equates to CO2 emissions (combined) of 49–46 g/km (in the EU test cycle). Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) takes 6.7 seconds.BMW brand plug-in hybrids Model Engine
In addition to the Driving Experience Control switch—with its SPORT, COMFORT and ECO PRO settings—familiar from other BMW models, the eDrive button in the center console offers three driving modes: AUTO eDRIVE, MAX eDRIVE and SAVE BATTERY.
AUTO eDRIVE is the basic setting activated when the car is started. It ensures the combustion engine and electric motor work together to optimum effect in all driving situations and gives a pure-electric top speed of 80 km/h (50 mph).
MAX eDRIVE allows the car to run on the electric drive system alone up to a speed of 125 km/h (78 mph).
With SAVE BATTERY, the charge of the high-voltage battery can be maintained or, if it’s already depleted, raised to over 50% during a journey—so that the available electric range can be used later in urban areas, for example.
BMW ConnectedDrive also helps lower fuel consumption. In the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer with eDrive, the ConnectedDrive package adds the proactive energy management function to the mix, which responds to the driving style and route profile to ensure the plug-in hybrid drive system is used as efficiently as possible.
BMW 330e. The plug-in hybrid drive system pairs a 65 kW electric motor with a four-cylinder combustion engine, which develops 135 kW/184 hp and 290 N·m / 214 lb-ft of torque. Combined average fuel consumption in the NEDC cycle is 2.1–1.9 litres per 100 kilometers, with CO2 emissions coming in at 49– 44 g/km.
With a system output of 185 kW/252 hp and peak torque of 420 N·m / 310 lb-ft, the BMW 330e accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 6.1 seconds on the way to a top speed of 225 km/h (140 mph). In everyday driving conditions, a range of up to 600 kilometers (373 miles) is within reach.
The electric motor and combustion engine send their power to the sedan’s rear wheels via a standard-fitted eight-speed Steptronic transmission. The arrangement of the electric motor in front of the transmission allows the transmission ratios to be used in all-electric mode as well. This means a torque converter can be omitted, which partially cancels out the extra weight of the additional drive unit.
The electric motor supplements the power from the combustion engine with 100 N·m / 74 lb-ft of torque and can deliver a brief extra burst—depending on the position of the accelerator—of up to 250 N·m / 184 lb-ft.
The battery has a total capacity of 7.6 kWh, which enables an all-electric and therefore locally emission-free range of around 40 kilometers (25 miles).
There is a choice of three driving modes: AUTO eDRIVE, MAX eDRIVE and SAVE BATTERY.
AUTO eDRIVE ensures the combustion engine and electric motor work together to optimum effect in all driving situations and allows an all-electric top speed of 80 km/h (50 mph). This mode is activated automatically as the default setting every time the car is started up.
In MAX eDRIVE mode the BMW 330e uses the car’s electric power only, drawing on the electric drive system’s full output. A top speed of 120 km/h (75 mph) is possible.
SAVE BATTERY mode allows the battery’s energy stores to be deliberately maintained—or increased again if the charge level has dropped below 50%. This energy can then be used for pure-electric driving, on a part of the journey running through city streets, for example.
eDrive. BMW eDrive offers the option of driving on electric power alone and therefore with zero local emissions yet at the same time can cover long distances when the two drive systems team up. BMW eDrive technology delivers dynamic acceleration off the line thanks to the electric motor; an eBoost function pools the torque of both drive systems under acceleration.
Developed initially for the all-electric BMW i3 and BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car, the modular structure of BMW eDrive technology is adaptable for use in various vehicle concepts and segments. The fine-tuning of vehicle-specific elements, such as the battery cells, cooling management, power electronics and operating strategy, has involved the transfer of knowledge from the BMW i3 and BMW i8 to the development of new BMW eDrive models.
BMW eDrive technology essentially spans the electric motor, the lithium-ion high-voltage battery and the power electronics. An important element of the operating strategy is the need-oriented use of externally sourced and recuperated electric energy to maximize the vehicle’s efficiency. The components of the BMW eDrive architecture are tailored to each particular vehicle concept and can be combined with four- and three-cylinder gasoline engines as well as with classical rear-wheel drive, BMW xDrive or electrified all-wheel drive.
The eDrive components developed as part of the BMW i projects will soon be integrated into other model ranges from the core brands. This scalable architecture also provides the platform required to offer plug-in hybrid vehicles at attractive prices on a par with those of conventionally powered variants of similar output, BMW said.
The operating strategy of the plug-in hybrids is based on the vehicle starting up on electric power only. BMW’s plug-in hybrid vehicles prioritize electric mode at low and moderate speeds, which allows them to exploit the benefits of the locally emission-free electric drive system. Under greater acceleration and at higher speeds, however, the combustion engine joins in. The boost function pools the torque of both drive systems to maximise the car’s dynamic performance.
BMW eDrive ensures that the combustion engine runs efficiently (electric assist) at higher speeds as well. This allows a reduction in fuel consumption on brisk cross-country or motorway runs, for example. And when the route guidance function of the car’s navigation system is activated, the proactive function initiates an anticipatory operating strategy which optimises efficiency and maximises the electric driving experience.
The battery can be recharged from a domestic socket using the standard charging cable supplied or from a BMW i Wallbox (charging power: 3.7 kW). When traveling, the BMW i mobility service, ChargeNow, gives customers access to the world’s largest public charging network of more than 30,000 charging points run by partners in 22 countries.
The average fuel economy (window-sticker value) of new vehicles sold in the in August was 25.3 mpg (9.29 l/100 km), down 0.1 mpg from July, according to the latest monthly report from Dr. Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI). This decline likely reflects the decreased price of gasoline in August, and the consequent increased sales of light trucks and SUVs, they suggested.
Fuel economy is down 0.5 mpg from the peak reached in August 2014, but up 5.2 mpg since October 2007 (the first month of their monitoring).
The University of Michigan Eco-Driving Index (EDI)—an index that estimates the average monthly emissions of greenhouse gases generated by an individual US driver—was 0.82 in June, unchanged from May (the lower the value the better). This value indicates that the average new-vehicle driver produced 18% lower emissions in June 2015 than in October 2007, but 4% higher emissions than the record low reached in August 2014.
The EDI takes into account both vehicle fuel economy and distance driven (the latter relying on data that are published with a two-month lag).
FCA has significantly its 3.6-liter Pentastar engine for MY 2016. The 3.6L Pentastar, first introduced in 2009 (earlier post), was the first of an all-new line of V-6 engines intended to improve fuel efficiency across the Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge lineup. More than 5 million Penetastar engines are now on the road.
Depending on the application, the redesigned V-6 delivers fuel-economy improvements of more than 6% while increasing torque more than 14.9%. This occurs at engine speeds below 3,000 rpm, where elevated torque has its most profound impact on the driving experience. Enhancements such as two-step variable valve lift (VVL), cooled exhaust-gas recirculation (EGR) and innovative weight-reduction strategies boost the engine’s efficiency and performance, all while preserving its smoothness.
Increased fuel-efficiency was a key impetus in the development of the redesigned 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine. FCA US LLC powertrain engineers evaluated multiple technologies, accumulating more than 4.7 million customer-equivalent miles using computer simulation and physical tests.
The most compelling enhancement is two-step variable valve lift (VVL). The system is designed to remain mostly in low-lift mode until the customer demands more power; then it responds by switching to high-lift mode for improved combustion.
The result is less overall pumping work, which on its own, accounts for a fuel-economy improvement of up to 2.7%, compared with the 3.6-liter Pentastar’s previous iteration, named three times to the annual Ward’s 10 Best Engines list.
The addition of cooled EGR, in addition to the obvious emissions-reduction benefits, further cuts pumping losses and enables knock-free operation at higher, real-world loads. This translates to a fuel-economy improvement, on its own, of up to 0.8%.
Pumping losses are again targeted with the engine’s upgraded Variable Valve Timing (VVT) system. For 2016, it moves to torque-driven cam-phasing, which reduces oil demand. The new VVT system also increases its range of authority to 70 degrees, from 50 degrees. This helps mitigate knock during hot starts and expands the operating envelope of Engine Stop Start (ESS), a fuel-saving feature that is carried over from the previous-generation 3.6-liter Pentastar.
ESS is driven by a high-speed/high-durability starter that reduces crank time for quicker restarts. The system is regulated by algorithms which act on the vehicle’s powertrain and chassis components.
As a result, acceleration is always aligned with driver inputs. Passive accelerator application is met with measured throttle response; hard inputs trigger aggressive starts.
More torque is also delivered more quickly by recalibrating the VVT system to leverage the benefits of the new intake manifold’s longer runners. The result is a torque boost of more than 14.9%, depending on the vehicle application, between 1,000 and 3,000 rpm.
Combustion upgrades. The redesigned 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 also engine benefits from numerous upgrades which better harness the combustion event. Most notably, the engine’s compression ratio jumps to 11.3:1 from 10.2:1, compared with the engine’s previous iteration.
High-tumble intake ports combine with shrouded valves to take advantage of the engine’s new fuel injectors. Featuring eight holes each—twice the number in the previous iteration’s injectors—they offer optimized atomization and targeting.
Combined with 100-millijoule high-energy ignition coils with platinum sparkplugs, the above combustion enhancements account for a 1.5% improvement in fuel economy.
Multiple friction-reduction strategies contribute to an additional 1% fuel-economy hike, compared with the engine’s previous iteration. Particularly notable is the use of HG-R1 on the timing drive guide-faces. The new Pentastar is the first production engine to feature this low-friction material.
Also contributing to friction reduction are new valve springs, low-tension piston rings and piston pins which feature diamond-like carbon (DLC) coating.
Form. An integrated exhaust manifold contributes to packaging efficiencies that enable plug-and-play-type integration across a range of vehicle segments and drivetrain configurations.
The new 3.6-liter Pentastar debuts on the 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The new intake manifold improves airflow, which benefits volumetric efficiency and enables a boost of up to 295 horsepower (220 kW), from 290 horsepower (216 kW).
For model-year 2016, FCA US powertrain engineers were challenged by the potential negative effects of incremental weight wrought by the engine’s new feature content. However, clever component redesign produced an engine that weighs as little as 326 pounds (148 kg), depending on the application—four pounds less than the previous 3.6-liter Pentastar, despite the addition of new content weighing 13 pounds.
A thin-wall strategy was used to reduce the nominal thickness of certain die-cast components , without compromising noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) characteristics.
Windage-tray weight was slashed by 19% and front-cover weight was cut by 5%. Two-piece oil pans were eliminated, with the exception of Trail Rated vehicles.
The crankshaft main bearings and pins were trimmed, which contributed to an overall block-assembly weight reduction of 6 lbs (2.7 kg). This generates additional friction-reduction.
For model-year 2016, FCA US engines—except for the 8.4-liter V-10 that powers the Dodge SRT Viper—will be E15-compatible in anticipation of the fuel’s proliferation.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA in Stuttgart have developed a film-based panel heater for electric vehicles. The panel is—particularly on short journeys—more effective than conventional electric heaters. (Electric cars generate little heat as opposed to conventional passenger vehicles, which produce more than enough engine heat to heat the interior. An additional electric heater is required. This is supplied with power by the same battery that provides the engine with energy; prolonged use of the heater can significantly deplete range.)
The heating concept is based on a film that is coated with a very thin layer of conductive carbon nanotubes (CNTs). The film is glued to the inner door trim and generates a comfortable warmth there in the area of the armrest within a very short time, according to Serhat Sahakalkan, project manager at the Fraunhofer IPA.
The heater functions—like conventional electric resistance heaters in EVs—in accordance with the Joule principle: When electricity flows through the film, it comes across a natural resistance between the individual nanoparticles. These collisions generate heat.
In conventional electric resistance heaters, the conductive material usually used is copper wire—embedded in silicone mats, for example. The Fraunhofer solution offers several advantages:
While the copper wire heaters currently available are relatively bulky and take up quite some installation space, the film heater consists of a layer of conductive material with a thickness of only a few micrometers. It can be flexibly applied to the most various surfaces and contributes to saving energy and costs due to its low weight.
The CNTs themselves have a low heat storage capacity, as a result of which the generated heat is directly released into the environment.
As opposed to the wire-based variant, the heat is evenly distributed here over the entire surface of the film, which considerably increases efficiency. When the driver switches the heating off, the material cools down just as quickly. Such fast response times are ideal for short distances such as urban trips.
The desired heating output can be infinitely adjusted by the user.
Even isolated defects do not impair functionality. In wire-based heating systems, for example, even minor breaks in the metal can lead to failure.
In order to evenly apply the film to the arched door trim, the researchers divide it into small modules and then glue them to the door trim in sections.
Slight creases arise at the curvatures, which change the spacing of the electrodes. Even heat distribution would then no longer be ensured.—Serhat Sahakalkan
In the longer term, the researchers intend to simplify the procedure and to spray the CNT dispersion directly onto the corresponding vehicle components. This would make the production process considerably more economical, particularly in comparison to wire-based solutions, Sahakalkan said.
A first demonstration model of the film heater will be presented at the IAA in Frankfurt.
BMW Group has made a strategic investment in on-demand parking and car services company ZIRX through BMW’s venture capital entity, BMW i Ventures. ZIRX intends to eliminate the frustration that drivers face in parking in major urban markets such as New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C.
This latest investment increases the number of mobility services start-ups in BMW i Ventures’ portfolio to 13. The current portfolio includes companies such as Chargepoint, Life360, Moovit, JustPark, Chargemaster and Zendrive.
BMW i Ventures provides equity financing to service providers it identifies as having high potential to make urban mobility smarter, more efficient and more flexible. With its combination of service and technology that makes it easier for drivers to park and take care of their cars, ZIRX has the potential to be a central component of on-demand services.—Ulrich Quay, Managing Director of BMW i Ventures
A driver indicate his or her location through the ZIRX mobile app; within minutes a ZIRX agent arrives and valet parks the car in a secure, enclosed lots under 24/7 surveillance. Lots are fully managed with an on-site lot team.
While parked, consumers can opt for a gas fill-up, a car wash and more via the ZIRX app. When ready to leave, the car can be delivered to a requested location, at the tap of a button.
When requesting a pickup, the ZIRX Agent’s name and photo will appear on the app screen; the agents use a two-way security pin to validate authenticity on both sides of the experience.
ZIRX transactions are covered by a $2-million insurance policy: $1M on the car, and $1M on the agent driving the vehicle. The policy provides full coverage while the car is in transit between the street and the secure lot; while the car is stored the lot; and for every action an agent takes while in the car.
The company has operations in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington, D.C.
Headquartered in San Francisco, ZIRX was founded in 2014 by Internet veterans who have built marketplace businesses in e-commerce and advertising. The company is funded by Bessemer Venture Partners, Norwest Venture Partners and Trinity Ventures.
The European NEMESIS 2+ consortium has and successfully tested a pre-commercial on-site system for the production of hydrogen from diesel and biodiesel. The prototype system—the size of a shipping container—can be integrated into existing infrastructure with relative ease.
The prototype, built by the Dutch project partner HyGear, produces 4.4 kilograms of hydrogen from 20 liters of biodiesel per hour—this roughly corresponds to the fuel tank of a B-Class F-cell vehicle. The efficiency of the process, from start to finish, is approximately 70%. (Original project goals were 50 Nm3/h, or 4.5 kg/h with an efficiency >80%.) The EU NEMESIS 2+ project, which ran until June 2015, was coordinated by the German Aerospace Center (DLR).
A techno-economic evaluation, which was also carried out during the EU project, determined maximal production costs of €5.80 per kilogram of hydrogen (US$6.53). This figure is already close to the economic efficiency of the prototype.
In addition to DLR, the project partners included two research facilities, the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (Greece), and Instituto Superior Técnico (Portugal); three industry partners, Johnson Matthey (United Kingdom), Abengoa Hidrógeno and Abengoa Bioenergía San Roque (Spain), as well as HyGear.
One promising application [for the system] is the production of hydrogen from diesel and biodiesel directly on site at conventional filling stations, which would make it much more convenient to fill up fuel cell vehicles, as well as further support the breakthrough of this technology. The technology developed during the NEMESIS 2+ project could act as a bridge for creating the necessary hydrogen infrastructure, which would enable fuel cell vehicles to be filled up across the country.—Stefan Martin, from the DLR Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics in Stuttgart
Rather than delivering hydrogen within compressed gas cylinders on trucks to filling stations, the NEMESIS 2+ system would use the existing infrastructure for storing and transporting diesel and biodiesel. Compared to pressurized hydrogen, liquid fuels are characterized by their higher volumetric energy density, which makes them easier to transport and store.
The primary form of hydrogen production on an industrial scale has been by natural gas steam reforming. During this process, the hydrocarbons in the gas are converted at high temperature into a hydrogen-rich mixture of gases. The hydrogen is then separated out during an additional process step.
Using steam reforming to produce hydrogen from diesel and biodiesel is more laborious due to the deactivation of the employed catalysts by the deposition of carbon and sulfur impurities on their surface, causing a reduction in the amount of hydrogen produced, Martin explains. With the help of laboratory experiments and simulations, DLR researchers re-examined the entire process systematically, and were able to identify the optimal operating conditions.
This knowledge now allows us to produce high-quality hydrogen with a purity of 99.999 percent, and for the first time, we are able to produce hydrogen from diesel and biodiesel through a process that is stable over a long period.—Stefan Martin
Stefan Martin, Gerard Kraaij, Torsten Ascher, Penelope Baltzopoulou, George Karagiannakis, David Wails, Antje Wörner (2014) “Direct steam reforming of diesel and diesel-biodiesel blends for distributed hydrogen generation” International Journal Of Hydrogen Energy doi: 10.1016/j.ijhydene.2014.10.062
The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has selected eight projects to receive almost $25 million in funding to construct small- and large-scale pilots for reducing the cost of CO2 capture and compression through DOE’s Carbon Capture Program. More than half of the funding ($15 million) will go to FuelCell Energy for a pilot scale project using one of the company’s Direct Fuel Cells for carbon capture and compression.
The DOE’s Carbon Capture Program consists of two core research technology areas, post-combustion capture and pre-combustion capture, and also supports related CO2 compression efforts. Current research and development efforts are advancing technologies that could provide step-change reductions in both cost and energy penalty compared to currently available technologies.
The selected projects focus on advancing the development of a suite of post-combustion CO2 capture and supersonic compression systems for new and existing coal-based electric generating plants, specifically: (1) supersonic compression systems; (2) small pilot-scale (from 0.5 to 5 MWe) post-combustion CO2 capture development and testing; and (3) large pilot-scale (from 10 to more than 25 MWe) post-combustion CO2 capture development and testing.
FuelCell Energy CEPACS. FuelCell Energy Inc. will design, fabricate, and test a small pilot-scale system that incorporates FuelCell Energy’s combined electric power and CO2 separation (CEPACS) system, based on electrochemical membrane (ECM) technology, to separate at least 90% of CO2 from a 3 MWe equivalent slipstream of pulverized coal plant flue gas and achieve 95% CO2 purity at a cost of $40/tonne of CO2 captured and at a cost of electricity 30% less than baseline CO2 capture approaches.
The project will install and operate a two-megawatt Direct FuelCell (DFC) system configured for carbon capture in addition to power generation. The carbon capture fuel cell system will be a modification of the Company’s commercial DFC3000 fuel cell power plant and will be installed next to an existing coal-fired power plant.
In a typical DFC application, natural gas is combined with ambient air for the fuel cell power generation process. The DFC is based on carbonate fuel cell technology, where electrochemical reactions are supported by an electrolyte layer in which carbonate ions serve as the ion bridge that completes the electrical circuit. Carbonate ion transfer supports the electrochemical reaction of hydrogen at anodes and oxygen at cathodes, creating a cycle of CO2 production at the anode and CO2 consumption at the cathode.
In other words, CO2 introduced at the air electrode is converted to carbonate ions and transferred through the electrolyte layer to the fuel electrode, where it is converted back to CO2.
A DFC stack can thus be used as a carbon purification membrane—transferring CO2 from a dilute oxidant stream to a more concentrated fuel exhaust stream, allowing the CO2 to be easily and affordably removed for sequestration or industrial use. Further, approximately 70% of smog producing nitrogen oxide (NOx) is destroyed, supporting clean air initiatives, such as the US Clean Power Plan.
Successful pilot-scale validation of the CEPACS system is expected to pave the path toward commercial deployment of cost-effective ECM technology for large scale coal-based carbon capture applications by 2025. The project partner is AECOM. Total funding for the project is $23,728,906, with $8,728,906 of non-DOE funding.
The initial installation under this project represents the first of an expected two-hase project at the selected site. The second phase, to follow this DOE project, would be to install eleven additional fuel cell power plants to capture approximately 700 tons/day of CO2 in total, while simultaneously generating about 648,000 kilowatt hours/day of ultra-clean power.
Supersonic CO2 compression. The next largest award, for $4 million, goes to Dresser-Rand Company to design, build, and test a pilot-scale, supersonic CO2 compressor applicable to new and existing coal-based electric generating plants. The major benefits of the supersonic compressor include reduced capital costs, smaller footprint, and reduced parasitic plant impact. The compressor will also help to save and expand a compressor manufacturing and technology base in the United States, creating economic opportunity and jobs. Total funding is $7,999,688, with $3,999,688 of non-DOE funding.
Large Pilot-Scale Post-Combustion Capture. The projects selected under the Large Pilot-Scale Area of Interest were only selected for Phase 1. In FY2016, the recipients will submit their Phase 2 application to be considered for the full project.
Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois will capture approximately 500 tonnes per day of CO2 with a 90% capture rate from existing coal-fired boilers at the Abbott Power Plant on the campus of the University of Illinois using Linde/BASF’s cost-effective, energy-efficient, compact amine-based advanced CO2 capture absorption system. The successful completion of this project is expected to have significant impact on the speed of commercialization of this advanced solvent-based CO2 capture technology, and thereby meet the anticipated need for such plants beyond 2020. Partners are the Linde Group, BASF, Burns & McDonnell, and Affiliated Engineers Inc. Cost: DOE: $1,000,000/ Non-DOE: $302,085/ Total Funding: $1,302,085
University of Kentucky Research Foundation will design, fabricate, install, and test a large-pilot facility that will illustrate an innovative carbon capture system integrated with an operating power plant. The novel concepts used in this project will improve the overall plant efficiency when integrated with a CO2 capture system and can be utilized to retrofit existing coal-fired power plants. Partners are Electric Power Research Institute, Koch Modular Process Systems, WorleyParsons, Smith Management Group, and CMTA Consulting Engineers. Cost: DOE: $999,070/ Non-DOE: $250,716/ Total Funding: $1,249,786
NRG Energy Inc. will team with Inventys to install Inventys’s VeloxoTherm post-combustion project at one of its Gulf Coast coal plants to process a 10 MWe slipstream of coal flue gas to separate the CO2. This project is intended to prove that the cost of capture, both from an upfront capital requirement as well as from an operating standpoint, is lower using this new post-combustion capture process when compared to existing baseline technologies. A secondary benefit is to show that this technology has a reduced footprint in comparison to competing baseline technologies. Cost: DOE: $1,000,000/ Non DOE: $250,000/ Total Funding: $1,250,000
Alstom Power Inc. will conduct a 3-year large-scale pilot-plant program to implement several concepts for improving the attractiveness and lowering the overall cost of Alstom’s chilled ammonia process (CAP) CO2 capture technology. Alstom’s CAP has shown the ability to achieve greater than 90% CO2 capture while producing a high purity CO2 product stream. Partners are Technology Centre Mongstad, Georgia Institute of Technology, General Electric Power & Water—Purecowater, and ElectroSep Inc. Cost: DOE: $922,709/ Non-DOE: $324,195/ Total Funding: $1,246,904
Southern Company Services (SCS) will test improvements to CCS processes using an existing 25 MWe, amine-based CO2 capture process at SCS’s Plant Barry. The project will address key technical challenges of current CCS technologies, including high steam consumption, solvent degradation due to flue gas contaminants, and large process footprints. The project researchers aim to improve upon the current state of the art of solvent-based processes by making significant progress towards meeting DOE’s goals. Partners are AECOM and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America. Cost: DOE: $707,207/ Non-DOE: $141,441/ Total Funding: $848,648
General Electric Company—GE Global Research (Oklahoma City, OK) will do validation testing of its aminosilicone CO2 capture system, a non-aqueous chemical solvent, at large pilot-scale at an operating plant. A successful test will achieve two important results: (1) a closed heat and material balance that will validate performance claims, and (2) sustained operation and performance that will de-risk the technology. A validated aminosilicone system will represent a value proposition relative to aqueous amines in certain applications and enable commercial deployments on a short time frame. Partner is CO2 Capture Centre Mongstad. Cost: DOE: $982,040/ Non-DOE: $245,510/ Total Funding: $1,227,550
A study by researchers at Boise State University in Idaho has found that road noise degrades habitat that is otherwise suitable, and that “the presence of a species does not indicate the absence of an impact.” Their paper is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
For the study, the researchers created a “phantom road” using an array of speakers to apply traffic noise to a roadless landscape, directly testing the effect of noise alone on an entire songbird community during autumn migration.
They found that 31% of the bird community avoided the phantom road. For some bird species that remained despite noise exposure, body condition and stopover efficiency (ability to gain body condition over time) decreased compared with control conditions.
These findings have broad implications for the conservation of migratory birds and perhaps for other wildlife, because factors driving foraging behavior are similar across animals. For wildlife that remains in loud areas, noise pollution represents an invisible source of habitat degradation.—Ware et al.
Heidi E. Ware, Christopher J. W. McClure, Jay D. Carlisle, and Jesse R. Barber (2015) “A phantom road experiment reveals traffic noise is an invisible source of habitat degradation”, PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1504710112