Pipe: Advanced tech

newsclips -- ARB Newsclips for July 21, 2014.

Mon, 2014-07-21 18:08
ARB Newsclips for July 21, 2014.

USABC awards $7.7M contract to Envia Systems for advanced EV battery development; layered-layered cathode, Si-based anode

Mon, 2014-07-21 17:06

The United States Advanced Battery Consortium LLC (USABC), a collaborative organization operated by Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Company and General Motors, has awarded a $7.7-million advanced battery technology development contract for electric vehicle applications to Envia Systems. The competitively bid contract award is co-funded by the US Department of Energy (DOE) and includes a 50% Envia Systems cost-share.

The 36-month, lithium-ion layered-layered cathode/silicon-based anode program will focus on the development of high-energy cathode and anode material appropriate for vehicle applications and the development and scale up of pouch cells that exhibit performance metrics that exceed the minimum USABC targets for electric vehicles.

USABC EV Battery Goals—CY2020 Commercialization. Click to enlarge.

The new Envia Systems contract follows research previously conducted with USABC to develop advanced lithium-ion battery technologies for electric vehicle applications. (Earlier post.)

USABC is a subsidiary of the United States Council for Automotive Research LLC (USCAR). Enabled by a cooperative agreement with the DOE, USABC’s mission is to develop electrochemical energy storage technologies that support commercialization of hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric and fuel cell vehicles.

In support of its mission, USABC has developed mid- and long-term goals to guide its projects and measure its progress.

CALEB and CalBattery to combine their Li-ion battery materials in new line-up; 2nd gen to use SiGr anode, targeting EVs

Mon, 2014-07-21 15:41

CALEB Technology and California Lithium Battery (CalBattery)—both based in California—signed an MOU to establish a joint venture to produce a new line of safe, high performance lithium ion batteries for consumer electronic devices, power tools, and electric vehicles (EVs). The new line of advanced LIBs will initially be made in the Los Angeles area starting in 2016.

The JV will combine the best LIB materials developed by both Calbattery and CALEB over the past 5 years. The first Calbattery/CALEB LIB will utilize novel high-voltage lithium cobalt oxide cathode, high voltage dual-phase electrolyte, and conventional anode materials that can be used for power tools, laptops, and cell phones.

The second generation LIB will be designed for not only consumer electronic devices but for EV and energy storage applications and will incorporate the CalBattery (Argonne National Laboratory) novel silicon-graphene (SiGr) composite anode material that triples the anode specific capacity. (Earlier post.)

Argonne’s technology entails the use of an advanced gas phase deposition method that embeds nanoscale silicon particles into the graphene layers. This approach overcomes the traditional problems associated with high-energy density anodes, such as massive volume expansion, high first cycle inefficiency and severe capacity fade.

To compliment this new SiGr anode material, the JV will incorporate a unique dual-phase polymer electrolyte material and process know-how developed by CALEB Technology that has shown to not only substantially increase LIB safety but improve energy density as well, according to the partners.

CALEB Technology is a developer of advanced LIB materials including patented LinPoly technology that allows building “dry” high performance batteries free of the thermal management issues associated with other Li-ion technologies.

In the next 2-3 years, the JV also plans to develop and to produce a third-generation lithium sulfur battery primarily for EV and energy storage applications.

The new line of LIBs that the CalBattery/CALEB JV plans to produce were developed over several years utilizing significant private, public, and academic resources.

Our new line of LIBs will incorporate the best blend of cathode, electrolyte, and anode materials to produce a superior product at a very competitive price per kilowatt hour. — Phil Roberts, CEO of CalBattery

ZeoGas licenses ExxonMobil Methanol-to-Gasoline technology for Gulf Coast plant

Mon, 2014-07-21 14:23

ZeoGas LLC (ZeoGas), a developer of natural gas-to-gasoline projects, has entered into a license agreement to use ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company’s (ExxonMobil) methanol-to-gasoline (MTG) technology in the development of a natural gas-to-gasoline plant on the US Gulf Coast.

The conversion of methanol to hydrocarbons and water is virtually complete and essentially stoichiometric in the MTG process. The reaction is exothermic with the reaction heat managed by splitting the conversion in two parts. In the first part, methanol is converted to an equilibrium mixture of methanol, dimethyl ether (DME), and water. In the second part, the equilibrium mixture is mixed with recycle gas and passed over a shape-selective catalyst to form hydrocarbons and water.

Most of the hydrocarbon product boils in the gasoline boiling range. The low-sulfur, low-benzene gasoline product from the process is a premium quality clean gasoline and can be blended with refinery gasoline directly or sold separately.

ZeoGas is developing a portfolio of projects to convert natural gas to gasoline to take advantage of the abundant and relatively low cost of natural gas in North America. Coupled with the 5,000 tons-per-day of planned methanol production, ZeoGas will produce more than 16,000 barrels per day of ASTM-spec, 87 Octane gasoline with zero sulfur and about 50% less benzene than allowable standards.

ExxonMobil’s proven methanol-to-gasoline technology is a critical element of our strategy to use only market-proven, production-scale component technologies, thereby eliminating the technology risk associated with many gas-to-liquids projects.—Timothy D. Belton, founder and chief executive officer of ZeoGas

ExxonMobil’s methanol-to-gasoline technology was first commercialized in 1985 by New Zealand Synfuels, a 14,500 barrel per day gas-to-gasoline plant in New Zealand.

ZeoGas is developing a portfolio of plants to convert natural gas into gasoline, employing proven component technologies like ExxonMobil’s MTG and Air Liquide’s MegaMethanol technology.

Construction begins on DOE-sponsored carbon-capture project at Kentucky Power Plant

Mon, 2014-07-21 14:07

Construction began on an innovative $19.5-million carbon-capture pilot, funded in part by the US Department of Energy (DOE), at Kentucky Utilities’ E.W. Brown Generating Station near Harrodsburg, Kentucky. The 2 megawatt thermal system will be the first megawatt-scale carbon-capture pilot unit in the Commonwealth.

When completed later this year, the unit will test a system conceived by the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (UKCAER) at slipstream-scale to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from the flue gas of an operating coal-fired power plant.

The UKCAER project, managed by the Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, was competitively selected for funding by the Energy Department in 2011. The project is part of DOE’s Carbon Capture Program, which is developing technologies for both pre- and post-combustion carbon capture. The program supports national efforts to mitigate climate change by capturing CO2 at large point sources, such as power plants, and permanently storing the greenhouse gases to prevent its release into the atmosphere.

Three concepts demonstrated in the UKCAER project will include:

  • An advanced solvent system, with lower heat of regeneration, higher capacity, and lower solvent degradation than conventional amine solvents.

  • A two-stage CO2-stripping process that increases solvent working capacity, reduces the energy required for solvent regeneration, and reduces capital costs.

  • An integrated cooling tower that recovers energy from the carbon-capture system and improves power plant efficiency.

The system will use a sampling port to redirect a portion of the power plant’s flue gas just before it enters the stack. The redirected gas will be shunted into modules where it will react with an advanced liquid solvent to extract COCO22.

The gas stream, now carrying less than 1% CO2, will exit the modules and return to the stack. The liquid solvent, carrying the removed CO2, will be put through a two-stage process to strip the CO2 from the solvent, producing a concentrated stream of CO2. The solvent will then be recycled to the modules to process more flue gas, while so-called “waste heat” from the carbon-capture system will be recovered in the cooling tower. This robust system integration will improve the power plant’s cooling-tower and steam-turbine efficiency.

The Energy Department is contributing $14.5 million for the 5-year project. A total of nearly $5 million will be provided by Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems America (Basking Ridge, NJ), the University of Kentucky, the Electric Power Research Institute, the Kentucky Department of Energy Development and Independence, and the Carbon Management Research Group. The Carbon Management Research Group comprises government agencies, electric utilities, and research organizations; current members include LG&E and KU Energy (Louisville, Ky), Duke Energy (Charlotte, NC), American Electric Power, and the Kentucky Department of Energy Development and Independence.

Voith Turbo supplying 60 fuel-efficient DIWA.5 automatic transmissions for Pittsburgh buses

Mon, 2014-07-21 13:02

Voith Turbo Inc. will deliver 60 DIWA.5 automatic transmissions to Gillig, LLC this summer, which will be used in clean diesel buses bound for the Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAT) transit system in Pittsburgh, PA. Voith’s DIWA.5 transmission allows for very smooth gear shifts, which reduce wear and tear and increase driving comfort in city transit buses. Additionally, its overdrive 4th gear optimizes fuel-friendly engine speeds in city traffic.

At least 325 PAT buses currently utilize a DIWA transmission.

DIWA transmissions feature a long first gear, providing a smooth ride and reduced gearshifts by up to 50% compared to conventional transmissions, Voith says. Reduced shifts mean less wear and higher driving comfort. In addition, a hydraulic torsional vibration damper (hydrodamp) at the transmission input greatly reduces engine vibrations. DIWA’s full flow oil circuit ensures oil temperature and transmission components run and operate at the lowest possible temperature.

The transmissions will be delivered to Gillig later this summer, with final delivery of the buses to Pittsburgh occurring near the end of the year. The Port Authority of Allegheny County operates approximately 700 buses, which serve more than 175,000 customers on an average weekday.

Allison Transmission unveils integrated stop-start technology for Cummins ETHOS E-85 engine

Mon, 2014-07-21 12:35

Allison Transmission Holdings Inc. announced new integrated stop-start technology in conjunction with Project ETHOS, an ultra-low carbon powertrain program created by Cummins Inc. to demonstrate the potential of alternative fuels for carbon dioxide (CO2) reductions in medium-duty commercial vehicles.

The Cummins ETHOS 2.8L engine is designed specifically to use E-85 (85% ethanol and 15% gasoline). To take full advantage of the favorable combustion attributes and potential of E-85, the engine operates at diesel-like cylinder pressures and incorporates advanced spark-ignition technology. It delivers the power (up to 250 hp / 186 kW) and peak torque (up to 450 lb-ft / 610 N·m) of gasoline and diesel engines nearly twice its 2.8-liter displacement. (Earlier post.)

The Cummins ETHOS 2.8L engine is coupled with an Allison 2000 Series fully automatic transmission which utilizes integrated stop-start for further emissions reduction, as well as increased fuel economy.

As a company, we certainly pride ourselves on being a leader for technological innovations within our industry. We have utilized stop-start technology in our hybrid systems for many years and have been pleased to work with long-time collaborator Cummins on this new powertrain concept. Integrated stop-start is an exciting development that represents the natural evolvement of our product technology.—Randall R. Kirk, vice president of product engineering for Allison Transmission

Integrated stop-start shuts the engine down when the operator presses the brake pedal and the vehicle comes to a complete stop. The transmission remains in drive during this time and locks the output to help prevent vehicle rollback by using an electric pump. As the driver’s foot is lifted from the brake, the system automatically starts the engine to allow acceleration.

Allison worked closely with Cummins to integrate the 6-speed 2550 transmission model. The transmission is equipped with specific hydraulic circulation features to ensure smooth operation during stop-start driving.

Additionally, all Allison Automatics provide Continuous Power Technology with seamless full-power shifts to put engine power to the drive wheels in the most efficient way. The result is faster acceleration and higher average road speed for quicker route times and greater productivity.

Testing and validation were conducted using test cells and a prototype delivery step van provided by Freightliner Custom Chassis. Valvoline provided NextGen engine oils specifically designed for lower CO2 emissions.

According to Cummins, with more than 1,500 hours accumulated on the ETHOS 2.8L engine over the past 2 1/2 years, the technology has proven capable of far exceeding the 50% CO2 emission reductions outlined as the project goals.

To complete on-road validation testing and give visibility to the project, a vehicle driving demonstration took place on public roads in California during June and July. While the powertrain system and vehicle are for testing and demonstration purposes only, market demand and production logistics are currently being explored.

Bosch info chart provides guidance on selection of gasoline or diesel

Mon, 2014-07-21 09:44

Bosch has produced a compact chart outlining the information drivers need to choose between gasoline or diesel powertrains. The advantages of the two powertrains are compared, and those who are uncertain can decide whether their individual driving profile is best suited to the diesel or gasoline variant.

A diesel-powered car consumes up to 25% less fuel, but gasoline-powered cars are often cheaper in terms of purchase price, insurance, and running costs. In Germany, depending on the model, a diesel-powered car will be worth the extra investment if annual mileage exceeds 15,000 kilometers, Bosch said.

Both powertrains have their strengths, Bosch noted. When deciding which powertrain to choose, however, drivers should consider more than just annual mileage: “Both powertrains have their strengths in different vehicle classes. A modern gasoline powertrain makes even affordable compact cars efficient, while an advanced diesel powertrain can keep consumption low and driving enjoyment high in a big station wagon,” said Dr. Rolf Bulander, member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH. There are similar advantages in other segments as well: while the responsiveness of modern gasoline powertrains makes them stand out in thoroughbred sports cars, the strong torque of the diesel powertrain is best for large SUVs.

In addition, the info chart provides insights into the German car market, and shows the best-selling gasoline and diesel models.

Driving the VW e-Golf; strategy, assembly in Wolfsburg, Braunschweig battery plant

Mon, 2014-07-21 06:00

The e-Golf. Click to enlarge.

The e-Golf (“Das e-Auto” earlier post), the Volkswagen brand’s second series production battery-electric vehicle after the e-up!, is a key model, as it is the best and most current implementation of its strategic decision to begin providing e-mobility based on large-scale production models rather than special “small niche” cars. The Golf is core to Volkswagen; the company has sold more than 30 million units worldwide since the first introduction in 1974. The e-Golf is based on current 7th generation Golf, itself based on the strategic MQB toolkit.

Put another way, Volkswagen’s goal, based on its strategic approach, is for the e-Golf to deliver the performance and handling of a Golf which happens to have a battery-electric powertrain. Based on a second, and slightly longer, chance to drive the new e-Golf unsupervised, we think Volkswagen has succeeded splendidly in this goal; we find the e-Golf to be a nimble and quiet electric delight.

Series production of Volkswagen’s e-Golf began five months ago in March at Volkswagen’s plant in Wolfsburg, Germany. The e-Golf is currently on sale in Germany, and will be launched late this year or early next year in the US, initially in the ZEV (zero emission vehicle regulation) states (i.e., California, and those states which have signed on to the California ZEV requirements). As part of the run-up to that introduction, Volkswagen of America brought journalists (including GCC) out to Wolfsburg to have some seat time with the new BEV, as well as to take a look at the assembly of the MQB-based e-Golf in the massive Wolfsburg plant; to have a walk through the new battery pack assembly plant in Braunschweig; and to get a better sense of Volkswagen’s (brand and group) thinking on e-mobility.

Strategy. Volkswagen began working with electric vehicles back in the early 1970s, noted Dr. Harald Manzenrieder, head of e-Golf production at the Wolfsburg plant. These—including, for example, an electric version of the T2, the iconic VW van of the late 1960s and 1970s—were mostly test cars and prototype cars, but also small fleets for special purposes.

Now, however, given all the market drivers facing the auto industry (regulations, fossil fuel availability, societal changes, etc.), Volkswagen is positioning itself for a broad-scale strategic shift in the types of powertrains in its vehicles—a shift that, because of its size, mandates an approach that can deliver the types of numbers it requires.

We are working on changing our focus from fossil fuel to higher efficiency for cars and to different possibilities to drive our cars. We are starting with optimizing our conventional drive trains—the TDI diesel engines, the TSI engines, the DSG transmission, all of those technologies have helped us to lower our fuel consumption a lot. We have different alternative fuels in our program such as CNG and LPG, we are working on some synthetic fuel. We have hybrids in our program to lower fuel consumption, mild hybrids, full hybrids, plug in hybrids coming out this year and of course we are working on the pure electric drive.

We are thinking that the right way [to do this] is large scale production, not special small niche cars and we think that a broad product range is necessary to bring this to the markets. —Dr. Soeren Hinze, Volkswagen Electric-Traction (EL) Technical Development

(Dr. Hinze is the engineer in charge of the rollout of the e-Golf and e-up!)

As the number two OEM in the automobile business in the world, it only makes sense for us if we see a certain volume behind it. So we won’t just jump into any technology only to be the first. We are coming with a solution that we think is a fit for the market.

We believe that the right way to bring electric vehicles is to implement them into the models that the customers like the most. For us that is the Golf, the best selling car in Europe and one of the most successful cars in the world, but also in other vehicles.—Christian Buhlmann, Volkswagen Product Communications

This approach requires not just the design engineering of the vehicle, but also the development of the integrated assembly process (enabled by the MQB), plus training of personnel in the plant. (More on this below.)

With the MQB-based designs and processes in the place, Volkswagen is confident that is can respond appropriately with whichever powertrain technologies become in demand.

If you look at the MQB cars, we started out with Golf now, and the successors of current PQ35 cars, which is Passat, Jetta and so on, will all be based on MQB, and are receiving MQB components at this time already, if you think of combustion engines like the 1.8 TSI, the 2.0 TDI latest generation. Those are all components that we are implementing from the MQB into existing models. Once the new generations are coming out, if we see a reasonable market share for EVs and PHEVs, we can deliver [those] without having to redevelop. —Christian Buhlmann
Volkswagen is electrifying all vehicle classes. The use of its modular e-drive components, within the context of the Volkswagen Group’s MQB (driven by the Volkswagen brand), MLB (longitudinal, driven by Audi) and the MSB (sporty, driven by Porsche), will enable rapid deployment of e-drive technologies throughout Group’s product lines—when consumer demand or regulatory requirements necessitate it. Škoda, as one example, will be offering a plug-in hybrid. Click to enlarge.

The e-Golf. The e-Golf is powered by a 24.2 kWh, 323V Li-ion battery pack—318 kg (701 lbs), or 21% of the e-Golf’s DIN unladen body weight—with the component 25 Ah cells and modules (6-cell and 12-cell) provided by Panasonic. The pack is located between the front and read axles. The front end of the battery is equipped with the Battery Management Controller (BMC) which performs safety, diagnostic and monitoring functions and also regulates the battery’s temperature in the Battery Junction Controller (interface to energy supply for the motor).

Left. Early display cutaway of the e-Golf battery pack. Right. Training cutaway of the production battery pack. The modules (in 6- and 12- cell versions) are shipped in from Panasonic, and assembled into the pack at the Braunschweig plant. The pack comprises 264 cells in 27 modules (88s 3p). One of the challenges for the battery team was working through the volumetric geometry of the pack and the orientation of the modules to fit the space available in the e-Golf in adherence with the MQB approach.

The pack has no active cooling system. At the beginning, noted Dr. Manz, Volkswagen thought it might need a thermal management system. However, as the engineers went through testing on the pack with the packaging and the Volkswagen-developed management system, they discovered that they did not need a cooling system. Click to enlarge.

The pack itself is assembled in Braunschweig, and incorporates Volkswagen’s energy and battery management control logic. The production configuration of the pack was a bit challenging, noted Dr. Holger Manz, the head of the battery development department in Braunschweig, because of the need to fit in the space made available by the standardized MQB approach.

The e-drive unit consists of a 85 kW (114 hp), 270 N·m (199 lb-ft) synchronous electric motor (EEM 85) and single-speed transmission (EQ 270) with integrated differential and mechanical parking brake. Both motor and gearbox, which form a compact, modular unit, were developed in-house at Volkswagen. The e-drive unit is made at the Volkswagen components plant in Kassel, Germany.

The power electronics module controls the high-voltage energy flow between the e-motor and the lithium-ion battery (between 250 and 430 V depending on the battery voltage). The power electronics converts the direct current (DC) stored in the battery to alternating current (AC). The primary interfaces of the power electronics are its traction network connection to the battery; 3-phase connection to the electric motor; connector from the DC/DC converter to the 12-V electrical system; and a connection for the high-voltage power distributor.


Top left. Overhead view of electric drive and battery components. Top right. Under the hood of an e-Golf on the Wolfsburg assembly line. Bottom left. Illustration of main electric-drive components. Bottom right. The heat pump for US and potentially other markets. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen developed a special electromechanical brake servo for its electric cars. This optimizes the driver’s braking force in the same way that brake servos do in conventional cars. However, with the electromechanical brake servo this happens by what is known as brake blending—a process in which low levels of deceleration are produced solely through the e-motor’s braking torque. Stronger deceleration, meanwhile, is achieved by combining the braking torques of the electric motor and the hydraulic brake system.

A newly developed heat pump—which will be applied in the US e-Golf—enables better driving range in colder temperatures. An add-on module to the electric heating (high-voltage heater) and electric air conditioning compressor, the heat pump recovers heat from the ambient air and the heat given off by the drive system components. This significantly reduces the high-voltage heater’s electric power consumption to keep the passenger cabin comfortable. When the heat pump is used, this increases the driving range in cold weather of the e-Golf by more than 30% compared to a conventional heating system.

Volkswagen was able to lower the air drag of the Golf by developing very specific measures such as reducing the volume of cooling air (via a radiator shutter and partially closed-off radiator grille), new underbody panelling, rear body modifications with a rear spoiler and C-pillar air guides, and by developing new aerodynamic wheels (essentially closing off gaps, making the wheels flush with the car’s exterior).

Whereas on the standard Golf (1.6 TDI with 77 kW) air drag is 0.686 m2, air drag was reduced to 0.615 m2 on the e-Golf, which represents a 10% improvement. Correspondingly, the cD value was lowered to 0.281.

Volkswagen was able to achieve another positive effect on energy consumption and range by optimizing the tires (205/55 R16 91 Q). Reducing the rolling resistance coefficient from 7.2 per 1,000 (Golf BlueMotion) to 6.5 per 1,000 for the e-Golf (likewise an improvement of 10%) also improves the range.

The Golf offers the CCS charging system, enabling both AC and DC fast charging. A 3.6 kW charge to 100% SOC will take about 8 hours; a DC fast charge to 80% SOC will take about 30 minutes.

Driving. We had the opportunity to drive the e-Golf from Wolfsburg to Braunschweig—a drive of about 36 km (22 miles) that offers some higher speed highway driving as well as in-city conditions.

The e-Golf reaches a speed of 60 km/h (37 mph) within 4.2 seconds, and 100 km/h (62 mph) in 10.4 seconds, with top speed limited to 140 km/h (87 mph. Range is estimated, on the NEDC cycle, to be up to 190 km (118 miles); Volkswagen suggests a realistic real-world range of 130 km (81 miles) to 190 km, depending upon temperature, driving style, etc.

As we noted earlier, the e-Golf is essentially a Golf: comfortable, quick and with good handling. The weight of the battery pack helps keep the car anchored to the road, but there is no wallowing sensation in quick cornering maneuvers, even at higher speeds.

The instrument cluster. On the left, the conventional tachometer is replaced by a power display (which indicates if the motor is ready, the battery is being charged via regenerative braking or power is being consumed) and the indicator of output availability.

The speedometer, which goes up to 160 km/h (99 mph), remains on the right. Added at the bottom of the speedometer is an indicator showing the charge level of the high-voltage battery.

The color display located between the powermeter and the speedometer (premium multifunction display), now shows a continuous display of driving range; the regenerative braking level that is active; and information on remaining charging time and the connected charging plug.

In a separate LED field in the lower segment of the multifunction display, the ‘READY’ message also appears after starting the motor, indicating that the car is ready to be driven. Click to enlarge.

With its limited top speed, the e-Golf is not designed for scorching down the Autobahn, but it is more than capable of delivering an enjoyable driving experience in standard city and suburban conditions. We had no problems at all with high speed merging onto the highway, and, as with electric drives in general, the immediate torque after starting up from a stop was most satisfying.

Left. The e-Golf features a standard 8" touchscreen radio-navigation system with e-mobility specific functions. Sample functions, top right. The graphical range monitor illustrates the vehicles current driving range (blue); it also shows the range potential (lighter blue) that could be gained by deactivating any of the displayed auxiliary consumers that are active.

Bottom right. The recuperation monitor measure total regen energy since trip start to help the driver to adjust driving behavior. Other functions include an energy flow indicator, e-manager to pre-program up to three departures and charging times; and current potential driving radius of the e-Golf.

Left, bottom. The shifter also provides the means to step through 5 levels of regenerative braking: “D”, no regen; “D1”, “D2”, “D3”, and “B”. With the gear lever setting in “D”, the driver just taps to left to shift D-levels. I.e., one tap, “D1”, another tap “D2”, etc. Tapping to the right moves back down the D-levels. “B”, activated by pulling backwards on the lever, is the most extreme level of regen. All regen states are displayed on the instrument cluster (above). Click to enlarge.

The e-Golf offers two technologies to balance optimal utilization of the vehicle’s energy against the driver’s wishes. One is the five different levels of regenerative brake settings, described above. Higher levels of regen allow the driver to slow the vehicle almost to a stop (with “B”), while recharging the battery. Levels “D2”, “D3” and “B” decelerate the car sufficiently that the brake lights come on.

Switching levels of regen easily with a tap of the shifter allow the driver to customize the vehicle’s performance in response to terrain and driving styles. In combination with the recuperation monitor (again, above), this also gives drivers the chance to learn how best to drive their e-Golf.

The other driver-focused optimizing technology is the three driving profiles: “Normal”, “Eco”, and “Eco+”. The Volkswagen automatically starts in “Normal” mode. In “Eco” mode, the electric motor’s maximum power is reduced to 70 kW, and drive-off torque is limited to 220 N·m (162 lb-ft). In parallel, the electronics reduce the output of the air conditioning system and modify the response curve of the accelerator pedal. In this mode, the e-Golf can reach speeds of up to 115 km/h (71 mph) and accelerate to 100 km/h in 13.1 seconds.

In “Eco+” mode, the electronics limit power output to 55 kW and drive-off torque to 175 N·m (129 lb-ft). At the same time, the accelerator pedal response curve is made flatter, and the air conditioning is switched off. The e-Golf now reaches a top speed of 90 km/h (56 mph) and accelerates at a slower rate. Nonetheless, drivers can still obtain full power, maximum torque and a top speed of 140 km/h in “Eco” and “Eco+” mode by kick-down.

(Our favorite combination in general was “Normal” with “B”.)

e-Golf driving modes   Normal Eco Eco+ Air conditioning Normal Reduced Ventilation only Acceleration (0-100 km/h) 10.4 s 13.4 s 20.9 s (to 90 km/h only) Power 85 kW 70 kW 55 kW Top speed 140 km/h 115 km/h 90 km/h

Under the NEDC, the e-Golf is rated with energy consumption of 12.7 kWh/100km. Based on our short “real world” drive (with a bit of a heavy foot on the accelerator), we appeared to achieve between about 11-16 kWh/100 km, based on different conditions; sometimes much lower, sometimes a bit higher. (The touchscreen monitor will show you exactly how much you are consuming, adding to the driver-training aspect over time.)

Volkswagen implemented an acoustic concept for the e-Golf that is specifically tailored to the characteristics of an electric vehicle, greatly enhancing its already quiet attributes.

As one example, the motor’s suspension system was switched to a pendulum mount with modified response characteristics, which greatly enhances the acoustics despite the e-motor’s high torque build-up when accelerating. In designing the motor housing unit, Volkswagen was also able to achieve an extremely low level of noise emissions.

Furthermore, the highly sound-absorbent and yet very lightweight materials used in the interior produce a luxury-class level of acoustic comfort. It is indeed quite quiet.

Owners of e-Golfs can order nearly all the optional features and assistance systems of the full Golf model series.

Production overview. One of the mantras of the Volkswagen Group surrounding the benefits of its modular assembly toolkits is that they enable the streamlined production of a variety of vehicles using common components on the same line. The MQB-based e-Golf is certainly a case in point—with the exception of a detached loop added, for the time being, for high voltage (HV) component assembly. This includes the battery pack, power electronics and all the connections, and first pack power to the vehicle.

Top. Building an e-Golf: the basic production flow for the e-Golf at the Wolfsburg plant. Essentially, the e-Golf is assembled much as other versions of the Golf are, the primary exception being a new loop inserted into the assembly process for the installation of the high-voltage battery pack, the subsequent high-voltage connections, and first power to the car.
In the diagram above, the area for that is designated as “Kleinserie” (“small series”), an area in which Volkswagen also works on specialty vehicles such as taxis, emergency responder vehicles, etc.

The e-Golf moves through assembly of its MQB components, including the “marriage” of the powertrain and drivetrain, and then is towed from the line to the small series area for the installation of the high voltage components. The e-Golf then re-enters the main assembly flow.

Bottom. HV assembly. This sequence outlines the flow of assembly through the small series area from the e-Golf’s being towed in by walkie tow trucks to its self-powered departure. Click to enlarge.

Aside from the detached assembly for the high voltage components, the e-Golf is just another Golf moving through the assembly process; the electric powertrain and drivetrain components are assembled in an area on a floor beneath the main assembly line, along with conventional powertrain and drivetrain elements. These assembled powertrain and drivetrain elements—with a significant gap in the middle in the case of the e-Golf to accommodate the battery pack—are automatically “married” to their appropriate bodies, rising up from the floor underneath in a tightly controlled process.

There were a number of reasons driving the decision to implement a detached high voltage assembly, said Dr. Manzenrieder. These include:

  • The possibility of an unbalanced work load for each operator due to different bill of materials;

  • The restricted workshop area ensures optimal safety control;

  • Flexible production equipment enables optimized process design. This is a learning laboratory as well as a production loop;

  • The opportunity to establish specific high-voltage component expertise. All operators are HV-experts and ensure best process and quality control; and

  • The possibility for technical reviews at the car without disrupting the assembly process.

By running this production line, I have the opportunity to focus and to gain expertise on high voltage components, their characteristics and, which is very important, the interaction between components. If it was produced on a stepped production line in one minute steps, I can see only very limited steps. Here I can see all the parts together.

The operators we use in this area are all experts, not only mechanically, but they also know the components. We have optimized this way to control the process and the product. We have the possibility to call other experts from R&D, from the quality department to take a look at each stage within the assembly. Our equipment is flexible so that we can do any other model or generation. —Dr. Manzenrieder

The operators work in teams of two, each team handling the entire final high-voltage assembly process from start to finish.

Top. The high-voltage components addressed in the detached final assembly loop. Bottom left. Installing the battery pack. Bottom right. Connecting the power electronics. Click to enlarge.

Braunschweig battery plant. Volkswagen’s facility in Braunschweig is one of the larger producers of running gear in the world—and the oldest plant in the Volkswagen Group. Since 2007, it has also been the site for the development and production of battery systems for electric vehicles. Beginning in 2012, the pre-series center for the e-Golf was situated there.

Braunschweig is now responsible for the development and production of the battery packs for the e-Golf and the e-up!, and features a new, discrete automated facility dedicated to battery production.

In the run-up to series production, the Braunschweig team had evaluated using prismatic 25 Ah cells from Panasonic, or 18650 cells (i.e., similar to Tesla), said Dr. Manz. Volkswagen opted for the 25 Ah prismatic cells from Panasonic.

We tested several cells and several manufacturers of the cells and Panasonic was the best we could use for this project. —Dr. Manz

Automated battery assembly at Braunschweig. Top left. Panasonic ships pre-packaged modules, which the operators at Braunschweig remove from their shipping crate (foreground) and slide into the reach of a robot, which stacks the modules by type. Top right. The robot then places modules on the battery base, where they are then automatically bolted into place.

Bottom left. Humans connect the modules. (Note the large panel display screens which provide documentation on the task being done. These are also prevalent in the detached HV assembly area in Wolfsburg. The underlying system is also recording all relevant data for each part for 10 years.) Bottom right. The battery pack covers (a carbon fiber reinforced plastic shell with an aluminum cover) are secured using the same fastening system used for windshields. It is also screwed to the base with 8 screws.

I myself don’t want to be a battery system, because I know what is done with such systems. Before we get the release of a battery system we make a test of about 12 weeks with shocks, vibrations and we do a temperature test. At the end we dip it 20 times into water; we heat it before and then dip it into cold water. And after the 20 dips, there should be no leakage. These are the heaviest tests I’ve ever seen for such a system. —Dr. Manz

Currently, the e-up! battery pack production line is producing 40 packs per day. The e-Golf line is producing 44 packs per day; by the end of the year it will produce 100 packs per day. The new Braunschweig facility has plenty of room for adding additional lines.

Battery futures. The great advantage of Volkswagen doing its own development on the battery system—especially in areas of packaging and management, is that it is now “relatively free to change from one cell supplier to another,” said Dr. Manz. “It’s a great advantage that we have.

Volkswagen is pursuing a number of advanced chemistry options through its different organizations, including its Palo Alto, California-based research organization.

“We are thinking about 28 [Ah] to 34 [Ah] and more. Never have so many people surged and developed on new technologies and new chemsitry and new cells like today.”—Dr. Soeren Hinze

In a presentation at the Barclays Future Powertrain Symposium in London earlier in July, the Volkswagen Group’s Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Steiger suggested that the Group has identified a short term roadmap that will increase battery energy density to about 220 Wh/kg (compared to the 170 Wh/kg in the cells in the e-Golf.) Beyond that, the Group is looking to Li-sulfur (500 Wh/kg) and Li-air (1,000 Wh/kg) as future solutions.

Put another way, he noted that the group sees a pathway from the 25 Ah cells currently used in the e-Golf and e-up! to 28 Ah, 34 Ah, and 36 Ah cells in the future. Combined with other refinements in energy consumption, weight, aerodynamics and rolling efficiency, the Group expects to be able to deliver significant increases in battery-electric range.

Left. Range will improve not only from increased battery capacity, but also a number of improvements in different vehicle systems. Right. Projections of increased range in the e-up! and e-Golf based on projected increases in cell capacity. Click to enlarge.

Think of diesel in the early 1990s where it had tiny single digit market shares, and now it’s up to 50%. The market for this [e-mobility] must develop. We have a new technology here that is coming into the market that will also start with single digit market shares but it will grow eventually. We can already see it in some of the markets. —Christian Buhlmann

Virginia Tech wins $55M in federal contracts for commercial truck driver safety and automated vehicle research

Mon, 2014-07-21 05:00

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute has been awarded two federal contracts worth a combined potential $55 million to further study safety efforts for commercial truck drivers and break new ground in the burgeoning field of automated vehicles.

The contracts are being awarded by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) with a ceiling of $30 million for a five-year period, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at a maximum of $25 million during a five-year period. Collectively, the contracts—both won this spring—are the largest of their kind awarded to the institute in its 25-year history.

The $30-million award builds on a previous five-year, $10-million contract from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that led to several of Virginia Tech’s largest-impact transportation results from the past decade.

Among the work was the finding that text messaging while driving increases the risk of a crash or near-crash event by 23 times for truck and bus drivers.

The research, headed by Richard Hanowski, director of the institute’s Center for Truck and Bus Safety, also helped shape current hours-of-service rules—the allotted time commercial carrier drivers are allowed behind the wheel during any given day or week—now in use by the regulatory agency.

Hanowski will likewise head the new research. Among the areas outlined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are research into driver performance, such as fatigue and distraction.

The work is expected to take multiple years and includes the use of a naturalistic driving video capture technique, which places multiple cameras inside and outside a vehicle, unobtrusively recording the participant driver as he or she interacts with the vehicle and the road while traveling.

Much of the institute’s current crop of research—from distracted driving to research involving the actions of teen and senior motorists—has stemmed from using video capture, with more than 40 million miles of data analyzed.

Additional potential tasks include vehicle handling and braking, vehicle dynamics, and other characteristics that influence driver behavior, said Hanowski. Also working on the contract as a co-investigator will be Jeff Hickman, a senior research associate with the institute.

The $25-million contract from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is being awarded to Myra Blanco, who heads the institute’s new Center for Automated Vehicle Systems.

The award focuses on research—including safety protocols—of automated-vehicle technology that is expected to enter the automotive market during the next decade and beyond.

Blanco will study vehicle electronic systems, including electronic controls of the vehicle, seek reinforcements to block potential hacking of vehicles, and identify potential safety issues, including fail-safe systems. Serving as co-investigators on the contract will be Dingus, and Greg Fitch, a research scientist with the institute.

Work by Blanco will build upon previous collaborations between the institute and General Motors and Google, including research focusing on how motorists interact with automated vehicles, such as letting the car autonomous programming take driving control duties, and the need or possibility of the a human commandeering the operation of the car. These studies by Blanco were carried out on the Virginia Smart Road, in Blacksburg.

DENSO begins testing advanced driving support technology on a public road in Japan

Mon, 2014-07-21 05:00

DENSO Corp. began testing advanced driving support technology on a public road in Aichi Prefecture, Japan this past June. DENSO is testing automated driving scenarios in a single lane and testing automatic lane changes, as well as other driving maneuvers.

DENSO’s goal is to develop technologies that reduce driver workload and assist in safe driving.

Previously, DENSO tested this technology on its test course in Japan. DENSO’s goal with public road testing is to identify, analyze, and solve real-life problems that do not occur on the test course.

DENSO is conducting these field tests as part of the activities led by the Vehicle Safety Technology Project Team to reduce traffic accidents. The Project Team is organized by the Aichi Prefectural Government and involves companies and organizations operating in the prefecture.

DENSO has been developing its advanced driving assistance technology to achieve safer and more reliable driving while the driver remains in control of the vehicle.

DOE to award $9M to promote consensus on future fossil energy technologies

Sun, 2014-07-20 10:45

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy will award $9 million over five years to organizations to assist it in building domestic and international consensus on future fossil energy technologies (DE-FOA-0001111). The Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) anticipates two awards being made: the first for $7 million in the area of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and fossil-fuel-based Clean Energy Systems (CES); the second for $2 million in the area of international oil and natural gas.

One of the key missions of the Office of Fossil Energy is to “ensure the nation can continue to rely on traditional resources for clean, secure and affordable energy while enhancing environmental protection.” In pursuit of this, the Office provides outreach and education to many stakeholders, including the general public, in order to allow them to make educated choices about energy.

Towards this end, the Office of Fossil Energy is seeking to partner with organizations with similar goals to help improve understanding and develop cooperative action by reaching out to additional international and national organizations to conduct a series of co-related tasks.

Carbon Capture and Storage and Clean Energy Systems. Clean Energy Systems/Technologies under the FOA are systems and technologies that improve the efficiency of power generation and conversion systems to liquids and chemicals from fossil-based fuels, enabling affordable CO2 capture, increasing plant availability, and maintaining environmental standards.

This includes technologies required to reduce the capital and operating cost and to meet zero emission targets in power systems (e.g., turbines, fuel cells, hybrids, novel power generation cycles); coal conversion (e.g., gasification) and beneficiation; advanced combustion (e.g., oxy-combustion, chemical looping, ultra super critical steam); and hydrogen and fuels.

Additionally, the requirement includes efforts on enabling technology (e.g., sensors and controls) energy conversion, water issues, advanced modeling, and simulation materials.

The DOE noted that of significant importance in the carbon capture and storage area are the R&D activities on post-combustion and pre-combustion capture; carbon utilization; and carbon storage activities; including the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships, the Carbon Capture Simulation Initiative (CCSI), and National Risk Assessment Program (NRAP).

Specific areas of interest under the FOA in this program area include:

  • Carbon Capture and Storage and Clean Energy Systems Consultation, Analysis and Cooperation. This is to engage recognized experts in CCS and CES to provide advice and assistance to decision makers, stakeholders, state and local government officials, non-profit organizations, universities, non-governmental organizations, and the public as appropriate. These consultations could involve face-to-face meetings and discussions with the selected experts.

    DOE is also seeking analyses, studies and reports on selected topics by CCS and CES experts to provide independent and unbiased perspectives on critical issues to promote greater understanding of CCS domestically and internationally. The information created will be used at seminars, conferences and workshops attended by various stakeholders, as well as disseminated domestically and internationally, as appropriate.

  • Carbon Capture and Storage and Clean Energy Systems Outreach. This is to upport efforts to increase the capacity of decision makers, stakeholders and the public to understand, develop and deploy CCS and CES technologies and systems with outreach programs. These programs include conferences, workshops, fora or other events that benefit the public by providing insight and education.

  • Carbon Capture and Storage and Clean Energy Systems Conference and Workshop Support. This will organize and conduct workshops or seminars focused on specific CCS and CES technologies and issues each year in the US. The presentations, summaries of findings, outcomes, and information from these activities would be disseminated to the public as appropriate.

International Oil and Natural Gas. The DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy’s Office of Oil and Natural Gas (FE Oil & Gas) works to achieve a diversified supply of oil and natural gas resources while minimizing environmental impacts. The program conducts international activities that support environmental protection and safety of global oil and gas production. The program also oversees the import and export of oil and natural gas.

FE Oil & Gas seeks to promote its mission in general and specifically promote “safe and responsible” development of oil and natural gas in the United States and in other countries, by sharing best practices and advanced technology. The areas of interest to FE Oil and Gas under the FOA are:

  • Oil and Gas Consultation, Analysis and Cooperation. This includes engaging recognized experts in international oil and natural gas to provide advice and assistance to Government and private decision makers, US industry representatives, non-governmental organization (NGO) leaders, and other members of the public who make critical decisions about international oil and natural gas policy. These consultations could involve face-to-face meetings and discussions with the selected international oil and natural gas experts.

    This area also envisions conducting analyses and preparing studies and reports on selected topics of interest to NGOs, universities, other government agencies, and various stakeholders by international oil and natural gas private sector experts, to provide independent and unbiased perspectives on critical issues related to diversifying the supply of oil and natural gas while minimizing environmental impacts.

  • Oil & Natural Gas Bilateral and Regional Initiatives and Activities. Under this area, DOE seeks assistance in the organization and implementation of meetings, conferences, and workshops on oil and gas technology with international partners including foreign governments, companies, universities, and NGOs.

    One of the Office of Oil and Natural Gas’ main international meetings is the annual US-China Oil & Gas Industry Forum (OGIF). As appropriate, summaries of the findings, outcomes, and/or discussions of these events will be provided to the public.

  • Import/Export of Natural Gas and Methane Hydrates Activities. FE’s Office of Oil and Natural Gas operates a research program focused on methane hydrates. To facilitate this research, it is necessary to call together US and international researchers to discuss advances in testing, production, and utilization.

    The recipient of award funding will conduct meetings focusing on methane hydrates testing, production, and utilization which are consistent with FE Oil & Gas goals and objectives. Meetings may be held domestically or internationally in support of international agreements. Where possible and appropriate, outcomes and summaries of these meetings will be made available to the public.

    Under the Natural Gas Act, anyone who wants to import or export natural gas, including liquefied natural gas (LNG) from or to a foreign country must first obtain an authorization from the Department of Energy. FE’s Office of Oil and Natural Gas fulfills this regulatory function. In order to inform stakeholders, including US companies that wish to obtain export licenses, and potential buyers of exported gas, of the requirements for obtaining export authorization, it is necessary to do public outreach. The recipient will also conduct events informing domestic and international audiences of the Office’s regulatory function under the Natural Gas Act related to the import and export of natural gas. These may include public outreach and environmental considerations.

Bosch improves the mechanical vacuum pump

Sat, 2014-07-19 12:56

Bosch has made the EVOII mechanical vacuum pump lighter and much more efficient, putting it on a par with more expensive electric vacuum pumps. The Bosch EVOII offers the best value for money on the market and reliably provides the vacuum for the brake booster, the company claims. The unit costs up to 75% less than comparable electric pumps, and offers CO2 emissions of less than 0.4 grams per kilometer. In addition, the unit is contained within the engine compartment, so the driver hears nothing.

EVOII. Click to enlarge.

Bosch revised its tried-and-tested pump, of which it has manufactured 45 million units to date, from the ground up. This new generation is 300 grams lighter than other mechanical vacuum pumps, and more than a kilogram lighter than electric ones. The difference is the thermoplastic rotor: its stable blades can create the necessary vacuum, while overall the unit weighs very little.

The functional principle of the mechanical vacuum pump has been established for diesel engines for a long time. In recent years, there has also been a growing need for vacuum in modern gasoline engines due to the spread of gasoline direct injection, which in combination with engine downsizing reduces fuel consumption by up to 15%. As of 2013, some 40% of all new cars in Europe had direct fuel injection. Modern direct fuel injection systems need an additional pump, since the vacuum can no longer be controlled by the throttle valve.

The EVOII is designed in such a way that it provides the necessary amount of vacuum while still creating the least amount of friction of any product on the market. The efficient design of housing and rotating elements is the result of intensive simulations and calculations. By changing certain parameters, Bosch is able to find an optimized solution for every engine application.

The new generation of vacuum pumps can be tailored to each customer and engine application. Depending on customer requirements, the Bosch vacuum pump can be driven by the crank- or camshaft, a gear or a chain. It can also be integrated with an oil or a fuel pump.

Volvo Group ordered by US Court to pay $74.3M in penalties in diesel emission case

Sat, 2014-07-19 12:02

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has ruled that the Volvo Group should pay penalties and interest of approximately SEK 508 million (US$74.3 million) following a dispute between the Volvo Group and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding NOx emission compliance of diesel engines.

The Court of Appeals affirmed a District Court’s ruling that model year 2005 Volvo Penta engines violated the provisions of a Consent Decree. This is expected to have a negative impact on the Group’s operating income of approximately SEK 440 million (US$64.3 million) in the third quarter of 2014 in the segment Group functions and other.

The Volvo Group had previously accounted for approximately SEK 68 million (US$9.9 million) as a provision and approximately SEK 422 million (US$61.7 million) as a contingent liability.

In 2012 the District Court issued a judgment ordering the Volvo Group to pay penalties and interest for engines which Volvo claims were not part of the decree. Volvo filed an appeal on several grounds. The Court of Appeals’ ruling was rendered on 18 July 2014. Volvo will now review the ruling in detail, and consider whether to appeal or not.

Petrobras’ June oil production in Brazil up 1.7% exceeding 2M bpd; gas production reaches record

Sat, 2014-07-19 07:47

Petrobras’s June oil production in Brazil averaged 2,008 thousand barrels/day (bpd), up 1.7% from May’s production of 1,975 thousand bpd. Including the production operated by Petrobras for its partners in Brazil, the volume reached 2,135 thousand bpd, up 2.1% from last month’s production of 2,092 thousand bpd.

The company’s oil and natural gas production in Brazil in the same month was 2,426 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day (boed), indicating a 1.6% rise from May (2,387 thousand boed). Including the production operated by Petrobras for its partner companies in Brazil, the volume reached 2,610 thousand boed, up 2.0% from May’s production of 2,558 thousand boed.

The production growth was mainly due to the volume increase produced by platform P-62, which started-up operation in May at Roncador field (Campos Basin). A total of 22 wells, 14 of them oil and gas producers and eight water injectors, will be interconnected to this unit within the next few months. This FPSO (floating production storage and offloading) unit has the capacity to process up to 180 thousand barrels of oil and 6 million cubic meters of natural gas per day.

The start-up of a new well connected to platform P-48, at Caratinga field, producing at the pre-salt layer of Campos Basin since the end of May, also contributed to the rise in production. The return of platform P-51, at Marlim Sul field, in the same Basin, after the scheduled maintenance stoppage and the start-up of the FPSO-Dynamic Producer Extended Well Test (EWT), at Iara Oeste, in Santos Basin also contributed to this growth.

The EWT, the first carried out in this area, will enable the acquisition of important data for the development of this discovery, which took place in 2008. The tested well’s initial production of 29 thousand barrels of oil per day is similar to the production of the wells that are currently producing for commercial purposes in the Santos Basin Pre-salt, also indicating the area’s good potential.

In total, eight new offshore wells in the Santos and Campos Basins started up production in June. Alongside them, 30 new subsea wells started up operation in the first half of the year, twice the amount that started up production in the same period last year.

With the start of operation of Polar Onyx, a PLSV (Pipe Laying Support Vessel) vessel type, on June 24, and the arrival of six more units by the end of 2014, the company’s capacity to interconnect new wells in the second half will be even greater.

Pre-salt production in the Santos and Campos Basins in June increased 6.7% from May, with a volume of 477 thousand bpd, setting another monthly record. A new pre-salt daily production record of 520 thousand bpd was established on June 24. These volumes include the production operated by Petrobras for its partners. These records are a natural consequence of the implementation of new projects in the pre-salt layer, as well as the high production levels of the wells from Lula and Sapinhoá fields, where Petrobras has been frequently reaching flow rates above 30 thousand barrels per day per well.

Another important record in the pre-salt was the conclusion of the first well drilled and completed in just 92 days, which occurred on June 30 in well 8-LL-38D-RJS, in the area of Lula/Iracema Sul.

Another highlight of June was the start-up of the natural gas flow produced in platforms P-58, at the north area of Parque das Baleias, in Campos Basin pre-salt, and FPSO Cidade de Paraty, at Lula Nordeste area, Santos Basin pre-salt. The gas flow to the Cacimbas (P-58) and Caraguatatuba (Cidade de Paraty) Gas Treatment Units (UPGNs) allowed not only the growth in gas production , but also the growth in liquids produced in these UPGNs, as pre-salt’s gas is richer. The stat-up of the gas flow from these platforms allowed Petrobras to reach a new historical record of domestic natural gas delivery to the market last Monday (July 14), reaching a volume of 48.1 million m3.

June’s natural gas production of 66.4 million cubic meters per day (m³/d), surpassed by 1.5% last month’s production and has established a new monthly record for Petrobras’ natural gas production. The total production operated by Petrobras, including the share operated for its partners, was 75,540 thousand m³/d, up 2.1% from May.

94.5% of the natural gas produced was used, either to supply the market, or to generate electricity in the production platforms or to be reinjected in the reservoirs to increase oil output. In the Santos Basin pre-salt cluster, natural gas use reached 97.7%.

newsclips -- ARB Newsclips for July 18, 2014

Fri, 2014-07-18 18:13
ARB Newsclips for July 18, 2014.

Eberspächer introducing diesel fuel-cell APU at IAA; planned market introduction in US in 2017

Fri, 2014-07-18 15:22

Basic elements and operating principle of the diesel fuel-cell APU. Click to enlarge.

At the upcoming IAA in Hanover, automotive supplier Eberspächer is presenting a fuel-cell APU (auxiliary power unit) for commercial trucks that converts diesel efficiently to electricity and thereby supplies the required power to all on-board consumer components such as the air-conditioning system or the refrigerator units.

As a result, the load for electricity generation can be taken off the engine or generator with a resulting decrease in fuel consumption and emissions. In future generations of trucks, components still driven mechanically today could thus be powered electrically at considerably less expense, the company suggests.

Currently, the need for auxiliary power is usually met on the road via a generator. In stationary periods, a diesel auxiliary power unit or, in the worst case, the idling engine takes over the supply of on-board electricity and air-conditioning. The diesel-engine APU usually drives the air-conditioning compressor mechanically via a belt and produces electricity.

Eberspächer’s fuel-cell APU generates electrical power without mechanical power losses from the diesel in the truck tank quietly with NOx, carbon monoxide and soot particulate emissions 90% less compared with a diesel-engine APU. The control electronics limit electricity production to what is actually required.

The application concept. Click to enlarge.   Interior of the APU. Click to enlarge.

The maximum output is 3 kW, the possible efficiency is up to 40%. The system can be used as a supplier of energy not only during stationary periods but also on a permanent basis. When the truck starts driving, the fuel-cell system starts as well, supplying all the consumers of electricity. This relieves the generator, which would otherwise require approximately double the amount of fuel to provide the electrical power as the diesel fuel-cell system, Eberspächer says.

The longer the fuel-cell system runs and the more power is called off, the more it enhances the overall efficiency and cost effectiveness of the vehicle.

The basis of the Eberspächer APU is a high-temperature fuel cell that can generate electricity from the syngas resulting from diesel reforming. In the reformer, the diesel is first mixed with air; the mixture then flows through a catalytic converter. This process generates fuel gas containing hydrogen and carbon monoxide. The technology required for this process is based on the core competencies of the Eberspächer Group.

The mixture formation is based on our know-how in the area of fuel-operated pre-heaters, whereas in catalysis our exhaust technology skills are brought to bear.—Dr. Klaus Beetz, COO Eberspächer Climate Control Systems

The electrification of commercial vehicles is an important aspect in further fuel and CO2 reduction in the transport sector, and the diesel fuel-cell APU is an important part in this future strategy, Eberspächer says.

Many energy-intensive consumers previously coupled with the drive engine—such as the cooling water- and hydraulic pump or the compressed-air system—could in the future be operated considerably more efficiently using electricity from the mobile fuel-cell system. Even the air-conditioning compressor, today coupled with the engine, plus an additional auxiliary cooling system could be replaced by a single electrical AC system for driving and stationary operation.

The output of the drive engine would then almost exclusively take care of propulsion, which would reduce consumption further. Thanks to the switch from mechanically to electrically driven components, the weight distribution in the truck could also be bettered. And, because the battery is constantly in an ideal charging state during fuel-cell operation, the batteries lifetime lasts longer and the truck cuts out more rarely.

At the present time we’ve not yet reached the end of development. But currently we’re pressing ahead with the systems development together with a well-known commercial vehicle manufacturer. Before this year is over we’ll be carrying out extensive practical testing and are planning to launch the fuel-cell APU initially on the US market at the end of 2017.—Dr. Beetz

Japan to offer ~$20K in subsidies per fuel cell vehicle

Fri, 2014-07-18 14:46

The Nikkei reports that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe revealed plans to provide at least ¥2 million (US$19,722) in subsidies for every purchase of a fuel cell vehicle.

In a 2013 speech at Japan Akademeia on his “Abenomics”, shortly after his inauguration, the Prime Minster had emphasized the importance of regulatory and institutional reform to lead to commercial viability of new technologies, and specifically referenced hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

There is no alternative but to continue time and time again to put forth innovations that are a step ahead of your competitors. I will support companies that resolutely take on the challenge of innovating new ideas. What will open the door to this is regulatory reform.

For example, fuel cell-powered vehicles are revolutionary vehicles that are environmentally friendly, emitting no carbon dioxide. However, their hydrogen tanks are subject to both METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) and MLIT (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism) regulations. The hydrogen filling stations used for refueling are bound up in a mountain of regulations, being subject to not only METI regulations but also Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications regulations governing firefighting and MLIT regulations dealing with town planning.

Even if you tackle each of these in turn as they appear one after the other, commercial viability always stays out of reach. We will soon conduct a review to tackle this situation all at once. —Prime Minister Abe

Toyota will launch its production fuel cell vehicle in Japan before April 2015, and in the US and European markets in the summer of 2015. In Japan, the fuel cell sedan will go on sale at Toyota and Toyopet dealerships, priced at approximately ¥7 million (US$69,000) MSRP, excluding consumption tax. (Earlier post.)

The Prime Minster also plans to set up more than 100 hydrogen stations in the country, so that owners can refuel the cars easily.

2015 Chevrolet and GMC pickups, SUVs to offer eight-speed transmission with EcoTec3 V-8

Fri, 2014-07-18 14:18

Chevrolet and GMC have confirmed a new eight-speed automatic transmission will be standard on 2015 Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra and GMC Yukon Denali/Yukon XL Denali models equipped with the 6.2L EcoTec3 V-8 (L86) (earlier post).

The GM-developed Hydra-Matic 8L90 eight-speed is approximately the same size and weight as the Hydra-Matic 6L80 six-speed automatic. Its 7.0 overall gear ratio spread is wider than GM’s six-speed automatic transmissions, providing a numerically higher first gear ratio to help drivers start off more confidently with a heavy load or when trailering. The 8L90 also enables numerically lower rear axle ratios, which reduce engine rpm on the highway.

EcoTec3 V-8. Click to enlarge.

The fifth generation of the GM small block engine family launched with the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 trucks, and features the same cam-in-block architecture and 4.400-inch bore centers (the distance between the centers of each cylinder) that were born with the original small block in 1955.

Dubbed EcoTec3 in the new trucks—including a 4.3L V-6, 5.3L V-8 and 6.2L V-8—the Gen-V engine family delivers greater efficiency, performance and durability, due to a combination of advanced technologies including direct injection, Active Fuel Management (cylinder deactivation) and dual-equal camshaft phasing (variable valve timing) that support an advanced combustion system.

Dual-equal camshaft phasing works with Active Fuel Management to enhance fuel economy, while also maximizing engine performance for given demands and conditions. A vane-type phaser is installed on the front of the camshaft to change its angular orientation relative to the sprocket, thereby adjusting the timing of valve operation on the fly. It is a dual-equal cam phasing system that adjusts camshaft timing at the same rate for both intake and exhaust valves.

The system allows linear delivery of torque, with near-peak levels over a broad rpm range, and high specific output (horsepower per liter of displacement) without sacrificing overall engine response, or driveability. It also provides another effective tool for controlling exhaust emissions.

The vane phaser is actuated by hydraulic pressure and flow from engine oil, and managed by a solenoid that controls oil flow to the phaser.

With 420 horsepower (313 kW) and 460 lb-ft (624 N·m) of torque, the 6.2L EcoTec3 V-8 is the most powerful engine offered in any light-duty pickup, and offers a maximum available trailer rating of 12,000 pounds, based on SAE J2807 Recommended Practices. As with other EcoTec3 engines, it seamlessly switches to four-cylinder operation under lighter loads to improve fuel economy.

Additional technical details and the EPA estimated fuel economy will be announced closer to the start of production in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Argonne VERIFI researchers applying GSA to investigate combustion engine parameters; seeking cleaner and more efficient engines

Fri, 2014-07-18 12:12

Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory, as part of the new Virtual Engine Research Institute and Fuels Initiative (VERIFI) (earlier post), are using global sensitivity analysis (GSA)—a specific form of uncertainty analysis which breaks down the uncertainty into constitute parts—to investigate a number of parameters in the internal combustion process. By gaining a better understanding of how these parameter uncertainties affect outcomes, the VERIFI researchers, along with colleagues at the University of Connecticut, are seeking to create cleaner and more efficient engines.

The parameters being investigated include the relationships between the diameter of the nozzle in the fuel injector; the dynamics of the fuel spray; the proportion of fuel to air in the combustion chamber; and the exhaust products. In an SAE paper presented at the World Congress this year, the researchers described the results of the first demonstration of GSA for engine simulations.

Global Sensitivity Analysis (GSA) is conducted for a diesel engine simulation to understand the sensitivities of various modeling constants and boundary conditions in a global manner with regards to multi-target functions such as liquid length, ignition delays, combustion phasing, and emissions. The traditional local sensitivity analysis approach, which involves sequential perturbation of model constants, does not provide a complete picture since all the parameters can be uncertain. However, this approach has been studied extensively and is advantageous from a computational point of view.

The GSA simultaneously incorporates the uncertainty information for all the relevant boundary conditions, modeling constants, and other simulation parameters. A global analysis is particularly useful to address the important parameters in a model where the response of the targets to the values of the variables is highly non-linear.—Pei et al.

The baseline in that study was a three-dimensional closed-cycle engine simulation in a 60-degree sector mesh under moderate speed-load conditions. The study first quantified the uncertainties for key model parameters, initial and boundary conditions—a total of more than 30 parameters. They ran 100 simulations by simultaneously varying those parameters, and then calculated multiple targets.

They then applied GSA as a screening method to highlight those parameters the accuracy and adjustments of which were most likely to influence the predictions of a computational model. The parameters with high sensitivities with regards to multi-target functions were identified and a detailed analysis of the important parameters was presented to different target functions.

There are lots of unknowns that are involved. We’re using sensitivity analysis to understand how they all affect overall uncertainty. If we can find a way to understand how uncertainty effects our simulations, we can take a step toward developing a more predictive simulation.—Sibendu Som, Argonne National Laboratory (ANL)

Overall, Som and Argonne mechanical engineer Yuanjiang Pei and chemist Michael Davis have investigated 32 different parameters simultaneously, trying to establish how the uncertainties vary under different conditions.

Building on several decades of work by chemists, statisticians, and applied mathematicians, Argonne chemists have developed the tools to apply GSA to large chemical models in collaboration with their colleagues at the University of Colorado and the University of Leeds.

These techniques were further refined in the last two years to allow their efficient application to engine simulations, leading to the present study, which involves the collaboration with the University of Connecticut.

These new methods demonstrate the benefits of close collaboration between basic and applied research, the researchers said.

This is the first time we’ve applied these methods in such a complicated system. We have demonstrated that GSA can be used in a systematic way for something as complex as an engine simulation.—Doug Longman, ANL

VERIFI researchers are taking an iterative approach in which data gathered from the simulations can be fed back to both engine modelers and combustion chemists to reduce uncertainty further and to create more predictive engine simulations.

What’s unique about VERIFI is the way we’ve refined the tools to create engine simulations that are more reliable and applied high-performance computing resources to run simulations faster and more intensively than ever before.—Sibendu Som

By taking advantage of the computational power available today, the VERIFI team can identify the most important engine and fuel parameters and develop unique engine simulations and analyses to enable optimized engine combustion in the presence of uncertainty at any operating condition. In the near future, the VERIFI team plans to run diesel engine simulations of unprecedented scale on Mira, Argonne’s 10-petaflop IBM Blue Gene/Q supercomputer.

VERIFI is the first and only source in the world for high-fidelity, three-dimensional, end-to-end combustion engine simulation/visualization and simultaneous powertrain and fuel simulation, with uncertainty analysis.


  • Pei, Y., Shan, R., Som, S., Lu, T. et al. (2014) “Global Sensitivity Analysis of a Diesel Engine Simulation with Multi-Target Functions,” SAE Technical Paper 2014-01-1117 doi: 10.4271/2014-01-1117