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Kenworth will now offer the Maxwell Technologies ultracapacitor-based Engine Start Module (ESM) (earlier post) as a factory-installed option on new Kenworth T680 and T880 trucks. Kenworth dealers have offered the ESM as an aftermarket solution since 2011. With increasing demand for reliable truck engine starting, Kenworth is now the first original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to offer Maxwell’s ESM as a factory-installed option.
Ultracapacitor technology provides high amounts of burst power that is ideally suited for cranking and starting large diesel engines. Additionally, ultracapacitors have a long service life and perform well at cold temperatures. The ESM performs truck engine cranking in temperatures ranging from -40 °F to +149 °F (-40 °C to +65 °C), even when batteries are drained.
The ESM replaces one Group 31 format battery in the truck. The ULTRA 31/1800 is designed for Class 7 and 8 trucks, and delivers 1800 cold cranking amps (CCA) and peak power of 32.8 kW.
Presently, there are more than 2,000 ESMs installed in medium- and heavy-duty trucks in North America, eliminating jump-starts and reducing idling, resulting in lower total cost of operation.
The latest Kenworth T680 Advantage—Kenworth’s fuel-efficiency leader—has gained up to 10% in fuel efficiency compared to a standard Kenworth T680 built in 2013. The 10% gain for the heavy-duty truck equates to a yearly savings of more than $4,600 in fuel per truck for the average long-haul operation.
The current Kenworth T680 Advantage with 76-inch sleeper features the optimized
powertrain combination of the latest PACCAR MX-13 engine with the Eaton Fuller Advantage 10-speed automated transmission, and fuel-efficient drive axles. Also included is the special factory-installed aerodynamic package introduced last year with longer 76-inch sleeper side extenders, lower cab fairing extenders, front air dam, aerodynamic mud flaps, rear fairing without steps coupled with an air deflector, exhaust cut out covers, and optional wheel covers for drive tires.
The latest T680 Advantage compares to the 2013 version of the standard Kenworth T680 with 76-inch sleeper, 2013 PACCAR MX-13 prior generation engine, Eaton UltraShift PLUS transmission, and previous generation drive axles. Additional T680 Advantage fuel economy specifications include the Kenworth Idle Management System, tire pressure monitoring system and wide-base tires.
Drivers also have always had a huge impact on fuel economy. It’s why we continue to come out with new advancements to help reduce the variability from driver to driver. Our biggest contributor is Kenworth’s new predictive cruise control, which will be an option starting mid-year for new T680s and T880s equipped with the PACCAR MX-13 engine. Thanks to GPS, this predictive cruise control can anticipate the terrain ahead and ensure that the engine and transmission are operating in the most efficient mode.
It can then make subtle adjustments in speed. For example, it can feather off the throttle automatically when the truck is about to crest a hill. This uses the truck’s momentum to ride up and over, then uses its own weight and momentum to gain speed down the hill without adding power like a static cruise control would provide.
And, based on what the predictive cruise ‘sees’ on the downhill slope, it could automatically tell the transmission to go into neutral coast mode. With this, there is no transmission drag and the truck is free rolling to get back up to speed quicker – again, saving fuel.—Kevin Baney, Kenworth chief engineer
Driver assistance for fuel economy. Baney also noted that driver performance is a huge variable in delivered fuel economy, saying that the difference in performance between two drivers with two identical trucks could be up to 30%. At the Mid-America Trucking Show, Kenworth is showcasing four technology advancements that can help to close the fuel economy gap among drivers.
Predictive Cruise Control can help drivers obtain even better fuel economy. The Driver Shift Aid and the Driver Reward System can also contribute to improved fuel economy. The Kenworth Driver Performance Assistant, introduced as an option last fall, is now standard on Kenworth T680s and T880s spec’d with the PACCAR MX-13 engine.—Kevin Baney
GM will introduce a strong hybrid version of the next-generation Malibu. Using technology from the 2016 Chevrolet Volt propulsion system (earlier post), Malibu Hybrid will offer an estimated combined fuel economy rating exceeding 45 mpg (5.22 l/100 km), higher than the combined cycle mileage ratings of the Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry and Hyundai Sonata hybrid variants and a significant boost over the 29 mpg combined of the MY 2015 Malibu with 2.5L engine with start/stop.
An all-new direct-injection 1.8L 4-cylinder engine mated to a two-motor drive unit slightly modified from the 2016 Chevrolet Volt drive unit powers the Malibu Hybrid. The drive unit provides additional power to assist the engine during acceleration, for 182 horsepower (136 kW) of total system power.
The engine also features Chevrolet’s first application of Exhaust Gas Heat Recovery, or EGHR, technology, which uses exhaust heat to warm the engine and cabin. EGHR improves engine warm up and assures consistent fuel economy performance in cold weather. Additional fuel economy benefits come from Exhaust Gas Recirculation, or EGR.
An 80-cell, 1.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack provides electric power to the Hybrid system. The advanced lithium-ion based chemistry can power the Malibu hybrid at up to 55 mph (89 km/h) on electricity alone. The gasoline-powered engine will automatically come on at higher speeds and high loads when necessary to provide additional power.
Malibu Hybrid also shares power electronics from the 2016 Volt and a blended regenerative braking system, which provides maximum kinetic energy recovery during braking to be stored into the battery system to help maintain charge.
The 2016 Malibu Hybrid will offer impressive fuel economy, exceptional driving characteristics and gorgeous styling. Besides leveraging innovation from the Chevrolet Volt, the Malibu Hybrid also has unique features that help improve aerodynamics, like upper and lower grille air shutters to improve airflow and a reduced ride height, all of which help reduce fuel consumption.—Jesse Ortega, Chevrolet Malibu chief engineer
In 2011, GM announced the 2013 Malibu ECO, which featured GM’s mild hybrid eAssist light electrification technology (earlier post). Malibu ECO’s eAssist system—the second-generation of belt-alternator-starter (BAS) hybrid technology—was mated to a 2.4L Ecotec direct-injection four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission.
GM discontinued the eAssist variant in MY 2014, as the conventional Malibu caught up in terms of fuel economy: 29 mpg combined for the Malibu Eco with MSRP of $25,845 versus 29 mpg combined for the Malibu with 2.5L engine with MSRP from $22,140 - $29,850.
The MY 2015 Malibu features two powertrain offerings: the standard 2.5L iVLC (intake valve lift control) with stop/start technology and a 2.0L turbo. Along with other technologies, including direct injection, variable valve lift control and a six-speed automatic transmission, the 2.5L powertrain contributes to EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 25 mpg in city driving and 36 mpg on the highway, for a combined 29 mpg with MSRP of $22,340 - $30,355.
The Malibu Hybrid will be manufactured in Kansas City, Kansas, at the Fairfax Assembly plant from globally sourced parts. It is due in Chevrolet dealer showrooms in spring 2016.
ABB has introduced a new offering, Azipod D, to its line of Azipod marine electric propulsion systems. This new product will allow a wider range of vessel types to benefit from the proven reliability and flexibility that have made Azipod the leading propulsion system across numerous ship types.
Azipod Propulsion is a gearless steerable propulsion system in which the electric drive motor is in a submerged pod outside the ship hull. A ship with Azipod Propulsion does not need rudders, long shaftlines or stern transversal thrusters. This new Azipod D provides designers and ship builders with increased design flexibility in order to accommodate a wide range of hull shapes and propeller sizes, as well as simplicity of installation. The Azipod D requires up to 25% less installed power. This is partly due to the fact that the new hybrid (air and water) cooling helps reduce the thruster’s weight and directs more power toward propulsion of the ship, not cooling requirements. The performance of the electric motor is increased by up to 45%.
ABB’s Azipod D propulsion power ranges from 1.6 megawatts to 7 megawatts (MW) per unit.
According to Clarkson’s Research, the leading shipbroker and research firm, the number of vessels with electric propulsion has been growing at a pace of 12% per year over the last decade, three times faster than the world’s fleet.
ABB’s gearless Azipod propulsion system is already the preferred choice of cruise vessels, icebreakers, ice-going cargo vessels and offshore accommodation ships. With the Azipod D, shipping segments such as offshore drilling, construction and support vessels and ferries will have more choices to benefit from the higher flexibility, reliability and energy efficiency provided by Azipod propulsion technology.
The electric propulsion behind ABB’s Azipod units enables ship owners and operators to enjoy higher profitability of their vessels by lowering maintenance costs and cutting fuel consumption.
Fuel consumption—and thus exhaust emissions—are reduced due to improved hydrodynamic efficiency and the power plant concept.
Improved hydrodynamic efficiency is a result of reduced hull resistance when traditional shaftline and related brackets can be eliminated and optimum hull design can be utilized. Also, the Azipod unit propeller is a pulling type propeller which operates in a better wake field and thus induces lower pressure pulses to the hull.
The power plant concept provides fuel savings by optimizing the loading of the diesel engines. The power management system connects or disconnects diesel generator sets to the network depending on the vessel power requirement, reducing both inefficient low load operation and running hours of the diesel engines.
Benefits of the Azipod D propulsion system also include superior maneuverability, competitive investment cost, ease of service and maintenance, and a significant performance increase compared to mechanical thrusters.
The characteristics of Azipod propulsion make it particularly appealing to the offshore shipping segments where most vessels operate in dynamic positioning mode and require highest reliability. In conjunction with electric propulsion, Azipod propulsion system meets varying power demand, while delivering high propulsion efficiency and flexibility, all of which are typical requirements of the of the offshore industry.
Since its development by ABB in 1987, the entire installed Azipod unit base has accumulated more than 11 million operating hours, helping ship owners save up to 20% on fuel.
The unit power of Azipod propulsion systems is available up to 22 MW. Today, the total power output of all installed and ordered Azipod units is more than 4,000 MW, which corresponds to the power consumption of Greater London.
Sandia National Laboratories, in cooperation with the Department of Transportation, has released a report on crude oil properties relevant to handling and fire safety in transport as part of a DOE effort to develop an understanding of scientific questions associated with the production, treatment, and transportation of crude oils, including Bakken crude oil.
Much of the US’ new abundant domestic oil and gas supply is being produced from unconventional resources—particularly light sweet crude oil from the Bakken shale in North Dakota, as well as the Eagle Ford and Permian Basins in Texas. This rapid growth has also created challenges in moving crude oil to market. Rail is increasingly relied upon to transport crude oil because production has exceeded the capacity of pipelines to move oil from these areas to refineries in the West, Midwest and Northeast.
In the last five years, oil-by-rail transit has grown from 9,500 carloads (2008) to 407,761 carloads (2013), according to the American Association of Railroads. The great majority of this crude oil transport takes place without incident. However, the massive increase in the quantity of crude being shipped by rail and the significant distances traveled, along with several notable recent train derailments, have raised serious transportation safety concerns. The DOE commissioned the investigation in response to the occurrence of several rail accidents involving crude oil combustion in the US and Canada during 2013-2014, some of which involved loss of life, property damage, and environmental impacts.
Key objectives of the investigation were to characterize and to define tight crude oils based on their chemical and physical properties, and to identify properties that could contribute to increased potential for accidental combustion.
The initial report complies and summarizes publicly available literature and data pertaining to the chemical and physical properties of tight crude oils. Key literature/data sources reviewed include recent reports on Bakken crude properties commissioned by the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, North Dakota Petroleum Council, and US Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, and data from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
The initial investigation identified gaps in important crude oil characterization data; uncertainty regarding how best to sample and analyze crude oil to ensure that its properties are accurately determined; and deficiencies in the understanding of how crude oil properties impact its potential for accidental ignition, combustion, and explosion.
However, the report also confirmed that while crude composition matters, no single chemical or physical variable—flash point, boiling point, ignition temperature, vapor pressure or the circumstances of an accident—has been proven to act as the sole variable to define the probability or severity of a combustion event. All variables matter.
Available analysis of tight crude oil does not provide the necessary data or conclusion to enable meaningful comparison with other crude oil. The report recommends additional research to identify the best way to collect and compare oil samples, while developing correlations between a particular property or set of properties and the likelihood or severity of rail transport-related combustion events.
Among the key findings of the investigation (Literature Survey of Crude Oil Properties Relevant to Handling and Fire Safety in Transport) are:
Due to significant variability in criteria and procedures utilized in selection, acquisition, and analysis of crude oil samples, the available data are of insufficient quality to enable a meaningful comparison of crude oils—either to each other or against a designated standard.
In addition to variability due to sampling and analysis methods, variability may also be introduced through crude oil conditioning, storage, and transport. “Conditioning” refers to processing conducted—typically at or near the well site—to remove crude oil impurities prior to transport.
Currently used methods for assignment of crude oil transportation hazard classification and packing group are often inadequate. As mandated by current federal law, hazard classification and packing group assignment is done on the basis of crude oil initial boiling point (IBP) and flash point; however, there was widespread agreement among the studies reviewed that the methods commonly used for IBP determination are inappropriate for application to crude oils, especially tight crude oils containing significant quantities of dissolved gases. While recommendations for improved methods have been offered, no widespread agreement has been reached regarding the adoption of more appropriate methods.
Relationships between crude oil properties and probability or severity of combustion events in rail car spill scenarios have not been established. Although it is likely that a combination of crude oil properties—especially those associated with potential for flammable vapor formation—could be used to predict combustibility, no specific, objective data were found that correlated known crude oil properties with the likelihood or severity of rail transport-related combustion events. While industry groups actively working on this problem have been identified, their progress and results have not yet been released to the public.
General lack of uniformity in methods and QA/QC across industry makes comparison of crude oil vapor pressure difficult.
Bakken crude is a light, sweet oil that exhibits a statistically higher true vapor pressure than the slightly heavier, blended sweet and sour oils that are stored at the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).
Numerous combustion events can occur from an accident involving hydrocarbons and hydrocarbon mixtures including crude oils, with severity dependent on the amount of fuel involved, surrounding infrastructure, and environment. Possible combustion events include:
Pool fire, which results from the burning of a liquid fuel pool.
Boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion (BLEVE), an explosion resulting from the failure of a vessel containing a liquid at a temperature significantly above its boiling point at normal atmospheric pressure.
Fireball, which refers to partially pre-mixed diffusion flames that rapidly combust due to enhanced turbulent mixing and atomization.
Deflagration: Classification of an explosion. Burning of a fuel-air mixture where the flame travels at subsonic velocities.
Detonation: Classification of an explosion. Burning of a fuel-air mixture where the flame travels at supersonic velocities.
Flash fire, which refers to the burning of a fuel vapor cloud that was ignited at a location away from its release point.
Flare, which refers to the burning of fuel vapors at the source of a release.
No single parameter defines the degree of flammability of a fuel; rather, multiple parameters are relevant. While a fuel with a lower flashpoint, wider range of flammability limits, lower auto-ignition temperature, lower minimum ignition energy, and higher maximum burning velocity is generally considered more flammable, the energy generated from an accident has the potential to greatly exceed the flammability impact of these and any other crude oil property-based criteria.
EV Connect, a provider of electric vehicle (EV) charging solutions, including a cloud-based software platform for managing electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, their interaction with utilities and the driver experience, entered into a joint marketing and product agreement with GE’s Industrial Solutions business. Under the terms of the agreement, GE will be a preferred charging station supplier of EV Connect, and EV Connect will be a preferred management provider for GE charging stations worldwide.
The agreement also provides EV Connect with direct access to GE’s full line of WattStation and DuraStation EV charging stations, including a perpetual license to access the GE WattStation Connect cloud-based operating platform.
Since April 2014’s announcement by GE regarding open access to the WattStation network, both companies have pursued numerous joint customer opportunities leveraging GE’s charge stations, EV Connect’s management platform, and the interoperability between all of the components.
Together with EV Connect, we will be able to provide customers with an innovative, end-to-end solution capable of meeting customers’ everyday EV charging station requirements. The combination of our products and EV Connect’s service capabilities will help address the growing demands and expectations within the electric vehicle industry.—Seth Cutler, Senior Product Manager, Growth Initiatives for GE’s Industrial Solutions business
Established in 2009, EV Connect’s customers include Yahoo!, Marriott, Western Digital, 21st Century Fox, Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York Power Authority, and numerous municipalities.
The California Energy Commissions has selected 9 projects to receive a combined $24,873,512 in proposed funding for cost share in the field demonstration of advanced medium- and heavy-duty on-road vehicle technologies—primarily battery electric and fuel cell technology—that may become commercially available in California. The match amount for the nine projects is $17,212,984. The solicitation (PON-14-605) was under the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP).
Nineteen other projects also passed the screening. However, the Energy Commission started with the highest score and began determining the awards, descending through the list of finalists until the money available (the $24,873,512) ran out. Five applications did not pass. The nine projects receiving funding are:PON-14-605 proposed awards Lead organization Project Title Cal Energy Funding Transportation Power, Inc. Heavy-Duty Electric Yard Tractors $3,000,000 Transportation Power, Inc. Advanced Battery-Electric Port Vehicles $3,000,000 Transportation Power, Inc. Heavy-Duty Electric Refuse Trucks $2,884,812 Hydrogenics USA, Inc. Hydrogenics Advanced Fuel Cell Vehicle Technology Demonstration for Drayage Truck $2,679,417 Hydrogenics USA, Inc. New Flyer Advanced Fuel Cell Vehicle Technology Demonstration for Bus $1,739,937 Motiv Power Systems Class C Electric-Quest School Bus Demonstration $2,702,223 Motiv Power Systems Electric Refuse and Loader Truck Demonstration $2,980,875 CALSTART, Inc. LADOT-BYD Battery Transit Bus $2,886,248 North American Repower, LLC The Sectran Security PHEV- Renewal Natural Gas Truck Demonstration Project $3,000,000
Funding of these proposed projects is contingent upon the approval of these projects at a publicly noticed Energy Commission Business Meeting and execution of a grant agreement. If the Energy Commission is unable to timely negotiate and execute a funding agreement with an Applicant, the Energy Commission, at its sole discretion, reserves the right to cancel the pending award.
Projects passed, but not funded due to their lower scores, include:
CALSTART; H2Ride Hydrogen Shuttle Bus Demonstration Project
CALSTART; UPS Advanced Hybrid Lift Truck Demonstration Program
City of Gardena - Gardena Municipal Bus Lines; Zero Emission Re-power
Efficient Drivetrains, Inc.; PGE PHEV-Renewable Diesel Work Truck Demonstration Project
Center for Transportation and the Environment; Fuel Cell Hybrid Electric Delivery Van Project
Center for Transportation and the Environment; AC Transit Fuel Cell Bus Power Plant Retrofit
Center for Transportation and the Environment; Battery-Electric Mucker Demonstration Project
Antelope Valley Transit Authority; AVTA Battery Electric Bus Transit Technology Demonstration Project
The Regents of the University of California (Irvine); NextGen American Fuel Cell Bus Project
Bay Area Air Quality Management District; Development and Deployment of All-Electric Over The Road Buses
Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District; SBMTD Advanced Bus Transit Technology Demonstration Project
The Leland Stanford Junior University; Stanford University 100% Battery Electric Coach Bus Demonstration Project
Caterpillar; Hybrid Wheel Loader With Integrated Technologies
Caterpillar; Off-Road Large-Size Hybrid Excavator Phase III
Proterra; Extended Range Electric Bus Demonstration Project
The Regents of the University of California (Davis); Demonstration of Retrofitted All- Electric Transit Bus at UC Davis
Wrightspeed; Turbine-Electric Range-Extended EV Demonstration Vehicles
Odyne Systems; Odyne Advanced User Interface Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle Technology Demonstration
XL Hybrids; Class 3-4 Advanced HEV Demonstration
FEV GmbH, headquartered in Aachen, Germany has acquired French test systems and engineering service provider D2T Powertrain Engineering S.A. FEV GmbH takes over the business of D2T in France, its subsidiaries in Germany, China, the US and interests in South Korea and Japan.
Through this strategic expansion, FEV, a leading provider of engineering services for powertrain and vehicle technologies expands its expertise in the test systems business area, in particular. The acquisition represents an extension of FEV’s worldwide testing and development resources to meet growing demands in its various geographic operating regions.
FEV said the strategic acquisition is complementary with a worldwide expansion of its capabilities. A new test and development center is currently being built in Beijing, China, and the durability test center (DLP) in Brehna, Germany and the company’s headquarters in Aachen are also being gradually extended.
D2T—headquartered in Trappes, France—is a 100% affiliate of IFP Investissements. D2T employs more than 450 people worldwide. D2T’s customers include OEMs and suppliers of the automotive, commercial vehicle, marine and aviation industries, as well as oil companies and research and development institutions.
XALT Energy (originally founded in 2009 as Dow-Kokam, LLC), a leading developer and manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries, signed a global exclusive agreement with Hybrid Kinetic Group (HK Group) of China for the supply of its Lithium Titanate (LTO) batteries from its manufacturing facilities in Midland, Michigan for all-electric buses in China.
Production is expected to begin during the third quarter of 2015. The multi-year contract, valued at more than $1.0 billion, will create 300 new high-tech and manufacturing jobs in Midland this year. Hiring is underway with 80 positions expected to be filled in April.
XALT’s high quality and cost competitive battery products fit very well with our group’s strategy of launching all-electric public transit buses in large scale with our unique business model. This supply relationship is a fine example of Sino-American energy cooperation.—Dr. Yung Yeung, Chairman of HK Group
Faced with dire environmental pollution, especially smog, China is taking many steps to reevaluate traditional transportation models supported by fossil fuels. These steps are anticipated to create significant long-term demand for both electric buses in the country’s large and medium sized cities, as well as the batteries that power those buses.
The electric buses will be fully powered by the XALT batteries. Each bus will have 68-100 kWh high performance rapid charging batteries, which can be recharged in less than 10 minutes. These electric buses will be leased to municipal transit operators throughout China.
XALT has enjoyed great support from the US Department of Energy, the State of Michigan, including the Legislature, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Michigan Department of Treasury, and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, as well as the City of Midland. XALT will continue to work with these agencies on various programs as it moves forward to bring high-quality jobs to Michigan.
To date, XALT has invested more than $600 million in its fully-automated flexible Lithium chemistry-based manufacturing facility in Midland. The company currently employs 130 people.
XALT develops and manufactures prismatic, large-format lithium-ion battery cells offered in high-energy and high-power versions with capacities ranging from 25 Ah to 75 Ah, as well as battery packs incorporating the cells. XALT is the sole supplier of Lithium-ion batteries for the Formula E race series.
EV bus manufacturer Proterra Inc. congratulated its customers on logging one million miles in revenue service. The company celebrated this achievement with an event at its plant in Greenville, S.C. honoring its transit agency partners for their leadership as EV pioneers.
Proterra presented each transit agency with an award recognizing them as one of the early pioneers in EV bus technology adoption and honoring their role in building the future of mass transit and sustainable urban mobility.
Customers receiving the awards were: Foothill Transit (Pomona, Calif.), WRTA (Worcester, Mass.), the City of Seneca, S.C./Clemson Area Transit, RTC Washoe (Reno, Nev.), TARC (Louisville, Ky.), VIA Metropolitan Transit (San Antonio, Texas), San Joaquin RTD (Stockton, Calif.), and StarMetro (Tallahassee, Fla.).
Proterra has now received orders from 14 different transit agencies in cities across North America. Over the course of their 1,000,000 miles in service, Proterra customers have saved nearly 250,000 gallons of fossil fuel and have eliminated nearly 3.5 million pounds of emissions from being released into the environment.
Siemens researchers have developed a new electric motor that, with a weight of just 50 kilograms (110 lbs), delivers a continuous output of about 260 kW—five times more than comparable drive systems. The motor was specially designed for use in aircraft. Due to its record-setting power-to-weight ratio, larger aircraft with takeoff weights of up to two tons will now be able to use electric drives for the first time, Siemens said.
To develop the motor, Siemens’ experts scrutinized all the components of previous motors and optimized them up to their technical limits. New simulation techniques and lightweight construction enabled the drive system to achieve the weight-to-performance ratio of five kilowatts (kW) per kilogram (kg).
Since the new motor delivers its performance at rotational speeds of just 2,500 revolutions per minute, it can drive propellers directly, without the use of a transmission.
This innovation will make it possible to build series hybrid-electric aircraft with four or more seats. We’re convinced that the use of hybrid-electric drives in regional airliners with 50 to 100 passengers is a real medium-term possibility.—Frank Anton, Head of eAircraft at Siemens Corporate Technology
The motor is scheduled to begin flight-testing before the end of 2015. In the next step, the Siemens researchers will boost output further.
In 2013, Siemens, Airbus and Diamond Aircraft successfully flight-tested a series hybrid-electric drive in a DA36 E-Star 2 motor glider for the first time. The test aircraft had a power output of 60 kW. (Earlier post.)
Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin have used a combination of metabolic engineering and directed evolution to develop a new strain of the yeast Yarrowia lipolytica featuring significantly enhanced lipids production that could lead to a more efficient biofuel production process. Their findings were published online in the journal Metabolic Engineering.
Beyond biofuels, the new yeast strain could be used in biochemical production to produce oleochemicals, chemicals traditionally derived from plant and animal fats and petroleum, which are used to make a variety of household products.
In earlier work, the UT Austin team had already enhanced lipogenesis titers in Y. lipolytica using rational metabolic engineering efforts. However, they found that the resulting strain still suffered from decreased biomass generation rates. In the new study, they used a rapid evolutionary metabolic engineering approach linked with a floating cell enrichment process to improve lipogenesis rates, titers, and yields.
Through this iterative process, we were able to ultimately improve yields from our prior strain by 55% to achieve production titers of 39.1 g/L with upwards of 76% of the theoretical maximum yield of conversation. Isolated cells were saturated with up to 87% lipid content. An average specific productivity of 0.56 g/L/h was achieved with a maximum instantaneous specific productivity of 0.89 g/L/h during the lipid production phase in fermentation. —Liu et al.
The strain’s high lipid yield makes it one of the most efficient organisms for turning sugar into lipids. In addition, the resulting cells produced these lipids at a rate that was more than 2.5 times as fast as the previous strain.
The new yeast developed by Hal Alper, associate professor in the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering, and his team aligns with the US Department of Energy’s efforts to develop renewable and cost-competitive biofuels from nonfood biomass materials.
This significant improvement in our cell-based platform enables these cells to compete in the biofuels industry. We have moved to concentration values that begin to align with those in other industrial fuel processes.—Hal Alper
Alper and his team improved the performance of Yarrowia through a combination of metabolic engineering and directed evolution, which, like the process of natural selection, seeks to identify and cultivate the high-performing cells. In this work, the researchers recognized that cells with high lipid content would float to the top of a tube, whereas cells with lower lipid content would settle down to the bottom. The researchers used this “floating cell scheme” to identify the best-performing cells.
The researchers used these high-performing cells, cells that produced more lipids and at a faster rate, to obtain the final yeast with improved function.
The researchers’ method and platform are patent pending. Alper’s lab is continuing to work on ways to improve how the yeast strain converts sugar into lipids, and on the types of lipid products they can produce.
This research received funding from the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Program, the DuPont Young Investigator Award and the Welch Foundation.
Leqian Liu, Anny Pan, Caitlin Spofford, Nijia Zhou, Hal S. Alper (2015) “An evolutionary metabolic engineering approach for enhancing lipogenesis in Yarrowia lipolytica,” Metabolic Engineering, Volume 29, Pages 36-45 doi: 10.1016/j.ymben.2015.02.003
Innovate UK will award £1.1 million (US$1.6 million) to a consortium of UK companies and academic partners led by Steatite for the research and development of the next generation of Lithium batteries for marine autonomous systems. In addition to Steatite, whose speciality is the design and manufacture of lithium battery pack solutions, collaborators include Li-sulfur battery company OXIS Energy, underwater vehicle designers and manufacturers MSubs Ltd, and the National Oceanography Centre (NOC).
OXIS says that its Li-S cells are suited for use in subsea applications due to their increased specific energy, their mass density and high safety. Li-S cells have five times the theoretical maximum specific energy of Lithium-ion cells. The mass density of Lithium Sulfur cells is very similar to that of water. As a result, bulky and expensive buoyancy foam is not required for the Lithium Sulfur battery as it is with Lithium Polymer batteries in use today. The combination of both these factors allows for a significant improvement in the performance of a neutral buoyancy battery system.
Through this project OXIS Energy would expect an improvement of at least 70% against the cells used in the best batteries on the market today with an expectation of achieving a five-fold improvement.
The continuing development of a Li-S battery will enable greater endurance at higher speeds for transit to survey sites which are often in remote locations, resulting in fewer launches and recoveries, allowing more sensing equipment to be installed and will provide research institutions or end users the ability to collect more valuable data.
Li-S is a safe chemistry that does not react aggressively when damaged and continues to provide reliable function. Indeed, the Li-S chemistry is inherently safe, withstanding abuse such as short circuiting, crushing and even the puncturing of cells.
Praj Industries Limited has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to become a Gevo licensee for producing renewable isobutanol at sugar-based ethanol plants. Under the MOU, Praj will undertake to license up to 250 million gallons of isobutanol capacity for sugar-based ethanol plants over the next ten years.
Gevo will market the isobutanol produced by Praj’s sub-licensees. Praj will also contribute process engineering and equipment services to expand isobutanol capacity at Gevo’s plant in Luverne, Minn, as well as to improve yields and optimize energy consumption at the facility.
Praj is a global leader in the ethanol and brewery industries, in addition to the industrial wastewater treatment, pharma, biotech and cosmetic sectors. It has blue-chip customers across five continents and sixty countries.
Praj has conducted significant diligence on Gevo’s corn starch-based isobutanol technology and we believe in the technology. Isobutanol has a substantial market opportunity given that isobutanol is a high performance biofuel that can solve many of the issues of 1st generation biofuels. It also enables a true biorefinery model wherein a number of specialty chemicals and bio-products can be produced using isobutanol as a feedstock. We look forward to creating a new opportunity for 1st generation sugar-based ethanol plant owners, as well as accelerating the use of 2nd generation cellulosic feedstocks to produce isobutanol.—Pramod Chaudhari, Executive Chairman of Praj
Bloomberg reports that the Volkswagen Group will decide by July how to proceed with solid state energy storage technology under development by Quantumscape (earlier post), citing Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management, who spoke outside a press conference in Stuttgart.
According to the report, Winterkorn said that the technology’s potential to boost the range of battery-powered vehicles is compelling and tests are progressing. “Progress has been made,” he said. Quantumscape several days ago posted 11 job openings, seeking a manager or director of battery manufacturing operations; a process engineering manager to lead a team in the development of a new energy storage technology from initial process concept through demonstration of stable production; and R&D technicians, battery engineers and scientists.
In December, Bloomberg reported that Volkswagen Group had taken a 5% stake in the company, which formed in 2010 to commercialize a novel solid-state energy storage technology—the “All-Electron Battery” (AEB), originally developed at Stanford and supported by the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) ARPA-E BEEST program (earlier post).
The All-Electron Battery stores energy by moving electrons, rather than ions, and uses electron/hole redox instead of capacitive polarization of a double-layer. ARPA-E said that the technology uses a novel architecture that has potential for very high energy density because it decouples the two functions of capacitors: charge separation and breakdown strength.
In his remarks made at Stanford University in November 2014 during the award of the third Science Award for Electrochemistry to Dr. Vanessa Wood, noted that he saw “great potential” in solid-state batteries. (Earlier post.)
In its most recent US patent application, published on 12 February 2015 and filed on 6 August 2013, Quantumscape outlined a solid-state Lithium-air battery cell using a garnet electrolyte material.
The solid state electrolyte enables a lithium metal anode plus a solid state catholyte with high conductivity to avoid the problems of decomposition with conventional liquid catholytes. The catholyte—which should be stable at >3V versus Li, highly conductive, and stable to air—is preferably an oxide material such as a garnet (La3Li7Zr2O12 and variants) and may be coated with a conductive carbon via a vapor-phase or liquid-phase coating for electron conductivity.
Such a structure provides a high surface-area to provide a high density of reaction sites. The all solid-state system would enable high energy density, high power density, and reversibility of a lithium-air battery, according to the claims.
Other earlier patents relate to the electron battery.
US Patent Applications Nº 20150044581: Solid State Lithium-Air Based Battery Cell
US 20100183919: Quantum dot ultracapacitor and electron battery