Pipe: Advanced tech

Williams, Williams Partners L.P. and Access Midstream Partners, L.P. in $50B merger deal

Mon, 2014-10-27 04:01

Williams, Williams Partners L.P., and Access Midstream Partners, L.P. announced that Williams Partners and Access Midstream Partners have reached and entered into a merger agreement; total transaction value is approximately $50 billion. Williams owns controlling interests in the two master limited partnerships (MLP). The merged MLP will feature large-scale positions across three key components of the midstream sector, including natural gas pipelines, gathering and processing and natural gas liquids and petrochemical services.

  • Natural Gas Pipelines. Transco, Northwest and Gulfstream represent the US’ premier interstate pipeline network. Transco is the nation’s largest and fastest-growing pipeline system.

  • Gathering and Processing. Large-scale positions in growing natural-gas supply areas in major shale and unconventional producing areas, including the Marcellus, Utica, Piceance, Four Corners, Wyoming, Eagle Ford, Haynesville, Barnett, Mid-continent and Niobrara. Additionally, the merged MLP’s business would include oil and natural gas gathering services in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.

  • Natural Gas Liquids and Petrochemical Services. Unique downstream presence on the Gulf Coast and in western Canada provides differentiated long-term growth.

Upon completion of the merger, expected to occur by early 2015, the principals anticipate the merged MLP to be one of the largest and fastest growing MLPs with expected 2015 adjusted EBITDA of approximately $5 billion, industry-leading 10% to 12% annual limited partner unit distribution growth rate through the 2017 guidance period and with expected strong growth beyond.

This is another big step toward our goal of becoming the leading natural gas infrastructure provider in North America. The combination of Access Midstream Partners’ intense focus on natural gas gathering with Williams Partners’ broader service offerings along the value chain is yielding even more robust growth opportunities. —Williams’ CEO Alan Armstrong

Williams, headquartered in Tulsa, Okla., is one of the leading energy infrastructure companies in North America. Williams Partners L.P. owns and operates both on-shore and offshore assets of approximately 15,000 miles of natural gas gathering and transmission pipelines, 1,800 miles of NGL transportation pipelines, an additional 11,000 miles of oil and gas gathering pipelines and numerous other energy infrastructure assets. The partnership’s operated facilities have daily gas gathering capacity of approximately 11 billion cubic feet, processing capacity of approximately 7 billion cubic feet, NGL production of more than 400,000 barrels per day and domestic olefins production capacity of 1.35 billion pounds of ethylene and 90 million pounds of propylene per year.

Access Midstream Partners, L.P. owns and operates natural gas midstream assets across nine states, with an average net throughput of approximately 3.9 billion cubic feet per day and more than 6,495 miles of natural gas gathering pipelines.

Neste Oil seeking California LCFS approval for gutter oil to renewable diesel pathway

Sun, 2014-10-26 07:00

Among four new California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) fuel pathway applications is a used cooking oil (gutter oil) to renewable diesel (NExBTL) pathway from Neste Oil at its Singapore plant. (Boeing and COMAC are opening a demonstration facility in China to convert gutter oil to renewable aviation fuel. Earlier post.)

Neste Oil Singapore Pte Ltd. produces approximately 250 million gallons annually of drop-in renewable diesel (RD)—i.e., not biodiesel—using a hydrogenation process and multiple oil and fat feedstocks. Neste has also filed applications for renewable diesel pathways for California (all from its Singapore plant) using Southeast Asian rendered fish oil (earlier post); New Zealand tallow (earlier post); North American tallow (earlier post), and Australian tallow (earlier post). Of the five RD pathways proposed so far, the gutter oil pathway has the lowest carbon intensity.

Neste’s process also generates a propane-rich off-gas as a co-product. (The company is commercializing this as bio-propane at its Rotterdam refinery in Porvoo. (Earlier post.) The propane-rich off-gas is produced during the hydrotreatment process. The yield is not feedstock specific.

In Singapore, the high pressure portion of this off-gas (both high- and low-pressure gas is generated) is conveyed via a dedicated pipeline to a hydrogen plant located on Jurong Island. There it displaces natural gas that would otherwise have been consumed as both a process fuel and a feedstock at the steam-methane reformer. The hydrogen supplied by the Jurong Island plant is piped back to the Neste plant where it is used for hydrotreatment. The low-pressure propane-rich off-gas is sent to a natural gas steam boiler that provides process heat to the RD plant.

Neste Oil has calculated the carbon intensity (CI) of this pathway to be 16.21 gCO2e/MJ. This CI includes a 3.09 gCO2e/MJ credit for the natural gas displaced by the propane-rich off-gas from the RD plant. This proposed carbon intensity value includes transportation of the feedstock to the refinery, renewable diesel production, finished fuel transportation to California from Singapore, and vehicle tailpipe emissions.

LCFS CI (gCO2e/MJ) of Neste Oil renewable diesel from different feedstocks Gutter oil NZ tallow Australian tallow NA tallow SEA fish oil 16.21 36.57 33.46 39.33
19.65 (w/ lower-energy rendering) 30.48

The baseline LCFS CI value for petroleum diesel fuel is 94.71 g CO2e/MJ. California Air Resources Board (ARB) staff recommends that Neste Oil’s application for this gutter oil pathway be approved.

Study identifies halogen-free superhalogen electrolytes for Li-ion batteries

Sat, 2014-10-25 08:23

Most electrolytes currently used in Li-ion batteries contain halogens, which are toxic. An in-depth study based on first-principles calculations by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University has shown that the anions of commercially available electrolytes for Li-ion batteries are all superhalogens. With this knowledge, they identified several halogen-free less-toxic superhalogen electrolytes with comparable performance characteristics. Their paper is published in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

In the search for halogen-free electrolytes, we studied the electronic structure of the current electrolytes using first-principles theory. The results showed that all current electrolytes are based on superhalogens, i.e., the vertical electron detachment energies of the moieties that make up the negative ions are larger than those of any halogen atom. Realizing that several superhalogens exist that do not contain a single halogen atom, we studied their potential as effective electrolytes by calculating not only the energy needed to remove a Li+ ion but also their affinity towards H2O. Several halogen-free electrolytes are identified among which Li(CB11H12) is shown to have the greatest potential.—Giri et al.

The researchers hope that the findings will lead to production of safer, less toxic batteries. They also found that the procedure outlined for Li-ion batteries is equally valid for other metal-ion batteries, such as sodium-ion or magnesium-ion batteries.

The significance [of our findings] is that one can have a safer battery without compromising its performance. The implication of our research is that similar strategies can also be used to design cathode materials in Li-ion batteries.—Prof. Puru Jena, lead author

Jena became interested in the topic several months ago when he saw a flyer on Li-ion batteries that mentioned the need for halogen-free electrolytes. Jena had already been working for more than five years on superhalogens, a class of molecules that mimic the chemistry of halogens but have electron affinities that are much larger than that of the halogen atoms.

I had not done any work on Li-ion batteries at the time, but I was curious to see what the current electrolytes are. I found that the negative ions that make up the electrolytes are large and complex in nature and they contain one less electron than what is needed for electronic shell closure.

I knew of many superhalogen molecules that do not contain a single halogen atom. My immediate thought was first to see if the anionic components of the current electrolytes are indeed superhalogens. And, if so, do the halogen-free superhalogens that we knew serve the purpose as halogen-free electrolytes? Our research proved that to be the case.—Puru Jena

The researchers’ work was funded partially by a $615,000 grant from the Department of Energy to study “Atomic Clusters – Bare, Coated and Supported,” (ER45579) as well as by the VCU Presidential Research Quest Fund.


  • Santanab Giri, Swayamprabha Behera and Puru Jena (2014) “Superhalogens as Building Blocks of Halogen-Free Electrolytes in Lithium-Ion Batteries” doi: 10.1002/ange.201408648

HSBC joining Virgin Atlantic and LanzaTech in waste-gas-to-ethanol-to-jet-fuel effort

Sat, 2014-10-25 07:38

The UK’s largest bank, HSBC, is joining Virgin Atlantic and LanzaTech in supporting the preparation for a world-first flight using a low-carbon, synthetic jet fuel kerosene produced from industrial waste gases. LanzaTech is leading the development of the process that captures waste gases from industrial steel production and ferments them to ethanol, which is then chemically converted for use as jet fuel. (Earlier post.)

LanzaTech and Virgin Atlantic have been working together for three years on the fuel’s development, but the addition of HSBC’s support to the partnership, along with Boeing and other technical partners, means a proving flight of the new technology will take place within the next year.

LanzaTech said that the support of HSBC will allow production of this innovative new fuel to move from sample size to demo scale and will produce a sufficient amount of fuel to conduct the proving flight. These are all essential steps in the process to achieve American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) certification of the alcohol to jet production pathway.

ASTM certification is a significant step towards commercialization of LanzaTech’s sustainable fuel solution, which is expected to have half the carbon footprint of petroleum jet.

LanzaTech estimates that its process can apply to 65% of the world’s steel mills, allowing the fuel to be scaled up for worldwide use.

Mercedes-Benz wins MATERIALICA awards for diesel passenger car steel pistons and CFRP struts

Sat, 2014-10-25 07:00

Mercedes-Benz received two MATERIALICA Design and Technology Awards at the MATERIALICA 2014 trade fair for materials applications, surface technology and product engineering in Munich. The first was for the new steel pistons for diesel engines (earlier post), the second for high-strength carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) struts.

The MATERIALICA Award 2014 comprised five categories: Material; Surface & Technology; Product; CO2 Efficiency; and Student. The MATERIALICA Design + Technology Award focuses on product and technological developments in all sectors which implement a successful bundling of competencies.

Aluminium piston (left) the new steel piston (right). Click to enlarge.

Steel pistons for passenger-car diesel engines. Mercedes-Benz passenger-car diesel engines are the first engines worldwide being equipped with innovative steel pistons in conjunction with a lightweight aluminum cylinder case. The result is a 2 to 4 percent reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

The reduction in fuel consumption is even more pronounced at lower and mid-range engine speeds—i.e., the ranges which play an important part in everyday driving. Mercedes-Benz received a MATERIALICA “Best of Award” for the innovative steel pistons in the category CO2 Efficiency.

At first glance, the combination of aluminum cylinders and steel pistons seems problematic: steel expands less than aluminum when heated; it conducts heat worse and is heavier than aluminum. These are the reasons why aluminum pistons have been used to date. The Mercedes-Benz engine designers turned these apparent disadvantages into advantages.

For example, the lower expansion of steel as operating temperatures rise ensures increasing clearance between the piston and the aluminum housing. This reduces friction by 40 to 50 percent.

At the same time, the fact that steel is stronger than aluminum allows very compact, lightweight pistons that even offer additional strength reserves. Finally, the lower thermal conductivity of steel leads to increased component temperatures, thus improving the thermodynamic efficiency with higher ignition performance and reduced burn time.

CFRP struts. Click to enlarge.

High-strength CFRP struts. All vehicle designers aim to produce a vehicle body that is as stiff as possible, since having a stiff body shell as a basis allows dynamic handling and also helps to minimize vibrations and noise. Fiber composites, particularly those that include carbon fibers, are ideal for ensuring maximum stiffness with minimum weight. Until now high costs have prevented their widespread use in vehicles.

Mercedes-Benz’ innovation allows automatic, low-waste and therefore, cost-effective production of ultra-stiff and extremely light CFRP struts, making mass production possible. Mercedes-Benz received a MATERIALICA “Gold Awards” for this innovation in the category Material.

The core of this innovation is the combination of several components: carbon-fiber layers provide maximum stiffness and additional outer layers, applied at different angles ensure high pressure resistance. A third component, which was developed by Mercedes-Benz, are the innovative force elements which transfer all loads safely to the CFRP-struts.

The results are extremely lightweight struts that are up to 70 percent lighter than standard steel struts. The lighter weight also helps to reduce fuel consumption. The CO2 break-even point (i.e. the distance the more fuel-efficient vehicle has to travel before the increased amount of CO2 used to produce the carbon-fiber components is saved) is only approximately 50,000 kilometers (31,000 miles). Furthermore, this Mercedes-Benz innovation allows a production process for more than 300,000 vehicles per year.

arbcombo -- New LCFS Fuel Pathways Certified and Posted for Comment

Fri, 2014-10-24 20:33
California Air Resources Board (ARB) staff has posted four Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) fuel pathway applications for comment, and certified one staff developed pathway.

newsclips -- ARB Newsclips for October 24, 2014

Fri, 2014-10-24 19:29
This is a service of the California Air Resources Board s Office of Communications.


Fri, 2014-10-24 19:05
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) invites you to participate in a workshop on Friday, November 7, 2014 to discuss updates to three components of the mobile source emissions inventory.

European Council endorses 40% GHG cut by 2030; requests ways to cut transport emissions via efficiency, electrification and renewable fuels

Fri, 2014-10-24 13:35

On 23 October, leaders of the European Union agreed on the climate and energy policy framework for the EU for the period from 2020 to 2030. During its meeting, the European Council endorsed 4 targets: a binding EU target of at least 40% less greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to 1990; a binding target of at least 27% of renewable energy used at EU level; an energy efficiency increase of at least 27%; and the completion of the EU-internal energy market by reaching an electricity interconnection target of 15% between members states and pushing forward important infrastructure projects.

The Council members also requested further examination by the European Commission on instruments and measures for a comprehensive and technology-neutral approach to reduce emissions and increase energy efficiency in transport, for electric transportation and for the use of renewable energy sources in transport after 2020.

In its January 2014 communication to the Council on the proposed climate and energy policy framework (the basis for the current decision), the European Commission has noted that:

Further reduction of emissions from transport will require a gradual transformation of the entire transport system towards a better integration between modes, greater exploitation of the non-road alternatives, improved management of traffic flows through intelligent transport systems, and extensive innovation in and deployment of new propulsion and navigation technologies and alternative fuels. This will need to be supported by a modern and coherent infrastructure design and smarter pricing of infrastructure usage. Member States should also consider how fuel and vehicle taxation can be used to support greenhouse gas reductions in the transport sector in line with the Commission’s proposal on the taxation of energy products.

Internationally, the EU should participate actively within the International Civil Aviation Organisation with the aim of creating by 2016, a global market-based-mechanism in the aviation sector that will operate from 2020. On maritime emissions, the Commission will implement its strategy to integrate the sector in the EU’s greenhouse gas reduction policies, and work with International Maritime Organisation on a global approach to achieve the necessary emissions reductions through the most appropriate measures.

Commenting on the presentation of the climate and energy package for 2030, Neste Oil, the Finland-based refining and marketing company that is also currently the leading global seller of renewable drop-in diesel (NExBTL), said that the Council’s agreement should open up new opportunities for bioeconomy-related investments that can generate jobs and secure the EU’s energy base.

The European Council has made an important statement highlighting the importance it attaches to promoting the use of renewable fuels after 2020 and the activity by the Finnish government in this area has been very welcome. Around 20% of carbon dioxide emissions in the EU currently come from transport, and this figure is expected to rise in the future. This is why reducing transport-related CO2 emissions has a central role to play in achieving greenhouse gas emissions targets, as well as those set for increasing renewable energy usage.—Ilkka Räsänen, Neste Oil’s Director, Public Affairs

The European Council called on all countries to come forward with similar ambitious targets and policies well in advance of the UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) Conference of the Parties 21 in Paris, to be held 30 Nov - 11 Dec 2015. The EC said it would re-examine this issue after the Paris Conference.

40% target. The 40% target is to be delivered collectively by the EU “in the most cost-effective manner possible”, with the reductions in the ETS (Emissions Trading System ) and non-ETS sectors amounting to 43% and 30% by 2030 compared to 2005, respectively. All Member States are to participate in this effort, “balancing considerations of fairness and solidarity.”

The Council said that a reformed Emissions Trading System (ETS) will be the main European instrument to achieve this target; the annual factor to reduce the cap on the maximum permitted emissions will be changed from 1.74% to 2.2% from 2021 onwards.

Free allocation will not expire; Member States with a GDP per capita below 60% of the EU average may continue to give free allowances to their energy sectors up to 2030. The maximum amount handed out for free after 2020 should be no more than 40% of the allowances allocated. Under the plan, a new reserve of 2% of the EU ETS allowances will be set aside to address particularly high additional investment needs in low income Member States.

The existing methodology to set the national reduction targets for the non-ETS sectors will continue until 2030, with efforts distributed on the basis of relative GDP per capita. All Member States will contribute to the overall EU reduction in 2030 with the targets spanning from 0% to -40% compared to 2005. Targets for the Member States with a GDP per capita above the EU average will be relatively adjusted to reflect cost-effectiveness.

Renewables and efficiency. The Council agreed to a binding target of at least 27% for the share of renewable energy consumed in the EU in 2030. The Council noted that the integration of rising levels of intermittent renewable energy requires a more interconnected internal energy market and appropriate back up, which should be coordinated as necessary at regional level.

The Council also set an indicative target at the EU level of at least 27% for improving energy efficiency in 2030 compared to projections of future energy consumption. This will be reviewed by 2020, having in mind an EU level of 30%.


Bi-functional nafion/γ-Al2O3 membrane for stable Li-sulfur battery cathode

Fri, 2014-10-24 09:59

Researchers at Tianjin University (China) report another approach to stabilizing the performance of a Li-sulfur battery. In a paper in the Journal of Power Sources, they describe the preparation of a sulfur cathode modified by a bi-functional nafion/γ-Al2O3 (aluminum oxide) membrane which can “remarkably” immobilize the polysulfides—a major cause of rapid capacity degradation—within the unique cathode structure due to its ion selectivity and absorbent capacity.

They report a high initial discharge capacity of 1448.0 mAh g−1 can be achieved at 1C and a capacity of 788.6 mAh g−1 after 200 cycles, indicating a slow degradation. The coulombic efficiency remains as high as 97% during cycling.

The researchers attributed the excellent electrochemical properties to the bifunctional and stable membrane which reduces the polysulfide shuttle effect and maintains its integrity even after charging–discharging for 200 cycles.


  • Xiaoyan Liu, Zhongqiang Shan, Kunlei Zhu, Jiangyong Du, Qiwei Tang, Jianhua Tian (2015) “Sulfur electrode modified by bifunctional nafion/γ-Al2O3 membrane for high performance lithium–sulfur batteries,” Journal of Power Sources, Volume 274, Pages 85-93, doi: 10.1016/j.jpowsour.2014.10.039

C.A.T leases 100 CNG sleeper tractors from Ryder; Ryder’s largest NA nat gas lease deal

Fri, 2014-10-24 09:48

C.A.T. Inc. (formally Canadian American Transportation, Inc.) has signed a full-service lease agreement for 100 compressed natural gas (CNG) sleeper tractors. This is Ryder’s first natural gas lease customer in Canada and its largest single natural gas vehicle customer to date.

C.A.T., a truckload carrier based in Coteau-du-Lac, Québec, Canada, will use the trucks in its delivery fleet that travels from Montreal, Canada to Laredo, Texas. C.A.T. has served the shipping public between Canada and the United States since 1978 and provides transportation services to major corporations within the automotive, food, beverage, consumer packaged goods (CPG), and electronic industries. Ryder will also provide maintenance for the 100 CNG vehicles from Ryder’s Montreal, Canada service facility, which is being upgraded for compliance with natural gas standards.

C.A.T. has been leasing trucks from Ryder for the past eight years. Ryder will replace almost one-third of C.A.T.’s fleet of 325 vehicles with 100 CNG sleeper tractors. The natural gas fleet is expected to have a carbon emissions reduction of 2,564 metric tons.

Ryder is an industry leader in natural gas vehicle solutions for the commercial transportation market with more than 27 million miles of natural gas operating experience. Ryder has deployed Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) vehicles into the fleets for Ryder customers in California, New York, Michigan, Texas, Arizona, Utah, Georgia and Louisiana. It operates two Liquefied to Compressed Natural Gas (LCNG) fuel stations at its maintenance facilities in Orange and Fontana, Calif. Ryder also operates an LNG fuel station at its Fulton, Ga. maintenance facility.

New Harman active road noise cancellation technology enables use of lighter weight materials without vehicle noise compromise

Fri, 2014-10-24 07:00

Harman, the premium global audio and infotainment group, is expanding its HALOsonic suite of noise management solutions, which the company has co-developed with Lotus Engineering using patented Active Noise Control Technologies. (Earlier post.) Harman’s new Road Noise Cancellation (RNC) technology minimizes unwanted noise generated when the vehicle tires roll across the road surface. RNC, which is presently ready for market implementation, enables automakers to use lighter weight materials and improve fuel economy without compromising on vehicle noise levels.

In pursuing ways to lessen the environmental impact of vehicles and raise fuel efficiency, automakers are reducing vehicle weight, often by using less noise-dampening insulation in the car’s interior. The use of lighter materials, however, increases perceptible road noise inside the vehicle, which then penetrates the interior—and also compromises the audio experience of the on-board infotainment system.

Traditional NVH (Noise, Vibration, and Harshness) methods have difficulties mitigating these issues satisfactorily, and these technologies also tend to add weight, which cancels out the fuel economy effect of using lighter materials.

The Harman HALOsonic RNC solution is based on the principle of using “anti-noise” to counteract road noise. To implement RNC, the chassis of the vehicle is fitted with accelerometers which enable the system to measure correlation of vibration coming from the road and the resulting noise inside the cabin. Subsequently, the proprietary algorithm in the controller creates inverse sound waves (coming from each speaker) through the car’s audio system to cancel out the noise caused by the road-induced vibration.

It is also able to cope with the broadband nature of road noise, with its wide range of frequencies. The HALOsonic RNC solution can reduce the peaks of the noise across the target frequency range, creating a quieter experience within the vehicle cabin. With RNC, Harman’s uses its patented True Audio technology to ensure that only unwanted engine or road noise is cancelled, while preserving music signals in a similar audio range.

HALOsonic consists of a suite of noise management technologies to improve noise levels and to enhance and contour sound inside and outside the vehicle. In addition to RNC, HALOsonic comprises Engine Order Cancelation (EOC) and internal as well as external Electronic Sound Synthesis.

External ESS (eESS) generates sound primarily for hybrids and electric vehicles, creating the authentic sounds which drivers and pedestrians are familiar with from combustion engines, thereby increasing safety both for drivers and other road users. Internal ESS (iESS) serves to generate unique sound signatures for vehicles to contour and accentuate the engine sound.

Carnot Compression announces successful testing of proprietary isothermal compression technology

Fri, 2014-10-24 06:00

Carnot Compression LLC announced it has successfully demonstrated isothermal compression (i.e., temperature remains constant, ΔT = 0) across multiple tests and design iterations. Carnot says its results represent a major breakthrough in energy efficiency for the compression industry; prior to Carnot’s technology, the Taylor Compressor, implemented at the beginning of the 20th century, was the only isothermal compression system in operation, the company says.

Carnot designed and built a novel centrifugal compressor utilizing the weight of water to compress gas with a proprietary impeller; Carnot’s surface area ratio and the thermal capacity of water enables isothermal compression. Carnot’s process uses a gas/water micro-emulsion to compress gas in a centrifugal field. Water absorbs the heat of compression. Therefore, Carnot’s process requires less energy input to deliver comparable compression output versus conventional compressors.

  • Carnot’s proprietary process creates millions of tiny gas bubbles surrounded by water. The thermal capacity of water is 3,500 times that of air. Water absorbs all the heat of compression.

  • Carnot’s ratio of water surface area/gas bubbles has absorption capacity of ~7500 watts of heat energy, or more than 1800 times what is necessary for isothermal compression.

  • Moisture and water soluble gaseous constituents in bubbles are absorbed through the compression process, eliminating the need for dryers and other after-treatment equipment.

Carnot’s compression system takes a mixture of gas and liquid at any temperature and combines them as an emulsion when entering the compressor. The rotating compressor uses centrifugal force to shrink the bubbles, compressing the gas inside them as they move from the center of rotation to the outside of the compressor casing, where they are allowed to collapse as they join together in a pressure chamber. This single stage compression cycle not only compresses the gas up to 200 times the entry pressure while maintaining the entry temperature (isothermal), it also dries the gas to levels beyond most industry requirements.

Prior to Carnot’s breakthrough technology, true rapid isothermal compression existed only in theory. Micro-Emulsion Bubble compression in a centrifugal field will enable a revolution in any industry that relies on compression.—Mark Cherry, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer

Carnot’s technology could drive energy and cost savings across a broad base of compression applications including industrial air compression; multiple oil and gas compression applications; CNG fueling; refrigeration; HVAC, energy storage; and more.

Honda introduces new driver assistance system; SENSING first to be applied on new Legend in Japan

Fri, 2014-10-24 06:00

Honda SENSING uses two sensors: millimeter-wave radar and a monocular camera. Click to enlarge.

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. is introducing a new driver-assistive system, Honda SENSING, which will first be applied in the all-new Legend mid-size luxury car to go on sale in Japan before the end of this year, and then successively to more models in the future.

Honda SENSING uses two types of sensors with different characteristics. One is a millimeter-wave radar located inside the front grille, and the other is a monocular camera mounted on the upper, inside part of the windshield. With further improvement in performance, the new millimeter-wave radar expanded its scope of detection to include pedestrians—regarded as being hard to detect due to their low rate of radio wave reflection as well as the position and speed of target object.

Moreover, the monocular camera identifies attributes and sizes of pedestrians and other target objects which come in range within approximately 60 meters (197 feet) ahead of the vehicle, achieving recognition with improved accuracy.

With the significant improvement in the precision of these sensing devices, six new functions such as the Pedestrian Collision Mitigation Steering System (the world’s first, according to Honda research) were added to the existing driver-assistive system.

Pedestrian Collision Mitigation Steering System. Click to enlarge.

To accommodate these functions, the data processing capability of the system was improved. The system now recognizes not only its surroundings but also the intentions of the driver and conditions of the vehicle, and applies collaborative control over certain components of the vehicle including the braking system and steering wheel. In the areas of vehicle speed / following distance control and lane keeping control, the system assists the driver during normal driving as well as in a risk avoidance maneuver in case of an emergency.

Key functions of Honda SENSING include:

  • Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS). The millimeter-wave radar and monocular camera detect vehicles directly in front, oncoming vehicles and pedestrians. When there is a risk of collision with a vehicle in front or a pedestrian, the system provides the driver with audio and visual warnings. When the distance gets closer, the system automatically applies gentle brake pressure to give a sensory warning to the driver. When the distance gets even closer, the system automatically brakes hard to support the driver’s collision avoidance effort.

    Moreover, when the vehicle strays into an oncoming lane and there is a risk of collision with oncoming vehicles, the system provides audio and visual warnings as well as vibrations on the steering wheel to facilitate the driver’s collision avoidance actions. When no action is taken by the driver to avoid collision, the system applies braking force to help reduce the impact speed to mitigate any damage in the case of collision.

  • Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) system. The monocular camera detects the lane boundaries, and if the vehicle is likely to stray from a detected lane, the system will give a visual warning on the display and vibrations on the steering wheel. In addition, the system will apply corrective steering input to bring the vehicle back in the lane. When the system forecasts that the vehicle is straying too far off, the system will apply braking force to prevent the vehicle from driving off the road.

  • Pedestrian Collision Mitigation Steering System. The millimeter-wave radar and monocular camera detect pedestrians and boundary line on the side strip of the road. When the system forecasts a collision with a pedestrian as a result of the vehicle straying from the lane toward the side strip, it provides audio and visual warnings and turns the steering wheel toward the other direction to facilitate the driver’s collision avoidance effort.

  • Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS). The monocular camera detects the lane that the vehicle is driving in. The system will assist the driver’s steering during highway driving to keep the vehicle in the middle of the lane and to reduce the burden on the driver. When the vehicle is likely to stray from the lane while the system is applying control over the steering, the system will warn the driver with vibrations on the steering wheel. LKAS operates in when the vehicle is driven at 65 km/h (40 mph) or faster.

  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow. The millimeter-wave radar and monocular camera detect the distance and speed gap from the vehicle ahead. The system controls the acceleration and braking operations so that an appropriate distance will be maintained. By expanding its range of operation to 0 km/h, the system will reduce the burden on the driver while driving on congested highways.

  • Traffic Sign Recognition. The monocular camera detects traffic signs. The system calls the driver’s attention to traffic signs and assists safe driving by displaying detected signs on the Multi-Information Display or Heads-Up Display System.

  • False Start Prevention Function. The Millimeter-wave radar detects vehicle directly in front or other objects in close range while the vehicle is stopped or while driving at a very low speed. If the driver presses down the acceleration pedal too suddenly while there is an object in front, the system prevents sudden acceleration and provides audio and visual warnings and vibrations to the acceleration pedal.

  • Lead Car Departure Notification System. The millimeter-wave radar detects when the car directly in front starts up from standstill traffic. The system will give audio and visual notification of the departure of the car in front.

Maxwell and Corning ally to advance ultracapacitor technology

Fri, 2014-10-24 05:00

Maxwell Technologies Incorporated and Corning Incorporated have entered a joint development agreement with the goal of advancing the state of capacitive energy storage technology by addressing the challenges frequently cited by ultracapacitor customers, including energy density, lifetime, operating environment, form factor and cost.

The partners suggest that Maxwell’s expertise in ultracapacitor cell design, manufacturing processes and market-leading capacitive energy storage product designs combined with Corning’s expertise in high-performance materials, analytical capabilities and technology innovations should enable the two parties, working in collaboration, to achieve superior product value for customers and end users.

Corning’s long history of serving the transportation industry with emissions control products for the automotive and heavy-duty truck markets will complement Maxwell’s growing presence in providing energy storage solutions for these application spaces.

Corning has invested significant time and resources to establish this new business initiative because we see great potential in capacitive energy storage. We are excited to work with a company like Maxwell who has such a long history of innovation in the field and strong market presence. Our agreement brings us together to accelerate the pace of innovation.—Doug Harshbarger, business director of emerging automotive innovations at Corning

In a 2010 paper presented at the 15th International Coating Science and Technology Symposium, researchers from Corning noted that “Corning is interested in the versatility of ultracapacitors.” Corning has demonstrated ultracapacitor devices with advantaged energy densities while maintaining power density levels, and has a number of patents specifically on ultracapacitor technology, with an additional patent applications published.

Joining forces with a company of Corning’s quality and strength promises to be a game-changing event for Maxwell. We believe that this alliance will create tremendous value for customers and will move the competitive bar much higher in the years ahead.—Dr. Franz Fink, Maxwell’s president and CEO

Unlike batteries, which produce and store energy by means of a chemical reaction, ultracapacitors store energy in an electric field. This electrostatic energy storage mechanism enables ultracapacitors to charge and discharge in as little as fractions of a second, perform normally over a broad temperature range (-40°C to +65°C), operate reliably through one million or more charge/discharge cycles and resist shock and vibration. Maxwell offers ultracapacitor cells ranging in capacitance from one to 3,400 farads and multi-cell modules ranging from 12 to 160 volts.


Imergy Power introduces new generation of vanadium flow batteries

Fri, 2014-10-24 04:57

Vandium-based flow battery specialist Imergy Power Systems introduced the ESP30 series, a new generation of vanadium flow batteries that lowers the cost and increases the performance and flexibility of energy storage systems for utilities, renewable energy projects, microgrids, and commercial and industrial customers.

The ESP30 series has a power capability of up to 50 kW and can store up to 200 kWh of electricity. The power and capacity of the ESP30 make it suited for a variety of demanding energy storage applications, including peak shaving, demand response, energy shifting, renewable energy firming, and microgrid or back-up power.

It is the first battery from Imergy to use secondary sources of vanadium such as mining slag, fly ash, and other environmental waste. As a result of this technology and other developments, Imergy will be able to lower the cost of its flow batteries from $500/kWh, already an industry benchmark, to under $300/kWh.

The ESP30 operates within a far wider temperature range than lithium ion or other storage solutions and is air-cooled. The storage duration can be extended by increasing electrolyte concentration and volume. Built in a modular fashion from replaceable components, the ESP30 has a lifetime that is effectively unlimited,mImergy says.

The ESP30 modules measure approximately 6 meters (20' shipping container), with available energy ranging from 2 to 12 hours of output duration. ESP30 modules can be linked together to form Energy Storage Platforms (ESP) capable of delivering megawatts of power and storing megawatt hours of energy. The system provides power security (can operate in full islanded mode) and power quality (with fast response time for seamless power source transitions, load transients, and photovoltaic system firming).

The ESP30 also incorporates fast charge capabilities and advanced controls and electronics, and can be remotely managed using secure Linux- and Windows-based integrated dispatch optimization software.

Customer deliveries of the ESP30 will begin in November in the United States and India for microgrid applications.

Flow batteries essentially store energy in a liquid electrolyte that circulates between tanks. The simplicity of the design creates a robust and efficient system that can be cycled thousands of times in a year, and charged and discharged completely without impact on its lifespan. Integrated power electronics manage the charging and discharging processes, but the unique architecture allows the system to be scaled up in size by simply increasing the electrolyte volumes. The Imergy product inherently lasts longer than conventional batteries, with lower maintenance costs and fewer thermal management concerns.

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