Pipe: Advanced tech

JBEI researchers develop “bionic” liquids: ionic liquids derived from lignin and hemicelullose; towards closed-loop biorefineries

Tue, 2014-08-19 05:00

Hypothetical process flow for a closed-loop biorefinery using ionic liquids derived from lignocellulosic biomass (“bionic liquids”) for biomass deconstruction. Socha et al. Click to enlarge.

Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have developed “bionic liquids”—ionic liquids derived from lignin and hemicellulose, two by-products of biofuel production from biorefineries. JBEI is a multi-institutional partnership led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) that was established by the DOE Office of Science to accelerate the development of advanced, next-generation biofuels.

Ionic liquids show great promise for liberating fermentable sugars from lignocellulose and improving the economics of advanced biofuels. The concept of bionic liquids opens the door to realizing a closed-loop process for future lignocellulosic biorefineries, and has far-reaching economic impacts for other ionic liquid-based process technologies that currently use ionic liquids synthesized from petroleum sources, said Blake Simmons, a chemical engineer who is JBEI’s Chief Science and Technology Officer and heads JBEI’s Deconstruction Division.

Ionic liquids (ILs) have unique properties applicable to a variety of industrial processes. Nearly universal solvating capabilities, low vapor pressures, and high thermal stabilities make these compounds ideal substitutes for a wide range of organic solvents. To date, the best performing ILs are derived from nonrenewable sources such as petroleum or natural gas. Due to their potential for large-scale deployment, ILs derived from inexpensive, renewable reagents are highly desirable. Herein, we describe a process for synthesizing ILs from materials derived from lignin and hemicellulose, major components of terrestrial plant biomass. With respect to overall sugar yield, experimental evaluation of these compounds showed that they perform comparably to traditional ILs in biomass pretreatment.—Socha et al.

What if we could turn what is now a bane to the bioenergy industry into a boon? Lignin is viewed as a waste stream that is typically burned to generate heat and electricity for the biorefinery, but if other uses for lignin could be found with higher economic value it would significantly improve the refinery’s overall economics.—Blake Simmons

Simmons and Seema Singh, who directs JBEI’s biomass pretreatment program, are the corresponding authors of an open access paper describing this research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The lead author is Aaron Socha. Other co-authors are Ramakrishnan Parthasarathi, Jian Shi, Sivakumar Pattathil, Dorian Whyte, Maxime Bergeron, Anthe George, Kim Tran, Vitalie Stavila, Sivasankari Venkatachalam and Michael Hahn.

The cellulosic sugars stored in the biomass of grasses and other non-food crops, and in agricultural waste, can be used to make advanced biofuels that could substantially reduce the use of the fossil fuels responsible for the release of nearly 9 billion metric tons of excess carbon into the atmosphere each year.

More than a billion tons of biomass are produced annually in the United States alone and fuels from this biomass could be renewable substitutes for gasoline, diesel and jet fuel on a gallon-for-gallon basis. Unlike ethanol, “drop-in” transportation fuels derived from biomass have the potential to be directly dropped into today’s engines and infrastructures at high levels—greater than 50%%without negatively impacting performance.

However, if biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol, are to be a commercial success, they must be cost-competitive with fossil fuels. This means economic technologies must be developed for extracting fermentable sugars from cellulosic biomass and synthesizing them into fuels and other valuable chemical products. A major challenge has been that unlike the simple sugars in corn grain, the complex polysaccharides in biomass are deeply embedded within a tough woody material called lignin.

Researchers at JBEI have been cost-effectively deconstructing biomass into fuel sugars by pre-treating the biomass with ionic liquids—salts that are composed entirely of paired ions and are liquid at room temperature. The ionic liquids that have emerged from this JBEI effort as a benchmark for biomass processing are imidazolium-based molten salts, which are made from nonrenewable sources such as petroleum or natural gas.

Imidazolium-based ionic liquids effectively and efficiently dissolve biomass, and represent a remarkable platform for biomass pretreatment, but imidazolium cations are expensive and thus limited in their large-scale industrial deployment. To replace them with a renewable product, we synthesized a series of tertiary amine-based ionic liquids from aromatic aldehydes in lignin and hemicellulose.—Seema Singh

The JBEI researchers tested the effectiveness of their bionic liquids as a pre-treatment for biomass deconstruction on switchgrass, one of the leading potential crops for making liquid transportation fuels. After 73 hours of incubation with these new bionic liquids, sugar yields were between 90- and 95-percent for glucose, and between 70- and 75-percent for xylose. These yields are comparable to the yields obtained after pre-treatment with the best-performing imidazolium-based ionic liquids.

Lignin and hemicellulose are byproducts from the agricultural industry, biofuel plants and pulp mills, which not only makes these abundant polymers inexpensive, but also allows for a closed-loop bio-refinery, in which the lignin in the waste stream can be up-cycled and reused to make more bionic liquid.—Lead author Aaron Socha, Director of the Center for Sustainable Energy at the Bronx Community College

The current batch of bionic liquids was made using reductive amination and phosphoric acid, but Socha says the research team is now investigating the use of alternative reducing agents and acids that would be less expensive and even more environmentally benign.

This research was supported by the DOE Office of Science.


  • Aaron M. Socha, Ramakrishnan Parthasarathi, Jian Shi, Sivakumar Pattathil, Dorian Whyte, Maxime Bergeron, Anthe George, Kim Tran, Vitalie Stavila, Sivasankari Venkatachalam, Michael G. Hahn, Blake A. Simmons, and Seema Singh (2014) “Efficient biomass pretreatment using ionic liquids derived from lignin and hemicellulose,” PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1405685111

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

Mon, 2014-08-18 22:00
One or more workshops/meetings have been scheduled and are now located in ARB's Workshop Calendar.

arbcombo -- Two Notices for a Public Meeting September 18, 2014

Mon, 2014-08-18 19:19
The Air Resources Board (ARB or Board) will conduct a public meeting at the time and place noted below for the following two non-regulatory items: Approval of the Town of Mammoth Lakes PM10 Maintenance Plan and Redesignation Request, and Minor Updates to the Coachella Valley and Western Mojave Desert Federal Ozone Nonattainment Areas State Implementation Plan (SIP) for the 1997 8-hour Ozone Standard (2014 Update).

newsclips -- ARB Newsclips for August 18, 2014.

Mon, 2014-08-18 17:59
ARB Newsclips for August 18, 2014.

3rd generation Audi TT reduces full lifecycle GHGs by 11% compared to predecessor

Mon, 2014-08-18 16:36

Lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions for 2nd and 3rd generation TTs. Click to enlarge.

Audi’s new third-generation TT reduces life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions by 11% compared to its predecessor. This results in a reduction of around 5.5 tonnes of GHGs—CO2, methane, nitrous oxide and halogenated organic emissions—over its entire lifecycle. At the same time, Audi has increased the power output in the new TT by up to 14%.

A number of technologies have contributed towards the positive life cycle assessment of the Audi TT, including lightweight construction. Using an intelligent combination of materials, Audi engineers have, for the second time in a row, succeeded in reducing the car’s unladen weight.

The first model change in 2006 saw weight savings of up to 90 kilograms (198.4 lbs). With the 2.0 TFSI engine variant of the new TT now weighing in at 1,230 kilograms (2,711.7 lbs), this means that the car is once again around 50 kilograms (110.2 lbs) lighter than its predecessor.

Click to enlarge.

The Coupé’s underbody structure has optimized axle loads and is made of modern, high-strength and ultra high-strength steel alloys. In sections of the passenger cell that are subject to high structural stress, form-hardened steel panels are used that are ultra strong and at the same time light—these constitute 17% of the body’s weight.

The side sills and roof frame are made of extruded aluminum profiles, which are integrated into the structure using cast aluminum nodes. This construction principle creates a very rigid and safe bodyshell. The aluminum side sections and roof complete the structure. The hood, doors and tailgate are also made of aluminum.

Top: The materials that are used have a major influence on the results of the life cycle assessment. For example, more energy is consumed when producing light metals such as aluminum and magnesium than for steel; this has the effect of increasing greenhouse gas emissions during their production phase.

Bottom left: MY 2014. Steel and iron materials account for 46% of the second-gen vehicle’s total weight. Light metals, primarily aluminum, make up the second largest proportion, at 26%.

Bottom right: MY2015. The third-generation reduced the percentage of light metals by 6%. The percentage of steel and iron materials has increased accordingly by 4%. The remaining 2% was replaced by polymer. Click to enlarge.

Weight reduction and intelligent lightweight construction measures also have an impact on the vehicle manufacturing process. Here, it has been possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by around 9%, or 800 kilograms (1,763.7 lbs).

Audi TT Coupé fuel consumption and GHG comparison   MY 2014 (Gen 2) MY 2015 (Gen 3) Model 2.0 TFSI quattro 155 kW S tronic 2.0 TFSI quattro 169 kW S tronic City 9.9 l/100 km
23.8 mpg US 8.4 – 8.3 l/100 km
28 - 28.3 mpg US Highway 5.7 l/100 km
41.3 mpg US 5.5 – 5.4 l/100 km
42.8 - 43.6 mpg US Combined 7.2 l/100 km
32.7 mpg US 6.5 – 6.4 l/100 km
36.2 - 36.8 mpg US CO2 (comb.) 169 g/km 151-149 g/km

NHTSA releases advanced notice of proposed rulemaking on V2V, supporting research report

Mon, 2014-08-18 12:43

The US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) and a supporting comprehensive research report on vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications technology. NHTSA is working to deliver a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by 2016.

The report will include analysis of the Department’s research findings in several key areas including technical feasibility, privacy and security, and preliminary estimates on costs and safety benefits, while the ANPRM seeks public input on these findings to support the Department’s regulatory work to eventually require V2V devices in new light vehicles.

The report includes preliminary estimates of safety benefits that show two safety applications—Left Turn Assist (LTA) and Intersection Movement Assist (IMA)—could prevent up to 592,000 crashes and save 1,083 lives saved per year.

Put another way, V2V technology could help drivers avoid more than half of these types of crashes that would otherwise occur by providing advance warning. LTA warns drivers not to turn left in front of another vehicle traveling in the opposite direction and IMA warns them if it is not safe to enter an intersection due to a high probability of colliding with one or more vehicles. Additional applications could also help drivers avoid imminent danger through forward collision, blind spot, do not pass, and stop light/stop sign warnings.

V2V technology has the potential to be fused with existing vehicle safety features to further improve the effectiveness of many crash avoidance safety systems currently being developed and implemented in the vehicle fleet and serve as a building block for a driverless vehicle.

Vehicles equipped with V2V technology could also enable the development of a wide range of mobility and environmental benefits based on vehicle-to-infrastructure applications and other V2V applications that can enhance traffic flow in many ways. V2V technology does not involve collecting or exchanging personal information or tracking drivers or their vehicles, NHTSA said.

The information sent between vehicles does not identify those vehicles, but merely contains basic safety data. The system as contemplated contains several layers of security and privacy protection to ensure that vehicles can rely on messages sent from other vehicles.


MIT team proposes process to recycle lead-acid batteries to fabricate solar cells

Mon, 2014-08-18 12:20

Researchers at MIT have devised an environmentally-responsible process to recycle materials from discarded automotive lead-acid batteries to fabricate efficient organolead halide perovskite solar cells (PSCs)—a promising new large-scale and cost-competitive photovoltaic technology. The process simultaneously avoids the disposal of toxic battery materials and provide alternative, readily-available lead sources for PSCs.

The system is described in a paper in the RSC journal Energy and Environmental Science, co-authored by professors Angela M. Belcher and Paula T. Hammond, graduate student Po-Yen Chen, and three others.

Perovskite films, assembled using materials sourced from either recycled battery materials or high-purity commercial reagents, show the same material characterizations (i.e., crystallinity, morphology, optical absorption, and photoluminescence property) and the identical photovoltaic performance (i.e., photovoltaic parameters and resistances of electron recombination), indicating the practical feasibility of recycling car batteries for lead-based PSCs.—Chen et al.

PSC technology has advanced rapidly from initial experiments to a point where its efficiency is nearly competitive with that of other types of solar cells. The power conversion efficiencies reached over 15% within 18 months of development; perovskite-based photovoltaic cells have now achieved power-conversion efficiency of more than 16%—approaching that of many commercial silicon-based solar cells. Accordingly, interest in the technology in the research community has soared.

(C&EN quoted University of Oxford physicist Henry J. Snaith as saying “It seems we’ve all been bitten by the perovskite bug.”)

However, the researchers note, the manufacture of PSCs raises environmental concerns regarding the over-production of raw lead ore, which has harmful health and ecological effects. Using recycled lead from old car batteries can alter the environmental impact.

Because the perovskite photovoltaic material takes the form of a thin film just half a micrometer thick, the team’s analysis shows that the lead from a single car battery could produce enough solar panels to provide power for 30 households.

As an added advantage, the production of perovskite solar cells is a relatively simple and benign process. “It has the advantage of being a low-temperature process, and the number of steps is reduced” compared with the manufacture of conventional solar cells, Belcher says.

Belcher says that currently, 90% of the lead recovered from the recycling of old batteries is used to produce new batteries, but over time the market for new lead-acid batteries is likely to decline, potentially leaving a large stockpile of lead with no obvious application.

In a finished solar panel, the lead-containing layer would be fully encapsulated by other materials, as many solar panels are today, limiting the risk of lead contamination of the environment. When the panels are eventually retired, the lead can simply be recycled into new solar panels.

Belcher believes that the recycled perovskite solar cells will be embraced by other photovoltaics researchers, who can now fine-tune the technology for maximum efficiency. The team’s work clearly demonstrates that lead recovered from old batteries is just as good for the production of perovskite solar cells as freshly produced metal.

Some companies are already gearing up for commercial production of perovskite photovoltaic panels, which could otherwise require new sources of lead. Since this could expose miners and smelters to toxic fumes, the introduction of recycling instead could provide immediate benefits, the team says.

The work, which also included research scientist Jifa Qi, graduate student Matthew Klug and postdoc Xiangnan Dang, was supported by Italian energy company Eni through the MIT Energy Initiative.


  • Po-Yen Chen, Jifa Qi, Matthew T. Klug, Xiangnan Dang, Paula T. Hammond and Angela Belcher (2014) “Environmentally-responsible fabrication of efficient perovskite solar cells from recycled car batteries” Energy Environ. Sci., doi: 10.1039/C4EE00965G

  • Hui-Seon Kim, Sang Hyuk Im, and Nam-Gyu Park (2014) “Organolead Halide Perovskite: New Horizons in Solar Cell Research” The Journal of Physical Chemistry C 118 (11), 5615-5625 doi: 10.1021/jp409025w

ORNL researcher suggests that most consumers better off with <100-mile EV range until battery costs drop to $100/kWh

Mon, 2014-08-18 11:25

Until battery cost is cut down to $100/kWh, the majority of US consumers for battery electric vehicles (BEV) will be better off by choosing an electric vehicle with a range below 100 miles, according to a new study by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) researcher Zhenhong Lin.

The research, published in Transportation Science, a journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), suggests reconsideration of the R&D goal that battery electric vehicles should have a driving range similar to that of conventional vehicles. It also implies that the focus of policy and R&D should be on continued reduction of battery costs to make short-range BEVs more price-competitive.

The focus should also remain on deployment of charging infrastructure to improve usability of short-range BEVs that attract more potential buyers.

In the study, Lin proposed a framework for optimizing the driving range by minimizing the sum of battery price, electricity cost, and range limitation cost—referred to as the “range-related cost”—as a measurement of range anxiety.

The objective function was linked to policy-relevant parameters, including battery cost and price markup; battery utilization; charging infrastructure availability; vehicle efficiency; electricity and gasoline prices; household vehicle ownership; daily driving patterns; discount rate; and perceived vehicle lifetime.

The electric driving range of a BEV was optimized separately for each of 36,664 sample drivers representing US new car drivers. Key results were the distribution of optimized BEV range among US consumers and the change of such a distribution in response to battery cost reduction and charging infrastructure improvement.

The quantitative results strongly suggest that ranges of less than 100 miles are likely to be more popular in the BEV market for a long period of time. The average optimal range among US drivers is found to be largely inelastic. Still, battery cost reduction significantly drives BEV demand toward longer ranges, whereas improvement in the charging infrastructure is found to significantly drive BEV demand toward shorter ranges. The bias of a single-range assumption and the effects of range optimization and diversification in reducing such biases are both found to be significant.—Zhenhong Lin

The results of the study explain the dominance in the BEV market of products with an electric range below 100 miles, the author said.

Before the introduction of the Nissan Leaf (certified with a 73-mile electric range) in December 2010, BEV ranges were often assumed to be between 150 and 200 miles. Now, eight out of the ten BEV products on the US market are equipped with an electric range below 100 miles, Lin said.

The paper further discusses the policy and R&D implications of the found distributions of optimal BEV range, providing insights for BEV-related policies and market strategies. The paper also includes sensitivity analysis and quantifies the significance of the optimization approach.


  • Zhenhong Lin (2014) “Optimizing and Diversifying Electric Vehicle Driving Range for US Drivers” Transportation Science doi: 10.1287/trsc.2013.0516

Navistar offering Allison fuel-efficiency package on medium-duty and vocational trucks

Mon, 2014-08-18 11:10

Navistar, Inc. is offering the Allison Transmission FuelSense fuel-efficiency package on its medium-duty and vocational International truck models. FuelSense, available in Allison’s 1000, 2000, 3000 and 4000 series transmissions, automatically adapts shift schedules and torque, maximizing transmission efficiency based on load, grade and duty cycle, without sacrificing performance.

Allison’s internal testing shows FuelSense cuts fuel consumption by up to 20 percent depending on duty cycle and application. Through electronic software calibrations and mechanical improvements, the new features address powertrain efficiency, one of the many leading attributors to fuel economy.—Steve Gilligan, vice president, product and vocational marketing, Navistar

FuelSense features are incorporated in part or completely in three levels: FuelSense Basic, FuelSense Plus and FuelSense Max. All features are available in the 3000 and heavy-duty 4000 series and will be available in the 1000 and 2000 series transmissions later this year.

FuelSense features include:

  • 5th Generation smart controls, acceleration management and a precision inclinometer;

  • EcoCal shift technology to keep engine speed at the most efficient level;

  • Dynamic Shift Sensing to automatically sense when low-engine speed shifts can be made;

  • Neutral at Stop eliminates the load on the engine when the vehicle is stopped to reduce non-productive fuel consumption and reduce emissions; and

  • Acceleration Rate Management relegates engine power to match acceleration curves and control engine torque.

FuelSense is also available in the International TerraStar, DuraStar, WorkStar and PayStar.

Saleen introduces $152K FOURSIXTEEN performance version of Tesla Model S

Mon, 2014-08-18 10:34

FOURSIXTEEN. lick to enlarge.

Saleen Automotive unveiled its FOURSIXTEEN Tesla Model S-based (the 85 kWh performance model) vehicle at the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance this past weekend. In addition to an enhanced aerodynamics package, the FOURSIXTEEN is propelled by Tesla’s 3-phase, four-pole AC induction motor and copper rotor with an upgraded Saleen drivetrain including an all-new 11.39:1 final gear ratio for quicker acceleration. Power (416 hp/310 kW) and torque (N·m) remain the same as in the base P85 Tesla Model S.

Also new for the FOURSIXTEEN is a Saleen-specific MAXGRIP locking differential that allows each wheel efficiently to apply rotational force and maximize traction and grip in performance environments. Saleen says that all of its engineered driveline components increase efficiencies in torque management, give a track-capable throttle response, and provide faster acceleration.

Saleen has also applied its high-efficiency drivetrain cooling system, comprising a larger volume radiator, upsampled cooling fans, and a high-flow water pump to help maintain consistent temperatures in more stressful performance applications.

Electric drivetrains are unique in that they can generate an incredible amount of torque at zero RPM. Our challenge was really to find methods to manage the energy that is generated by the electric motor and rotor assembly. With the FOURSIXTEEN we have successfully found a comprehensive solution to increase performance and harness power in an efficient manner.—Sven Etzelsberger, VP Advanced Engineering

The Saleen-specific S4 track-calibrated suspension includes a monotube coilover, which works in conjunction with an S4 sway bar setup to increase cornering agility without sacrificing ride quality. The FOURSIXTEEN suspension system can also be ordered in a fully adjustable configuration, allowing the driver easily to increase stiffness for a day at the track and revert to a more street-oriented setting with simple adjustments.

The Stability Control System has also undergone a track-tested performance enhancement. A software change gives the FOURSIXTEEN better cornering response and drivability by allowing the driver to maintain power as traction and vehicle weight distribution change.

Working together with the stability control software, wheel, tire, and S4 suspension system are the Saleen-specific brakes. The standard brake package in the FOURSIXTEEN include 14" 2-piece aluminum hat vented rotors and multi-piston front calipers with performance brake pads. An optional upgrade is the carbon ceramic disc brake system for maximum braking, cooling, and weight reduction.

On the exterior, the FOURSIXTEEN features a new front fascia. Front aero management vents helps ensure that the Saleen FOURSIXTEEN model maintains a low pressure field as air acceleration increases around the chassis. Assisting the lower aero management is the V-shaped hood architecture, which directs hot air away from the drivetrain cooling system all while generating valuable downforce across the front section.

The rear fascia design finalizes the aerodynamic system as air moves across the cabin and onto the Saleen designed high-downforce decklid mounted spoiler.

Mid-chassis air is directed across the carbon fiber accents stretching between the taillights. Supplying rear wake diffusion is a Saleen diffuser design that boosts aerodynamic downforce capability.

MSRP for the FOURSIXTEEN model is set to start at $152,000 for the complete vehicle, which includes the base P85Model S sedan. This is priced before existing state and federal EV incentives which can range from $7,500 to $15,000 depending on the buyers state (i.e. A California resident would pay $142,000.00).

Warranties are also included on all new Saleen vehicles, components, and labor. Each newly purchased Saleen FOURSIXTEEN will include a 4-year / 50,000 mile warranty to match the manufacturer backed limited warranty.

Novelis increases prices for automotive and specialty aluminum sheet products in North America

Mon, 2014-08-18 06:00

Novelis, the world leader in aluminum rolling and recycling, announced price increases on its North American Automotive and Specialty aluminum sheet products for all new orders effective immediately. All existing orders and firm agreements confirmed prior to 7 August 2014 will be honored throughout the contract period.

The price for 6xxx and 5xxx series automotive alloys is going up by $0.06/lb. 1xxx and 3xxx series alloys are moving up by $0.05/lb and 5xxx and 6061-O alloys by $0.03/lb.

The Automotive price increase is in addition to the previously announced pricing adjustment made on 1 January 2014 of $0.11 per pound for 6000-series, 5182-series and 5000-series coated Automotive alloys.

To support the rapidly growing automotive market demand, Novelis remains committed as the industry leader in announced capacity investments in North America, Europe and Asia. In North America, we’ve commissioned two new auto finishing lines in Oswego, New York that are in full production and are completing construction of a third auto finishing line increasing our regional capacity by up to 360,000 tons per year. That’s seven times our current production capacity and an important milestone to remain the industry leader as North American automotive market demand is expected to increase twenty-fold in the next 10 years.—Marco Palmieri, Senior Vice President, Novelis and President, Novelis North America

In addition to the Oswego expansion, the automotive finishing line in Changzhou, China, is on track to be in production in the next 90 days and will have a capacity of 120,000 tons. The company has also broken ground on a new automotive finishing line in Nachterstedt, Germany. When all of the new lines are commissioned by late 2015, Novelis’ global automotive sheet capacity will reach about 900,000 tons per year, a three-fold increase from just a year ago.

Novelis is the world’s leading provider of aluminum automotive sheet, used for making structural components and exterior body panels. Novelis aluminum can be found in more than 180 different vehicle models produced by leading automakers around the globe.

U. Alberta team developing new high power and energy lithium-carbon battery system using induced fluorination; dual storage mechanism

Mon, 2014-08-18 05:00

Ragone plot, comparing Li-CNT-F batteries with other batteries in terms of weight of cathode materials. The highest energy density for Li-CNT-F batteries, 4,113 Wh kgcarbon−1 is presented as a red star. Cui et al. Click to enlarge.

Researchers at the University of Alberta are developing, and, via their spin-out AdvEn Solutions working to commercialize, a new high power- and -energy density battery system: lithium-carbon-fluorine (Li-C-F). Their system is based on a lithium-carbon battery configuration, but with a different approach.

In a paper in Nature’s open access journal Scientific Reports, the team reported that a rechargeable Li-C-F battery (in this case, a Li-CNT-F battery given their use of carbon nanotubes) demonstrated a maximum discharging capacity of 2174 mAh gcarbon−1 and a specific energy of 4113 Wh kgcarbon−1 with good cycling performance.

Reaching beyond the horizon of LIBs [lithium-ion batteries] requires the exploration of new electrochemistry and/or new materials. The recent popular attempts are Li-sulfur (Li-S) and Li-air (Li-O2) batteries. However, there are some formidable challenges for Li-S and Li-O2 batteries, e.g., dissolution of discharging products, poor cathode electrical conductivity, and large volume expansion upon lithiation.

Li-CFx batteries have the highest energy density among all primary lithium batteries with a theoretical specific energy of 2180 Wh kg(Li+CF)−1. A high capacity of 615 mAh gCFx−1 was also reported for the pre-synthesized CFx cathodes. It is well known that defluorination of carbon fluorides can be achieved with the assistance of lithium cations during discharging in Li-CFx batteries. However, Li-CFx batteries have attracted limited interest because of their strictly non-rechargeable nature and the non-environmental-friendly synthesis process for carbon fluorides, e.g., the use of F2 gas and/or catalysts under extreme temperature conditions.

In a departure from previous approaches, we adopted the lithium-carbon battery configuration. Instead of using carbon materials as the surface provider for lithium-ion adsorption and desorption, we realized induced fluorination of carbon nanotube array (CNTA) paper cathodes, with the source of fluoride ions from electrolytes, by an in-situ electrochemical induction process. The induced fluorination of CNTA papers activates the reversible fluorination/defluorination reactions and lithium-ion storage/release at the CNTA paper cathodes, resulting in a dual-storage mechanism. It is the first time that the reversible fluorination/defluorination reactions were realized at pure carbon and non-fluoride materials. … After the battery cells were assembled, CNTA paper cathodes with no binding materials and no conductive additives were in-situ fluorinated by induction charging for a number of cycles, which enables Li-CNT-F batteries with high energy density and high reversibility.—Cui et al.
Dual-storage mechanism with reversible fluorination/defluorination reactions and lithium-ion storage/release occurring at CNTA paper cathode.

a) Induced fluorination of CNTA papers occurring during an electrochemical induction process, which also destructs the graphitic carbon structure to defective structures.

(b) Defluorination of the in-situ formed carbon fluorides by the conversion reaction with lithium ions; meanwhile, additional lithium ions store in the defective carbons.

(c) Lithium ions release from the defective carbons; meanwhile, the fluorination of the defective carbons by the reversed conversion reaction in (b). In particular, the LiF metastable solids formed in (b) and facing the electrolyte will be dissociated during charging.

Cui et al. Click to enlarge.

AdvEn Solutions hopes to have a prototype by the end of 2014 and aims to develop three versions of the battery to serve different goals. One battery would have a high power output and a long life cycle, the second would have high energy for quick charging, and the third a super-high energy storage.

AdvEn is a growing company housed within the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering at the U of A. It aims to expand by taking on new researchers and gaining more funding. The company recently secured a partnership with the US-based aerospace company Lockheed Martin to develop an advanced anode for AdvEn’s high-performance carbon cathode.


  • Xinwei Cui, Jian Chen, Tianfei Wang & Weixing Chen (2014) “Rechargeable Batteries with High Energy Storage Activated by In-situ Induced Fluorination of Carbon Nanotube Cathode” Scientific Reports 4, Article number: 5310 doi: 10.1038/srep05310

Lux Research: “The rush to proclaim driverless cars as the near future for personal transport is, simply, wrong”

Mon, 2014-08-18 04:56

In a note following the 2014 Automated Vehicle Symposium, Lux Research said: “The rush to proclaim driverless cars as the near future for personal transport is, simply, wrong.” Lux participated in two separate sessions at the conference: the first around regional planning implications, and the second on personal vehicle automation commercialization.

Multiple times, we heard the phrase “But Google says...” uttered in protest, with various attendees citing its demonstration of autonomous vehicles and plans to pilot these vehicles in Northern California.

While many in the automotive value chain echo the conservative adoption rates from Lux’s studies, there was a vocal contingent, ranging from academics to government organizations, that used Google’s recent announcements as a counter argument. Upon further discussion, it was clear that as in any emerging technology, there will be ardent supporters that are predisposed to root for the adoption of the technology. The fact remains that Google’s demonstrations are technically impressive, and do represent a leap forward in autonomous technology; however, pilots and demonstrations are not the same as commercialization. The rush to proclaim driverless cars as the near future for personal transport is, simply, wrong.

While impressive, it is critical to understand that Google’s demonstrations are done in highly controlled environments, with consistent signage, clear weather, and precisely mapped roads (far beyond the level of detail for most locales). For example, Google has mapped the routes for its current vehicles down to 10 cm accuracy, and includes information around road markings—meaning in a place like Boston, where it's common to have leaves or snow on the ground, the car would not be able to operate safely. This makes machine vision one of the key areas to watch for innovation, because significant advances in both performance and cost must come when machines no longer rely on humans to see.

… human distraction and reaction pose a very difficult problem, and the solution may ultimately be an autonomous, driverless car that operates in limited-use cases, such as at low speed on predictable routes.

New palladium oxalate hydrodeoxygenation catalyst for production of drop-in paraffinic biofuels

Sun, 2014-08-17 07:13

Researchers in Malaysia and Oman have developed a novel palladium oxalate catalyst supported on zeolite A (PdOx/ Zeol) with increased acidity for the hydrodeoxygenation and isomerization of bio-feedstocks into paraffinic (drop-in) biofuels. In a paper in the ACS journal Energy & Fuel, they report the hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) of stearic acid (SA) (one of the most common saturated fatty acids found in nature following palmitic acid) into paraffinic biofuel.

Their best observed conditions for the process were 360 °C, 20 bar, 100 mL/min, and 25 mg to achieve 92% biofuel production from 35 g SA. The biofuel product distribution showed 71% n-C18H38, 18% iso-C18H38, and 3% C17H36.

A good catalyst for the production of biofuel is expected to produce both normal and iso-paraffin in order to have a reasonably high cetane number as well as improve the biofuel cold flow properties. The presence of iso-paraffin enhances the cold flow properties of biofuel by lowering the freezing point of the fuel; for example, the freezing point of the C16−C18 n-paraffin lies between 18 and 28 °C, while with the presence of 20% iso-paraffin it can be reduced to about 10−12 °C.

… Among the best reported active metals used in the hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) process to remove oxygen molecules from feed stocks is palladium. … available reports on the use of supported Pd for the production of biofuel also do not report the presence of iso-paraffins.

… it is imperative to synthesize acidified supported Pd catalyst that can achieve both HDO and isomerization in one single processing step to enhance the overall process economics. Therefore, in this study, we functionalized palladium with OxA to develop a novel palladium oxalate catalyst supported on zeolite A (PdOx/ Zeol) with increased acidity. Zeolite A was selected because of its thermal and structural stability, and in addition, it is currently being cheaply produced from coal fly ash (CFA), which hitherto is the waste product of combustion of coal in coal-fired power stations with about 800 million tons per annum CFA production. The catalyst was characterized for the physical and chemical properties and its HDO and isomerization activities were tested on stearic acid.—Ayodele et al.

The activity of the PdOx/Zeol tested on the HDO of SA showed that temperature, pressure, gas flow rate, and PdOx/Zeol loading have significant effects on the HDO process. Increasing the values enhances the efficiency up to a certain threshold—the conditions noted above—beyond which further increases lowers HDO efficiency.

They ascribed the presence of iso-C18H38, which is an excellent biofuel value-added-component due to its low freezing point to the functionalization of Pd with OxA, which increases PdOx/Zeol acidity.

The results showed that PdOx/Zeol is a prospective catalyst toward further research and commercialization of HDO process of SA.—Ayodele et al.


  • O. B. Ayodele, Hazzim F. Abbas and Wan Mohd Ashri Wan Daud (2014) “Hydrodeoxygenation of Stearic Acid into Normal and Iso-Octadecane Biofuel with Zeolite Supported Palladium-Oxalate Catalyst” Energy & Fuels. doi: 10.1021/ef501325g

Renovo shows production prototype of Shelby-based electric supercar

Sat, 2014-08-16 11:31

Renovo Coupe Click to enlarge.

Renovo Motors, Inc. unveiled a production prototype of its Renovo Coupe electric supercar at the 2014 Pebble Beach Concourse d’Elegance. Using a factory-modified Shelby American CSX9000 rolling chassis (“Cobra Daytona Coupe”), Renovo’s eponymous coupe features twin mid-mounted sequential axial-flux motors producing more than 370 kW (500 hp) and 1,000 lb-ft (1,356 N·m) of torque, with a 0-60 mph time of less than 3.4 seconds. Top speed is more than 120 mph (193 km/h).

Renovo says that its mid-mounted motors, with a single gear direct drive, feature optimized energy mappings for a wide range of driving conditions. The drivetrain ramps to full power in 37 milliseconds. Curb weight is 3,250 lbs (1,474 kg). Price is $529,000.

As points of comparison:

  • Tesla Motors’ Roadster Sport model ($128,500 when it was introduced in 2009) offered a top speed of 125 mph with a 0-60 time of 3.7 seconds, with a drive system producing 223 kW (299 hp) and torque of 295 lb-ft (400 N·m).

  • The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupe Electric Drive (earlier post) (priced in Germany in 2013 at €416,500, or $535,898) accelerates from zero to 100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 3.9 seconds, with a top speed (electronically limited) of 250 km/h (155 mph). The AMG high-performance EV features four electric motors producing a total output of 552 kW (740 hp) and a maximum torque of 1000 N·m (738 lb-ft).

Our motivation to design and build our cars is not artificially tied to any particular propulsion technology. Simply put, we can do things with electric vehicles that can’t be replicated by any other platform. Exploring these areas, reducing them to practice, and building them into our products is at the core of what we do best.—Jason Stinson, Renovo Motors CTO

Silicon Valley-based Renovo, formed in 2010, has operated in stealth mode as it developed its EV technology, including its patent-pending modular lithium-ion battery technology. Three separate battery enclosures enable a performance-oriented weight distribution and minimize chassis volume requirements for the 740V pack. The Renovo Motors drivetrain is less than 40% of the total weight of the car, and yet delivers the highest peak power in its class.

A fast-charge system can replenish the batteries in 30 minutes and maintains compatibility with a wide range of standard Level 2 charge systems. At the track, the Coupe can be charged between run sessions, offering a circuit-ready EV.

Completely reimagined by award-winning designer Peter Brock (an early advisor to Renovo), the CSX9000 delivers the features of a modern supercar while retaining the classic and race-proven aerodynamic silhouette of the original 1964 Le Mans winning car.

This shape was nearly perfect 50 years ago, and physics doesn’t change much over time. However, the redesigned car has a totally updated body, frame, suspension, and cabin; it’s a new chapter for this chassis.—Peter Brock

Limited production is targeted in 2015. Pre-sales will commence tomorrow at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Initial sales are targeted for California and will expand nationwide later this year.

Mitsubishi Rayon acquires majority of carbon fiber reinforced plastics company Wethje; targeting auto industry

Sat, 2014-08-16 07:52

Mitsubishi Rayon Co. (MRC) recently executed a share sales and purchase agreement by which it will acquire 51% of Wethje Holding GmbH, a German company engaged in manufacturing of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) parts for automobile applications, from Wethje parent Cross Industries AG. MRC aims to strengthen and expand the carbon fiber intermediate materials business for automobile applications in Europe.

Wethje shall become a consolidated subsidiary of MRC subject to fulfillment of closing conditions including approvals by appropriate authorities required in Germany and Austria. Moreover, MRC has confirmed that it will build a solid partnership with CROSS by jointly owning Wethje on a long-term basis.

MRC observed that the European Automotive industry is moving towards a full-scale adoption of CFRP parts. As an example, BMW has launched the i3 electric vehicle, which uses CFRP parts for the complete vehicle structure. This development, together with stricter environmental policies, means a further strong push towards an increasing use of CFRP technology within the automotive industry.

Founded in 1979, Wethje is recognized in the European market as a CFRP auto parts manufacturer with high-level technology through the abundant experience of their parts being adapted to luxury vehicles. Also, Wethje is one of the few manufacturers that can utilize both autoclave technology on a small scale production and RTM (resin transfer molding) technology for mid-scale serial production.

MRC has developed PCM (Prepreg Compression Molding) technology enabling the fast cycle times and quality composite parts manufacturing; expanded production bases through the acquisition of Challenge Co., Ltd. and the investment into Action Composites International; and obtained Multi-axial Non Crimp fabric technology used as base material for the RTM method through the acquisition of TK Industries in order to strengthen the carbon fiber intermediate materials business for automobile application.

MRC will utilize Wethje, which will newly join the Group, as a development and production base for CFRP parts and produce results for MRC materials through those products and will further strengthen the supply chain of the carbon fiber intermediate materials business for automobile application in Europe.

United Airlines’ cargo customers can now offset entire carbon footprint

Sat, 2014-08-16 07:00

United Airlines has launched CarbonChoice, a new business tool enabling corporate cargo customers to track and offset the emissions associated with their air freight accounts. Cargo customers with large-scale, regular shipments on United can receive customized emissions reports with simple options to offset their company’s carbon footprint through the airline’s partner, Sustainable Travel International.

United is introducing the business tool to allow cargo customers to more easily incorporate carbon-neutral business practices into their overall corporate strategy.

In 2013, United became one of the first airlines to offer an online cargo carbon calculator that customers could use to enter their individual shipment data and track emissions. With CarbonChoice, United now offers cargo shippers hassle-free, customized reports sent directly to each customer on a regular basis. United’s calculation approach recognizes weight, actual flight data related to aircraft type, routes and seasonality, and applies a next-generation CO2 emissions calculation methodology informed by the International Air Transport Association’s recommended practice for airlines to calculate CO2 emissions from freight transport.

United says that it offers one of the most robust carbon offsetting programs in the industry, with specific options for its entire range of customers, including MileagePlus members, individual business and leisure travelers, and now CarbonChoice for its cargo account customers.

United partners with Sustainable Travel International to ensure all of the airline’s carbon offset projects have obtained independent third-party verification and are registered with well-respected carbon offset programs.

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

Fri, 2014-08-15 22:00
One or more workshops/meetings have been scheduled and are now located in ARB's Workshop Calendar.

zev-program -- 2014 ZEV Calculator Available

Fri, 2014-08-15 20:55
A spreadsheet developed for determining vehicles expected from staff's proposed 2014 ZEV regulation changes is now available.

newsclips -- ARB Newsclips for August 15, 2014.

Fri, 2014-08-15 20:36
ARB Newsclips for August 15, 2014.