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The second-generation “Voltec” extended range electric powertrain applied in the MY2016 Chevy Volt (earlier post) marks a significant evolution in the electric drive technology platform from its first-generation origins. After proving a initial look at the design and capability of the different components (earlier post) late last year, GM is now providing deeper technical insight into the second-generation platform.
At the SAE 2015 World Congress in Detroit this week, GM engineers are presenting four papers on the technology of the Gen 2 Voltec propulsion system: an overview of the system and the realized improvements in efficiency and performance; a paper on the significantly re-engineered traction power inverter module (TPIM); a paper on the design and performance of the new electric motors used in the propulsion system; and a paper on the selection and design of the optimized gasoline-fueled 1.5-liter range extender engine.
In designing the second-generation system, GM engineers built on the knowledge and data gained from the first-generation Volt. A GM analysis of vehicle data collected from first generation found that Volt vehicles were driven more than half a billion miles in North America from October 2013 through September 2014, and that 74% of the miles were all-electric. (A fifth paper presented at the World Congress assessed one year of in-use operating data from first-generation Chevrolet Volt and projected the performance of the second generation.)
For the second-generation, GM wanted to enhance the electric performance of the Volt. Key design goals included:
The major components of the propulsion system are the battery pack, the drive unit, and the engine. The drive unit contains two newly developed electric motor-generators for propelling the vehicle and other duties; power electronics to supply and control them; a system of gears, clutches, and hydraulic controls to combine and deliver the mechanical power from the motor-generators and the engine; and an electric oil pump.
The range-extending engine is a 1.5-liter four-cylinder, naturally-aspirated direct-injection spark-ignition engine with sufficient power to continue normal driving after most of the battery energy has been depleted by EV driving or during conditions when available battery power is low because of extreme temperatures.
Transaxle configuration and operating modes. GM took a blank-sheet approach to designing the second-generation system. A team from GM Research and Development (GMR&D), Advanced Engineering, and Product Engineering examined more than 50 types of electric and hybrid propulsion systems to find the best type for the second-generation Volt. About half of these were chosen for energy modeling in both EV and extended range operation, using a simulation tool developed by GMR&D.
Out of this, the GM team selected several systems for more intensive study and comparison with two benchmark systems from other OEMs.
The resulting powerflow concept selected contained several features especially well-suited to electric vehicle propulsion:
The planetary gear ratios required for efficient operation with engine on also resulted in gear ratios that were suitable for electric motor traction drives, with similar speed ratios between the two motors and the transmission output.
The powerflow was capable of operating at high vehicle speeds both as an EV and with engine on.
A key decision was to split EV propulsion between two motor-generators (motors A and B). While the first-generation Volt also featured two motors, the roles were split between the 111 kW main traction motor and 63 kW generator motor. In Gen2, the two motors share both roles.
Each of the two propulsion motor-generators is geared to a common main transmission shaft using an individual planetary gear set. Each motor-generator is connected with a sun gear, and a clutching device can provide reaction torque by holding the ring gear of that planetary gear set.
When both of these clutching devices are active, the two motor-generators are connected in parallel through similar planetary gear sets and a single common final drive and differential to drive the front wheels of the Volt.
The split of EV propulsion between the motors in Gen2 allows engine starting for extended-range driving using torque from an electronically-controlled motor, which makes the starts smoother, quieter, and more efficient than using a slipping clutch or a conventional starter. The split also helps to eliminate the mass of hardware that is not useful for EV driving.
The use of the two motors allows enables two EV driving modes (one-motor and two-motor) to increase efficiency. In two-motor EV mode, the task of providing peak torque at low speed for crisp launch is split between the two electric machines; nearly every part of the drive unit is in use to provide maximum output torque and EV acceleration. The one-motor EV mode of operation reduces losses under conditions of relatively low torque, such as cruising on a street or highway.
During extended-range operation, the Volt operates with engine power under the following 3 modes:
Low Extended Range: Efficient operation at high tractive efforts or low vehicle speeds.
Fixed Ratio Extended Range: Very efficient operation during typical driving conditions when the vehicle is accelerating, and also allows efficient charging of the battery pack under light vehicle load conditions.
High Extended Range: Efficient operation at higher speeds for highway cruising.
Voltec drive unit. Because the Gen2 Voltec system can draw on both motor A and B for propulsion, GM engineers were able to reduce the total torque and power requirements for each of the motors. This in turn enabled a reduction in overall motor volume and also allowed the bearing size to be substantially reduced. Gen 2 system motor volume was reduced by 20% vs. GEN 1 and motor mass was reduced by 40%.
The GEN 2 drive unit integrates the power inverter with the transaxle, providing a significant reduction in volume through elimination of the 3-phase high voltage cables. The volume of the power inverter was reduced from 13.1L to 10.4L.
GM engineers sought to minimize the hydraulic power required for transmission operation. (The three clutching elements are implemented as hydraulically actuated plate clutch and brake, and mechanical diode.) The hydraulic system serves three functions: clutch/brake actuation; lubrication; and motor cooling.
The designers optimized the clutches and hydraulic circuits to balance these requirements and to reduce the overall hydraulic power. In addition, the oil pump and motor were sized to accommodate the full temperature range of operation, eliminating the need for an engine-driven pump.
Electric machines. In the first-generation Voltec system, both motors used NdFeB magnets. In the second generation, to optimize the EV range of the system, motor A was designed with a Ferrite magnet rotor while motor B was designed with an NdFeB magnet rotor. The Gen 2 system transmits most power through motor B under typical driving conditions, while motor A is used to augment power at high loads. Each motor design was optimized to match its distribution of operating points.
Since motor A rotates during most operating conditions but is mostly at zero torque, it was designed with weaker magnet flux to minimize speed related losses, while motor B was designed as a stronger magnet flux machine to minimize losses at its operating points which are typically under load.
Although using ferrite magnets in a motor is not a new idea, most of the machines designed with these types of magnets are intended for use in industrial applications where requirements in terms of size, torque density and wide operating temperature range are not as extreme as in automotive traction application.
GM engineers developed other ways to increase the torque capability of the machine using a topology referred to as Permanent Magnet Assisted Synchronous Reluctance Machine (PMASRM).
Although Nd-FeB magnets are well-established and have outstanding magnetic properties and high energy, the coercivity of the magnets at higher operating temperature is a challenge. The mainstream approach to increasing the coercivity of Nd-FeB magnets is to add heavy rare earth such as Dysprosium to increase its intrinsic coercivity.
While this approach is demonstrated to work and widely accepted in the industry with mature processes in place, it also brings along a significant price tag associated with the cost and amount of required heavy rare earth material. In addition it also reduces the remanent flux (Br) of the resulting magnets.
Over the last several years a new process, Grain Boundary Dysprosium Diffusion (GBD), has been developed toward enhancing the coercivity of NdFeB magnets while minimizing the use of heavy rare earths and impact on Br. GBD focuses on concentrating dysprosium near the grain boundaries of the Nd-Fe-B sintered magnet...and around the surface of the finished magnet. Using this type of magnets allows for significant reduction in machine size and magnet mass as well as rare earth reduction. It also offers demagnetization protection around the magnet corners where they are typically most vulnerable since the finished magnet will now have the highest Dy concentration in those areas.—Jurkovic et al.
The resulting electric machines reduce rare earth and heavy rare earth content by more than 80% and 50% respectively while maintaining and improving the drive unit and vehicle performance.
Motor A (the ferrite machine) exhibits a slightly lower peak efficiency compared to Motor B (the sintered NdFeB machine): 95% versus 96%. This is in part due to use of weaker ferrite magnets, but also due to the overall shorter active length of the A machine, 31.5mm versus 51.5mm for the B machine.
Traction Power Inverter Module (TPIM). The two motors that are commuted by two traction inverters: PIM-A (power inverter-A), PIM-B (power inverter-B) and an oil pump motor run by a third inverter. All these three inverters are contained in one package named the Traction Power Inverter Module (TPIM), integrated with the drive unit.
TPIM is a single component that is bolted into the transmission in a single operation. The motor interface is done with ridged bus bars that pass through a cast wall in the transmission case. The coolant interface is achieved through a gasketed joint. Coolant is routed through the transmission case to an external cooling pipe assembly. The coolant pipe assembly can be unique for each vehicle application to keep the plant interface common for all versions of the transmission.
The main components of the TPIM are the power board, DC bus capacitor, EMI filters, control and gate drive boards, sensors and busbar. The motor controls algorithms are programmed into the control boards.
In the second-generation unit, better power flow between the inverters, better efficiency and thermal robustness enabled an average electric drive system FTP city efficiency improvement of 6;, a projected charge sustaining (CS) label fuel economy increase of 10%; and both low end torque and high speed power improvements.
GM selected Delphi’s novel dual-side cooled Viper as the power device for the TPIM. Viper contains silicon IGBT and diode in an electrically isolated package that is thermally conductive on both sides and provides a low profile compact solution for inverter. Unlike a conventional power module, the better silicon and dual-side cooled Viper enabled the reduced of the silicon footprint, allowing for greater layout flexibility and reduced cost.
Design of the heatsink was critical. To handle the large phase currents, GM engineers used a copper metal injected molded (MIM) heatsink. This unique MIM device provides a low pressure drop with a high heat convection to handle the losses for each specific IGBT and diode. The heatsink and housing loop also passively cools the 3-phase AC busbar and capacitor assembly.
High-power electronics for electrified vehicles need liquid-cooling for heat dissipation. Coolant passages and chambers with internal fins are usually formed from multiple pieces and joints to keep costs down; these joints need to be strong to handle the pressures and vibrations in a vehicle, and to be leak-proof to eliminate the risk of leakage inside a high-power electrical enclosure.
Conventional design uses pressure seals with rubber gaskets and many screws, typically with a thick die-cast cover. However the Gen 3 TPIM housing and liquid cooled chamber uses friction stir welding (FSW) technology adapted by Delphi. This design was validated to several thousand pressure cycles without failure.
The process integrates a liquid heat exchanger to the body of the electronic module with robust leak-free hermetic joints and welds aluminum covers to cast aluminum cases to enclose the product replacing glue-and-screw processes. This process outperforms the industry-standard with a 45% smaller footprint, fast change tooling, 3-D force monitoring, and a 50% shorter process time that results in reduced carbon footprint and 40% power savings.
The TPIM housing and liquid cooled chamber uses friction stir welding (FSW) technology adapted by Delphi. This design was validated to several thousand pressure cycles without failure.
To enable the smaller packaging size required for on-transaxle mounting, inverter current requirements for both motors were limited to 325 Arms, primarily as a result of reduced motor torque and power requirements. The lower current requirements, in conjunction with silicon and power module cooling improvements, enabled inverter silicon die area as well as inverter switching loss to be reduced by more than 50%.Comparison of Gen 1 and Gen 2 Voltec drive units Gen 1 Gen 2 Gear ratio, EV mode A: 1.45
Engine. GM developed a hybrid-optimized engine based on the new Ecotec family of engines. GM sized the engine based on three key factors: maximizing efficiency given the operation typical of an EREV vehicle application; ensuring that the engine noise would not be obtrusive during CS operation, thereby maintaining the EV drive character; and providing sufficient performance in extended range mode to minimize the battery pack energy required for CS operation.
Operation of a range extender differs form that of a typical hybrid or conventional engine in that the level of available battery power allows considerably more flexibility in engine speed and load operating points.
At the low end of the power band, the engine remains off during many of the low speed and power conditions.
At the high end, the ample supply of on-demand electric power allows the system to minimize the demand for maximum engine power (which in general occurs at less efficient operating points).
The available electric power ideally allows the system to operate the engine closer to peak efficiency points.
These factors tend to result in the operation in a fairly narrow band of power away from the power extremes that would occur in other applications.
While it may seem at first glance that the ideal choice for engine efficiency would be to minimize displacement due to the large amount of electric power available, it was actually found that a larger normally aspirated engine provided advantages in both efficiency and EV drive character.—Jocsak et al.
GM initially assessed several 4-cylinder and 3-cylinder options. The engineers found that while the 3-cylinder normally aspirated engine showed an efficiency advantage at powers below 10 kW, these points were not prevalent in usage for the Volt. The lower torque and power of the 3-cylinder increased the speed required to run at the higher end of the power distribution.
The 3-cylinder turbocharged engine had lower peak efficiency than the normally aspirated engines. Further, since the peak efficiency of the 3-cylinder turbocharged engine occurred at a relatively low torque as compared to the peak torque, the system was not able to fully utilize the available torque to achieve desired low engine speeds without compromising efficiency. On the other hand, the 4-cylinder normally aspirated engines were more efficient in the range of speeds and powers suited to the Volt application. High efficiency near the peak torque allowed operation at the lower speeds needed to minimize engine noise.
In the final analysis, the largest displacement normally aspirated engine available within the Ecotec family, 1.5L, was selected, as it achieved the best efficiency under the relevant operating conditions, allowed the desired low speed/high torque operation, and minimized the need for CS buffer size. In the GEN 2 Volt, the improved engine and drive system are able to deliver more power to the wheels for hill climbing, so the need for the use of mountain mode to extend CS operation is reduced. —Jocsak et al.
GM improved the efficiency of the engine through the use of a higher geometric compression ratio (12.5:1) and external cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR). Camshaft park positions were optimized to reduce effective compression ratio during engine starts, reducing oscillating cranking torque and improving the smoothness of engine starts.
The piston bowl was developed to enable spray-guided direct injection to improve combustion system performance and robustness for catalytic converter light-off.
The cooled external EGR system extracts exhaust gas upstream of the catalytic converter and downstream of the integrated exhaust manifold (IEM) outlet, passes the gas through a butterfly style EGR valve, then through an external EGR cooler, and into the intake manifold downstream of the throttle. The EGR cooler utilizes engine coolant as the heat exchange fluid.
A key goal in designing the system was to minimize pressure losses in order to maximize the amount of EGR available for introduction into the intake manifold under high load when manifold air pressure (MAP) is high. As a result, GM subsequently optimized the intake manifold design and EGR introduction location.
Selection of the compression ratio was made by analyzing its effect on engine fuel consumption at high-usage operating points, and on wide open throttle (WOT) torque.
GM optimized the engine control strategy to use dual cam phasers with cooled external EGR to improve efficiency across the range of engine operation, particularly within the power band of 10kW to 26 kW, which comprises the majority of operation in the Volt vehicle. The engine was designed to operate at stoichiometric during full load operation below 4000 rpm.
Intake cam park timing was chosen to balance conflicting engine requirements. Electric system restart of the warm engine dictates late park of the intake camshaft, retarding the closing timing of the intake valve, and reducing the effective compression ratio of the engine. This in turn reduces the oscillating cranking torque of the engine, minimizing the noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) impact of engine restart. Conversely, engine cold-start at high altitudes dictates an early park position of the intake camshaft, increasing the effective compression ratio of the engine.
GM chose exhaust cam park timing to optimize cold-start emissions and engine efficiency based on the chosen intake cam park timing selection. The result was more retarded intake and exhaust park timing than employed on the conventional version of the 1.5 L Ecotec engine.
The combination of LIVC operation at lower loads, enabled by the dual high-authority cam phasers, and external EGR at higher loads combined with direct injection for engine knock mitigation resulted in specific power comparable to that of a conventional non-hybrid optimized engine, minimizing engine size and mass, while meeting vehicle performance requirements.
Gen 2 Volt system results. GM projects the Gen 2 Volt will achieve a 30% increase in EV range, an 11% improvement in charge sustaining label fuel economy, and improved vehicle performance both as an electric vehicle, and in extended range mode.
Conlon, B., Blohm, T., Harpster, M., Holmes, A. et al. (2015) “The Next Generation “Voltec” Extended Range EV Propulsion System,” SAE Int. J. Alt. Power 4(2) doi: 10.4271/2015-01-1152
Anwar, M., Hayes, M., Tata, A., Teimorzadeh, M. et al. (2015) “Power Dense and Robust Traction Power Inverter for the Second-Generation Chevrolet Volt Extended-Range EV,” SAE Int. J. Alt. Power 4(1) doi: 10.4271/2015-01-1201
Jurkovic, S., Rahman, K., Patel, N., and Savagian, P. (2015) “Next Generation Voltec Electric Machines; Design and Optimization for Performance and Rare-Earth Mitigation,” SAE Int. J. Alt. Power 4(2) doi: 10.4271/2015-01-1208
Jocsak, J., White, D., Armand, C., and Davis, R. (2015) “Development of the Combustion System for General Motors’ High- Efficiency Range Extender Ecotec Small Gas Engine,” SAE Int. J. Engines 8(4) doi: 10.4271/2015-01-1272
Duhon, A., Sevel, K., Tarnowsky, S., and Savagian, P. (2015) “Chevrolet Volt Electric Utilization,” SAE Int. J. Alt. Power 4(2) doi: 10.4271/2015-01-1164
Constellium N.V has decided to build a second Body-in-White (BiW) finishing line in North America to further support the growing demand for aluminum from the US automotive industry.
Constellium expects the investment to reach $160 million; the investment is part of the previously announced $750-million strategic investment plan to increase Constellium’s BiW production capacity by 2022.
The location of the 100,000 metric tons BiW finishing line which is due to start production in early 2018 has not yet been decided and will be announced in due course, pending final business considerations.
In light of current volume commitments from customers, we have decided to add further capacity and launch the construction of a second BiW finishing line. This move reflects the success of our continued discussions with car manufacturers. Constellium expects to benefit from strong market growth as the integration of aluminum body sheet continues to quickly expand across the US automotive industry. We have an ambitious strategy in this market and are fully on track with our expansion roadmap.— Pierre Vareille, Chief Executive Officer of Constellium
Constellium provides Ford Motor Co. with aluminum structural parts for the all-new Ford F-150 pickup truck that extensively uses high-strength, military-grade, aluminum alloy as a build material. (Earlier post.)
Eguana Technologies, a supplier of power control and conversion solutions for distributed energy storage systems and Li-ion manufacturer LG Chem have combined their technologies under a multi-year agreement to deliver a certified, fully integrated energy storage system (ESS) Eguana calls “AC Battery”. The modular system is targeted as a residential product, but also has the potential to be aggregated for small commercial and industrial (C&I) end-users.
Basic product capacity is 6.4 kWh. Eguana designed the package around LG Chem’s battery modules and supplies its Bi-Direx inverter and controls subassembly. The low voltage design enables high-capacity batteries to operate in lower power ratings needed for decentralized systems (i.e. residential rooftop solar). Eguana has also worked with Germany-based Sonnenbatterie on a similar ESS solution.
The Eguana power control system manages system power flow and handles the core power conversion functions—AC→DC and DC→AC—as well as connectivity with power grid. It also hosts the consumer gateway and battery management system.
The AC Battery is pre-integrated and fully certified, and requires only a grid connection and a dispatch signal to provide a fully functional and durable energy storage installation to the consumer. The AC Battery provides flexibility for system aggregators which want to deploy it as part of new solar storage installations or as a retrofit to solar PV installations already in place.
The AC Battery can be paired with any of the Energy Storage Management Systems currently coming to market for a broad range of applications.
The AC Battery can be used to store electricity from solar and use it during evening hours, or can be used by fleet aggregators to provide utility grid management services including voltage control, frequency regulation, demand response and load balancing.
The engineering teams at LG Chem and Eguana have been working closely to integrate controls for the AC Battery which is expected to be available for commercial shipping early this summer.
Eguana Technologies is the market leading supplier for grid tied storage inverters in Europe with more than 4,000 units shipped within the last 18 months. Their technology leadership and product platform is proven with thousands of units deployed in the global market. This is why we chose Eguana as our system partner. We are going to strengthen the partnership with Eguana and put our best effort to stand up as the Nº1 battery maker in the North American ESS market.—Sunghoon Jang, Senior Vice President for LG Chem
LG Chem supplies the Li-ion cells for a number of automotive applications, with customers including Volkswagen, Ford, Hyundai, Renault, Audi, Chevrolet, Kia, Daimler and GM.
Tesla is now expected to announce a grid-scale battery pack as well as a home battery to come from its GigaFactory capacity.
The Aluminum Association is partnering with the Department of Energy (DOE) to increase the number of aluminum industry jobs in the United States and explore new, sustainable technologies to advance US manufacturing. The DOE’s Aluminum Industry Jobs Partnership will identify opportunities to expand plant capacity and improve workforce development systems to help bring qualified candidates to the industry. Today, the $65-billion aluminum industry directly employs around 155,000 workers in the United States.
The Aluminum Industry Jobs Partnership will be composed of participants from the Aluminum Association and its member companies as well as the DOE Jobs Strategy Council (JSC) and Office of the Secretary. The JSC is a cross-cutting initiative that integrates the research, technology, and economic resources of the Department to respond to the workforce and economic development needs of the energy industry and state and local governments. The Partnership will collaborate to explore technologies to advance the competitiveness of US manufacturing.
The Partnership will initially meet on a quarterly basis to review the condition of the industry, identify projects of joint interest and implement activities of mutual benefit.
Creating more aluminum industry jobs in the United States contributes to the economy and the environment. Aluminum is unique as a material in that it’s highly recyclable, extremely durable and it can contribute directly to energy efficiency through lightweighting in the transportation, building and other environments.—David Foster, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Energy
A study by the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory found that aluminum has a 20% smaller life cycle energy use compared to a typical vehicle on the road today.
The Partnership will have four initial goals:
The US aluminum industry continues to improve its environmental performance in a variety of areas. A peer-reviewed life cycle assessment study released last year found that the energy used to produce new (primary) aluminum is down more than a quarter since 1995. At the same time, recovery and recycling across the industry is on the rise. Today, around 70% of US aluminum production is in secondary, or recycled, metal. Recycled aluminum requires 92% less energy to make than new aluminum, which has a major impact on the industry’s overall environmental footprint.
Dow Corning, a global leader in silicones and silicon-based technology, unveiled a significant new enhancement to its Silastic Fluorosilicone Rubber (FSR) portfolio at the SAE 2015 World Congress. Combining its expertise in formulating, mixing and compounding with its ability to modify polymer structure, the company was able to develop a more heat-resistant Silastic FSR technology for extreme high-temperature applications. This new platform now enables Dow Corning’s FSR-engineered elastomers to meet the demands of customer automotive applications that require long-lasting, reliable performance at temperatures exceeding 220°C.
With automotive design trending toward smaller engine compartments, increased exhaust gas recirculation and decreased air flow, the high-end temperatures in underhood environments are climbing and, more importantly, driving the performance requirements for FSRs to extremes not previously required. In collaboration with the automotive industry, Dow Corning has developed an innovative new technology platform for its Silastic FSR line that boosts temperature resistance for extended periods of time and offers expanded flexibility for next-generation automotive designs.—Craig Gross, senior application engineer for Fluorosilicone Elastomers at Dow Corning
FSRs fall into a special class of silicone polymers that add enhanced chemical resistance to the excellent temperature performance typical of silicone technology. These unique materials withstand long exposure to aggressive automotive fluids, fuels and oils, and conventional grades perform reliably at temperatures reaching 200°C, making them a common material solution for turbocharger hoses, fuel systems and transmission seals.
Even with the help of performance-enhancing additives, however, traditional FSR grades are reaching their limits as new automotive designs steadily drive underhood temperatures ever higher.
Dow Corning took a holistic approach to this problem by looking at polymer design, raw materials, additives and processing in order to boost overall material performance. As a result, the company was able to develop a new FSR technology platform that delivers reliable, long-lasting performance at higher temperatures.
The company validated these performance improvements by subjecting its enhanced FSR technology to long-term heat aging, fluid exposure and elevated mechanical testing and adhesion to high-consistency rubber (HCR). These tests confirmed that Dow Corning’s advanced FSR technology delivered reliable performance at temperatures above 220°C for extended periods of time.
By leveraging this advanced technology, Dow Corning can now tailor new advanced FSR solutions that target the precise performance needs of customer applications, including easier processing, thinner wall sections, lower weight, reduced systems cost and more stable performance over a broader temperature range compared to conventional solutions.
The company’s enhanced Silastic FSR compounds are available globally, and come as ready-to-use rubber crepe mixtures designed for traditional molding, calendering and extrusion processes.
A group of carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects supported by the US Department of Energy (DOE) have captured 10 million metric tons of carbon dioxide—the equivalent of removing more than 2 million passenger vehicles from US roads for one year.
The projects contributing to the 10 million ton milestone are part of DOE’s Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (RCSP) Initiative and the Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage (ICCS) Major Demonstrations programs.
The RCSP Initiative consists of seven partnerships focused on determining the best regional approaches for storing CO2 in geologic formations. The Partnerships include more than 400 organizations spanning 43 states and four Canadian provinces, and form the core of a nationwide network to identify optimal technologies, geologic carbon storage sites, regulatory options and infrastructure requirements to ensure the safe storage of CO2 and facilitate the commercial deployment of CCS.
The ICCS program—representing a $1.4 billion investment under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—is a major step forward in the effort to reduce CO2 emissions from industrial plants. The program has helped industry demonstrate the CCS technologies that can be readily replicated and commercially deployed in industrial facilities.
One DOE supported project alone has now captured nearly 2 million metric tons of CO2. Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. in Port Arthur, Texas, is demonstrating a system to capture carbon emissions from two steam methane reformers used to produce hydrogen. Air Products retrofitted its steam methane reformers with an advanced system that separates CO2 from the process gas stream. The CO2, in compressed form, is then delivered by pipeline to enhanced oil recovery projects in eastern Texas.
The US is taking the lead in showing the world CCS can work. We have made the largest government investment in carbon capture and storage of any nation, and these investments are being matched by private capital. We are showing that CCS is working now, and that it is indispensable to the DOE’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change.—Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz
Audi has completed the development of an integrated V2X roof antenna. The series-production ready smart antenna contains an entire V2X solution, including radio and modem, GNSS antenna and receiver, V2X protocol stack and security, vehicle connectivity and V2X application matching Car-to-Car Communication Consortium (C2C-CC) Day-1 profile. Antenna development was done jointly by Kathrein Automotive GmbH and Autotalks Ltd., who designed the antenna PCB.
The smart antenna is a product of a long collaboration between Audi’s and Autotalks’ teams.
The solution has met stability and reliability targets. The antenna was tested under heavy network load, while signatures of all packets were verified, demonstrating best-of-breed security performance. V2X stack and application processing capacity exceeded the requirements.
The high integration level of the Autotalks chipset—CRATON (ATK4100) V2X Communication Processor and PLUTON (ATK3100) V2X RF Transceiver—was instrumental to the integration of the required functionality inside the small form factor roof antenna without the necessity of adding an external CPU.
Audi developed a complete set of V2X applications, providing reliable indications to the driver. Autotalks software team accepted the challenge of integrating the V2X applications with the V2X protocol stack, security and positioning on the advanced Autotalks chipset. The use of a standard software allows exchange of information with other ECUs inside the vehicle. Finally, a common continuous integration platform, co-developed by Audi and Autotalks, assured high quality software throughout the project.—Peter Schuberth, Head of Development Embedded Software of Audi Electronics Venture GmbH
Autotalks provides an automotive-qualified chipset, containing the entire ECU functionality. The unique technology of Autotalks addresses all key V2X challenges: communication reliability, security, positioning accuracy and vehicle installation. Autotalks and STMicroelectronics have formed a strategic partnership for the V2X market, and are working to produce a mass market-optimized second-generation V2X chipset.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded a multidisciplinary team at the University of Michigan $1.2 million to investigate further highly promising metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) that the team had identified earlier as more efficient materials for high-density on-board hydrogen storage for fuel cell vehicles. (Earlier post.)
The U-M team’s efforts to develop such materials began in 2012 with researchers from multiple disciplines: Mike Cafarella, assistant professor of computer science and engineering; Antek Wong-Foy, associate research scientist in chemistry; Don Siegel, assistant professor of mechanical engineering; and postdoctoral researcher Jacob Goldsmith.
Most known MOFs are included in a larger database of known organic crystalline materials called the Cambridge Structure Database (CSD). The database contains more than 600,000 entries, most of which aren’t MOFs and aren’t relevant for hydrogen storage. However a vast catalog of existing MOFs does reside within the CSD; many of the gas uptake properties of these had not yet been assessed.
Goldsmith and his colleagues employed data mining and automated structure analysis to identify, to “cleanup,” and to predict rapidly the hydrogen storage properties of these compounds. The process and the results were described in an open access paper published in the ACS journal Chemistry of Materials in 2013.
Approximately 20,000 candidate compounds were generated from the CSD using an algorithm that removes solvent/guest molecules. These compounds were then characterized with respect to their surface area and porosity. Employing the empirical relationship between excess H2 uptake and surface area (Chahine rule), the U-M researchers then predicted the theoretical total hydrogen storage capacity for the subset of ∼4,000 compounds exhibiting nontrivial internal porosity.
Our screening identifies several overlooked compounds having high theoretical capacities; these compounds are suggested as targets of opportunity for additional experimental characterization. More importantly, screening reveals that the relationship between gravimetric and volumetric H2 density is concave downward, with maximal volumetric performance occurring for surface areas of 3100–4800 m2/g. We conclude that H2 storage in MOFs will not benefit from further improvements in surface area alone. Rather, discovery efforts should aim to achieve moderate mass densities and surface areas simultaneously, while ensuring framework stability upon solvent removal.—Goldsmith et al.
The several known, yet overlooked compounds recommended for further investigation had high hydrogen storage densities exceeding 10 wt % (g H2/g MOF basis) and 58 g/L (total H2, at 77K and 35 bar).
The next phase of the project will be funded by the DOE Fuel Cell Technologies office and aims to synthesize and more completely characterize the promising MOFs identified earlier. The group aims to explore MOFs that, at least on paper, could meet the DOE’s 2017 targets for hydrogen storage systems.
The exploratory research was initiated with the aid of a $40,000 seed grant from the U-M Energy Institute’s Partnerships for Innovation in Sustainable Energy Technology program. Additional support came from the DOE Hydrogen Storage Engineering Center of Excellence, which has sponsored Siegel’s hydrogen-related research since 2009.
Jacob Goldsmith, Antek G. Wong-Foy, Michael J. Cafarella, and Donald J. Siegel (2013) “Theoretical Limits of Hydrogen Storage in Metal–Organic Frameworks: Opportunities and Trade-Offs” Chemistry of Materials 25 (16), 3373-3382 doi: 10.1021/cm401978e
Toyota has tapped award-winning documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock to show how calling hydrogen fuel cell vehicles “bullsh*t”—an oft-quoted opinion of Elon Musk—isn’t far from the truth. “Fueled by Bullsh*t” is the first online video in a multi-part “Fueled by Everything” series aimed to educate a broad audience about the innovative ways hydrogen fuel can be made from renewable sources.
Spurlock directed the 3-minute piece which features a dairy farmer and mechanical engineer as they follow cow manure to its ultimate use in powering the hydrogen fuel cell electric Toyota Mirai.
Beyond high quality dung, hydrogen can be manufactured from other renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and biogas from landfills.
Toyota is launching the multi-series video campaign through the Toyota Mirai website and additional digital properties with paid online media support. The Toyota Mirai site will also feature a deeper dive into the scientific process of creating hydrogen fuel, with explanations from scientists and experts in the field. This content will also appear across Toyota social and media partner sites, including Forbes.com, YouTube and Hulu.
Vehicle cost, current battery technology, and inadequate consumer knowledge are some of the barriers preventing widespread adoption of plug-in electric vehicles, according to a new congressionally mandated report from the National Research Council. Developing less expensive, better performing batteries is essential to reducing overall vehicle cost, and a market strategy is needed to create awareness and overcome customer uncertainty, the report finds. The report recommends a range of incentives that the federal government can offer to address these and other barriers.
The premise of the report—“Overcoming Barriers to Deployment of Plug-in Electric Vehicles”—is that there is a benefit to the United States if a higher fraction of vehicle miles traveled is fueled by electricity rather than by petroleum due to the resulting reduction in dependence on petroleum and reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases and criteria pollutants. The task of the committee of experts and stakeholders writing the report was (1) to identify market barriers slowing the purchase of PEVs and hindering the deployment of supporting infrastructure in the United States and (2) to recommend ways to mitigate those barriers.
The report focused on battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, categorizing them into four classes based on their all-electric range: long-range and limited-range battery electric vehicles; range-extended plug-in hybrid electric vehicles; and minimal plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.Four Classes of Plug-in Electric Vehicles PEV Class Description Example (AER) Long-range BEV Can travel hundreds of miles on a single battery charge and then be refueled in a time that is much shorter than the additional driving time that the refueling allows. 2014 Tesla Model S
Despite the notion that range limitation is a problem for plug-in electric vehicles, the total range for each class—except for the limited-range battery electric vehicle—is similar to that of a conventional vehicle using one tank of gas, the report noted.
The purchase of a new vehicle is typically a lengthy process that often involves substantial research and is strongly affected by consumer perceptions. In evaluating the purchase process for PEVs specifically, the committee identified several barriers—in addition to the cost differences between PEVs and ICE vehicles—that affect consumer perceptions and their decision process and ultimately (negatively) their purchase decisions. The barriers include the limited variety of PEVs available; misunderstandings concerning the range of the various PEVs; difficulties in understanding electricity consumption, calculating fuel costs, and determining charging infrastructure needs; complexities of installing home charging; difficulties in determining the greenness of the vehicle; lack of information on incentives; and lack of knowledge of unique PEV benefits.
Collectively, the identified barriers indicate that consumer awareness and knowledge of PEV offerings, incentives, and features are not as great as needed to make fully informed decisions about whether to purchase a PEV. Furthermore, many factors contribute to consumer uncertainty and doubt about the viability of PEVs and create a perceptual hurdle that negatively affects PEV purchases. Together, the barriers emphasize the need for better consumer information and education that can answer all their questions. Consumers have traditionally relied on dealers to provide vehicle information; however, in spite of education efforts by some manufacturers, dealer knowledge of PEVs has been uneven and often insufficient to address consumer questions and concerns. The committee does acknowledge, however, that even well-informed consumers might not buy a PEV because it does not meet some of their basic requirements for a vehicle (that is, consumer information and education cannot overcome the absence of features desired by a consumer). —“Overcoming Barriers to Deployment of Plug-in Electric Vehicles”
The study found that the home is the most important location for charging infrastructure, followed by the workplace, in and around cities, and, least important, on interstates. The vehicle fleet spends a vast majority of time parked at home, and most early adopters of plug-in vehicles satisfy their charging needs there.
Charging at workplaces—where vehicles are also parked for a substantial amount of time—provides an additional opportunity to encourage plug-in vehicle adoption and increase the amount of miles fueled by electricity.
The report issues a number of recommendations across a range of areas; together, these are:
As the United States encourages the adoption of PEVs, it should continue to pursue in parallel the production of US electricity from increasingly lower carbon sources.
The federal government and proactive states should use their incentives and regulatory powers to (1) eliminate the proliferation of plugs and communication protocols for DC fast chargers and (2) ensure that all PEV drivers can charge their vehicles and pay at all public charging stations using a universally accepted payment method just as any ICE vehicle can be fueled at any gasoline station.
To provide accurate consumer information and awareness, the federal government should make use of its Ad Council program, particularly in key geographic markets, to provide accurate information about federal tax credits and other incentives, the value proposition of PEV ownership, and who could usefully own a PEV.
The federal government should continue to sponsor fundamental and applied research to facilitate and expedite the development of lower cost, higher performing vehicle batteries. Stable funding is critical and should focus on improving energy density and addressing durability and safety.
The federal government should fund research to understand the role of public charging infrastructure (as compared with home and workplace charging) in encouraging PEV adoption and use.
Federal and state governments should adopt a PEV innovation policy where PEVs remain free from special roadway or registration surcharges for a limited time to encourage their adoption.
Local governments should streamline permitting and adopt building codes that require new construction to be capable of supporting future charging installations.
Local governments should engage with and encourage workplaces to consider investments in charging infrastructure and provide information about best practices.
The federal government should refrain from additional direct investment in the installation of public charging infrastructure pending an evaluation of the relationship between the availability of public charging and PEV adoption or use.
To ensure that adopters of PEVs have incentives to charge vehicles at times when the cost of supplying energy is low, the federal government should propose that state regulatory commissions offer PEV owners the option of purchasing electricity under time-of-use or real-time pricing.
Federal financial incentives to purchase PEVs should continue to be provided beyond the current production volume limit as manufacturers and consumers experiment with and learn about the new technology. The federal government should re-evaluate the case for incentives after a suitable period, such as 5 years. Its re-evaluation should consider advancements in vehicle technology and progress in reducing production costs, total costs of ownership, and emissions of PEVs, HEVs, and ICE vehicles.
Given the research on effectiveness of purchase incentives, the federal government should consider converting the tax credit to a point-of-sale rebate.
Given the sparse research on incentives other than financial purchase incentives, research should be conducted on the variety of consumer incentives that are (or have been) offered by states and local governments to determine which, if any, have proven effective in promoting PEV deployment.
In the conclusion, the authors of the report emphasized two points:
Vehicle cost is a substantial barrier to PEV deployment. Without the federal financial purchase incentives, PEVs are not currently cost-competitive with ICE vehicles on the basis of either purchase price or cumulative cost of ownership. Therefore, one of the most important committee recommendations is continuing the federal financial purchase incentives and re-evaluating them after a suitable period.
Developing lower cost, better performing batteries is essential for reducing vehicle cost because it is the high-energy batteries that are primarily responsible for the cost differential between PEVs and ICE vehicles. It is therefore important that the federal government continue to fund battery research at least at current levels. Technology development to improve and lower the cost of batteries (and electric-drive technologies) for PEVs represents a technology-push strategy that complements the market-pull strategy represented by the federal financial purchase incentives that lower the barrier to market adoption.
A significant body of research, however, demonstrates that having the right technology (with a compelling value proposition) is still insufficient to achieve success in the market. That technology must be complemented with a planned strategy to create market awareness and to overcome customer fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the technology.
Equally important to recognize is a recommendation that the committee does not make. The committee does not at this point recommend additional direct federal investment in the installation of public charging infrastructure until the relationship between infrastructure availability and PEV adoption and use is assessed. … Although some data have been collected through various projects, the data-collection efforts were not designed to understand that fundamental relationship, and the committee cautions against extrapolating findings on the first adopters to the mainstream market. Given the strain on federal resources, the suggested research should help to ensure that limited federal funds are spent so that they will have the greatest impact. “Overcoming Barriers to Deployment of Plug-in Electric Vehicles”
The study was sponsored by the US Department of Energy. The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies. They are private, independent nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under a congressional charter granted to NAS in 1863. The National Research Council is the principal operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.
Taiwan’s largest integrated steel maker, China Steel Corporation (CSC), has announced formal Board approval of a 1400-million TWD (US$46 million) capital investment in a LanzaTech commercial ethanol facility. This follows the successful demonstration of the carbon recycling platform at the White Biotech (WBT) Demonstration Plant in Kaohsiung using steel mill off gases for ethanol production.
LanzaTech’s gas fermentation process uses proprietary microbes to capture and reuse carbon rich waste gases, reducing emissions and pollutants from industrial processes such as steel manufacturing, while making fuels and chemicals that displace those made from fossil resources. (Earlier post.)
In November 2012, China Steel Corporation (CSC) and LCY Chemical Corporation formed a joint venture, White Biotech (WBT), as part of a Green Energy Alliance with LanzaTech. The resulting demonstration plant met or exceeded all ethanol production milestones and the CSC Board have formally approved the capital to move to commercial scale.
A 50,000 MT (17 million gallons) per annum facility is planned for construction in Q4 2015, with the intention to scale up to a 100,000 MT (34 million gallons) per annum commercial unit thereafter. Initial product focus will be industrial ethanol and gasoline additives, with plans for increased product diversity utilizing LanzaTech's unique microbial capability.
CSC has long been a champion of utilizing new technologies to create a better future and we are proud to help make this a reality. We need to keep fossil resources in the ground and carbon recycling is one way we can achieve this. If we are to keep within our global carbon budget we need all technologies to contribute and, more importantly, we need forward looking industries and organizations, such as CSC, to bring these technologies to market.—LanzaTech CEO Jennifer Holmgren
Globally, up to 150 million tonnes of CO2 emissions could potentially be avoided by re-using available steel mill gas residues using LanzaTech’s process. The process is currently protected by more than 100 granted patents, and produces sustainable fuels and platform chemicals that serve as building blocks for everyday products such as rubber and plastics.
Founded in New Zealand, LanzaTech has raised more than US$200 million from investors including Khosla Ventures, K1W1, Qiming Venture Partners, Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund, Petronas, Mitsui, Primetals, China International Capital Corp and the New Zealand Superannuation Fund.
China Steel Corporation (CSC), located at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, was founded in December 1971. With annual production (in terms of crude steel) around 10 million tonnes, CSC produces a range of products. The domestic market takes roughly 65% of CSC’s production and the exports take the remaining 35%. CSC is the largest steel company in Taiwan, enjoying more than 50% of the domestic market. Major export destinations are Mainland China, Japan and Southeast Asia.