- Where We Work
- Who We Are
- Info & Tools
VG Energy, an agricultural biotech company, entered a strategic alliance with DAK Renewable Research to conduct field trials using LipidMax to increase corn oil yield. LipidMax selectively inhibits certain metabolic pathways (Metabolic Disruption Technology, earlier post) to increase the oil yield in plants, with potential applications for biofuels production.
DAK Renewable Research, headquartered in Brandon, South Dakota, brings agricultural innovations together with investors. It is primarily focused on developing viable and cost-effective green energy solutions. DAK is providing twelve 2,000 ft2 plots in South Dakota to measure the effect of LipidMax in corn oil production and test the robustness of LipidMax in field conditions.
The compound will be applied at multiple stages in the growth cycle of the corn. The crop will reach maturity in mid-October and results will be announced shortly thereafter. All data from the results will be exclusively owned by VG Energy.
The inventor of Metabolic Disruption Technology (MDT) is Dr. Karen Newell at Texas A&M University School of Medicine and Chief Scientist at VG Life Sciences. Dr. Marty Dickman, Texas A&M University, is the Chief Scientific Advisor for VG Life Sciences on the agricultural side of the business. Together Dr. Newell and Dr. Dickman are testing and developing MDT agricultural applications including LipidMax.
VG Energy, Inc. is an agricultural biotech company that is a majority-owned subsidiary of VG Life Sciences Inc., a biotech company researching treatments for drug-resistant cancer, Lyme disease, Strep, Staph and Sepsis, and HIV/AIDS.
VG Energy holds the exclusive worldwide license to MDT patent rights for use in the increase of production of various oils from algae, plants and seeds.
Ricardo released an analysis of two years of on-the-ground testing of the Ricardo-engineered Fuel-Efficient Ground Vehicle Demonstrator (FED) showing that, when compared to the US military’s regularly outfitted M1151 HMMWV (“Humvee”), the FED experienced a 72% improvement in fuel economy. (Earlier post.) The FED’s performance was assessed using a number of realistic duty cycles including highway, off-road and idle conditions.
The FED powertrain features include a supercharged Cummins I4 diesel engine; a high efficiency 28V permanent magnet integrated starter-generator from Kollmorgen that enables electric accessories and 20 kW of power for on-board equipment; a 6-speed automatic transmission from Aisin; and an accelerator feedback pedal and fuel economy display to inform drivers how to operate the vehicle to produce the best fuel economy.
Other fuel-saving features include:
an improved driveline that utilizes a unique carrier and differential assembly from Ricardo and AxleTech International, including non-geared hubs and REM Chemicals Isotropic Superfinished gears to reduce friction and increase fuel efficiency;
an Alcoa Defense lightweight aluminium structure, armoring, and underbody blast shield which support and protect the vehicle while reducing weight; and
specially designed low-rolling resistance Goodyear tires.
The project was developed as a clean sheet with a Ricardo-led team that included personnel from the US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) working alongside top industry suppliers.
We implemented a relatively conservative approach using near or in-market technology to reach our fuel economy objectives, and we have proven they are achievable. This kept costs down and increased the production feasibility of the end product.—Wesley Scharmen, Ricardo chief engineer on the project
The FED was built at Ricardo’s Detroit facility in 2011 and later displayed at the Pentagon. For the last 19 months, it has been undergoing testing at the US Army’s Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland and other locations.
Not only does the FED deliver outstanding fuel economy numbers, but the vehicle boasts better performance, as well. Driving tests prove significantly improved acceleration over the current vehicle, even when loaded to nearly seven tons.
Fuel is the second-most delivered commodity to ground troops, right behind water. Reducing fuel consumption, along with improving military vehicle technology and lowering the nation’s oil dependence, is the FED program’s goal.
In addition to boosting fuel economy and performance, the FED helped validate Ricardo’s simulation capabilities.
Ricardo’s forecasting technology projected precisely what we experienced in our real-world capability studies. The data was right on the money. Moreover, the Ricardo–led team has helped us to develop a FED capable of becoming a credible military vehicle.—Carl Johnson, TARDEC’s team lead for FED
Bosch Software Innovations has developed an eMobility Starter Package offering out-of-the-box support for two of the leading open-interface protocols—OICP and OCPP—for connecting to roaming platforms and charging infrastructure systems.
eRoaming is intended to extend electromobility beyond regional and system boundaries, and will enable drivers of an electric vehicle to recharge the vehicle at any charge spot, not just at ones run by their own provider. The Bosch Software Innovations eMobility Starter Package is a software solution delivered as software-as-a-service that enables companies, public sector bodies, or public utility companies to operate their own charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.
Communication between vehicle, charge spot, and charge spot operators is becoming simpler as open standard protocols are being defined. Bosch Software Innovations’ software supports the leading open interface protocols, Open InterCharge Protocol (OICP) and Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP). Other international standards such as ISO 15118 will follow.
The Bosch software also recently became the first to be certified by Berlin-based Hubject GmbH as a backend (i.e. the software that controls operation and management of the charging infrastructure). Hubject CHECK enables providers of charging infrastructure systems to ensure the compatibility of their hardware and software with the aid of OICP. Cross-provider use of publicly accessible charging infrastructure for electric vehicles will thus be possible throughout Europe from summer 2013.
The OCPP protocol defines how charge spots communicate with operator software. This ensures that the charge-spot functions can be used safely and reliably, as well as providing support for value-added services such as remote maintenance or eRoaming.
Startups such as the Berlin-based company c also stand to benefit from this. Ebee’s charge spots link directly into Hubject GmbH’s European eRoaming via the Bosch Software Innovations backend. This connection has already been successfully implemented and has been undergoing testing for the past few weeks.
The UK’s first open-access Bio-LNG filling station, built by Gasrec, has opened. Gasrec’s new facility in Daventry will allow gas-powered or dual-fuel trucks to use Bio-LNG, and will operate in a similar way to a traditional filling station. Bio-LNG is Gasrec’s proprietary, blend of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquid biomethane (LBM); Gasrec is Europe’s largest producer of this fuel.
The Daventry site is capable of fueling up to 250 heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) per day in the first phase from three Bio-LNG dispensers. The second phase will increase that capacity to up to 700 vehicles.
Compared with pure diesel equivalents, Bio-LNG can cut fuel costs by 20-30% and CO2 by a minimum of 20%, while delivering a 90% reduction in NOx and particulate matter emissions. Running the UK’s HGV fleets on Bio-LNG could cut haulage emissions by up to 65%, according to a report by consultants Ricardo-AEA.
Daventry is the first site identified by Gasrec as part of its national Bio-LNG refueling network planned to be up and running by the end of 2015. The planned network will be located near highway junctions so that 85% of the UK’s HGV population will have at least one location within four hours’ drive. The entire system will be monitored from a control center in Daventry and is set to keep expanding.
Storing enough fuel to fill 700 HGVs a day, each of the stations will be equipped with five refueling lanes and ten dispensers using fast-fill technology accessed by drivers carrying smart key controls.
Gasrec’s liquefied biomethane production plant in Surrey is capable of producing more than six million liters of diesel equivalent a year. The plant is located next to a large municipal landfill site and the gases from the decomposition of organic waste are cleaned and liquefied. The fuel produced is guaranteed to be at least 96% biomethane and no more than 4% nitrogen.
Noble Energy, Inc. announced a natural gas discovery at the Karish prospect offshore Israel. The discovery well was drilled to a total depth of 15,783 feet (4,811 meters) and encountered 184 feet (56 meters) of net natural gas pay in high-quality lower Miocene sands. Discovered gross resources, combined with the de-risked resources in an adjacent fault block on the license, are estimated to range(1) between 1.6 and 2.0 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) with a gross mean of 1.8 Tcf.
The Karish well, located in the Alon C license approximately 20 miles (32 km) northeast of the Tamar field (earlier post), is in 5,700 feet (1,737 meters) of water.
The Karish discovery is the fifth discovered field with an estimated gross mean resource size of more than 1 Tcf. It is also the seventh consecutive field discovery for Noble Energy and its partners in the Levant Basin. With the addition of Karish and the recent increase in resource estimates at Tamar and Leviathan, total discovered gross mean resources in the Levant Basin are now estimated to be approximately 38 Tcf.
The Ensco 5006 rig drilled the Karish well and will relocate to Cyprus where it is scheduled to spud an appraisal well at the Cyprus A discovery next month.
Noble Energy is the operator of the Alon C license with a 47.06% interest. Co-owners are Avner Oil and Delek Drilling each with a 26.47% interest.
Henkel Corporation’s automotive group introduced TECHNOMELT XPO 1050, a polyolefin-based hotmelt that can bond a wide variety of interior-related substrates without the need for pretreatment of the plastic surface.
Used in the development of a number of interiors applications, including door panels, rear package trays, pillar trims and instrument panels, TECHNOMELT XPO 1050 is applied through a roll coating process, requiring less adhesive than typical sprayable adhesives, while eliminating as much as 25% overspray waste.
TECHNOMELT XPO 1050 can reduce vehicle mass by 0.8 to 2.2 kilograms [1.8 to 4.9 lbs] per vehicle. In addition to weight savings, the technology provides cost savings advantages by eliminating the need for heat ovens and tunnels and pretreatment flame equipment or additional surface primers.—Mark Neuenschwander, Market Segment Manager, Henkel
Vehicle interiors represent 19% of the total mass of the car, according to Lotus Engineering, providing significant weight saving opportunities for automakers in meeting 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards.
Buquebus and CTS Auto S.A., in partnership with Chinese automaker BYD Ltd, introduced the first battery-electric 12-meter rapid transit bus in Uruguay and the region.
The BYD electric bus, powered by two in-wheel electric motors capable of a cruising speed of more than 88 km/h (55 mph) and a Li-ion battery pack has a range of more than 250 km (155 miles)—nearly 24 hours of service daily for most transit applications. The BYD battery technology also allows for a full charge in less than 5 hours. The bus can be charged overnight, while the electricity pricing is lower.
By 2015 it is expected that more than 500 BYD electric buses will be running on the streets and roads of Uruguay.
Buquebus is the largest tourism transportation company in Uruguay, connecting more than 2 million passengers in Argentina and Uruguay per year by boat and by bus. Buquebus is also the largest Tourist Agent in South America, selling more than 300,000 hotel beds and 400,000 city tours per year.
CleanFUEL USA has partnered with the City of Springfield, Ill., to convert 24 police patrol cars and pickup trucks to clean burning propane autogas.
We estimate our fuel savings in the first year alone to be more than $82,000. Transitioning our fleet to propane autogas was an extremely easy decision to make because we are saving taxpayer dollars, improving the environment through cleaner auto emissions and supporting a domestically produced fuel source.—Bill McCarty, director of budget and management for the City of Springfield
A recently installed on-site refueling station featuring a CleanFUEL USA CFT Pro 2100 autogas dispenser will fuel the vehicles, used by the City’s public works department.
When compared with gasoline, vehicles fueled by propane autogas emit 20% less NOx, 60% less carbon monoxide and up to 25% less greenhouse gases.
The project was funded in part by a grant from the US Energy Department’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Texas State Technical College serves as the lead grantee of the funds, which support the development of a national propane autogas refueling network, incentives to convert school buses and other fleet vehicles to alternative fuels, and training for green jobs.
According to McCarty, savings from these initial 24 vehicles will influence the City’s decision to add more vehicles fueled by propane autogas to its fleet, including police patrol cars.
Total has approved a €1-billion (US$1.3-billion) modernization project for its Antwerp production facilities, Total’s largest European refining and petrochemical platform. Two major projects will be implemented in the near future:
A new refinery upgrading complex, consisting of a solvent de-asphalting unit and a mild hydrocracking unit. Intended primarily to convert heavy fuel oil into desulfurized diesel and ultra low sulfur heating oil, the planned complex responds to the shift in demand toward products with a lower environmental impact. The facility is scheduled to start up in early 2016.
A new plant to convert low value refinery fuel gases into low cost petrochemical feedstock, replacing expensive oil-based naphtha. By further enhancing the integration between the platform’s refining and petrochemical units, this project will increase the competitiveness of the latter. The facility is scheduled to start up in early 2017.
In the framework of this modernization plan, two existing production facilities will be shut down, as they are no longer competitive in the world economic environment:
The smallest and oldest steam cracker, currently idled for lack of markets, will be permanently stopped and dismantled.
The smallest and oldest polyethylene production line will be closed at end-2014, once an investment in other polyethylene lines to produce a new range of innovative polymers has been completed.
The Antwerp platform’s workforce will remain unchanged at around 1,700 people.
Total has three production facilities in the port area of Antwerp that form an integrated refining and petrochemical platform. The platform produces various petroleum products, such as fuel oil, gasoline, LPG, diesel and jet fuel, as well as base chemicals including olefins, C4 fractions and aromatics, some of which are used to manufacture polymers like high density polyethylene.
Chevrolet announced a low-mileage lease on the new 2014 Spark EV 1LT (earlier post) for as low as $199 per month for 36 months, with $999 due at lease signing including security deposit (tax, title, license dealer fees extra), making the vehicle one of the most affordable EVs on the market.
Payments are for a 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV with an MSRP of $27,495, with 36 monthly payments totaling $7,159.68. An option is available to purchase at lease end for an amount to be determined at lease signing. A mileage charge of $.25/mile is applied after 12,000 miles. With the full Federal tax credit, the net price of the Spark EV could be as low as $19,995, including $810 destination freight charge.
Depending on their tax situation, California Spark EV owners may also qualify for other state and local tax credits and incentives ranging from $0 to $2,500, potentially reducing the price to $17,495. Spark EV owners in California are also eligible for High-Occupancy Vehicle, or carpool lane, access.
Compared to the average new gas-powered vehicle, the Spark EV can save drivers, on average, about $150 per month in fuel costs based on EPA assessments.
The Spark EV will be available at select Chevrolet dealers throughout California and Oregon beginning mid-June 2013.
The Spark EV features a combined city/highway EPA estimated range of 82 miles (132 km) when fully charged and an EPA-estimated combined city/highway 119 MPGe fuel economy equivalent. The vehicle’s 21 kWh lithium-ion battery pack carries a limited warranty of eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Spark EV will also be the first vehicle on the market to offer as an available option compatibility with the recently approved SAE combo charger for DC Fast Charging. The capability, available shortly after launch, will enable the Spark EV to recharge up to 80% of its capacity in approximately 20 minutes at select DC Fast Charging stations when they become available.
Unlike most competitors, the Spark EV’s battery system is capable of handling multiple compatible DC Fast Charges daily. Charging can also be completed in less than seven hours using a dedicated 240V charge. A 120V charge cord set comes standard. Charging can be managed and monitored remotely using the Spark EV’s smart phone application, provided by OnStar, which is standard for three years.
The 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV will offer several forms of in-vehicle connectivity, including the MyLink infotainment system that includes a seven-inch touch screen and integration with third-party apps and features such as Siri Eyes Free, Pandora and BringGo navigation. These features require the user to purchase third party apps separately on a compatible smart phone.
The Spark EV RemoteLink application is designed to enhance the overall ownership experience with fingertip interaction and control. The application, which requires compatible smart phone and active OnStar subscription:
Because the Spark EV operates only on electricity, drivers will need to know if they can reach their destination on a single charge. The Spark EV Waypoint tab, which is integrated into the RemoteLink app, can quickly plot a waypoint route with recommended charging stations if the route is beyond the vehicle’s remaining range.
The Spark EV comes with three years of OnStar Directions and Connections service, which includes Automatic Crash Response, stolen vehicle assistance and connected navigation.
Flush with its recent $1.02 billion fundraising, Tesla Motors has paid off the entire loan awarded to the company by the US Department of Energy in 2010. In addition to payments made in 2012 and Q1 2013, today’s wire of almost half a billion dollars ($451.8M) repays the full loan facility with interest.
Following this payment, Tesla will be the only American car company to have fully repaid the government.
For the first seven years since its founding in 2003, Tesla was funded entirely with private funds, led by Elon Musk. Tesla brought its Roadster sports car to market with a 30% gross margin, designed electric powertrains for Daimler (Mercedes) and had done preliminary design of the Model S all before receiving a government loan.
In 2010, Tesla was awarded a milestone-based loan, requiring matching private capital obtained via public offering, by the DOE as part of the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) program. This program was signed into law by President Bush in 2008 and then awarded under the Obama administration in the years that followed.
The loan payment was made today using a portion of the approximately $1 billion in funds raised in last week’s concurrent offerings of common stock and convertible senior notes. Elon Musk, Tesla’s Chief Executive Officer and cofounder, purchased $100 million of common equity, the least secure portion of the offering.
I would like to thank the Department of Energy and the members of Congress and their staffs that worked hard to create the ATVM program, and particularly the American taxpayer from whom these funds originate. I hope we did you proud.—Elon Musk
Commenting on the loan payment, US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz made the following statement:
When you’re talking about cutting-edge clean energy technologies, not every investment will succeed—but today’s repayment is the latest indication that the Energy Department’s portfolio of more than 30 loans is delivering big results for the American economy while costing far less than anticipated.
More than 90% of loan loss reserve Congress established remains intact, while losses to date represent about 2 percent of the overall $34-billion portfolio. The other 98% of the portfolio includes 19 new clean energy power plants that are adding enough solar, wind and geothermal capacity to power a million homes and displace 7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide every year—roughly equal to taking a million cars off the road.
The Department first offered loans to Tesla and other auto manufacturers in June 2009, when car companies couldn’t get other financing and many people questioned whether the industry would survive. Today, Tesla employs more than 3,000 American workers and is living proof of the power of American innovation. This is another important contribution to what the Obama Administration has done to preserve and promote America’s auto industry.
Finally, this announcement is also good news for the future of America’s growing electric vehicle industry. While the market has taken longer than predicted to get going, sales of electric vehicles in the US tripled last year and are continuing to increase rapidly in 2013. Tesla and other US manufacturers are in a strong position to compete for this growing global market.
Losses to date in the Department’s loan programs represent about 2% of the $34 billion portfolio and less than 10% of the $10 billion loan loss reserve that Congress set aside to cover expected losses in the programs.
In a project funded in part by the US Department of Energy (DOE), Novomer Inc. has completed the first successful large-scale production of a polypropylene carbonate (PPC) polymer using waste CO2 as a key raw material. By using CO2 that would otherwise be emitted to the atmosphere, the process has the potential to cut greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously reducing petroleum consumption and producing consumer products.
The PPC polymer production run, conducted by Novomer in collaboration with specialty chemical manufacturer Albemarle Corporation, tested scale-up of Novomer’s novel catalyst technology. Requiring only minor modifications to existing Albemarle facilities, the run produced 7 tons of finished polymer, which will be used to accelerate product qualification.
The Novomer process uses a catalyst to create PPC polymers through the co-polymerization of CO2 and chemicals called epoxides. The process results in polymers containing more than 40% CO2 by weight. The CO2-containing polymers can be tailored for applications with a broad range of material characteristics from solid plastics to soft, flexible forms, depending on the size of the polymer chain.
Novomer is positioning its new polymer technology to compete with conventional petroleum-based raw materials across a diverse range of applications, including flexible, rigid, and microcellular packaging foams, thermoplastics, polyurethane adhesives and sealants, and coating resins for food and beverage cans.
Conventional production of plastics such as polyethylene and polypropylene is heavily dependent on fossil fuels. The Novomer process reduces the use of these fuels by replacing up to half of the mass of the petroleum-based product with CO2. Capital requirements and operational costs to produce the new polymers closely mirror conventional production costs, and the products demonstrate increased strength and environmental resistance relative to existing polymers.
Incorporation into existing formulations results in packaging foams with higher tensile strength and load-bearing capacity, and adhesives and coatings with improved adhesion, cohesive strength, and “weatherability” properties, such as UV- and water-resistance.
ECOtality, Inc. introduced Blink HQ, a new family of home electric vehicle (EV) charging products. Blink HQ includes a free membership to the Blink Network of 4,000+ publicly available charging stations and a $100 charging credit with purchase.
The Blink HQ suite of products is adding two new programmable Level 2 home chargers to consumers’ charging options; the first to launch is a 30-Amp home charger with delayed start options to optimize charging rates. This will be followed by the introduction of a new Level 2 charger with connected capabilities and remote access.
To date, the company has installed more than 8,300 residential chargers in 38 states.
The first new Blink HQ model will launch in early summer 2013 and reservations are now being accepted. Blink will still offer its classic wall mount unit as part of the HQ family.
Adhesives, sealants and surface treatments company Henkel and KraussMaffei, one of the world’s leading makers of manufacturing and processing machinery for plastics, have collaborated to develop a new polyurethane matrix resin for the resin transfer molding process (RTM) that will speed up the production of composite components in the automotive industry.
Offering high strength combined with low weight, glass or carbon fiber-reinforced composite materials are especially suited for the manufacture of motor vehicle components. Particularly for mass-produced automobiles, resin injection processes such as RTM now predominate.
Henkel has pooled its expertise in developing composite matrix resins and in fundamental research on adhesives and surface modification to engineer a complete and coherent system for the manufacture and integration of composite components in the automobile.
The polyurethane-based matrix resin technology Loctite MAX 2 offers an attractive properties profile tuned to the requirements of the automotive industry. Good handling capability in the RTM process combined with low injection viscosity and controllable cure speed permits short cycle times (< 5 min) in composite component manufacture. The excellent intrinsic toughness of the resin results in higher resistance to dynamic loading and greater fatigue tolerance.
Compared with the epoxy resins normally used for RTM, the new Loctite MAX 2 offers a combination of good mechanical properties and high damage tolerance.
One special feature of the polyurethane matrix resin is its high stress intensity factor, which is a measure of toughness. The specific interactions between the polyurethane molecules that take place in addition to chemical cross-linking help to enhance this property.
The toughness of the resin also has a positive effect on the fatigue behavior under load. The high tolerance to stress peaks delays the formation of critical cracks, thus prolonging the part life. In automobiles, which are constantly subjected to dynamic loading under driving conditions, materials with a high fatigue tolerance are essential in order to be able to exploit lightweighting potential to its fullest extent.
Loctite MAX 2 features extremely low viscosity, even at low temperatures, permitting very fast resin injection without distorting the fibers while also achieving good wetting even with high fiber volumes.
The polyurethane chemistry makes it possible to control the curing reaction more reliably, either by adjusting the temperature or adding an accelerator. The generally low heat generation during curing allows fast curing even of thick parts with many layers of fibers and reduces the risk of local overheating and resulting defects.
Henkel and KraussMaffei have demonstrated that using the new resin system on high-pressure RTM equipment can significantly reduce manufacturing cycle times. Loctite MAX 2 cures much faster than the comparable epoxy resins that are mainly used in the RTM process today. This was exemplified by achieving a cure time of just one minute with a real-life three-dimensional component.
The resin is injected into the preheated mold under vacuum and removed after one minute. The fiber volume was approximately 50%, with no fiber distortion being detected regardless of the laminate structure. Milling to the final shape was performed directly after cooling of the components.
Even though high-pressure polyurethane processing and high-pressure RTM are already state-of-the-art, the machine technology does require some adaptation for the polyurethane RTM process. Building on Henkel’s processing expertise, KraussMaffei’s engineers further optimized the mixing and dispensing stations and the mixing heads in order to improve the high-precision dispensing technology and thus the controllability in high temperature processes.
First applications are already in the commercialization phase.
ChargePoint and National Grid unveiled the first of more than 80 electric vehicle charging stations in New York, funded through a $1-million award from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).
The ChargePoint EV charging station, which can charge two cars at once, has been installed at the Homewood Suites on Wolf Road in Colonie.
This public/private partnership, which supports Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Charge NY program, will provide more than 80 EV charging stations throughout New York State, of which 67 will be located in National Grid’s service area in upstate New York. ChargePoint and National Grid will be providing an additional $550,000 for the cost of this program.
New York has one of the highest growth rates of electric vehicles in the country. With nearly 4,000 vehicles registered today, according to New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, the number of EVs in the state has tripled in the past year.
Charge NY is a new initiative to promote EVs through investing $50 million over five years. The program calls for installing 3,000 public and workplace charging stations by 2018, plus other steps meant to encourage the growth of electric vehicle ownership.
The state expects the number of EVs in the state to increase to as many as 40,000 by 2018, and one million by 2025.