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Ride & Drive: 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI

Pipe: Passenger vehicles - Sat, 2014-07-19 11:11
This week I had the chance to test drive the Passat clean diesel TDI that is setting records for fuel economy. I love this engine. It's quiet. It's powerful.

Petrobras’ June oil production in Brazil up 1.7% exceeding 2M bpd; gas production reaches record

Pipe: Advanced tech - Sat, 2014-07-19 07:47

Petrobras’s June oil production in Brazil averaged 2,008 thousand barrels/day (bpd), up 1.7% from May’s production of 1,975 thousand bpd. Including the production operated by Petrobras for its partners in Brazil, the volume reached 2,135 thousand bpd, up 2.1% from last month’s production of 2,092 thousand bpd.

The company’s oil and natural gas production in Brazil in the same month was 2,426 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day (boed), indicating a 1.6% rise from May (2,387 thousand boed). Including the production operated by Petrobras for its partner companies in Brazil, the volume reached 2,610 thousand boed, up 2.0% from May’s production of 2,558 thousand boed.

The production growth was mainly due to the volume increase produced by platform P-62, which started-up operation in May at Roncador field (Campos Basin). A total of 22 wells, 14 of them oil and gas producers and eight water injectors, will be interconnected to this unit within the next few months. This FPSO (floating production storage and offloading) unit has the capacity to process up to 180 thousand barrels of oil and 6 million cubic meters of natural gas per day.

The start-up of a new well connected to platform P-48, at Caratinga field, producing at the pre-salt layer of Campos Basin since the end of May, also contributed to the rise in production. The return of platform P-51, at Marlim Sul field, in the same Basin, after the scheduled maintenance stoppage and the start-up of the FPSO-Dynamic Producer Extended Well Test (EWT), at Iara Oeste, in Santos Basin also contributed to this growth.

The EWT, the first carried out in this area, will enable the acquisition of important data for the development of this discovery, which took place in 2008. The tested well’s initial production of 29 thousand barrels of oil per day is similar to the production of the wells that are currently producing for commercial purposes in the Santos Basin Pre-salt, also indicating the area’s good potential.

In total, eight new offshore wells in the Santos and Campos Basins started up production in June. Alongside them, 30 new subsea wells started up operation in the first half of the year, twice the amount that started up production in the same period last year.

With the start of operation of Polar Onyx, a PLSV (Pipe Laying Support Vessel) vessel type, on June 24, and the arrival of six more units by the end of 2014, the company’s capacity to interconnect new wells in the second half will be even greater.

Pre-salt production in the Santos and Campos Basins in June increased 6.7% from May, with a volume of 477 thousand bpd, setting another monthly record. A new pre-salt daily production record of 520 thousand bpd was established on June 24. These volumes include the production operated by Petrobras for its partners. These records are a natural consequence of the implementation of new projects in the pre-salt layer, as well as the high production levels of the wells from Lula and Sapinhoá fields, where Petrobras has been frequently reaching flow rates above 30 thousand barrels per day per well.

Another important record in the pre-salt was the conclusion of the first well drilled and completed in just 92 days, which occurred on June 30 in well 8-LL-38D-RJS, in the area of Lula/Iracema Sul.

Another highlight of June was the start-up of the natural gas flow produced in platforms P-58, at the north area of Parque das Baleias, in Campos Basin pre-salt, and FPSO Cidade de Paraty, at Lula Nordeste area, Santos Basin pre-salt. The gas flow to the Cacimbas (P-58) and Caraguatatuba (Cidade de Paraty) Gas Treatment Units (UPGNs) allowed not only the growth in gas production , but also the growth in liquids produced in these UPGNs, as pre-salt’s gas is richer. The stat-up of the gas flow from these platforms allowed Petrobras to reach a new historical record of domestic natural gas delivery to the market last Monday (July 14), reaching a volume of 48.1 million m3.

June’s natural gas production of 66.4 million cubic meters per day (m³/d), surpassed by 1.5% last month’s production and has established a new monthly record for Petrobras’ natural gas production. The total production operated by Petrobras, including the share operated for its partners, was 75,540 thousand m³/d, up 2.1% from May.

94.5% of the natural gas produced was used, either to supply the market, or to generate electricity in the production platforms or to be reinjected in the reservoirs to increase oil output. In the Santos Basin pre-salt cluster, natural gas use reached 97.7%.

Camping in der Lagerhalle: Wohnmobile für Wetterfühlige

Pipe: Europe - Sat, 2014-07-19 01:39
Auf diesem Campingplatz scheint nie die Sonne - und trotzdem ist es immer trocken: Ein Hotelbetreiber hat in Bonn mehr als ein Dutzend Wohnmobile in eine Lagerhalle gestellt und vermietet sie an Urlauber und Geschäftsreisende. Ein ewiger Prinz ist Dauergast.

Atlantic salmon can adapt to warmer waters

Pipe: India - Sat, 2014-07-19 01:27
Populations of Atlantic salmon have a surprisingly good capacity to adjust to warmer temperatures that are being seen with climate change, scientists have found.

World is getting warmer, global climate report says

Pipe: India - Fri, 2014-07-18 21:37
The world is getting warmer, as greenhouse gases reach historic highs and Arctic sea ice melts, making 2013 one of the hottest years on record, international scientists said.

Saturday expected to be pollution, ozone action day in North Texas

Pipe: Passenger vehicles - Fri, 2014-07-18 19:37
North Texans can prevent causes of ozone air pollution by combining or eliminating vehicle trips, taking transit, carpooling, walking, riding a bicycle, ...

newsclips -- ARB Newsclips for July 18, 2014

Pipe: Advanced tech - Fri, 2014-07-18 18:13
ARB Newsclips for July 18, 2014.

New Ford Fusion at Toliver Ford provides excellent performance, <b>fuel economy</b>

Pipe: Passenger vehicles - Fri, 2014-07-18 17:56
SULPHUR SPRINGS, Texas, July 18, 2014 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- The 2015 Fusion model improves upon the winning formula Ford has created for ...

Car Care: Avoid paying too much at the pump

Pipe: Passenger vehicles - Fri, 2014-07-18 16:26
Ways to stretch the family fuel budget With fuel prices on the rise again, it's timely we cover some steps you can make to get the best fuel economy out ...

Eberspächer introducing diesel fuel-cell APU at IAA; planned market introduction in US in 2017

Pipe: Advanced tech - Fri, 2014-07-18 15:22

Basic elements and operating principle of the diesel fuel-cell APU. Click to enlarge.

At the upcoming IAA in Hanover, automotive supplier Eberspächer is presenting a fuel-cell APU (auxiliary power unit) for commercial trucks that converts diesel efficiently to electricity and thereby supplies the required power to all on-board consumer components such as the air-conditioning system or the refrigerator units.

As a result, the load for electricity generation can be taken off the engine or generator with a resulting decrease in fuel consumption and emissions. In future generations of trucks, components still driven mechanically today could thus be powered electrically at considerably less expense, the company suggests.

Currently, the need for auxiliary power is usually met on the road via a generator. In stationary periods, a diesel auxiliary power unit or, in the worst case, the idling engine takes over the supply of on-board electricity and air-conditioning. The diesel-engine APU usually drives the air-conditioning compressor mechanically via a belt and produces electricity.

Eberspächer’s fuel-cell APU generates electrical power without mechanical power losses from the diesel in the truck tank quietly with NOx, carbon monoxide and soot particulate emissions 90% less compared with a diesel-engine APU. The control electronics limit electricity production to what is actually required.

The application concept. Click to enlarge.   Interior of the APU. Click to enlarge.

The maximum output is 3 kW, the possible efficiency is up to 40%. The system can be used as a supplier of energy not only during stationary periods but also on a permanent basis. When the truck starts driving, the fuel-cell system starts as well, supplying all the consumers of electricity. This relieves the generator, which would otherwise require approximately double the amount of fuel to provide the electrical power as the diesel fuel-cell system, Eberspächer says.

The longer the fuel-cell system runs and the more power is called off, the more it enhances the overall efficiency and cost effectiveness of the vehicle.

The basis of the Eberspächer APU is a high-temperature fuel cell that can generate electricity from the syngas resulting from diesel reforming. In the reformer, the diesel is first mixed with air; the mixture then flows through a catalytic converter. This process generates fuel gas containing hydrogen and carbon monoxide. The technology required for this process is based on the core competencies of the Eberspächer Group.

The mixture formation is based on our know-how in the area of fuel-operated pre-heaters, whereas in catalysis our exhaust technology skills are brought to bear.—Dr. Klaus Beetz, COO Eberspächer Climate Control Systems

The electrification of commercial vehicles is an important aspect in further fuel and CO2 reduction in the transport sector, and the diesel fuel-cell APU is an important part in this future strategy, Eberspächer says.

Many energy-intensive consumers previously coupled with the drive engine—such as the cooling water- and hydraulic pump or the compressed-air system—could in the future be operated considerably more efficiently using electricity from the mobile fuel-cell system. Even the air-conditioning compressor, today coupled with the engine, plus an additional auxiliary cooling system could be replaced by a single electrical AC system for driving and stationary operation.

The output of the drive engine would then almost exclusively take care of propulsion, which would reduce consumption further. Thanks to the switch from mechanically to electrically driven components, the weight distribution in the truck could also be bettered. And, because the battery is constantly in an ideal charging state during fuel-cell operation, the batteries lifetime lasts longer and the truck cuts out more rarely.

At the present time we’ve not yet reached the end of development. But currently we’re pressing ahead with the systems development together with a well-known commercial vehicle manufacturer. Before this year is over we’ll be carrying out extensive practical testing and are planning to launch the fuel-cell APU initially on the US market at the end of 2017.—Dr. Beetz

Japan to offer ~$20K in subsidies per fuel cell vehicle

Pipe: Advanced tech - Fri, 2014-07-18 14:46

The Nikkei reports that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe revealed plans to provide at least ¥2 million (US$19,722) in subsidies for every purchase of a fuel cell vehicle.

In a 2013 speech at Japan Akademeia on his “Abenomics”, shortly after his inauguration, the Prime Minster had emphasized the importance of regulatory and institutional reform to lead to commercial viability of new technologies, and specifically referenced hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

There is no alternative but to continue time and time again to put forth innovations that are a step ahead of your competitors. I will support companies that resolutely take on the challenge of innovating new ideas. What will open the door to this is regulatory reform.

For example, fuel cell-powered vehicles are revolutionary vehicles that are environmentally friendly, emitting no carbon dioxide. However, their hydrogen tanks are subject to both METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) and MLIT (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism) regulations. The hydrogen filling stations used for refueling are bound up in a mountain of regulations, being subject to not only METI regulations but also Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications regulations governing firefighting and MLIT regulations dealing with town planning.

Even if you tackle each of these in turn as they appear one after the other, commercial viability always stays out of reach. We will soon conduct a review to tackle this situation all at once. —Prime Minister Abe

Toyota will launch its production fuel cell vehicle in Japan before April 2015, and in the US and European markets in the summer of 2015. In Japan, the fuel cell sedan will go on sale at Toyota and Toyopet dealerships, priced at approximately ¥7 million (US$69,000) MSRP, excluding consumption tax. (Earlier post.)

The Prime Minster also plans to set up more than 100 hydrogen stations in the country, so that owners can refuel the cars easily.

Did Ford Reveal The 2015 F-150's <b>Fuel Economy</b> In A Website Easter Egg?

Pipe: Passenger vehicles - Fri, 2014-07-18 14:28
Pawing through the 2015 Ford F-150 website, a reader noticed a picture of the gauge cluster reporting an average fuel economy of 18.8 MPG.

Technology: Wear your medicine

Pipe: Climate and Health - Fri, 2014-07-18 14:23
Healthcare has been slower than other industries to join the digital revolution but new wearable devices could signal a radical shift in medical practice

2015 Chevrolet and GMC pickups, SUVs to offer eight-speed transmission with EcoTec3 V-8

Pipe: Advanced tech - Fri, 2014-07-18 14:18

Chevrolet and GMC have confirmed a new eight-speed automatic transmission will be standard on 2015 Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra and GMC Yukon Denali/Yukon XL Denali models equipped with the 6.2L EcoTec3 V-8 (L86) (earlier post).

The GM-developed Hydra-Matic 8L90 eight-speed is approximately the same size and weight as the Hydra-Matic 6L80 six-speed automatic. Its 7.0 overall gear ratio spread is wider than GM’s six-speed automatic transmissions, providing a numerically higher first gear ratio to help drivers start off more confidently with a heavy load or when trailering. The 8L90 also enables numerically lower rear axle ratios, which reduce engine rpm on the highway.

EcoTec3 V-8. Click to enlarge.

The fifth generation of the GM small block engine family launched with the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 trucks, and features the same cam-in-block architecture and 4.400-inch bore centers (the distance between the centers of each cylinder) that were born with the original small block in 1955.

Dubbed EcoTec3 in the new trucks—including a 4.3L V-6, 5.3L V-8 and 6.2L V-8—the Gen-V engine family delivers greater efficiency, performance and durability, due to a combination of advanced technologies including direct injection, Active Fuel Management (cylinder deactivation) and dual-equal camshaft phasing (variable valve timing) that support an advanced combustion system.

Dual-equal camshaft phasing works with Active Fuel Management to enhance fuel economy, while also maximizing engine performance for given demands and conditions. A vane-type phaser is installed on the front of the camshaft to change its angular orientation relative to the sprocket, thereby adjusting the timing of valve operation on the fly. It is a dual-equal cam phasing system that adjusts camshaft timing at the same rate for both intake and exhaust valves.

The system allows linear delivery of torque, with near-peak levels over a broad rpm range, and high specific output (horsepower per liter of displacement) without sacrificing overall engine response, or driveability. It also provides another effective tool for controlling exhaust emissions.

The vane phaser is actuated by hydraulic pressure and flow from engine oil, and managed by a solenoid that controls oil flow to the phaser.

With 420 horsepower (313 kW) and 460 lb-ft (624 N·m) of torque, the 6.2L EcoTec3 V-8 is the most powerful engine offered in any light-duty pickup, and offers a maximum available trailer rating of 12,000 pounds, based on SAE J2807 Recommended Practices. As with other EcoTec3 engines, it seamlessly switches to four-cylinder operation under lighter loads to improve fuel economy.

Additional technical details and the EPA estimated fuel economy will be announced closer to the start of production in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Confirmed: 2015 GM Trucks, SUVs with 6.2L V-8 Get Eight-Speed

Pipe: Passenger vehicles - Fri, 2014-07-18 14:00
Fuel economy figures with the new transmission were not announced, but we're expecting an improvement of at least 1 mpg on the city and highway ...

Fretting over fuel? Don't

Pipe: Passenger vehicles - Fri, 2014-07-18 12:34
“Consumers want and expect the vehicles they intend to purchase to get significantly higher fuel economy,” said Consumer Federation of America ...

Argonne VERIFI researchers applying GSA to investigate combustion engine parameters; seeking cleaner and more efficient engines

Pipe: Advanced tech - Fri, 2014-07-18 12:12

Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory, as part of the new Virtual Engine Research Institute and Fuels Initiative (VERIFI) (earlier post), are using global sensitivity analysis (GSA)—a specific form of uncertainty analysis which breaks down the uncertainty into constitute parts—to investigate a number of parameters in the internal combustion process. By gaining a better understanding of how these parameter uncertainties affect outcomes, the VERIFI researchers, along with colleagues at the University of Connecticut, are seeking to create cleaner and more efficient engines.

The parameters being investigated include the relationships between the diameter of the nozzle in the fuel injector; the dynamics of the fuel spray; the proportion of fuel to air in the combustion chamber; and the exhaust products. In an SAE paper presented at the World Congress this year, the researchers described the results of the first demonstration of GSA for engine simulations.

Global Sensitivity Analysis (GSA) is conducted for a diesel engine simulation to understand the sensitivities of various modeling constants and boundary conditions in a global manner with regards to multi-target functions such as liquid length, ignition delays, combustion phasing, and emissions. The traditional local sensitivity analysis approach, which involves sequential perturbation of model constants, does not provide a complete picture since all the parameters can be uncertain. However, this approach has been studied extensively and is advantageous from a computational point of view.

The GSA simultaneously incorporates the uncertainty information for all the relevant boundary conditions, modeling constants, and other simulation parameters. A global analysis is particularly useful to address the important parameters in a model where the response of the targets to the values of the variables is highly non-linear.—Pei et al.

The baseline in that study was a three-dimensional closed-cycle engine simulation in a 60-degree sector mesh under moderate speed-load conditions. The study first quantified the uncertainties for key model parameters, initial and boundary conditions—a total of more than 30 parameters. They ran 100 simulations by simultaneously varying those parameters, and then calculated multiple targets.

They then applied GSA as a screening method to highlight those parameters the accuracy and adjustments of which were most likely to influence the predictions of a computational model. The parameters with high sensitivities with regards to multi-target functions were identified and a detailed analysis of the important parameters was presented to different target functions.

There are lots of unknowns that are involved. We’re using sensitivity analysis to understand how they all affect overall uncertainty. If we can find a way to understand how uncertainty effects our simulations, we can take a step toward developing a more predictive simulation.—Sibendu Som, Argonne National Laboratory (ANL)

Overall, Som and Argonne mechanical engineer Yuanjiang Pei and chemist Michael Davis have investigated 32 different parameters simultaneously, trying to establish how the uncertainties vary under different conditions.

Building on several decades of work by chemists, statisticians, and applied mathematicians, Argonne chemists have developed the tools to apply GSA to large chemical models in collaboration with their colleagues at the University of Colorado and the University of Leeds.

These techniques were further refined in the last two years to allow their efficient application to engine simulations, leading to the present study, which involves the collaboration with the University of Connecticut.

These new methods demonstrate the benefits of close collaboration between basic and applied research, the researchers said.

This is the first time we’ve applied these methods in such a complicated system. We have demonstrated that GSA can be used in a systematic way for something as complex as an engine simulation.—Doug Longman, ANL

VERIFI researchers are taking an iterative approach in which data gathered from the simulations can be fed back to both engine modelers and combustion chemists to reduce uncertainty further and to create more predictive engine simulations.

What’s unique about VERIFI is the way we’ve refined the tools to create engine simulations that are more reliable and applied high-performance computing resources to run simulations faster and more intensively than ever before.—Sibendu Som

By taking advantage of the computational power available today, the VERIFI team can identify the most important engine and fuel parameters and develop unique engine simulations and analyses to enable optimized engine combustion in the presence of uncertainty at any operating condition. In the near future, the VERIFI team plans to run diesel engine simulations of unprecedented scale on Mira, Argonne’s 10-petaflop IBM Blue Gene/Q supercomputer.

VERIFI is the first and only source in the world for high-fidelity, three-dimensional, end-to-end combustion engine simulation/visualization and simultaneous powertrain and fuel simulation, with uncertainty analysis.


  • Pei, Y., Shan, R., Som, S., Lu, T. et al. (2014) “Global Sensitivity Analysis of a Diesel Engine Simulation with Multi-Target Functions,” SAE Technical Paper 2014-01-1117 doi: 10.4271/2014-01-1117

Automobile Lightweighting Has Begun - 4 Stocks To Own In The Carbon Fiber And Specialty <b>...</b>

Pipe: Passenger vehicles - Fri, 2014-07-18 11:22
In 2011, the U.S. announced that the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for 2025 were going to be 54.5 miles per gallon -- forcing ...

BASF opens its largest European production plant for mobile emissions catalysts; LD gasoline and diesel and HD diesel

Pipe: Advanced tech - Fri, 2014-07-18 11:19

BASF has inaugurated its new production plant for mobile emissions catalysts in Środa Śląska, a Special Economic Zone near Wrocław, Poland. The emissions catalysts produced there will be used by manufacturers of light duty gasoline vehicles and light and heavy duty diesel vehicles to meet more stringent Euro 6/VI emissions regulations.

Among the advanced technologies that will be produced at the Środa Śląska facility are Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) systems; advanced SCR on Filter (SCRoF) solutions; and PremAir-branded ozone destruction catalysts for automotive applications.

Construction of the new 40,000 square meter manufacturing facility—BASF’s largest emissions catalysts plant in Europe—began in late 2012, supported by an initial €90 million (US$121 million) investment. The plant began production trials in April 2014, and last month started up two emissions catalysts manufacturing lines, with an initial employee base of 100.

Additional expansions will follow, raising the total investment for the plant to approximately €150 million (US$202 million). Once all ten planned light duty and heavy duty catalysts production lines are operating at full capacity by 2016, BASF expects to employ more than 400 people at the Środa Śląska site.

Think twice before using fuel additives

Pipe: Passenger vehicles - Fri, 2014-07-18 10:37
Mitch Schneider, owner of Schneider's Auto Repair in Simi Valley, Calif., says that additives help very little with fuel economy, especially if you factor in ...