- Where We Work
- Who We Are
- Info & Tools
There are still a few category sponsorships available for this year's LowCVP Low Carbon Champions Awards which will take place this year with up to 400 guests alongside Cenex's Low Carbon Vehicle (LCV) Event 2015 on September 9. Category sponsors are entitled to a table for eight at the event; an ideal opportunity to develop new business partnerships or consolidate established ones.
Mercedes-Benz will invest €1 billion (US$1.1 billion) to transform the Mercedes-Benz Rastatt plant to produce the next generation of Mercedes-Benz compact cars, strengthening its role as the global lead plant for compact cars for the company.
Capacity utilization at the Mercedes-Benz Rastatt plant, which has a workforce of around 6,500 employees, is running at a high level. In 2014, the plant posted a new production record of 292,784 vehicles and thus contributed significantly to the growth seen in the successful compact car segment: In 2014 unit sales grew by 24.7% to 463,152 vehicles of the A-Class, the B-Class, the CLA and the GLA. Mercedes-Benz has never before delivered so many compact cars in a single year.
In addition, a new sales record was achieved in the first five months of 2015, with 215,148 vehicles sold. The story of the Mercedes-Benz compact cars began in 1997 with the market launch of the A-Class. Since then, more than four million customers have opted for an A-Class, B-Class, a CLA, or a GLA.
In line with the Mercedes-Benz 2020 growth strategy, the Mercedes-Benz Rastatt plant will significantly increase its production in the coming years.
On 26 June, CLP Motorsports’ Superlite Coupe crossed the finish line in Santa Monica, California, after driving across the USA on one tank of NEXBTL renewable diesel (earlier post)—the first time that this type of trip was driven using a fuel that is made exclusively from bio-based raw materials.
The 2,507-mile (4,035 km) journey, which began in Jacksonville, Florida, and finished successfully in Santa Monica, California, took a total driving time of 37 hours 2 minutes (thus average speed = 67.7 mph/109 km/h). The trip was made with CLP-engineered and developed Superlite Coupe (SLC) racecar powered by a custom Volkswagen 1.9-liter TDI diesel engine. The SLC has been built featuring aerodynamics for maximum efficiency at speed and enhanced with an aluminum monocoque chassis and fiberglass body. The result was a car that maintains all of its power and handling of a racecar, yet is still street legal.
When the car was finally refueled in Santa Monica, the fuel consumption for the cross-country journey was determined to be 37.6 gallons (142 liters) of NEXBTL renewable diesel—an average fuel consumption of 66.7 miles per gallon (3.52 l/100 km). The partners estimated that the use of NEXBTL in the SLC resulted in a GHG reduction of about 75% compared to the same journey being done with a “regular” car running on petroleum diesel.
Motorists expect a lower carbon footprint as well as lower tailpipe emissions from renewable fuels, without compromising high quality and good performance. We made this unique trip to show that advanced biofuels such as NEXBTL renewable diesel meet these requirements.—Kaisa Hietala, Executive Vice President, Renewable Products at Neste
The trip was the conceived of by Pat O’Keefe, CEO and President of CLP Motor sports, Vice President at Golden Gate Petroleum and a keen racing car driver and enthusiast. Golden Gate started selling NEXBTL renewable diesel to its fleet customers the San Francisco area in 2013.
Neste’s NEXBTL renewable diesel is a low-carbon, clean burning diesel fuel that meets the requirements of ASTM D-975 (the US fuel standard) as well as the CARB diesel requirements (The Californian fuel standard). It is a “drop-in” fuel that is compatible with all diesel engines and does not require changes to the distribution network.
Battery-eletcric bus manufacturer Proterra has completed a $55M strategic financing. This signals a new growth phase for the company, as Proterra scales production to meet growing demand and accelerates cash realization.
Proterra closed a $30-million Series 4 equity round led by $19 million from several new strategic investors. The existing major investors in Proterra added $11 million of equity.
In conjunction with the equity financing, Proterra completed a debt financing in an amount up to $25 million with Hercules Technology Growth Capital. The strategic debt financing will provide long-term debt capital to fully fund Proterra’s new Advanced Manufacturing facility in California, which was recently awarded a California Energy Commission grant to support clean vehicle technology growth.
In addition, the Hercules debt facility expands Proterra’s access to working capital, a critical component of growth financing as production volume increases.
By simultaneously securing a strategic debt facility and a large growth equity financing, Proterra will finish the second quarter of 2015 fully funded to expand into the West Coast markets through its new California manufacturing center; ramp production to meet growing demand; and continue to invest heavily in future generations of EV transit technology.
Amyris, Inc. and Total Energies Nouvelles Activités USA (a wholly owned subsidiary of Total S.A.) have agreed on the restructuring of their fuels joint venture to open the way for proceeding with commercialization of Amyris jet fuel technology over the coming years. Following the restructuring, Total would own 75% of the joint venture with Amyris, up from the current 50%. (Earlier post.)
In December 2013, Amyris and Total formed Total Amyris BioSolutions B.V., a 50-50 joint venture holding exclusive rights and a license under Amyris’ intellectual property to produce and market renewable diesel and jet fuel from Amyris’ renewable farnesene.
In conjunction with this transaction, Amyris has also agreed on key business terms with Total and Temasek, another major stockholder of Amyris, under which, and as part of a plan to strengthen the balance sheet, these stockholders would exchange an aggregate of $138 million of convertible debt for Amyris common stock at a price of $2.30 per share, with an additional $37 million of outstanding convertible debt being restructured to eliminate Amyris’s repayment obligation at maturity and provide for mandatory conversion to Amyris common stock.
The terms of the restructuring include provisions related to the note conversions for these participating stockholders, including to maintaining pro rata holdings. The closing of the exchange transactions would be subject to customary closing conditions, including any required Board of Directors or other internal approvals, and regulatory approvals or notices.
These joint venture and exchange transactions are subject to the execution of definitive agreements between Amyris and the parties, the terms of which may vary from those described above.
Mercedes-Benz has set a new record for the diesels in the Pikes Peak hill-climb race with a near-production C 300 d 4MATIC. Test driver Uwe Nittel completed the 19.99 km (12.4-mile) route—which includes 156 bends with a change in altitude of 1439 meters (4,721 feet)—in just 11.37 minutes.
The 150 kW (204 hp) C 300 d 4MATIC (in Europe known as 250 d) fitted with a 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission competed in the hill-climb race in largely series-production configuration. As is customary for a racing car, the interior was cleared out. The modifications included the safety measures required by the regulations, such as a roll-over cage, racing tank, fire extinguishing system, enhanced brakes and ultra-high-performance tires (UHP).
The C 300 d is powered by a four-cylinder diesel engine with fourth-generation common rail direct injection featuring piezo injectors, two-stage turbocharging and exhaust gas recirculation. The engine control system responds precisely to the most diverse operating conditions, thereby optimizing the combustion processes. The engine technology remained completely unchanged for the Pikes Peak race.
The C 300 d is the first diesel model to undercut the ULEV 70 (0.070 NMOG+NOx g/mi) emissions limits, which are among the strictest in the world. The emission control system incorporates a close-coupled electrically heated oxidation catalytic converter and a diesel particulate filter which is located in the area of the bulkhead. This shortens the regeneration times.
The core of the emission control system takes the form of an SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) catalytic converter, with an AdBlue injector connected upstream. Monitoring and diagnosis of the complex exhaust gas aftertreatment processes are performed by various sensors, including a differential pressure sensor, a lambda sensor, NOx and temperature sensors.
With a combined range of 34 miles to the gallon (corresponding to 4.1 liters of diesel per 100 kilometers), the C 300 d offers 42 mpg (5.6 l/100 km) highway.
Shoving a series diesel saloon with automatic transmission up Pikes Peak sounds like a crazy idea, put it was a lot of fun. And it showed that all the prejudices regarding diesel vehicles are well out of time.—Uwe Nittel
The course’s numerous switchbacks put the suspension and the 4MATIC powertrain through their paces when accelerating out of the bends. Another challenge for the diesel engine was the thin mountain air—the finishing point is 4301 meters (14,111 feet) above sea level.
Mercedes-Benz pointed out that the test drive at Pikes Peak also demonstrated how well Mercedes-Benz diesel powertrains are adapted to the special requirements of the US market, which include extreme climatic conditions.
The “Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb” (PPIHC) in Colorado is arguably the most spectacular and demanding hill-climb race in the world. The uphill gradient averages 7%. The race begins at an altitude of 2862 meters (9,390 feet), and the finishing point at the summit of Pikes Peak in the Rocky Mountains is 4301 meters above sea level. The entire route has been asphalted since 2011.
Races for automobiles and motorcycles have been held here since 1916; this year’s event was the 93rd in the course’s history.
Skeleton Technologies (earlier post) has launched a new range of cylindrical ultracapacitors that offers specific power performance of up to 111 kW/kg (SC450, 450F) and specific energy up to 9.6 Wh/kg (SC4500, 4500F) with ESR as low as 0.075 mΩ (SC3000, 3000F)—the highest performance cylindrical cell ultracapacitors in the market.
Through the use of its patented graphene material, the new series features a capacitance of up to 4500 farads (the SC4500 cell). By contrast, the closest competitor product has a capacitance of 3400 farads. Skeleton claims this is the single biggest increase in energy density for ultracapacitors in the past 15 years.New Skeleton cylindrical ultracapacitors Name Capacitance
Skeleton Technologies uses a patented material synthesized from inorganic compounds that has curved graphene layers allowing for better conductivity and higher surface area. Skeleton says that the energy density achieved by the SkelCap 4500 series will allow it to maximize opportunities in the heavy transportation and industrial markets where weight and space are at a premium.
Skeleton Technologies ultracapacitors have already been chosen by the European Space Agency, where their use is expected to lead to significant cost savings by reducing the volume of heavy batteries required for energy storage. Next month, the company will be announcing the first ultracapacitor product for the hybrid truck market.
The new range has been designed for mass-market applications and the needs of systems engineers. The format has been developed to meet the industry standard of a 60 mm diameter cylindrical cell. Skeleton Technologies had previously offered prismatic cells, which are more compact in modular arrangements but more expensive to produce.
Skeleton Technologies has also achieved one the lowest ESR (equivalent series resistance) levels on the market at 0.095 mΩ. This factor is crucial as it greatly increases the efficiency of the cells by reducing the amount of energy that is lost as heat. For example, if a 3900A current is run through the SkelCap 4500 cell, it will lose only 0.30 joules per farad, whereas competing products can lose as much as 1.00 joules per farad.
The ultracapacitor market is dominated by organic precursor carbon from coconut shell. It is the successful development of a graphene-based carbon that is allowing us to set new records for product performance. We have set ourselves an ambitious technology development target of 20 Wh/kg by 2020, which is comparable with battery-level energy density. With the launch of the SkelCap 4500 range we are already halfway towards that goal.—Volker Dudek, Chief Technology Office at Skeleton Technologies
In the last month, Skeleton Technologies secured €9.8 million (US$11 million) in Series B financing with a strategic investor in the electrical equipment market to ramp up the deployment of their graphene ultracapacitors.
United Airlines made a $30-million equity investment in US-based Fulcrum BioEnergy, Inc., the developer of a process for converting municipal solid waste into low-cost sustainable aviation biofuel. (Earlier post.) The investment is so far the largest single investment by a US airline in alternative fuels.
In addition to the equity investment, United and Fulcrum have entered into an agreement that contemplates the joint development of up to five projects located near United’s hubs expected to have the potential to produce up to 180 million gallons of fuel per year.
United has also negotiated a long-term supply agreement with Fulcrum and, subject to availability, will have the opportunity to purchase at least 90 million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel a year for a minimum of 10 years at a cost that is competitive with conventional jet fuel.
This alternative fuel will be a drop-in fuel that meets all of the airline’s technical requirements and specifications, and will power the aircraft in the same way as conventional jet fuel. Fulcrum expects its first alternative fuels plant to begin commercial operation in 2017.
We know alternative fuels is an emerging industry that is vital to the future of aviation and this is just one of our initiatives to help make these fuels saleable and scalable. Investing in alternative fuels is not only good for the environment, it’s a smart move for our company as biofuels have the potential to hedge against future oil price volatility and carbon regulations.—United Executive Vice President and General Counsel Brett Hart
The Fulcrum process begins with the gasification of the organic material in the MSW feedstock to a synthesis gas (syngas) which consists primarily of carbon monoxide, hydrogen and carbon dioxide. This syngas is purified and processed through the Fischer-Tropsch (FT) process to produce a syncrude product which is then upgraded to jet fuel or diesel.
Fulcrum’s renewable jet fuel is expected to provide a greater than 80% reduction in lifecycle carbon emissions when compared to conventional jet fuel.
United’s agreement with Fulcrum is expected to decrease the airline’s carbon footprint through the use of sustainable aviation biofuel, while also diverting waste from landfills and creating new jobs in those communities where new Fulcrum facilities are sited. Fulcrum’s projects have also received support and participation from the US Air Force and US Navy for the future production of fuel that meets military specifications.
United is the first US airline to invest in a biofuel company. It is another in a series of firsts for the airline which, since 2009, has made significant investments in the advancement of sustainable aviation biofuels.
In 2009, United was the first North American carrier to perform a two-engine aircraft demonstration flight using sustainable biofuels.
In 2011, United operated the first US passenger flight powered by advanced biofuels made from algae.
In 2012, United spearheaded the Midwest Aviation Sustainable Biofuel Initiative (MASBI), a public/private partnership of experts from across the Midwest Region, to accelerate the commercialization of advanced biofuels for aviation.
In 2013, United announced an agreement with AltAir Fuels for advanced aviation biofuels to be used on flights out of the airline’s Los Angeles hub, making it the first US carrier to execute a commercial scale agreement for aviation biofuels. United expects to begin regularly scheduled flights using AltAir’s fuel later this year.
In 2015, United received the World Bio Markets (WBM) Award for Excellence in Advanced Biofuels.
United Airlines and United Express operate an average of nearly 5,000 flights a day to 373 airports across six continents. In 2014, United and United Express operated nearly two million flights carrying 138 million customers.