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Volvo Cars is introducing the Drive-E powertrain with a 245 hp gasoline turbo T5 engine, made available earlier this year for the V40 (earlier post), for the V40 Cross Country with the added capability of AWD. Compared to the V40 Cross Country’s previous T5 engine, the new powertrain reduces emissions to 149 g/km—lower than the Audi Q3 TFSI Quattro (179 g/km); the BMW X1 BMW X1 xDrive20i xLine auto (170 g/km); or the Mercedes-Benz B-class (SUV) 220 Sport 4MATIC DCT (156 g/km).
Adding to the refinement and fuel-efficient driveability is the 8-speed automatic gearbox with paddles on the steering wheel for manual gear shifting. The upgrade will be available starting mid-fall in Europe, with a global roll-out over the following months.
This powertrain upgrade continues the series of enhancements that have been made to the V40 Cross Country this year. Other new additions have been a 19" Damara alloy wheel with grey diamond-cut rims, delivering not only extra comfort and off-road capability, but also less noise and added rim protection; plus a new exterior color, Power Blue, as well as the updated on-board infotainment and navigation system, Sensus Connect, providing customers with a fully connected car.
Neste Oil Singapore Pte Ltd and National Oxygen Pte Ltd (NOX), one of the one of the largest industrial gas manufacturers in Singapore, have signed an agreement to install a carbon dioxide recovery and liquefaction plant at Neste Oil’s renewable diesel (NExBTL) refinery in Singapore.
Construction is planned to commence in the fourth quarter of 2014 and the plant, which will process an average 40,000 tons of CO2-rich gas from the refinery yearly, is expected to be completed and fully operational by the fourth quarter of 2015.
The new recovery plant will improve the refinery's resource efficiency and see one of our sidestreams become a valuable raw material for NOX.—Jussi Hintikka, Vice President in Energy in Neste Oil
The majority of Neste Oil’s direct carbon dioxide emissions are refining-related and generated at the Porvoo refinery in Finland. Refining-related carbon dioxide emissions are largely produced when burning fuel in fired heaters and in energy generation. The Porvoo refinery recovers carbon dioxide produced during its refining processes and sells the gas to a company located locally. A total of 156,500 tons of carbon dioxide was recovered in 2013.
NOX is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Japan’s Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation, which offers a comprehensive range of products and services for various gas applications—Industrial Gas, Specialty Gas, Gas Equipment, Plant and Machinery etc.
Toshiba Corporation has delivered the world’s first train propulsion systems incorporating totally enclosed Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motors (PMSM) and silicon carbide (SiC) Variable Voltage Variable Frequency (VVVF) traction inverters. The propulsion systems were delivered to Japan’s Tokyo Metro Co., Ltd. for Ginza Line 1000 third series trains.
The new propulsion systems offer enhanced power saving performance. Integration of a filter reactor—a control system to eliminate current noise—supports the system in reducing powering (acceleration of the train caused by delivery of power supply) by approximately 4%, and improving regenerated energy by approximately 3%, compared to Ginza Line 1000 first series trains incorporating a PMSM main circuit system.
Compared to the induction motor (IM) main circuit system incorporated in Ginza Line 01 series trains, the new system cuts overall power consumption by approximately 37%.
The totally enclosed PMSM is a highly efficient main motor that achieves a rated efficiency of 97%, a significant improvement over the open type IM’s widely used in trains, which have a rated efficiency of 90%. The PMSM are also easier to maintain, as its totally enclosed design eliminates potential internal contamination, ending the need for cleaning the course of its service life.
For the VVVF inverter that drives the main motor, Toshiba has developed and manufactured an SiC diode that operates at high temperatures with low heat generation and loss characteristics.
Toshiba is a supplier of highly energy efficient propulsion systems to multiple train operators in Japan and overseas. In Japan, in addition to the Tokyo Metro’s Ginza Line, Toshiba systems are in use on Tokyo Metro’s Chiyoda Line, Marunouchi Line and Tozai Line. Overseas, trains incorporating a Toshiba propulsion system will enter service in Singapore in 2015 and after.
A team led by Dr. Michael Grätzel at EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) in Switzerland has developed a highly efficient and low-cost water-splitting cell combining an advanced perovskite tandem solar cell and a bi-functional Earth-abundant catalyst.
The combination of the two delivers a water-splitting photocurrent density of around 10 milliamperes per square centimeter, corresponding to a solar-to-hydrogen efficiency of 12.3%. (Currently, perovskite instability limits the cell lifetime.) Their paper is published in the journal Science. In a companion Perspective in the journal, Dr. Thomas Hamann of Michigan State University, who was not involved with the study, called Grätzel’s team’s work “an important step towards achieving [the] goal” of quickly developing alternative sources of energy that can replace fossil fuels.Science published the latest developments in Michael Grätzel's laboratory at EPFL in the field of hydrogen production from water. By combining a pair of perovskite solar cells and low price electrodes without using rare metals, scientists have obtained a 12.3% conversion efficiency from solar energy to hydrogen, a record with earth-abundant materials. Jingshan Luo, post-doctoral researcher, explains how. Credit: EPFL
Hydrogen, which is the simplest form of energy carrier, can be generated renewably with solar energy through photoelectrochemical water splitting or by photovoltaic (PV)–driven electrolysis. Intensive research has been conducted in the past several decades to develop efficient photoelectrodes, catalysts, and device architectures for solar hydrogen generation. However, it still remains a great challenge to develop solar water-splitting systems that are both low-cost and efficient enough to generate fuel at a price that is competitive with fossil fuels.
Splitting water requires an applied voltage of at least 1.23 V to provide the thermodynamic driving force. Because of the practical overpotentials associated with the reaction kinetics, a substantially larger voltage is generally required, and commercial electrolysers typically operate at a voltage of 1.8 to 2.0 V. This complicates PV-driven electrolysis using conventional solar cells—such as Si, thin-film copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS), and cadmium telluride (CdTe)—because of their incompatibly low open-circuit voltages. To drive electrolysis with these conventional devices, three to four cells must be connected in series or a DC–DC power converter must be used in order to achieve reasonable efficiency. … In contrast, perovskite solar cells have achieved open-circuit voltages of at least 0.9 V and up to 1.5 V according to recent reports, which is sufficient for efficient water splitting by connecting just two in series.—Luo et al. “This is the first time we have been able to get hydrogen through electrolysis with only two cells!”—Jingshan Luo
The EPFL team used a perovskite solar cell based on CH3NH3PbI3. The cell has a short-circuit photocurrent density, open-circuit voltage, and fill factor of 21.3 mA cm−2, 1.06 V, and 0.76, respectively, yielding a solar-to-electric power conversion efficiency (PCE) of 17.3%.
To overcome the large water-splitting overpotentials that are typically required to generate H2 and O2 at a practical rate, the EPFL researchers looked to implement efficient electrocatalysts.
They sought to avoid conventional expensive noble metals of low abundance, such as Pt, RuO2, and IrO2. For sustained overall water splitting, the catalysts for the H2 evolution reaction (HER) and O2 evolution reaction (OER) must be operated in the same electrolyte—which should be either strongly acidic or alkaline to minimize overpotentials, they noted. This requirement is a challenge for most of the Earth-abundant catalysts because a highly active catalyst in acidic electrolyte may not be active or even stable in basic electrolyte.
Thus, it is crucial to develop a bifunctional catalyst that has high activity toward both the HER and OER in the same electrolyte (either strongly acidic or strongly basic). Moreover, the use of a bifunctional catalyst simplifies the system, lowering the manufacturing cost and thus the cost of the resulting hydrogen.—Luo et al.
To solve this, they incorporated iron (Fe) into Ni(OH)2 to form NiFe layered double hydroxides (LDHs). The resulting catalyst electrode exhibited high activity toward both the oxygen and hydrogen evolution reactions in alkaline electrolyte.
Overall, the NiFe LDH/Ni foam electrode shows nearly the same performance as the Pt/Ni foam electrode, with 10 mA cm−2 water-splitting current reached by applying just 1.7 V across the electrodes. To confirm the bifunctional activity of the NiFe LDH/Ni foam electrodes, the evolved gaseous products were quantified by means of gas chromatography. We confirmed quantitative Faradaic gas evolution at the predicted 2:1 ratio for hydrogen and oxygen, within experimental error. The exceptional bifunctionality, high activity, and low cost of the NiFe LDH/Ni foam electrode make it highly competitive for potential large-scale industrial applications.—Luo et al.
Commenting on the EPFL team’s work, Dr. Hamann noted that:
While the 12% water-splitting efficiency reported is already exceptional, there are several paths to improvement. Use of a single band-gap material in a tandem configuration is not ideal, and combining a perovskite cell with a smaller band-gap semiconductor such as silicon could produce over 20% STH efficiencies. Some loss in available photovoltage by substituting a lower-voltage silicon cell for one of the high-voltage perovskite cells in order to increase the photocurrent may be compensated by the use of a better HER catalyst that requires a smaller overpotential. The NiFe LDH catalyst is also opaque and not amenable to an integrated photoelectrochemical system. It is not yet clear if alternative transparent catalysts are absolutely necessary or if the separated PV/electrolyzer configuration used here will ultimately be viable.
Jingshan Luo, Jeong-Hyeok Im, Matthew T. Mayer, Marcel Schreier, Mohammad Khaja Nazeeruddin, Nam-Gyu Park, S. David Tilley, Hong Jin Fan, and Michael Grätzel (2014) “Water photolysis at 12.3% efficiency via perovskite photovoltaics and Earth-abundant catalysts” Science 345 (6204), 1593-1596 doi: 10.1126/science.1258307
Thomas Hamann (2014) “Perovskites take lead in solar hydrogen race” Science 345 (6204), 1566-1567 doi: 0.1126/science.1260051