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Technologies, issues and policies for sustainable mobility.



Updated: 2018-01-22T00:30:00-08:00

 



Delphi Technologies invests in innovative capacitor start-up PolyCharge

2018-01-21T19:12:59-08:00

Delphi Technologies PLC, a leader in vehicle propulsion technologies, has invested in PolyCharge America, Inc, a start-up established to commercialize a new capacitor technology. This technology helps to make high-power inverters smaller, lighter and more tolerant to high temperatures. The minority equity investment, for an undisclosed sum, builds on an...

Delphi Technologies PLC, a leader in vehicle propulsion technologies, has invested in PolyCharge America, Inc, a start-up established to commercialize a new capacitor technology. This technology helps to make high-power inverters smaller, lighter and more tolerant to high temperatures.

The minority equity investment, for an undisclosed sum, builds on an existing long-standing technology partnership between Delphi Technologies and Sigma Technologies, the parent company of PolyCharge.

Inverters are key system elements in vehicle electrification, converting electricity from a DC source (i.e., the battery) to alternating current (AC) for use, for example, by the motor in a hybrid or battery-electric vehicle. Package space is at a premium in today’s vehicles and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) face challenges with space, weight and cost in tight engine compartments. The new technology from PolyCharge addresses these concerns.

Today’s inverters use a DC-link capacitor, which is based on wound polypropylene technology. PolyCharge’s solid-state NanoLam capacitor technology instead utilizes thin polymer dielectrics to produce self-healing high-voltage capacitors that are half the size and weight of the current technology, with significantly higher temperature resistance.

The NanoLam capacitors are formed inline with the metal electrode deposition process. The result is a self-supported, large-area, capacitor composite that is segmented into individual self-healing capacitors. All of this happens in one production machine—eliminating the need for extruded films, film metallization, and capacitor winding.

This investment demonstrates our commitment to electro-mobility and bringing new, highly innovative technologies to solve OEM customers’ biggest challenges. PolyCharge’s technology delivers on both of these objectives. Our strategy is to forge strategic collaborations and investments where they support our growth ambitions and help our global customers deliver more attractive cost-effective solutions for consumers.

—Liam Butterworth, Delphi Technologies CEO

Delphi Technologies, a $4.5 billion leader in vehicle propulsion and aftermarket solutions, was created as a spin-off from Delphi Automotive in December 2017 to drive progress on greener solutions for passenger and commercial vehicles.

PolyCharge was formed by Sigma Technologies in September 2017 to develop and commercialize its NanoLam technology for electric drive vehicles, renewable energy inverters, medical, aerospace, and industrial mobility applications. The company’s headquarters, engineering, and product development center are located in Tucson, Arizona. PolyCharge also has representative offices in Taipei and China.

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MIT simulations suggest nanostructured topological materials could increase thermoelectric efficiency threefold

2018-01-21T03:00:00-08:00

MIT researchers have discovered a way to increase the efficiency of thermoelectric materials threefold by using “topological” materials, which have unique electronic properties. While past work has suggested that topological materials may serve as efficient thermoelectric systems, there has been little understanding as to how electrons in such topological materials... MIT researchers have discovered a way to increase the efficiency of thermoelectric materials threefold by using “topological” materials, which have unique electronic properties. While past work has suggested that topological materials may serve as efficient thermoelectric systems, there has been little understanding as to how electrons in such topological materials would travel in response to temperature differences in order to produce a thermoelectric effect. In a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the MIT researchers identify the underlying property that makes certain topological materials a potentially more efficient thermoelectric material, compared to existing devices. Using tin telluride as a material platform, they found that room-temperature zT (the thermoelectric figure of merit) can be enhanced by nearly a factor of 3 if the material is designed with nanostructures with grain size of ~ 10nm. We’ve found we can push the boundaries of this nanostructured material in a way that makes topological materials a good thermoelectric material, more so than conventional semiconductors like silicon. In the end, this could be a clean-energy way to help us use a heat source to generate electricity, which will lessen our release of carbon dioxide.—Te-Huan Liu, a postdoc in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and lead author When a thermoelectric material is exposed to a temperature gradient, electrons in that material start to flow from the hot end to the cold end, generating an electric current. The larger the temperature difference, the more electric current is produced, and the more power is generated. The amount of energy that can be generated depends on the particular transport properties of the electrons in a given material. Scientists have observed that some topological materials can be made into efficient thermoelectric devices through nanostructuring, a technique scientists use to synthesize a material by patterning its features at the scale of nanometers. Scientists have thought that topological materials’ thermoelectric advantage comes from a reduced thermal conductivity in their nanostructures. But it is unclear how this enhancement in efficiency connects with the material’s inherent, topological properties. To try and answer this question, Liu and his colleagues studied the thermoelectric performance of tin telluride, a topological material that is known to be a good thermoelectric material. The electrons in tin telluride also exhibit peculiar properties that mimick a class of topological materials known as Dirac materials. The team aimed to understand the effect of nanostructuring on tin telluride’s thermoelectric performance by simulating the way electrons travel through the material. To characterize electron transport, scientists often use a measurement called the “mean free path,” (MFP) or the average distance an electron with a given energy would freely travel within a material before being scattered by various objects or defects in that material. Nanostructured materials resemble a patchwork of tiny crystals, each with borders, known as grain boundaries, that separate one crystal from another. When electrons encounter these boundaries, they tend to scatter in various ways. Electrons with long mean free paths will scatter strongly, like bullets ricocheting off a wall, while electrons with shorter mean free paths are much less affected. In their simulations, the researchers found that tin telluride’s electron characteristics have a significant impact on their mean free paths. They plotted tin telluride’s range of electron energies [...]



Researchers use crumpled graphene balls to avoid dendrite growth on Li-metal anodes

2018-01-20T09:29:13-08:00

Lithium metal—with its high theoretical capcity and low electrochemical potential—is an ideal anode for Li-ion batteries, and is the material of choice for advanced batteries such as Li-sulfur and Li-O2. However, dendritic growth on the anode leads to an unstable solid electrolyte interphase, volume fluctuation, and even shorting of the... Lithium metal—with its high theoretical capcity and low electrochemical potential—is an ideal anode for Li-ion batteries, and is the material of choice for advanced batteries such as Li-sulfur and Li-O2. However, dendritic growth on the anode leads to an unstable solid electrolyte interphase, volume fluctuation, and even shorting of the battery; as a result, use of solid Li-metal anodes has been limited. In current batteries, lithium is usually atomically distributed in another material such as graphite or silicon in the anode. Researchers at Northwestern University and Tianjin University now report an effective approach to avoiding dendrite growth on Li-metal anodes by using a scaffold based on crumpled paper ball-like graphene (CGB) particles. An open-access paper on their work is published in the journal Joule. Dendrite-free High Amount of Li Grown on Top of Crumpled Graphene Ball Electrodes. (A) Li (3 mA hr cm−2) deposited on 8-μm thick crumpled graphene ball (CGB) electrode. (B and C) Li deposited on a 40-μm thick CGB electrode at (B) 6 mA hr cm−2 and (C) 12 mA hr cm−2. Liu et al. Click to enlarge. A number of strategies have been developed to address the problems associated with Li filaments. For example, one can make the battery structure more robust by employing solid electrolytes that are not easily pierced by Li dendrites and strengthen the SEI by adjusting the formulation of the liquid electrolytes. Alternatively, an ion-permeable blocking layer can be introduced to prevent the growing Li filaments from penetrating the separator. However, this does not prevent the fluctuation of the apparent volume of Li metal layer during filament growth/disappearance, which tends to weaken or even delaminate the Li/electrolyte interface or the blocking layers during cycling, thus allowing additional growth of dendrites. In another type of strategy, an insulating porous network made of polymer gels or glass fibers can be added, through which Li filaments can only grow along the tortuous network of pores. Unfortunately, such tortuous Li filaments tend to break and become disconnected from the electrodes during cycling. Using scaffolds can help to minimize the volume fluctuation of electrodes. Such host material needs to be porous, electrically conductive, chemically and mechanically stable, and have a low interfacial energy with Li metal for preferential deposition to suppress filament growth. Various porous forms of Cu have been demonstrated as an effective host to support Li. However, the main issue in using Cu concerns its high density (8.9 g cm−3) in regard to Li (0.53 g cm−3), which drastically decreases the overall energy density of the electrode. Porous carbon nanostructures, including graphene-based materials, are attractive lightweight Li host materials. Here we report the use of crumpled graphene balls as scaffolds to stabilize Li metal anodes.—Liu et al. When the battery is charging, lithium can deposit along the surface of the scaffold, avoiding dendrite growth. This, however, introduces a new problem. As lithium deposits onto and then dissolves from the porous support as the battery cycles, its volume fluctuates significantly. This volume fluctuation induces stress that could break the porous support. The researchers addressed this problem by using a scaffold made from crumpled graphene balls, which can stack with ease to form a porous scaffold due to their paper ball-like shape. They not only prevent dendrite growth but can also survive the stress from the fluctuating volume of lithium. One general philosophy for making something that can maintain high stress is to make it so s[...]



Volkswagen gearing up for next-gen Golf with supplier selection; investing $2.2B in family; 75 weeks and counting

2018-01-20T02:57:00-08:00

The Volkswagen brand is gearing up for the production of the next generation of the Golf family—the Golf 8. Volkswagen plans to invest €1.8 billion (US$2.2 billion) in the model family. In 75 weeks, the eighth generation of this bestseller in the compact segment will roll off the production lines...

The Volkswagen brand is gearing up for the production of the next generation of the Golf family—the Golf 8. Volkswagen plans to invest €1.8 billion (US$2.2 billion) in the model family.

In 75 weeks, the eighth generation of this bestseller in the compact segment will roll off the production lines at Volkswagen’s main plant in Wolfsburg, Europe’s largest car factory. The Golf is sold in 108 countries and has has sold more than 35 million units since 1974. The Wolfsburg plant currently produces more than 2,000 Golf family vehicles per day and is to remain the core production site in the future.

At the “Golf 8 Supplier Summit” just held at the Volkswagen Arena in Wolfsburg, the Board Member for Procurement Ralf Brandstätter and Karlheinz Hell, Head of the Compact series group, underscored the importance of the new generation for the brand and for the Wolfsburg plant. At the same time, they also indicated to the “Golf Community” the opportunities and responsibilities resulting from sustained partnership.

Brandstätter told the 180 top managers of the brand’s 120 key suppliers attending the summit that together with the I.D family, the introduction of the upcoming Golf generation will be the most strategically important product launch for the brand.

Following supplier selection, the next phase of joint work with suppliers will now start with a view to ensuring a trouble-free start of production for the new Golf. “We have reached the decisive second stage of the project,” Brandstätter said.

Volkswagen integrates its partners in the component supply industry intensively in the product creation process at an early stage within the framework of value sourcing. Suppliers contribute their ideas and technical solutions to vehicle projects in concept competitions.

Brandstätter explained the positive effects of the fact that 80 percent of all Golf 8 suppliers were already under contract for the current Golf: “This is a sign of considerable mutual loyalty, creates a broad basis of trust and provides greater security for planning.

The key role in the development of the next Golf is played by Karlheinz Hell, Head of the Compact series group—Volkswagen’s largest series group—which reached a total global volume of 3.4 million vehicles in 2017. In the development of the next Golf, Hell will be responsible for ensuring that all departments cooperate in the optimum way and that the Golf makes its contribution to financial performance.

The next Golf will take Volkswagen into the era of fully connected vehicles with extended autonomous driving functions. It will have more software on board than ever before. It will always be online and its digital cockpit and assistance systems will be the benchmark in terms of connectivity and safety.

—Karlheinz Hell

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Kumamoto University project to use Nissan LEAF technology in electric bus test in Japan; 3 packs, 3 motors

2018-01-19T06:44:06-08:00

Technology developed by Nissan for the battery-electric Nissan LEAF will be used in an electric bus project led by a team from Kumamoto University, that starts testing next month in Japan, with the goal of making zero-emission public transit more widespread and affordable. The bus, named “Yoka ECO Bus,” will...

Technology developed by Nissan for the battery-electric Nissan LEAF will be used in an electric bus project led by a team from Kumamoto University, that starts testing next month in Japan, with the goal of making zero-emission public transit more widespread and affordable.

The bus, named “Yoka ECO Bus,” will feature three batteries, three electric motors and an inverter from the Nissan LEAF. Nissan is also developing a dedicated gearbox for the bus and offering technical support. The company hopes the technology can help the project achieve its goal of creating environmentally friendly buses for public transportation systems in Japan.

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The initiative brings together talent and expertise from the automotive industry, government and academia. It is part of the university’s ongoing involvement with a Japanese Ministry of Environment project that aims to reduce or eliminate CO2 and other emissions from larger vehicles such as buses and trucks. Real-world testing is scheduled to begin in February in Kumamoto City in western Japan.

An obstacle in creating large electric vehicles has been the high cost of development and parts, including batteries and electric motors. By using technology already conceived and perfected by Nissan, the cost of manufacturing electric buses can be greatly reduced.

We hope to improve Japan’s environment by standardizing the manufacturing of EV buses with help from the know-how of automakers. Our goal is to develop EV buses that are well-balanced in terms of being friendly to the environment and having low development costs.

—Toshiro Matsuda, Kumamoto University project leader

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Berkeley Lab team designs active polyelectrolyte binder that allows for a doubling in capacity of conventional Li-sulfur battery

2018-01-19T03:00:00-08:00

A team of researchers led by scientists at the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have designed an active polyelectrolyte binder (PEB) that actively regulates key ion transport processes within a lithium-sulfur battery, and have also shown how it functions on a molecular level. The new... A team of researchers led by scientists at the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have designed an active polyelectrolyte binder (PEB) that actively regulates key ion transport processes within a lithium-sulfur battery, and have also shown how it functions on a molecular level. The new polymer binder allows a doubling in capacity compared to a conventional lithium-sulfur battery, even after more than 100 charge cycles at high current densities. The team reports on their work in an open-access paper in the journal Nature Communications. Cycling performance for a Li-S cell with the new binder (PEB-1) compared to a cell with a conventional PVDF binder. Rate of C/5. In all cases, the composite sulfur electrode was cast onto an aluminum current collector. Li et al. Click to enlarge. Active layers in electrochemical energy storage devices typically incorporate polymer binders to aid in processing composite electrodes with well-controlled architecture and compliant mechanical integrity. Polymer binders also dictate the extent of electrode swelling with electrolyte and help mitigate cracking on drying or swelling, or on large volume changes experienced using certain electrode chemistries between their extremes in state-of-charge. Often overlooked is whether a polymer binder is an active or a passive component in the composite electrode, a distinction that denotes whether or not it participates in charge or mass transport; it can also be adaptive if it can be made to switch between passive and active states, e.g., using thermal excursions or redox chemistry. Whereas the chemical constitution of a polymer binder should dictate whether it is passive, active, or adaptive in the electrode, it remains a challenge to reveal the molecular basis by which these behaviors manifest. Without this information, rational design principles for polymer binders remain obscure.—Li et al. When a lithium-sulfur battery stores and releases energy, the chemical reaction produces mobile molecules of sulfur that become disconnected from the electrode, causing it to degrade and ultimately lowering the battery’s capacity over time. To make these batteries more stable, researchers have traditionally worked to develop protective coatings for their electrodes, and to develop new polymer binders that act as the glue holding battery components together. These binders are intended to control or mitigate the electrode’s swelling and cracking. When a lithium-sulfur battery stores and releases energy, the chemical reaction produces mobile molecules of sulfur that become disconnected from the electrode, causing it to degrade and ultimately lowering the battery’s capacity over time. To make these batteries more stable, researchers have traditionally worked to develop protective coatings for their electrodes, and to develop new polymer binders that act as the glue holding battery components together. These binders are intended to control or mitigate the electrode’s swelling and cracking. The new binder goes a step further. Researchers from the Organic Synthesis Facility at Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry, a research center specializing in nanoscale science, designed a polymer to keep the sulfur in close proximity to the electrode by selectively binding the sulfur molecules, counteracting its migratory tendencies. The new polymer acts as a wall. The sulfur is loaded into the pores of a carbon host, which are then sealed by our polymer. As sulfur participates in the battery’s chemical reactions, the polymer prevents the [...]



New Navigant Leaderboard puts GM and Waymo at the head of the autonomous driving technology pack, Tesla last

2018-01-19T02:00:00-08:00

Navigant Research has issued a new iteration of its Leaderboard Report on Autonomous Driving (AD), reflecting the new partnerships, strategic investments and acquisitions made since the early version less than one year ago. The Navigant AD Leaderboard assesses which participants are best-equipped to be the Leaders in developing complete automated... Navigant Research has issued a new iteration of its Leaderboard Report on Autonomous Driving (AD), reflecting the new partnerships, strategic investments and acquisitions made since the early version less than one year ago. The Navigant AD Leaderboard assesses which participants are best-equipped to be the Leaders in developing complete automated driving stacks—including perception systems, processing, and control software—and services platforms. It quantifies the current relative position of each of these companies as the latest features are being developed and commercialized to help improve safety. … Silicon Valley and the incumbent automotive industry are increasingly recognizing that each can benefit from the expertise of the other in commercializing this technology quickly. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has joined the partnership of BMW, Intel, and Mobileye. Bosch and Daimler are working together. Baidu and BAIC Group have a tie-up to bring the Chinese tech giant’s software to market with the aid of Bosch on the hardware side. Delphi split off its powertrain business, rebranded itself as Aptiv, and acquired nuTonomy.—Navigant Leaderboard In this latest report, General Motors (GM) and Waymo are effectively in a dead heat on the technology front; both companies are on the verge of having production ready AVs suitable for mobility services. While Waymo has made progress on the business front with partnerships with Avis, AutoNation, and Lyft, GM still has the edge with the ability to manufacture vehicles and provide services through its dealer network, its captive finance arm, and the Maven mobility service division. Ford’s move from 1st to 4th is more a reflection of the progress made by GM, Waymo, and Daimler than anything Ford has done wrong. Management changes at Ford have reinforced the company’s commitment to being a mobility service provider. This shift in the Leaderboard shows the highly dynamic nature of this market, with players able to make major moves forward with the right tie-ups and investment. As a reflection of this, this Leaderboard includes a section briefly describing the activities of 17 companies to watch, including Lyft, Valeo, ZF, and Didi. —Navigant Leaderboard Of note, Tesla ranked last in this Leaderboard, tied with Apple in the Challengers group. Navigant observed that while Tesla has been aggressive in promoting Autopilot, since ending its relationship with Mobileye the company has struggled to reach the same level of functionality with its in-house developed system. Navigant’s evaluation criteria for the report include: Vision Go-to-Market Strategy Partners Production Strategy Technology Sales, Marketing, and Distribution Product Capability Product Quality and Reliability Product Portfolio Staying Power [...]



Ricardo aims to be the niche battery pack manufacturer of choice for premium high-performance hybrids and EVs

2018-01-19T01:30:00-08:00

Ricardo said that its recent completion of a full EV sports car battery manufacturing concept program by its Performance Products division is a significant milestone in its aim to become the niche battery manufacturer of choice for high performance hybrids and EVs. Ricardo Performance Products has been in niche volume... Ricardo said that its recent completion of a full EV sports car battery manufacturing concept program by its Performance Products division is a significant milestone in its aim to become the niche battery manufacturer of choice for high performance hybrids and EVs. Ricardo Performance Products has been in niche volume programs for more than 40 years, delivering projects from individual components through to complete powertrain systems in markets as diverse as automotive, defence, aerospace and rail. Although best recognized for its supply of many of world’s hypercar transmissions or assembly of high performance supercar engines, ultimately the division is a developer of advanced niche volume production solutions in automotive and other performance-driven markets. For engines, Performance Products has developed niche volume assembly line technology appropriate for volumes up to 10,000 engines per year and successfully installed and operates its first production line at its Headquarters in Shoreham-by-Sea where on average 100 engines per week are continuously assembled and tested. With production now successfully in tens of thousands and a supply chain that has supported more than a dozen engine derivatives, Performance Products is recognised as a leader in independent niche volume high performance engine manufacture. Ricardo also has extensive engineering design and development experience in the field of hybrid and electric vehicle battery pack ranging from applying new chemistries and formats, to designing & building prototype packs and supporting our clients through full production programs. In July 2017, Ricardo announced it had developed a new model-based EV battery control technology that is scalable to a wide range of applications. (Earlier post.) The Performance Products division is now applying its battery and niche production expertise to high performance automotive battery systems. In the first phase of the project recently completed, Ricardo’s manufacturing specialists worked in partnership with the company’s hybrid and electric systems engineering group in developing an assembly and manufacturing process for an innovative battery pack based on the requirements of the vehicle OEM. In addition, Ricardo established a global supply chain that will ultimately be capable of delivering fully assembled and tested battery systems in annual production quantities ranging from hundreds up to multiple thousands. Ricardo has an already well-established capability in the design and engineering of electric and hybrid vehicle battery packs and management systems. As such, it makes complete sense for us to provide a turn-key service—including battery pack manufacture—for performance electric vehicles, in the same way that we manufacture high performance engines, transmissions and drivelines for premium and motorsport applications powered by combustion engines. Ricardo has a proven capability in the establishment of complex and high-quality supply chains for high-value, small to medium volume high performance products. The project just completed is a further demonstration of Ricardo’s aim to become both the engineering and manufacturing partner of choice for the niche battery systems of high performance EVs and hybrids.—Ricardo Performance Products managing director Mark Barge [...]



Volkswagen founds mobility services company in Rwanda; to begin local assembly of Polo and Passat

2018-01-19T01:06:00-08:00

The Volkswagen brand has founded “Volkswagen Mobility Solutions Rwanda”, a company based in Rwanda. The objective is to provide modern integrated mobility services in Africa in future. As part of its worldwide regionalization strategy, Volkswagen is planning to expand its business presence significantly in Sub-Saharan Africa. Going forward, the brand...

The Volkswagen brand has founded “Volkswagen Mobility Solutions Rwanda”, a company based in Rwanda. The objective is to provide modern integrated mobility services in Africa in future. As part of its worldwide regionalization strategy, Volkswagen is planning to expand its business presence significantly in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Going forward, the brand will be focusing in particular on new app-based mobility services such as car sharing and ride hailing in Rwanda. This year sees the launch of a car sharing service in the capital city of Kigali with around 150 vehicles from the Volkswagen brand.

In addition, a ride hailing service with some 150 vehicles is scheduled to start during the course of the year. These figures are derived from expected market acceptance of these innovative mobility services that are completely new to Rwanda. Further services of this kind are planned for the coming months.

The vehicle fleet required for the planned mobility solutions is to be taken entirely from local production. For this purpose, an environmentally-compatible local vehicle assembly facility is to be established in the capital Kigali. Volkswagen and CFAO, a long-standing partner in Africa for the distribution and assembly of vehicles, signed a letter of intent to this effect.

Production will start with several hundred vehicles in mid-2018, and capacity will gradually be expanded to up to 5,000 vehicles per year. It is planned to initially build the Volkswagen Polo and Passat models.

Furthermore, a local start-up is developing the programming for the mobility app. Overall, Volkswagen and its partner companies will create up to 1,000 jobs in Rwanda. The financial engagement amounts to approx. US$20 million (approx. €16 million).

With the integrated mobility concept, Volkswagen intends to provide a new impetus for the development of individual mobility. Rwanda does not currently have an established vehicle industry. The population has an average age of less than 20 years and Rwandans are among the early adopters of new technologies.

In addition to Rwanda, the Volkswagen brand is also active at three other locations in the Sub-Sahara region: the company has been manufacturing vehicles in South Africa since 1951. Vehicle assembly began in Nigeria in 2015, and in Kenya in December 2016.

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Achates showcases 2.7L, 3-cylinder opposed piston gasoline compression ignition engine in F-150; estimated 37 mpg combined

2018-01-18T10:31:53-08:00

At the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), Achates Power and new development parter Aramco Services (earlier post) showcased a Ford F-150 fitted with a 3-cylinder, 2.7-liter Opposed-Piston Gasoline Compression Ignition (OPGCI) engine. (Earlier post.) Fabien Redon, Vice President, Technology Development at Achates, said they estimate that the OPGCI pickup... At the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), Achates Power and new development parter Aramco Services (earlier post) showcased a Ford F-150 fitted with a 3-cylinder, 2.7-liter Opposed-Piston Gasoline Compression Ignition (OPGCI) engine. (Earlier post.) Fabien Redon, Vice President, Technology Development at Achates, said they estimate that the OPGCI pickup will achieve 37 mpg (6.35 l/100 km) on the combined cycle—nearly five MPG better than the proposed CAFE 2025 requirements for a vehicle of a similar size. The OP engine produces 270 hp and 480 lb-ft (651 N·m). This performance is achieved without vehicle modifications and is projected to cost $1,000 less per vehicle than widely accepted technology roadmaps currently being considered by OEMs, Achates said. The Achates Power Opposed-Piston (OP) Engine is engineered to achieve superior thermal efficiency by virtue of its lower heat losses, improved combustion, and reduced pumping losses. The OP Engine eliminates the cylinder head for an improved surface-area-to-volume ratio of the combustion chamber for reduced heat transfer and rejection. In addition, conventional engine valvetrain and related components are eliminated, and due to the architecture the OP Engine offers a reduction in the aftertreatment system size and cost. A comparison between the 2.7L OP Engine and a comparable V6 with supercharger shows a part reduction of more than 60%, enabling an approximate 10% cost reduction. To fit the OP engine—with its fundamentally different shape—into the F-150 engine bay, Achates packaged its engine in a V-shape (approx. 30˚), with the cylinder bank angled on one side and the air handling and auxiliary units packaged on the other, Redon said. The pictures and video below illustrate the major components. width="480" height="270" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZyrBoGzhaVE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> We chose to demonstrate our ultra-clean, ultra-efficient OP Engine in a full-size light-duty pickup truck because of the significant need and opportunity for improvement in this segment. These trucks are driven more miles, sold in higher volume, consume more fuel and emit more CO2 than other light duty vehicles. Using our OP GCI engines in light duty trucks would reduce CO2 and fuel usage in the same way as completely eliminating half of all cars sold each year. Using our OP GCI engines in future light trucks has the same fuel savings and CO2 reduction as completely eliminating more than half of the cars sold each year. An Opposed-Piston Engine is 30-50 percent more fuel efficient than comparable diesel and gasoline engines, it is a no-excuses way to meet future efficiency and emissions standards. The technology and infrastructure to meet these future standards exists and will be available for consumers in the near future.—David Johnson, president and CEO, Achates Power Achates Power is showing the light duty demonstration pick up truck in the Aramco display as part of a joint development agreement, which formalizes the cooperative relationship between the companies. Achates Power and Aramco have agreed to work together on a series of projects to develop and demonstrate highly efficient and clean OP engines. The first project to be announced is the in-vehicle demonstration of the 2.7L OP Engine. For its part, Aramco Services has been investigating gasoline compression ignition engine technology for[...]



Shell, ITM Power to build world’s largest hydrogen electrolysis plant in Germany; €20M REFHYNE project

2018-01-18T09:26:36-08:00

Shell and ITM Power will build the world’s largest hydrogen electrolysis plant at Rhineland refinery, Germany. (Earlier post.) With a peak capacity of 10 megawatts, the hydrogen will be used for the processing and upgrading of products at the refinery’s Wesseling site as well as testing the technology and exploring... Shell and ITM Power will build the world’s largest hydrogen electrolysis plant at Rhineland refinery, Germany. (Earlier post.) With a peak capacity of 10 megawatts, the hydrogen will be used for the processing and upgrading of products at the refinery’s Wesseling site as well as testing the technology and exploring application in other sectors. The European partner consortium of Shell, ITM Power, SINTEF, thinkstep and Element Energy has now secured €10 million (US$12.2 million) in funding from the European Fuel Cell Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH) for this project, which is labeled REFHYNE. The project’s total investment, including integration into the refinery, is approximately €20 million. Currently the Rheinland refinery, Germany’s largest, requires approximately 180,000 tons of hydrogen annually. The electrolyzer will provide bulk quantities of hydrogen to the refinery’s hydrogen pipeline system (currently supplied by two steam methane reformers). The new facility will be able to produce an additional 1,300 tonnes of hydrogen per year, which can be fully integrated into the refinery processes, such as for the desulfurization of conventional fuels. The electrolyzer will be operated in a highly responsive mode, helping to balance the refinery’s internal electricity grid and also selling Primary Control Reserve service to the German Transmission System Operators. Detailed technical planning and the approval process will now begin. The plant is scheduled to be in operation in 2020 and will be the first industrial-scale test of the polymer electrolyte membrane technology process. This new unit at Rhineland enables hydrogen to be made from electricity rather than natural gas. A unit of this kind brings a flexibility that can help the stability of the power grid, thereby facilitating more use of renewable electricity. In addition, if powered by renewable electricity, the green hydrogen will help reduce the carbon intensity of the site—a key goal for us.—Lori Ryerkerk, Executive Vice President of Shell Manufacturing The combination of hydrogen sales to the refinery and balancing payments create a business case which justifies the installation. The business case will be evaluated in detail in a 2-year campaign of techno-economic and environmental analysis. The REFHYNE business model is replicable in markets with a similar regulatory structure to Germany. However, to expand this market to a GW scale, new business models will be needed. These will include valuing green hydrogen as an input to industrial processes (to meet carbon policy targets) and also on sales to H2 mobility markets. The REFHYNE project will gather real world data on these models and will use this to simulate the bulk electrolyzer model in a range of market conditions. This will be used to produce reports on the conditions under which the electrolyzer business models become viable, in order to provide the evidence base required to justify changes in existing policies. The REFHYNE electrolyzer has been designed as the building block for future electrolyzers up to 100MW and beyond. REFHYNE includes a design study into the options for a 100MW electrolyzer at the Rhineland refinery, which will help prepare the market for deployments at this scale. [...]



Dürr building smart paint shop for JAC plant for electric vehicles in China

2018-01-18T06:55:06-08:00

Dürr is building a fully automatic paint shop for a Anhui Jianghuai Automobile (JAC) plant in China. The plant is designed to handle 100,000 units per year, will commence operation in June 2018, and will produce battery-electric cars on behalf of a local electric car manufacturer. The vehicles will be... Dürr is building a fully automatic paint shop for a Anhui Jianghuai Automobile (JAC) plant in China. The plant is designed to handle 100,000 units per year, will commence operation in June 2018, and will produce battery-electric cars on behalf of a local electric car manufacturer. The vehicles will be given a modern two-tone color design in the fully automatic Dürr paint shop.The integration of numerous digital@DÜRR solutions turns the paint shop into a Smart Factory with extensive use of data. The plant in Hefei combines advanced vehicle drives with intelligent plant technology and modern painting concepts. The entire plant, including data acquisition, data evaluation, and plant monitoring, is controlled by the Dürr software solution iTAC.MES.Suite. The modular MES system provides detailed information on the production workflows and consumption data. Electric vehicles frequently feature plastic and lightweight components which are painted separately and not installed in the body until the final assembly line. The workflows in the painting lines are adapting to these changes. Before the bodies are given their top coat in the painting booth, they undergo pretreatment (PT) and electro-coating (EC). The RoDip rotational dip process is used to apply the corrosion protection coating. The rotational movement of the bodies does away with the need for entry and exit inclines at the tank, saving a considerable amount of space. The smaller tank capacity means that RoDip reduces the costs per unit by using less energy, water, and chemicals. The seams on the underbody are then sealed, a flat underbody protection is applied, and sound deadening mats are applied to the inside of the body. This is done using the new EcoGun2 3D applicator which is suitable for all sealing materials and processes. The new channel layout in the applicator head results in a longer service life and a lower pressure level during material feeding. The innovative applicators are mounted on a total of eight EcoRS 16 or EcoRS 30L16 robots, and apply the sealing material automatically to the bodies. The painting line consists of a primer station as well as one interior and two exterior painting stations for the top coat. Here the bodies are removed in some cases and returned to the top coat line for the two-tone roof painting. The final clear coat is applied in fully automatic interior and exterior painting stations. In order to reduce the solvent emissions as much as possible, the exhaust air flow is purified from the clear coat booths as well as the paint mixing rooms. Usually the painting process generates large volumes of exhaust air which contain low amounts of contaminants. For this reason, a highly efficient VOC adsorption concentration system (Ecopure KPR) with a downstream thermal exhaust air control system (Ecopure TAR) should be installed. The energy required for the Ecopure KPR system’s desorption air is recovered from the purified gas of the thermal exhaust air purification system which reduces the energy requirement. The efficient Dürr Ecopure exhaust air purification system reduces the solvent emissions by more than 95% and ensures that the stringent emission limits are not exceeded. Fully automatic paint application is handled by a total of 26 EcoRP E/L033 and EcoRP E/L133 painting robots. Eight EcoRP 130 SCARA (Selective Compliance Articulated Robot Arm) robots support the painting process by ope[...]



PG&E launches new $130M program to accelerate EV adoption in Northern and Central California; 7,500 chargers

2018-01-18T03:00:00-08:00

To help accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles in California, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has launched its new EV Charge Network program. Partnering with business customers and EV charging companies, PG&E will install 7,500 EV chargers at condominiums, apartment buildings and workplaces across Northern and Central California, including... To help accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles in California, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has launched its new EV Charge Network program. Partnering with business customers and EV charging companies, PG&E will install 7,500 EV chargers at condominiums, apartment buildings and workplaces across Northern and Central California, including at sites in disadvantaged communities. Under the EV Charge Network program, PG&E will pay for and build all electric service infrastructure requirements from the transformer to the EV parking space, which often accounts for 60% to 80% of the total project cost, for participating sites. PG&E will also provide a subsidy to the participant for the EV charger equipment costs. Participants in the EV Charge Network program choose whether they wish to bill drivers for using the charging stations, or they can offer the service free-of-charge to drivers. They can also establish access rules to the EV chargers through which they can make them available to employees, fleet vehicles and/or the public. In addition to the financial benefits for participants, they will benefit by offering another feature on their property which increases employee and tenant loyalty and satisfaction; actively participate in California’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and position themselves as leaders in sustainability and innovation. EV Connect, a provider of electric vehicle (EV) charging solutions and a cloud-based software platform for managing electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, their interaction with utilities and the driver experience, has been selected to participate in the program. To date, more than 500 customers have expressed interest in the program. In the first quarter of 2018, PG&E will begin installing new EV chargers in partnership with business customers, including at the first participating customer Merced College. The electricity fueling EVs in California comes from one of the cleanest energy mixes in the country—nearly 70% of the electricity PG&E delivers to customers is from greenhouse gas-free resources. While EV adoption continues to grow in California, one of the biggest barriers remains the lack of available places to charge. PG&E’s EV Charge Network will support the adoption of EVs by increasing access to charging in locations where it has traditionally been limited and where cars often sit for longer periods of time, such as workplaces and apartment buildings. One in five electric vehicles in the United States plug into PG&E’s clean energy grid. Through this new program, we can help even more of our customers feel confident using electric vehicles, thereby helping the state and our communities meet their clean air and greenhouse-gas emission reduction goals.—Geisha Williams, CEO and President of PG&E Corporation PG&E’s EV Charge Network program will pay for and build the infrastructure from the electric grid to the charger. Additionally, PG&E will offset a portion of the charger cost for all participating customers, based on the site and location. Details of the program include: Partnering with EV charging companies, PG&E will install 7,500 level 2 charging stations at business customer sites including condominiums, apartment buildings and workplaces across Northern and Central California. To increase EV charging access to more customers, a[...]



U Alberta study shows for the first time that sunlight causes chemical reactions in road dust; singlet oxygen

2018-01-18T02:00:00-08:00

Researchers at the University of Alberta (Canada) have shown for the first time that road dust is photochemically active; i.e., sunlight causes chemical reactions in the dust. Road dust resuspension is a major source of particulate matter in many urban centers—especially those in which traction materials are applied to roadways... Researchers at the University of Alberta (Canada) have shown for the first time that road dust is photochemically active; i.e., sunlight causes chemical reactions in the dust. Road dust resuspension is a major source of particulate matter in many urban centers—especially those in which traction materials are applied to roadways in winter. Although many studies have investigated the composition and toxicity of road dust, up until this study, nothing was known regarding its photochemical reactivity. Unlike desert dust, which is primarily composed of crustal material, road dust is a complex mixture that also includes particles from road surface, brake, and tire wear; traction materials; semivolatile components of vehicle exhaust; and vegetative detritus, including soil and humic materials. As a result of its source profile, road dust also contains a number of toxic species, including heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Several road dust constituents, including soil, humic substances, and non-transition metal oxides, have been shown to produce the important environmental oxidant singlet oxygen (1O2) upon being illuminated. These observations suggest that road dust itself may be a photochemical source of 1O2 and thereby promote a variety of atmospherically important 1O2-mediated processes, including the oxidation of surface-sorbed PAHs.— In the study, the team study, investigated the photochemical production of 1O2 by size-fractionated road dust collected in Edmonton, Alberta and compared the reactivity of this substrate to that of Arizona test dust, Niger sand, and Cape Verde dust. Using a molecular probe technique (furfuryl alcohol, FFA), the research team showed that the illumination of aqueous road dust suspensions leads to the production of singlet oxygen—an important environmental oxidant. Although the physical properties of singlet oxygen only differ subtly from those of the more prevalent triplet ground state of O2, singlet oxygen is far more reactive toward organic compounds. In experiments conducted using size-fractionated road dust, the U Alberta team found that the surface area-normalized steady-state 1O2 concentration ([1O2]ss) increased with decreasing particle size. The team also observed correlations between [1O2]ss and the dissolved organic carbon content and ultraviolet absorbance properties of dust extracts, which suggests the involvement of chromophoric water-soluble organic carbon in the observed photochemistry. [1O2]ss in aqueous road dust extracts was lower than in the corresponding particle-containing samples, implying that the particle surface itself also participated in 1O2. We found that when you shine light on road dust, it produces a reactive form of oxygen called singlet oxygen. It acts as an oxidant in the environment and can cause or influence other chemical reactions.—Sarah Styler, corresponding author Styler explained that if contaminants in road dust react with singlet oxygen, that means that sunlight could change the lifetime and potency of those contaminants in ways we don’t yet understand. One group of chemicals that could react with singlet oxygen are a set of toxic components of combustion emissions, known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The team will next examine road dust from other places around the city, including residential, commercial[...]



DOE launching HPC and big data initiative to improve transportation energy efficiency; HPC4Mobility

2018-01-18T01:00:00-08:00

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has launched two initiatives—High Performance Computing for Mobility (HPC4Mobility) and Big Data Solutions for Mobility—which will utilize the computing capabilities of the national labs to find solutions to real-world transportation energy challenges. The $2-million, multi-lab research initiative will develop new algorithms and big data... The US Department of Energy (DOE) has launched two initiatives—High Performance Computing for Mobility (HPC4Mobility) and Big Data Solutions for Mobility—which will utilize the computing capabilities of the national labs to find solutions to real-world transportation energy challenges. The $2-million, multi-lab research initiative will develop new algorithms and big data tools that can model urban-scale transportation networks using real-world, near real-time data. The initiative will develop the data science approaches and HPC-supported framework for next-generation mobility systems modeling and operational analytics. This is expected to deliver an understanding of transportation system efficiency opportunities that is not attainable with current approaches. Modeling informed by real-time data will allow transportation systems to respond to events such as accidents, weather, and congestion in such a way that optimizes the overall energy use of the system. The Big Data initiative includes researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory as well as partners from academia and industry. HPC4Mobility will provide cities, companies, transportation system operators, and others that qualify access to national laboratory resources, including supercomputing facilities, data-science expertise, and machine-learning capabilities. These partnerships aim to discover opportunities for energy efficiency increases in mobility systems. This investment supports innovative and scalable HPC4Mobility projects. These projects will uncover opportunities for energy efficiency gains by applying high-performance computing resources to emerging transportation data sets. VTO is providing initial funding of $500K to the participating laboratories. Each selected external partner will provide in-kind cost-share contributions. The first year “seed” projects for HPC4Mobility include: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will work with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority on HPC-enabled computation of demand models at scale to predict the energy impacts of emerging mobility solutions. Possible applications include modeling the impact of autonomous vehicles on transportation energy use and the hour-by-hour impact of ride hailing services on traffic congestion. Oak Ridge National Laboratory will work with GRIDSMART Technologies, Inc. on reinforcement learning-based traffic control approaches to optimize energy usage and traffic efficiency. Sponsored by DOE’s the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the High Performance Computing for Mobility (HPC4Mobility) Program is part of the larger HPC4 Energy Innovation Initiative, a Department-wide effort comprising the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Office of Fossil Energy, and the Office of Nuclear Energy. [...]



UCSC team develops high-performance nanostructured composite catalyst for water-splitting to produce hydrogen

2018-01-17T02:45:00-08:00

A low-cost, nanostructured composite material developed by researchers at UC Santa Cruz has shown performance comparable to Pt/C as a catalyst for the electrochemical splitting of water to produce hydrogen. An efficient, low-cost catalyst is essential for realizing the promise of hydrogen as a clean, environmentally friendly fuel. Researchers led... A low-cost, nanostructured composite material developed by researchers at UC Santa Cruz has shown performance comparable to Pt/C as a catalyst for the electrochemical splitting of water to produce hydrogen. An efficient, low-cost catalyst is essential for realizing the promise of hydrogen as a clean, environmentally friendly fuel. Researchers led by Shaowei Chen, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UC Santa Cruz, incorporated ruthenium ions into graphitic carbon nitride/reduced graphene oxide (rGO) hybrids to form Ru−C3N4/rGO composites. They found that the incorporation of Ru ions, at a loading of 1.93 at. %, leads to electron redistribution within the materials and significantly enhanced the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) performance over those of other carbon-based electrocatalysts (C3N4, C3N4/rGO, and Ru−C3N4, with an overpotential of only −80 mV to reach a current density of 10 mA cm−2, a Tafel slope of 55 mV dec−1, and an exchange current density of 0.462 mA cm−2. This performance is comparable to that of Pt/C. Schematic illustration of the preparation of C3N4-rGO-Ru nanocomposites. Peng et al. Mechanistically, effective electrocatalysts are required to achieve a high hydrogen generation rate as hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) involves multiple electron-transfer steps. Thus far, platinum-based materials supported on carbon exhibit the best electrocatalytic performance for HER; yet wide-spread commercial applications are hindered by the low natural abundance and high costs of platinum. In recent years, a variety of transition metal-based materials have been found to show apparent electrocatalytic activities towards HER. However, durability remains an issue because of corrosion of the catalysts in acid electrolytes, a common medium for HER. Carbon-based materials (such as graphene, carbon nanotubes, and amorphous carbon) have also been explored as viable catalysts for HER. Yet, thus far the activity has remained markedly lower than that of state-of-the art Pt/C.—Peng et al. In the new composite material developed by Chen’s lab, the ruthenium ions embedded in the carbon nitride nanosheets change the distribution of electrons in the matrix, creating more active sites for the binding of protons to generate hydrogen. Adding graphene to the structure further enhances the redistribution of electrons. The remarkable performance was accounted for by electron redistribution upon the incorporation of ruthenium ions into the C3N4-rGO composites, which led to efficient narrowing of the material bandgap, enhanced electric conductivity and charge carrier density, increasing number of active sites and reduced charge-transfer resistance. Such synergistic interactions among the structural components (C3N4, rGO, and Ru ions) highlight an effective strategy in the rational design and engineering of functional composites in the development of high-performance HER electrocatalysts. —Peng et al. Despite electrocatalytic performance comparable to that of commercial platinum catalysts, researchers still have a long way to go to achieve cheap and efficient hydrogen production, Chen noted. Resources Y. Peng, W. Pan, N. Wang, J.-E. Lu, S. Chen (2018) “Ruthenium Ion‐Complexed Graphitic Carbon Nitride Nanosheets Supported on[...]



BMW makes SCR standard on all diesels in future; more models to receive GPF (including i8); new diesel engine for X3

2018-01-17T02:00:00-08:00

BMW is making a number of adjustments to its powertrain lineup from spring 2018, including new diesel aftertreatment systems for its smaller diesel models; gasoline particulate filters on more gasoline models; and a new diesel engine for the X3. SCR. BMW ensures maximum effective reduction of diesel NOx emissions from... BMW is making a number of adjustments to its powertrain lineup from spring 2018, including new diesel aftertreatment systems for its smaller diesel models; gasoline particulate filters on more gasoline models; and a new diesel engine for the X3. SCR. BMW ensures maximum effective reduction of diesel NOx emissions from its larger vehicles by using an SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) system. As from the spring of 2018, BMW BluePerformance technology with AdBlue injection will also become available as standard on all diesel models of the BMW 1 Series, BMW 2 Series, BMW 3 Series and BMW 4 Series. Furthermore, following the BMW X1 xDrive20d, the BMW xDrive18d and the BMW X1 sDrive18d will be fitted with the SCR system. In the case of the BMW X1 xDrive18d and the BMW X1 sDrive 18d, the optimized reduction of emissions is linked to the introduction of a new, now dual-fed exhaust system. GPF. From March 2018, additional BMW gasoline-fueled models will feature a gasoline engine particulate filter (GPF) for optimum reduction of particulates resulting from gasoline direct injections engines. After the introduction of this exhaust gas purification technology in July 2017 on the BMW 220i Coupe, the BMW 230i Coupe, the BMW 220i Convertible, the BMW 230i Convertible, the BMW X3 xDrive20i and the BMW X3 xDrive30i, additional series are now to follow. From March 2018, exhaust aftertreatment systems on the BMW 420i Coupe/BMW 420i xDrive Coupe, the BMW 430i Coupe/BMW 430i xDrive Coupe, the BMW X1 sDrive18 and the plug-in hybrid sports car BMW i8 Coupe will be additionally fitted with a gasoline particulate filter. New X3 diesel. In the new BMW X3 xDrive25d, a particularly powerful four-cylinder diesel engine will be coupled with the standard 8-speed Steptronic transmission and intelligent four-wheel drive technology. The BMW TwinPower Turbo technology featured on the 2-liter power unit comprises a two-stage charging system and Common Rail direct injection operating at a maximum pressure of 2,500 bar. The engine delivers a maximum torque of 500 N·m and accelerates the BMW X3 xDrive25d from 0 to 100/km in 6.8 seconds. The car’s high efficiency is reflected in a combined fuel consumption of 6.1 to 5.8 liters per 100 kilometres (38.5 to 40.5 mpg US) and CO2 emissions of 160 to 154 grams per kilometer (provisional figures as per EU test cycle, depending on selected tire size). From March 2018, the number of BMW models equipped as standard with an 8-speed Steptronic transmission will also increase. The BMW 320d xDrive Sedan, the BMW 320d xDrive Touring and the BMW 320d xDrive Gran Turismo will also benefits from this technology. Moreover, the 8-speed Steptronic transmission will also come as standard on additional BMW 4 Series models: the BMW 420i xDrive Coupe and the BMW 430i Coupe as well as the BMW 420d xDrive Gran Coupe. [...]



INFINITI will offer mix of BEV and e-POWER vehicles from 2021; 50% of global sales by 2025

2018-01-17T01:10:00-08:00

INFINITI Motor Company will introduce new vehicles with electrified powertrains from 2021, said Nissan Chief Executive Officer Hiroto Saikawa at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit. INFINITI will offer a mix of pure electric vehicles (EV) and e-POWER series hybrid vehicles (earlier post), demonstrating the full range of low-emission...

INFINITI Motor Company will introduce new vehicles with electrified powertrains from 2021, said Nissan Chief Executive Officer Hiroto Saikawa at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit. INFINITI will offer a mix of pure electric vehicles (EV) and e-POWER series hybrid vehicles (earlier post), demonstrating the full range of low-emission vehicle technology available to INFINITI as the premium brand of Nissan Motor Company.

Nissan’s e-POWER borrows from the EV technology in the Nissan LEAF. Unlike the all-battery-electric powertrain of the LEAF, e-POWER adds a small gasoline engine to charge the high-output battery when necessary, eliminating the need for an external charger while offering the same high-output. Nissan says that although e-POWER uses a much smaller battery than the LEAF, it delivers the same driving experience as a full EV.

Saikawa said that INFINITI Customers can expect beautifully designed vehicles such as the Q Inspiration concept shown in Detroit (earlier post), with a whole new level of electrified driving performance as an evolution of INFINITI’s current powertrains.

As a result of this emphasis on low-emission technology, INFINITI expects more than half its global sales to be electric vehicles by 2025.

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Mitsubishi Electric develops object-recognition camera technology using proprietary AI for mirrorless cars; ~100m range

2018-01-17T00:33:00-08:00

Mitsubishi Electric Corporation has developed what it believes to be the industry’s highest performing automotive camera technology. The technology detects various object types at distances of up to about 100 meters, enabling drivers to receive advanced warning for enhanced driving safety in coming mirrorless cars. The solution, which is based...

Mitsubishi Electric Corporation has developed what it believes to be the industry’s highest performing automotive camera technology. The technology detects various object types at distances of up to about 100 meters, enabling drivers to receive advanced warning for enhanced driving safety in coming mirrorless cars.

The solution, which is based on Mitsubishi Electric’s proprietary Maisart-brand artificial intelligence (AI) technology, is expected to help prevent accidents, especially when drivers change lanes. Mirrorless cars that replace rearview and side mirrors with camera-monitoring systems were approved for use in Europe and Japan in 2016, and the first commercial mirrorless cars are expected to be launched in Japan as early as next year.

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The Maisart brand encompassing the company’s proprietary AI technology, including its compact AI, automated design deep-learning algorithm and extra-efficient smart-learning AI. Maisart is an abbreviation for “Mitsubishi Electric’s AI creates the State-of-the-ART in technology.”

The proposed technology for mirrorless cars employs a new computational visual-cognition model that mimics human visual behavior to focus rapidly on appropriate regions within the field of view.

Compared to conventional camera-based systems, the can significantly extend the maximum distance of object detection from about 30 meters to 100 meters, and can also improve object detection accuracy from 14% to 81%.

The computational visual-cognition model’s relatively simple algorithms free up system resources for real-time performance, even in on-board systems.

Mitsubishi Electric’s Maisart AI technology, which realizes compact AI for low-cost devices, can distinguish between object types such as pedestrians, cars and motorcycles.

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Toyota Tsusho to acquire 15% stake in lithium miner Orocobre for US$232 million

2018-01-16T20:58:37-08:00

Toyota Tsusho, the trading arm of the Toyota Group, has signed a Share Subscription Agreement with Australian lithium miner Orocobre to become a 15% shareholder on a fully diluted basis by private placements and participation in Orocobre’s public accelerated entitlement share offering, announced in conjunction with this investment. The total... Toyota Tsusho, the trading arm of the Toyota Group, has signed a Share Subscription Agreement with Australian lithium miner Orocobre to become a 15% shareholder on a fully diluted basis by private placements and participation in Orocobre’s public accelerated entitlement share offering, announced in conjunction with this investment. The total investment amount will be about A$292 million (US$232 million). Lithium demand is expected to continue growing with the shift from fossil-fuel powered vehicles to electric vehicles (EV), in addition to the steady growth of lithium-ion batteries for electric devices. Demand growth to date has seen the lithium price more than doubled in the past few years. Toyota Tsusho and Orocobre have been long-term partners in the development of the Salar de Olaroz Lithium Facility in Jujuy Province in northern Argentina, a lithium brine project, which was brought into successful production in 2014. The operations are at an altitude of 3,900 metres above sea level and produce lithium carbonate from the Salar de Olaroz brine resource which contains high concentrations of lithium and potash brine. Olaroz hosts a JORC/NI43-101 (mineral reserves reporting standards) compliant, high quality, low-cost and long life resource. The measured and indicated resource of 6.4 Mt LCE is capable of sustaining current continuous production for 40-plus years with only ~15% of the defined resource extracted. The processing method at Olaroz is based on existing brine treatment operations with modifications tailored to suit the brine chemistry and climatic conditions at Olaroz. Lithium brine operations typically have a much lower cost of production than hard-rock lithium deposits. The cash operating cost of approximately US$3,500/t positions the Company as being one of the lowest cost lithium producers globally. The processing method begins with the extraction of lithium-rich brine from bore fields drilled on the salar. The brine is then transferred to a series of evaporation ponds which utilize solar radiation and wind for evaporation and concentration along with a precipitation process to remove impurities. The concentrated brine is then fed into the lithium carbonate plant which precipitates, filters and dries the finished high-quality lithium carbonate product. After seven years of planning, developing, construction and commissioning, the first sale of lithium carbonate from the Olaroz Lithium Facility occurred in late April 2015 and volumes have been increasing since that time. Toyota Tsusho, being exclusive sales agent for the Project, has established a worldwide sales network for lithium from Olaroz since the first production. Through this investment, Toyota Tsusho and Orocobre will elevate their existing long term project partnership to a new level of strategic alliance. The capital injected by Toyota Tsusho’s strategic investment will be used primarily for the expansion of the Olaroz Project (Phase 2), which targets 25,000 tonnes per annum(LCE) of additional capacity.The expansion will potentially bring the total nameplate capacity of the Olaroz Project to 42,500 tonnes per annum. The Stage 2 expan[...]



PwC: by 2030, the transport sector will require 138M fewer cars in Europe and US; vehicle stock in China to climb ~50%; traffic to be heavier

2018-01-16T11:59:56-08:00

Five trends are transforming the automotive industry, according to PWC: electrification, autonomy, sharing, connecting and yearly updating, a combination the consultancy is now labeling “eascy”. In a report exploring the impact on the trends on the industry in 2030—“eascy – The five dimensions of automotive transformation”—PwC suggests that as a... Five trends are transforming the automotive industry, according to PWC: electrification, autonomy, sharing, connecting and yearly updating, a combination the consultancy is now labeling “eascy”. In a report exploring the impact on the trends on the industry in 2030—“eascy – The five dimensions of automotive transformation”—PwC suggests that as a result of novel sharing concepts, the stock of cars could fall from 280 to 200 million in Europe and 270 to 212 million in the United States. China, in contrast, is expected to see its vehicle inventory rise to 280 million vehicles in 2030, up from 180 million today. However, although vehicle stock could fall significantly in Europe and the US in 2030, traffic on the roads will become even heavier, PwC suggests. And although the number of new registrations will rise considerably, many conventional manufacturers and suppliers will come under pressure. This picture only appears to be contradictory. This automotive revolution will see many rules that the industry has become accustomed to over many decades being turned on their head.—Felix Kuhnert, PwC’s Global Automotive Leader. Of particular importance here is the growth of low-cost sharing concepts predicted by PwC. As a result of this development, today’s norm where most people drive themselves in their own vehicle will only be one mobility concept among many, says Christoph Stürmer, Global Lead Analyst at PwC Autofacts. The PwC study anticipates that as early as 2030, more than one in three kilometers driven will be under one of the many forms of sharing. This trend towards sharing will be coupled with two megatrends in automotive technology: the electrification of drive systems and huge advances in the development of self-driving cars. Under PwC’s scenario, by 2030, 55% of all new vehicles may be electric cars, while the conventional combustion engine will slowly die out. Developments in Europe and the US are expected to happen at a roughly parallel pace. In China, by contrast, the penetration of shared and autonomous mobility will happen faster than in the Western world. This could make China the leading market for the transformation of the automotive industry. The various different trends will reinforce each other. For instance, electric vehicles are less susceptible to failure thanks to their simpler power train—which is a significant advantage where vehicles are being shared and used more intensively. Self-driving cars, in turn, could effectively become ‘robotaxis’ if they are combined with sharing concepts.—Christoph Stürmer Taken in combination, the various megatrends will mean that road traffic as a whole will change radically. With more and more people turning to car-sharing models, there are likely to be far fewer car owners by 2030. However, at the same time individual traffic will increase massively. Personal mileage in Europe could rise by 23% by 2030 to 5.88 billion kilometers. Forecasts predict an increase of 24% in the US and 183% in China. Aside from population growth, one of the reasons for this is that self-driving vehicles will also be use[...]



ICCT study analyzes fuel efficiency of transpacific carriers in 2016; Hainan, ANA most fuel-efficient for different reasons

2018-01-16T07:01:00-08:00

A new study by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) has analyzed the fuel efficiency of 20 airlines operating nonstop flights between the mainland United States and East Asia and Oceania in 2016. The ICCT team found that the difference in efficiency performance between two co-leaders and the least... A new study by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) has analyzed the fuel efficiency of 20 airlines operating nonstop flights between the mainland United States and East Asia and Oceania in 2016. The ICCT team found that the difference in efficiency performance between two co-leaders and the least fuel-efficient carrier, Qantas Airways, was 64%—the widest gap identified in similar ICCT studies of aviation fuel efficiency to date. (Starting in 2013, the ICCT began assessing the fuel efficiency of US airlines on domestic operations for 2010, with subsequent updates for 2011 through 2014. In 2015, the ICCT compared the fuel efficiency of 20 major airline operating in the transatlantic market, specifically nonstop passenger flights between North America and Europe. This lateset report extends the previous work on airline efficiency to the transpacific market.) Hainan Airlines and All Nippon Airways (ANA) ranked first in overall fuel efficiency among transpacific carriers; the two use different strategies to achieve similar operating performance, the study found. Hainan operates a very efficient fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. ANA, in contrast, relied on robust freight operations; it carries about three times as much “belly” freight—cargo carried on passenger flights—per passenger as Hainan. Fuel efficiency of 20 airlines on transpacific passenger routes, 2016. Click to enlarge. At the other end of the spectrum, the study attributes Qantas’ inefficiency to that fact that it operated aircraft with higher fuel burn at very low passenger and freight load factors. Overall, freight share of total payload was the most important driver of transpacific fuel efficiency in 2016, accounting for nearly half of the variance across carriers. This research shows that there are a variety of ways that international airlines can reduce fuel use and carbon emissions. Buying new aircraft, carrying large numbers of passengers, and optimizing freight strategies all make a difference.—ICCT’s Brandon Graver, lead author of the study The report also assesses key drivers of the observed fuel efficiency gap across carriers. Factors include aircraft fuel burn, seating density, passenger load factor, and freight share of total payload. Of these, freight share was found to be the most important driver overall, explaining almost half of the variation in airline fuel efficiency across carriers, followed by seating density, which accounted for nearly one quarter of the variation. Aircraft fuel burn and passenger load factors were relatively less important. Other findings include: There was an inverse relationship between aircraft size and fuel efficiency on transpacific operations—as aircraft weight, or maximum takeoff mass (MTOM), increases, fuel efficiency declines. This is predominantly because aircraft with four engines are generally less fuel-efficient than those with two; airlines that predominantly use the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380—Asiana, Korean Air, and Qantas—had the lowest overall fuel efficiency on transpacific operations. The estimated gap between the most and least fuel-e[...]



Magna introduces high-definition ICON RADAR for automotive applications; scans in 4 dimensions

2018-01-16T06:52:20-08:00

Magna unveiled its high-resolution ICON RADAR at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). ICON RADAR incorporates advanced technology used by the US military to provide precise detection, extensive range and high resiliency. With a range of more than 300 meters, Magna’s ICON RADAR continuously scans the environment in four... Magna unveiled its high-resolution ICON RADAR at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). ICON RADAR incorporates advanced technology used by the US military to provide precise detection, extensive range and high resiliency. With a range of more than 300 meters, Magna’s ICON RADAR continuously scans the environment in four dimensions (distance, height, depth and speed). Magana says that the advanced radar technology can detect and track almost 100 times more objects than competitive systems and individually classifies them. It is able to detect and communicate to the vehicle a rich topography of static objects such as guard rails, road debris and speed bumps, as well as a large number of tracked moving objects such as vehicles, bicyclists, pedestrians and pets. width="480" height="270" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/G9T6x1rz0eA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> Magna has been collaborating with Uhnder, a technology start-up currently in stealth mode, in engineering and product development to help bring this technology to market in 2019. Magna says that ICON RADAR will help close the gap between level 3 and level 5 autonomy to reach full reliable autonomous driving. Having the ability to distinguish smaller objects such as children and bicyclists in close proximity to larger, more easily detectable things such as parked cars and moving trucks is critical to the enhancement of safety ADAS features such as Automatic Emergency Braking and to further the progress toward full autonomous driving. It is this critical data and capability that keeps the software systems with information to continually improve vehicle intelligence and safety systems. Magna’s ICON RADAR continuously scans its full environment 50 times faster than the time it takes a human to blink an eye, which helps a vehicle make instantaneous decisions in response to complex surroundings. It can detect vehicles at distances that well exceed any current requirements. Its state-of-the art imaging capability pulls from 192 virtual receivers incorporated into a single compact system. These virtual receivers are applied to deliver both horizontal and vertical resolution, achieving new benchmark levels for each. In addition, the technology is naturally immune to interference, which will become critical as the number of radar-enhanced vehicles on the road increases. With its compact size, ICON RADAR also allows greater flexibility in exterior design and can be easily integrated into an automaker’s autonomous system or as part of Magna’s MAX4 autonomous vehicle platform. [...]



TNGA-based 2019 Toyota Avalon features new hybrid system

2018-01-16T04:00:00-08:00

Toyota unveiled the new fifth-generation Avalon at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Avalon received an all-encompassing makeover by Toyota’s US-based design, engineering, and manufacturing entities at Calty Design Research Inc. (Calty) in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Toyota Motor North America Research and Development (TMNA R&D) in Saline, Michigan;... Toyota unveiled the new fifth-generation Avalon at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Avalon received an all-encompassing makeover by Toyota’s US-based design, engineering, and manufacturing entities at Calty Design Research Inc. (Calty) in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Toyota Motor North America Research and Development (TMNA R&D) in Saline, Michigan; and Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. (TMMK) in Georgetown, Kentucky, respectively. Underpinned by the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) K Sedan platform, the 2019 Avalon is powered by two new TNGA powertrains: a punchy 3.5-liter V6 (2GR-FKS), and, a 2.5-liter Dynamic Force four-cylinder Toyota Hybrid System II (THS II) with 650-volt electric motor (A25A-FXS) and Continuously-Variable Transmission (CVT). Avalon Hybrid continues to be the only full hybrid vehicle in the segment. Avalon comes in four available grades: the athletic XSE (all-new) and Touring, as well as the more opulent XLE and Limited. Hybrid grades include XLE, Limited, and XSE. 2019 Avalon Hybrid The TNGA-derived V6 develops more power with less fuel consumption than before. Achieving the two took the application of D-4S direct injection, along with an updated VVT-iW (Variable Valve Timing-intelligent Wide) variable valve timing system. The VVT-iW system is employed on the intake cycle, with VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing - Intelligent) activated on exhaust. With VVT-iW in place, engineers ensured optimal torque creation at all engine speeds, and minimized pumping losses during the closing of intake valves, which furthered fuel efficiency. The use of Atkinson cycle, too, reduces the V6’s fuel appetite, particularly in cold climates or during wide-open throttle (WOT) situations. Other V6 specifications include a 11.8:1 compression ratio and 3.7 in. bore and 3.3 in. stroke. An all-new TNGA 8-speed Direct Shift-8AT automatic transaxle gearbox (UA80E) channels power to the Avalon’s front wheels. Its revised logic control better matches vehicle speed, engine speed, and torque engagement, while also facilitating poised downshifts. Its eight gear ratios balance wide range and close ratios, therefore enhancing power application and fuel efficiency. A wider range, specifically at the increased 8th gear ratio, allows for improved high-speed cruising fuel economy. Close ratios at the mid-range gears improve passing power. A new torque converter provides a wider range of lock-up operation (versus the outgoing 6-speed automatic transmission) to imbue a more enveloping and direct driving feel. The converter contributes to low fuel consumption and passenger comfort, since engine revving is kept to a minimum. Avalon Hybrid. A new TNGA 2.5-liter four-cylinder Dynamic Force Engine is more fuel efficient, runs cleaner, and is more powerful than previous iterations, and features enhanced thermal management. Technologies required include: Dual VVT-i with VVT-iE (Variable Valve Timing intelligent system by Electric motor); D-4S (Direct injection 4-stroke gasoline engine Superior version) direct injection [...]



Kia introduces more fuel-efficient Gen 3 2019 Forte; first “Smart Stream” powertrain

2018-01-16T03:30:00-08:00

At the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), Kia Motors America (KMA) unveiled the third-generation 2019 Forte compact sedan. With a number of improvements, Forte now offers drivers a higher level of comfort, fuel efficiency and advanced driver assistance technologies. Housed underneath the Forte’s longer hood is a second-generation 2.0-liter...At the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), Kia Motors America (KMA) unveiled the third-generation 2019 Forte compact sedan. With a number of improvements, Forte now offers drivers a higher level of comfort, fuel efficiency and advanced driver assistance technologies. Housed underneath the Forte’s longer hood is a second-generation 2.0-liter Nu four-cylinder engine that benefits from Atkinson Cycle technology and a cooled EGR system. Typically applied to hybrid and electric vehicles, the Atkinson Cycle and cooled EGR technologies are designed to help boost fuel efficiency. The new powerplant can be paired with either a six-speed manual or Kia’s all-new Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT). The engine and in-house-built IVT are the first of a new line of efficient “Smart Stream” powertrains that will make their way into the Kia lineup in the future. Kia said that waiting before it developed its own continuously variable transmission (CVT) allowed engineers to research issues often associated with CVTs and apply their findings in the application used in the Forte. One of the main criticisms is that CVTs can create a rubber-band-like feel. In an effort to address this issue, engineers built the IVT with adaptive style shift logic with a chain-type belt instead of push belt, a first in the compact class. This results in smooth and linear acceleration, and for a more enjoyable and sporty driving experience, a step-shift-like feel mimics a conventional automatic at wide-open throttle or when more acceleration is needed. Noise is another issue CVTs can sometimes face and engineers worked hard to reduce this in the Forte by wrapping the transmission case in a sound-insulating cover to help quiet the typical “drone” associated with this tech from other OEMs. In doing so, NVH levels are also reduced by 5dB. Horsepower and torque are expected to remain unchanged from the 2018 Forte, delivering an estimated 147 HP and 132 lb-ft of torque. Efficiency was the top priority and the IVT, together with the 2.0-liter engine, is estimated to return up to 35 MPG combined, about a 3 MPG improvement over the current vehicle. Official EPA fuel economy ratings will be announced closer to the Forte’s arrival in the US later this year. Building upon an already solid structure that helped the current 2018 Forte sedan achieve an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick Plus rating, the all-new 2019 Forte is strengthened with additional hot-stamped components and 54% Advanced High-Strength Steel. Stronger seat frames are lightweight and provide a more comfortable seating position with increased lumbar support and denser seat foam for more pleasurable long-distance drives. The all-new Forte offers projection or full LED headlights. Kia is targeting receiving the highest ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and IIHS. Because body stiffness plays a major role in NVH performance, engineers worked to increase rigidity for a quieter cabin and bett[...]



Infiniti Q Inspiration concept designed with autonomy, VC-Turbo variable compression ratio engine in mind

2018-01-16T06:56:00-08:00

Infiniti unveiled its Q Inspiration Concept at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Previewing a new generation of Infiniti vehicles, the Q Inspiration Concept proposes how an innovative VC-Turbo variable compression ratio engine powertrain (earlier post), next-level autonomous drive technologies, and a unique human-centric interior could enrich the...Infiniti unveiled its Q Inspiration Concept at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Previewing a new generation of Infiniti vehicles, the Q Inspiration Concept proposes how an innovative VC-Turbo variable compression ratio engine powertrain (earlier post), next-level autonomous drive technologies, and a unique human-centric interior could enrich the experience of drivers in the mid-size sedan segment. The Q Inspiration Concept is meant to demonstrate future technologies and will not be available for sale. The Q Inspiration powertrain combines turbocharged gasoline power with the torque and efficiency of a hybrid or diesel engine. VC-Turbo continually transforms, adjusting its compression ratio to optimize power and fuel efficiency, resulting in the smart application of power for greater driver control. As a mid-size sedan concept, the Q Inspiration previews other near-future applications for INFINITI’s variable compression ratio VC-Turbo engine technology. Realizing the next stage in vehicle autonomy for INFINITI, ProPILOT enables drivers to delegate more stressful driving tasks to the car, and enjoy an enhanced ability to respond to hazards. With the system acting as a co-pilot, the driver always retains ultimate control. Representing the next step in INFINITI design, the exterior of the Q Inspiration Concept features clear and concise lines with dynamic and confident proportions. It is the first manifestation of INFINITI’s new form language for an era of advanced powertrains. The concept eschews classical sedan forms with its coupe-like appearance and elongated silhouette, presenting INFINITI’s design vision for vehicles in this segment. The intelligently packaged four-cylinder VC-Turbo has liberated INFINITI’s designers from the constraints of powertrain architecture to realize a spacious interior. Modern technology and craftsmanship merge inside the cabin, presented in a way that enables, rather than distracts, the driver. [...]



Evea study estimates 69% reduction in GHG emissions for Global Bioenergies’ fully renewable ETBE compared to fossil gasoline

2018-01-16T02:00:00-08:00

Life-cycle analysis specialist EVEA has estimated that fully renewable ETBE produced by the Global Bioenergies’ IBN-One plant would enable 69% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil gasoline. This figure was calculated for the current design planned for the IBN-One plant using a greenhouse gases emissions calculator based on... Life-cycle analysis specialist EVEA has estimated that fully renewable ETBE produced by the Global Bioenergies’ IBN-One plant would enable 69% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil gasoline. This figure was calculated for the current design planned for the IBN-One plant using a greenhouse gases emissions calculator based on 2BSVS, compliant with the Renewable Energy Directive. As part of the ISOPROD project financed by the Investissements d’Avenir program and operated by the ADEME, Evea performed an assessment of the environmental impact of the future renewable isobutene plant IBN-One. The LCA focused on the production of renewable isobutene derived from sugar beet under the IBN-One plant design in collaboration with Cristal Union, partner of Global Bioenergies in this joint-venture. (Earlier post.) In terms of usage and end-of-life, we analyzed several dimensions of environmental footprint, greenhouse gases emissions being one of them. Our analysis led to eco-design recommendations which will be implemented in the process. We are proud to have been selected for assessing and improving the environmental performance of such an innovative and possibly game-changing technology.—Samuel Causse, Agro-Resources & Green Chemistry department manager at EVEA The preliminary results of the analysis according to the greenhouse gases emissions calculator compliant with the Renewable Energy Directive showed that fully renewable ETBE (Ethyl Tert-Butyl Ether), produced from renewable isobutene and bioethanol, is associated with a reduction of 69% of CO2 equivalent emissions if compared to fossil gasoline. These results will have to be confirmed after an audit on site and a peer review of the LCA. ETBE is today incorporated in gasoline at volumes of up to 23%. Fully renewable ETBE holds the potential to incorporate 2.7 times more renewable energy in gasoline than using traditional biofuels. These results are encouraging and promising with sugar beet as a substrate. With second generation feedstocks, such as wheat straw or wood-derived hydrolysates, renewable isobutene derivatives are expected to achieve an even higher emission reduction.—Bernard Chaud, Chief Industry Officer at Global Bioenergies and CEO of IBN-One [...]



EPA fuel economy report finds weight and power leveling off, footprint stable

2018-01-16T01:15:00-08:00

EPA recently released the latest edition of its annual report Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions and Fuel Economy Trends. The report is the authoritative reference for real-world fuel economy, technology trends and tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions, for new personal vehicles sold in the US every year since 1975. The... EPA recently released the latest edition of its annual report Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions and Fuel Economy Trends. The report is the authoritative reference for real-world fuel economy, technology trends and tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions, for new personal vehicles sold in the US every year since 1975. The report found that fuel economy for the US fleet continues to improve. Model year (MY) 2016 vehicle fuel economy was 24.7 mpg (9.51 L/100 km), slightly higher than MY 2015, and a record high overall. Since MY 2004, CO2 emissions and fuel economy have improved in ten out of twelve years, and decreased only twice. CO2 emissions have decreased by 102 g/mi, or 22%, and fuel economy has increased by 5.4 mpg, or 28%, with an average annual improvement of about 0.5 mpg per year. The report also identified a number of contributory trends, including: Fuel economy continues to increase while weight and power have leveled off. Vehicle weight and power are two important design parameters that help determine a vehicle’s CO2 emissions and fuel economy. For nearly two decades through MY 2004, on a fleetwide basis, automotive technology innovation was generally utilized to support vehicle attributes such as weight, performance, utility, and other attributes rather than fuel economy or CO2 emissions. Beginning in MY 2005, technology has generally been used to increase both fuel economy and power, while keeping vehicle weight relatively constant. The average weight for new vehicles produced in MY 2016 was 4,035 pounds (1,830 kg), which was unchanged from MY 2015 although the weight of an average new car fell by 23 pounds (10.4 kg), and the weight of an average new truck fell by 24 pounds (10.9 kg). The 2.1% increase in truck share offset the weight reductions in cars and trucks, so that overall new vehicle weight was relatively unchanged. Average new vehicle horsepower (hp) was also basically unchanged in MY 2016, as the average vehicle was 1 hp higher than MY 2015. With an average 230 hp, new vehicles remain at a record high average horsepower. Car horsepower was down by 1 hp and truck horsepower increased by 1 hp. The average 0-to-60 mph acceleration time was the same in MY 2016 as MY 2015. Preliminary MY 2017 values suggest that average weight will be up 9 pounds and horsepower up 2 hp. EPA will not have final MY 2017 data until next year’s report. Source: EPA. Average new vehicle footprint remains stable. Footprint is an important measure of vehicle size that is defined as the area enclosed by the tires of the vehicle (i.e., wheelbase multiplied by average track width). Both the GHG emissions and fuel economy standards rely on footprint to determine vehicle GHG and fuel economy targets. EPA began collecting industry-wide footprint data in MY 2008. The average footprint within each of the five vehicle types has been relatively stable between MY 2008 and MY 2016. The average footprint for pickup trucks increased 1.5 f[...]



Continental supplying 48-volt belt starter generator with integrated power electronics for Audi A8

2018-01-15T11:54:48-08:00

Continental is supplying the 48V belt-starter generator with integrated power electronics that is at the heart of the mild-hybrid (MHEV) system that is standard on Audi’s new A8. (Earlier post.) The system replaces a conventional starter pinion and is driven by a belt connected to the engine crankshaft. Together with... Continental is supplying the 48V belt-starter generator with integrated power electronics that is at the heart of the mild-hybrid (MHEV) system that is standard on Audi’s new A8. (Earlier post.) The system replaces a conventional starter pinion and is driven by a belt connected to the engine crankshaft. Together with a lithium-ion battery the belt-starter generator forms the heart of the electrified drivetrain. With a starter output of eight kilowatts and peak transient torque of up to 60 N·m, the asynchronous motor developed by Continental achieves new benchmarks. It has a continuous power rating in generator mode of up to 5 kW, with peak output of up to 15 kW available for short periods. This is made possible by a water-cooling system that protects the motor, and particularly the power electronics, from overheating. The coolant is supplied by the regular engine cooling system, eliminating the need for a second, low-temperature cooling circuit. When coasting to a halt at a red light, the engine in the new Audi A8 shuts down at 22 km/h (14 mph)—much earlier than with a conventional stop-start system. The engine also shuts down periodically during steady-state cruising at speeds between 55 and 160 km/h (34 and 99 mph), restarting instantly when the driver wants to accelerate. Additionally, when the driver applies the brakes during everyday driving, the A8 converts a large percentage of the braking energy—normally lost in the form of heat—into electrical energy for future use. The combination of zero-emission coasting, earlier engine shutdown by the stop-start system and improved braking energy recuperation results in fuel savings of up to 0.7 liter fuel per 100 kilometer in real driving situations. At the same time, the 48 volt board net makes it possible to provide four times as much electrical power at short notice, at the same current. This clears the way for adaptive suspension systems like the new predictive active suspension in the Audi A8. We see 48-volt electrification as a key technology which in terms of improved comfort and fuel economy offers promising potential in all vehicle classes and in all markets. Additionally, the 48-volt technology is capable of achieving up to double-digit percentage fuel savings and offers a low-cost way to reduce fleet fuel consumption.—José Avila, Member of the Executive Board of Continental and Head of the Powertrain division Continental has been producing the belt-starter-generator with integrated power electronics on highly automated production lines at its Nuremberg plant since 2017. The system is based on a modular concept that can be adapted to meet the needs of all automakers. For example, Audi’s emphasis on high performance has been met by increasing the length of the stator, which instead of windings consists of welded copper rods. The collaboration with Audi was not just limited to the hardware. Together with Audi we also further refined t[...]



2019 Ram drops weight, gains 48V eTorque mild hybrid system

2018-01-15T10:02:27-08:00

FCA pulled the wraps off the new 2019 Ram 1500 at the Detroit Auto Show. Overall weight for the Ram 1500 has been reduced by 225 pounds (102 kg). As the truck’s backbone, the frame uses advanced materials and engineering to eliminate 100 pounds while increasing stiffness and durability for... FCA pulled the wraps off the new 2019 Ram 1500 at the Detroit Auto Show. Overall weight for the Ram 1500 has been reduced by 225 pounds (102 kg). As the truck’s backbone, the frame uses advanced materials and engineering to eliminate 100 pounds while increasing stiffness and durability for 12,750 pounds of towing capability and 2,300 pounds of payload. An all-new 48V eTorque mild-hybrid system delivers improved fuel efficiency for both 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 upgrade and 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 configurations. The eTorque mild hybrid system is one of several changes made to the powertrains for the 2019 Ram 1500. The changes include upgraded TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmissions, strategic weight reductions and innovations, such as quickly heating lubricants to minimize viscosity-related efficiency losses. RAM 1500 with eTorque. eTorque. The eTorque mild hybrid system replaces the traditional alternator on the engine with a belt-driven motor generator unit that performs several functions. The motor generator unit works with a 48-volt battery pack to enable quick and seamless start/stop function, short-duration torque addition to the engine crankshaft in certain driving situations and brake energy regeneration, which improves responsiveness and efficiency. With the engine running, eTorque’s motor generator unit feeds 48-volt current to a 330 watt-hour lithium-ion Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC)-Graphite battery. The battery pack includes a 3-kilowatt DC-to-DC inverter to maintain the battery’s state of charge and convert 48 volts to 12 volts to power the Ram 1500’s accessories and charge its conventional 12-volt lead-acid battery. 3.6L Pentastar with eTorque. The small-suitcase-sized, air-cooled battery pack mounts to the rear wall inside the Ram 1500’s cabin. The case is insulated to dampen noise from the dual cooling fans. Cooling air is drawn from inside the truck and vented via the built-in cabin exhausters. The V-6 and V-8 engines with eTorque retain a conventional 12-volt starter motor, used for cold starts and first start of the day due to its greater efficiency in extreme temperatures. In addition to spinning the engine for restarts, the eTorque also recaptures energy during deceleration and braking to feed charge to the battery pack. eTorque also enhances the driving experience of the 2019 Ram 1500 by adding torque to the crankshaft during gear changes to minimize noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). The eTorque motor generator is slightly different between the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 applications. The Pentastar eTorque unit is liquid cooled and mounted on the front of the engine. The HEMI V-8 eTorque unit is air cooled and mounted toward the top of the engine in the traditional alternator location. 5.7L HEMI with eTorque. Both eTorque motor generator units employ a pair of belt tensioners to keep the 8-rib drive belt tight when the unit is generating electricity or adding torqu[...]