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Ricardo study finds retrofitted Euro III bus can emit less NOx than newer Euro V hybrid

28 November 2014

Measurements by Ricardo found that an older Euro III bus retrofitted with a selective catalytic reduction and continuously regenerating particulate trap system can be cleaner in terms of lower NOxemissions than newer Euro V hybrid buses.

The measurements of the retrofitted Euro III bus were an extension of a study of the Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach company fleet in partnership with HORIBA examining the real-world emissions of buses operating through a known pollution hot spot in Brighton city center. As a result of that study, Ricardo published results earlier in the year demonstrating the important role that improving traffic flow can have upon reducing NOx emissions. That study, the findings of which were reported in July, focused on a range of buses including Euro IV, Euro V conventional and Euro V hybrid vehicles.

Continue Reading “Ricardo study finds retrofitted Euro III bus can emit less NOx than newer Euro V hybrid”

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Univ. of Manchester team finds monolayer graphene permeable to protons; implications for PEM fuel cell and other hydrogen technologies

28 November 2014

Researchers at the University of Manchester in the UK have found that monolayers of graphene—which, as a perfect monolayer is impermeable to all gases and liquids—and its sister material boron nitride (BN) are highly permeable to protons, especially at elevated temperatures and if the films are covered with catalytic nanoparticles such as platinum. The finding could have a significant impact on proton exchange membrane fuel cell technologies and other hydrogen-based technologies.

The discovery is reported in the journal Nature by an international team led by Professor Sir Andre Geim, who, with Professor Sir Kostya Novoselov succeeded in producing, isolating, identifying and characterizing graphene in 2004 at the University of Manchester, an achievement for which the pair won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010. (Graphene had been studied theoretically as far back as 1947; professors Geim and Novoselov were the first to fabricate and to study the material.)

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BMW reveals 3 Series Plug-in hybrid prototype with 117.5 mpg; next-gen Power eDrive: 2x current capacity, electric AWD

27 November 2014

BMW 3 Series Plug-in hybrid prototype. Click to enlarge.

BMW has unveiled a 3 Series plug-in hybrid prototype. Combining a four-cylinder TwinPower Turbo gasoline engine from the new Efficient Dynamics engine family with an electric motor, the BMW 3 Series plug-in hybrid prototype offers performance on a par with a conventionally powered BMW 3 Series six-cylinder model, combined with a significant reduction in fuel consumption.

In addition, BMW outlined its work on Power eDrive next-generation electrification platforms—an effort to deliver “highly electrified” plug-in hybrids with higher-powered electric motors and batteries with twice the capacity of present versions. Future plug-in hybrid concepts, said BMW, will use the electric motor—the main source of power for everyday driving—to drive the rear wheels, while a second electric motor driving the front wheels will create an all-electric road-coupled all-wheel-drive system. At the same time, an internal combustion engine will also supply power to the front axle.

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Toyota bringing vehicle-infrastructure cooperative systems to some new models in Japan in 2015

26 November 2014

Starting next year, some of Toyota Motor Corporation’s new models will be compatible with advanced vehicle-infrastructure cooperative systems that use a wireless frequency reserved for Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). This compatibility will be offered as an option for the “Toyota Safety Sense P” active safety package that will be made available in 2015 on select new models sold in Japan.

The systems will use the dedicated ITS frequency of 760 MHz for road-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-vehicle communication to gather information that cannot be obtained by onboard sensors. At intersections with poor visibility, information about oncoming vehicles and pedestrians detected by sensors above the road will be conveyed via road-to-vehicle communication, and information about approaching vehicles will be conveyed via vehicle-to-vehicle communication, with audio and visual alerts warning drivers when necessary.

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Renault-Nissan Alliance has sold 200,000 EVs worldwide so far; 58% ZEV market share

26 November 2014

The Renault-Nissan Alliance has passed the 200,000th electric vehicles sold mark and currently has a leading 58% market share for zero-emission cars (ZEVs) worldwide. Together, Renault and Nissan EVs have driven approximately 4 billion zero-emission kilometers (2.5 billion miles)—enough to circle the earth 100,000 times. Alliance EVs also represent 450 million kg of CO2 that has not been emitted while driving. (The zero-emission distance and CO2 data are based on a calculated average.)

Of those EVs, Japan-based Nissan has sold a cumulative 148,700 units worldwide since December 2010, when Nissan LEAF went on sale. The top markets for Nissan LEAF are the United States with about 67,000 sales since its launch; Japan with about 46,500 units; and Europe with about 31,000 units.

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EPA proposes tightening primary ozone standards to range of 65-70 ppb; final rule by October 2015

26 November 2014

Counties where measured ozone is above proposed range of standards, based on 2011-2013 monitoring data. Source: EPA. Click to enlarge.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing tightening the ground-level 8-hour ozone (O3) National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) to within a range of 65 to 70 parts per billion (ppb), while taking comments on a level as low as 60 ppb. Earlier this year, EPA staff had recommended the further reduction of this primary ozone standard from the current 75 ppb (parts per billion) to a revised level within the range of 70 ppb to 60 ppb—and preferably below 70 ppb. (Earlier post.)

EPA will seek public comment on the proposal for 90 days following publication in the Federal Register, and the agency plans to hold three public hearings. EPA will issue final ozone standards by 1 October 2015.

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New Mercedes-Benz compact CLA Shooting Brake; up to 60 mpg

26 November 2014

Mercedes-Benz is introducing a Shooting Brake version of its CLA compact coupé. The CLA Shooting Brake (length/width/height: 4630/1777/1435 mm) will initially be available with a choice of two diesel and three gasoline engines—all equipped as standard with the ECO start/stop function and Euro 6-compliant—as well as with 4MATIC all-wheel drive. It goes on sale in January 2015, with the first models going to customers towards the end of March 2015.

Two years ago, with the CLS Shooting Brake, Mercedes-Benz created a sports car with five seats and a large tailgate. (Earlier post.) The CLA Shooting Brake takes the elegant Shooting Brake design into a smaller model. The new CLA Shooting Brake is the latest member of Mercedes’ successful compact range, which now includes five models. A total of 375,000 A-, B-, CLA- and GLA-Class vehicles were sold in the first ten months of 2014.

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Follow the sand to the real fracking boom

26 November 2014

by James Stafford of

When it takes up to four million pounds of sand to frack a single well, it’s no wonder that demand is outpacing supply and frack sand producers are becoming the biggest behind-the-scenes beneficiaries of the American oil and gas boom. Demand is exploding for “frac sand”—a durable, high-purity quartz sand used to help produce petroleum fluids and prop up man-made fractures in shale rock formations through which oil and gas flows—turning this segment into the top driver of value in the shale revolution.

“One of the major players in Eagle Ford is saying they’re short 6 million tons of 100 mesh alone in 2014 and they don’t know where to get it. And that’s just one player,” Rasool Mohammad, President and CEO of Select Sands Corporation told Frack sand exponentially increases the return on investment for a well, and oil and gas companies are expected to use some 95 billion pounds of frack sand this year, up nearly 30% from 2013 and up 50% from forecasts made just last year.

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IBM Research and ASELSAN to collaborate on metal-air battery technology, focusing on EVs; mm-wave ICs

25 November 2014

IBM Research and Turkish defense industry technology company ASELSAN (Askerî Elektronik Sanayii, Military Electronic Industries) have signed collaborative development agreements concerning research and development of metal-air battery technologies and millimeter wave integrated circuits. The companies will work together on these projects, and through these efforts ASELSAN will enhance its in-house research and development activities.

In 2009, IBM and its partners launched a multi-year research initiative specifically exploring rechargeable Li-air systems (one type of metal-air battery): “The Battery 500 Project”. (Earlier post.) The “500” stands for a target range of 500 miles/800 km per charge, which translates into a battery capacity of about 125 kWh at an average use of 250 Wh/mile for a standard family car.

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BMW i Ventures makes strategic investment in smartphone driving analytics company Zendrive

25 November 2014

The BMW Group’s venture capital company, BMW i Ventures, has made an investment in the startup Zendrive, a company that uses data and analytics gathered from smartphones rather than OBD to improve driving through driving analytics. Related BMW mobility services investments currently include JustPark, Chargepoint, Life360, Chargemaster, and MyCityWay. The Zendrive investment is the first in a series of investment announcements that will be made in the months ahead, said Ulrich Quay, Managing Director of BMW i Ventures, LLC.

Zendrive uses the sensors on a smartphone to measure a driver’s behaviors; Zendrive’s Driver-Centric Analytics process the data from the phone’s sensors into a Zendrive score that factors in cell phone use, speed, swerves, hard stops, fast accelerations, fatigue, as well as weather, trip duration, time of day, and more.

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Tsinghua team devises in-cycle control method for diesel LTC using detection of Start of Combustion

25 November 2014

Low temperature combustion (LTC) refers to a broad range of in-cylinder combustion strategies for the reduction of NOx emissions from diesel combustion; NOx is formed primarily by a thermal mechanism, which production rates increasing exponentially with temperature. LTC strategies reduce combustion temperatures by the dilution of the in-cylinder combustible mixtures, either with excess charge gas to create more fuel-lean mixtures, or with moderate to high levels of EGR.

However, challenges remain in diesel low temperature combustion implementation due to combustion inconsistency or instability. To address this, a team from Tsinghua University has devised an in-cycle combustion feedback control method based on the detection of the Start of Combustion (SOC) in diesel LTC. A paper describing their method is published in the journal Applied Energy.

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Lifecycle analysis of Amyris renewable jet from sugar cane finds “substantial potential” to mitigate GHG emissions, but a wide range of potential outcomes

25 November 2014

Monte Carlo results for the net life cycle emissions of the renewable jet fuel from sugar cane. Credit: ACS, Moreira et al.. Click to enlarge.

Brazilian researchers evaluating the lifecycle GHG emissions of a renewable jet fuel produced from sugar cane in Brazil using Amyris’ proprietary technology platform (earlier post) found that the farnesane-based renewable fuel presents “a substantial potential” to mitigate the GHG emissions of the aviation sector. Their paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

In their base case, the researchers calculated a “rather optimistic” GHG footprint of 8.5g CO2eq/MJ; lifecycle emissions of fossil jet fuel usually lie within the 80−95g CO2eq/MJ range. However, they noted, the estimation is highly uncertain, with a number of factors—especially related to electricity exports, sugar cane farming itself, and agrochemicals production and use—significantly affect the outcome. The results of the Monte Carlo analysis indicate life cycle emissions of 21 ± 11 g CO2eq/MJ (mean ± SD), with substantial influence from the LUC factor.

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