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ORNL team tailors the structure of carbon black from waste tires to create higher performance carbon anode material for Li-ion batteries

28 August 2014

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have tailored the microstructural characteristics of carbon black recovered from discarded tires to produce a higher performance, low-cost carbon anode material for Li-ion batteries.

Electrochemical studies reported in their paper published in the journal RSC Advances showed that the recovered-carbon-based anode had a a reversible capacity of nearly 390 mAh/g of carbon anode after 100 cycles—exceeding the best properties of commercial graphite. Researchers attribute this to the unique microstructure of the tire-derived carbon. Anodes made with the sulfonated tire-rubber-derived carbon and a control tire-rubber-derived carbon exhibited an initial coulombic efficiency of 71% and 45%, respectively.

Continue Reading “ORNL team tailors the structure of carbon black from waste tires to create higher performance carbon anode material for Li-ion batteries”

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Renault introduces 3rd-gen Twingo city car

28 August 2014

New Renault Twingo. Click to enlarge.

Renault has introduced its new, third-generation Twingo, which was developed in partnership with Daimler (earlier post). The latest generation of the city car is 10cm shorter than its predecessor, yet the interior of its cabin is 33cm longer; its turning circle is 4.30 meters (14 feet).

New Twingo comes with a choice of two three-cylinder gasoline engines (naturally aspirated or turbocharged): the 1.0L SCe 70 (along with a stop/start-equipped version) and the turbo 0.9L TCe 90. Combined cycle fuel consumption is as low as 4.2 l/100 km (56 mpg US) for the SCe 70 with stop/start.

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Study: open trash burning worldwide significantly worsening air pollution; unaccounted for in emission inventories

28 August 2014

Unregulated open trash burning around the globe is pumping far more pollution into the atmosphere than shown by official records. A new study led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) estimates that more than 40% of the world’s garbage is burned in such fires, emitting gases and particles that can substantially affect human health and climate change.

The new study provides the first rough estimates, on a country-by-country basis, of pollutants such as particulates, carbon monoxide, and mercury that are emitted by the fires. Such pollutants have been linked to serious medical issues. The researchers also estimated emissions of carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas produced by human activity. Their paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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Nissan to begin production of Pathfinder hybrid in Russia; importance of Russian market

27 August 2014

Nissan launched its Pathfinder range in the Russian market at the Moscow Motor Show. The Pathfinder made its debut alongside the new Russian-built Sentra sedan.

Nissan’s all-new fourth-generation Pathfinder—which will be built in Russia—will be available with a standard 3.5L gasoline engine as well as the hybrid drive system. (Earlier post.) Production of Pathfinder’s hybrid engine variant will make the St. Petersburg plant Russia’s first to produce a hybrid. The plant currently builds the Teana, Murano and X-Trail, and Qashqai will be added in 2015.

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Volvo reveals new XC90; limited diesel, gasoline First Edition on sale only online

27 August 2014

The new XC90, with “Thor’s hammer” DRL lights. Click to enlarge.

Volvo Cars revealed the XC90, its new 7-seat SUV, at an event in Sweden. Three years in the making and part of an $11-billion investment program, the new XC90 leverages the new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) technology, and will offer a range of two-liter, four-cylinder Drive-E powertrains. The two launch engines are the D5 twin turbo diesel and the T6 supercharged and turbocharged gasoline unit. Top of the model range will be the XC90 Twin Engine—a plug-in hybrid delivering around 400 hp (298 kW) with carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of around 60 g/km (NEDC driving cycle). (Earlier post.)

Volvo Cars also announced the release of a limited First Edition of its new flagship; the 1,927 individually numbered cars celebrate the year Volvo was founded and will only be available for sale online at, beginning 3 Sep.

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Johnson Controls invests in IHU-TUT project to combine aluminum and steel in laser-welded tailored tubes for seats

27 August 2014

Johnson Controls is investing in a German automotive research project working to combine steel and aluminum in laser-welded tailored tubes for use in seats for the first time. The result could be a 10 to 20 percent reduction in weight, which would be beneficial for fuel and emissions balance.

Tailored tubes are already used to a great extent in the large series production of vehicle seats, but in this project, they consist of steel and aluminum of various wall thicknesses. As part of the research project “Hydroforming of laser-brazed tailored hybrid tubes of a steel-aluminum blend for automotive lightweight construction” (Innenhochdruckumformen laserstrahlgelöteter Tailored Hybrid Tubes aus Stahl-Aluminium-Mischverbindungen für den automobilen Leichtbau, IHU-TUT), which runs until 31 January 2016, the project partners are researching the opportunity to make use of the significant weight advantages of aluminum by combining it with steel in the hollow components.

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US MARAD study finds marine use of natural gas substantially reduces some air pollutants and slightly reduces GHG emissions

26 August 2014

A recently released total fuel cycle analysis for maritime case studies shows that natural gas fuels reduce some air quality pollutants substantially, and reduce major greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions slightly, when compared to conventional petroleum-based marine fuels (low-sulfur and high-sulfur). The study was released by the US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Maritime Administration (MARAD) and was conducted through a cooperative partnership with the Maritime Administration, the University of Delaware and The Rochester Institute of Technology.

They also found that the upstream configuration for natural gas supply matters in terms of minimizing GHG emissions on a total fuel cycle basis, and that the current infrastructure for marine fuels may produce fewer GHGs. Continued improvements to minimize downstream emissions of methane during vessel-engine operations will also contribute to lower GHG emissions from marine applications of natural gas fuels.

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Black carbon linked to increased cardiovascular risk; exacerbated by co-exposure to motor vehicle emissions

26 August 2014

Black carbon (BC) from incomplete biomass and fossil fuel combustion is the most strongly light-absorbing component of particulate matter (PM) air pollution and a major climate-forcing emission. A new international study led by McGill University (Canada) Professor Jill Baumgartner suggests that black carbon may also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. The team’s findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (PNAS).

China’s particulate matter (PM) air pollution significantly exceeds health guidelines and is driven by industrial emissions, motor vehicles, and household use of biomass and coal fuels. Baumgartner and her colleagues measured the daily exposure to different types of air pollutants, including black carbon, in 280 women (mean age 51.9 y) in China’s rural Yunnan province, where biomass fuels are commonly used. They found that found that BC exposure from biomass smoke is more strongly associated with blood pressure—which directly impacts cardiovascular risk—than total PM mass, and that co-exposure to motor vehicle emissions may strengthen BC’s impact. Air pollution mitigation efforts focusing on reducing combustion pollution are likely to have major benefits for climate and human health.

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Rice University team develops new nanocomposite material for Li-sulfur battery cathode with high cycling stability

26 August 2014

Schematic illustration of the synthesis of SPGs. Credit: ACS, Li et al. Click to enlarge.

Researchers at Rice University led by Dr. James Tour have developed a hierarchical nanocomposite material of graphene nanoribbons combined with polyaniline and sulfur (Sulfur-PANI-GNRs, SPG) using an inexpensive, simple method. The composite shows good rate performance and excellent cycling stability for use as a cathode material in Lithium-sulfur batteries.

As reported in an an open access paper in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, the stable reversible specific discharge capacity was 567 mAh/g at the 26th with only a 9% decay in the following 374 cycles, at the rate of 0.4 C.

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Audi moving ahead with 48V system in vehicles; mild hybrids

25 August 2014

Audi will upgrade part of its vehicle electrical system from 12 to 48 volts. The move represents another technical building block for facilitating the integration of new automotive technologies while increasing the power and efficiency of its cars.

Audi recently showcased the scope of the 48-volt electrical system with the two technology demonstrators Audi A6 TDI concept and RS 5 TDI concept. (Earlier post.) Both models are fitted with an electrically powered compressor. This operates independently of the engine load and therefore fundamentally improves the acceleration performance. 48-volt technology is also suited for realizing convenience systems for dynamic chassis control. Audi will shortly be unveiling a variety of applications in this field.

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MIT study finds air quality co-benefits of US carbon policies can significantly offset costs, depending upon the policy

25 August 2014

The human health benefits associated with improvements in air quality related to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions improvements can offset 26–1,050% of the cost of US carbon policies, depending upon the type of policy, according to a new study by a team from MIT. (Air quality co-benefits are additional to climate benefits realized from reduced CO2 emissions.)

In a paper published in the journal Nature Climate Science, the MIT researchers took a systems-level approach to analyzing how climate policies influence air quality, focusing on US emissions of O3 and PM2.5 precursors through 2030. They assessed the costs and air-quality-related benefits of three potential national-scale climate policies, examining the entire pathway linking climate policies, economic sector responses, emissions, regional air quality, human health and related economic impacts.

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More work reported on approaches to stabilizing lithium metal anodes for high energy rechargeable batteries

25 August 2014

Metallic lithium, with a high theoretical capacity of ~3,860 mAh g-1, is one of the most promising materials for anodes in next-generation high energy rechargeable battery systems for long-range electric vehicles. (Earlier post.) Indeed, in a paper in ACS’ Chemical Reviews, Arumugam Manthiram et al. from the University of Texas suggest that “it is reasonable to comment that the success of Li−S batteries requires a reliable lithium metal anode.

A reliable and stable lithium metal anode is extremely challenging, however; low cycle efficiency and lithium dendrite formation during charge/discharge processes consistently hinder its practical application in addition to raising safety issues. Accordingly, widespread effort is focused on devising solutions to the problem, tackling either the anode material itself, or the electrolyte, or both. The widely reported advance by Stanford researchers (earlier post) is but one of a number of such efforts underway (e.g., earlier post, earlier post, earlier post.)

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