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TM4 receiving $3.7M to develop low-cost wheel motors

28 February 2015

TM4, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hydro-Québec, is receiving $3.7 million in funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada’s (SDTC) SD Tech Fund, through the ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative, to develop low-cost wheel motors for electric and hybrid vehicles.

The objective of this project is to design an in-wheel motor electric drive system with one of the highest power densities in the world, and at the lowest possible cost. This system will consist of one or more power converters and electric machines, to be assembled and bench tested, and then tested on the road in an electric vehicle.

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POSTECH researchers develop new high-strength, lightweight steel

27 February 2015

Researchers at Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) in South Korea have developed a new type of steel with improved tensile strength and lightness. In their approach, they effectively utilized a brittle intermetallic compound (B2) that metallurgists usually try to suppress by modifying B2 morphology and dispersion in the steel matrix.

The specific tensile strength and ductility of the developed steels improve on those of the lightest and strongest metallic materials known, titanium alloys, the researchers said. The results, reported in a paper in the journal Nature, demonstrate how intermetallic compounds can be harnessed in the alloy design of lightweight steels.

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California approves sale of DME as compression-ignition engine fuel

27 February 2015

The California Department of Food and Agriculture has approved specifications for dimethyl ether (DME) used as fuel in compression ignition engines. (The Department of Food and Agriculture Division of Measurement Standards has the responsibility for establishing and enforcing the quality standards for spark- and compression-ignition engine fuels sold in California. These include gasoline, diesel fuel, and other fuels such as biodiesel and hydrogen.)

This latest approval builds on earlier approvals and ongoing work by other regulatory bodies, including the US Environmental Protection Agency, the California Air Resources Board, and ASTM International, and will help accelerate commercial adoption of this low carbon fuel, commented Oberon Fuels, a California-based company that is the first to produce fuel-grade DME in North America. (Earlier post.)

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Magna unveiling lightweight plug-in hybrid sportscar at Geneva show

27 February 2015

Global automotive supplier Magna International Inc. will debut MILA Plus, an two-seat plug-in hybrid sports car, at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show. The lightweight (1,520 kg, 3,351 lb) concept vehicle, the latest member of the MILA family of concept vehicles (earlier post), offers an all-electric range of 75 km with reduced CO2 emissions of 32g/km.

System power output is 200 kW (272 hp), with 580 N·m of peak torque. The MILA Plus accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 4.9s; electric acceleration from 0-80 km/h takes 3.6s. The performance of the three-cylinder gasoline engine is enhanced by the addition of two electric motors—one between the internal combustion engine and transmission to drive the rear axle, and one on the electric front axle. This arrangement results in an electric all-wheel-drive system which transmits more torque to the road and results in improvement of vehicle maneuverability and dynamics.

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Cal Energy Commission adopts report outlining how state transforming transportation system to meet climate goals

26 February 2015

The California Energy Commission adopted its 2014 Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) Update, which outlines, among many things, how the state is working to transform the transportation system to zero- and near-zero technologies and fuels to meet its climate and clean air goals. This report highlights the importance of incentives in helping speed this transition and specifically explores the role Assembly Bill 8, which makes more than $2 billion available for public investment, can play in helping to achieve this progress.

The Energy Commission also approved almost $16 million in research grants to help develop the next generation of energy efficient technologies for commercial and residential buildings; $11 million for projects to convert feedstock and waste into biofuels; and about $900,000 for natural gas innovations.

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Audi to offer new R8 e-tron EV on request; almost 2x pack capacity, 280-mile range with new Li-ion technology (update 1)

26 February 2015

Audi is presenting the second generation of its high-performance R8 sports car at the upcoming Geneva show, featuring new V10 engines, newly developed quattro drive, and a new multimaterial Audi Space Frame (ASF) combining aluminum and carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). The top of the range version delivers 449 kW (610 hp), achieving 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 3.2 seconds, with a top speed of 330 km/h (205.1 mph).

The second generation of the Audi R8 also forms the basis for two more models, including a high-performance battery-electric version, the R8 e-tron 2.0. This latest evolution of the vehicle takes up the multimaterial Audi Space Frame from the new series-production model. The new R8 e-tron, which will be available for order in 2015 upon customer request, uses a newly developed high energy density lithium-ion technology which was specially conceived for a purely electric vehicle drive. In comparison to the first technology platform (earlier post), the battery capacity has grown from 49 kWh to approximately 92 kWh—without changing the package.

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New PNNL zinc-polyiodide redox flow battery offers 2x energy density of next-best system; potential for mobile applications

26 February 2015

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have developed a new zinc-polyiodide redox flow battery offering more than two times the energy density of the next-best flow battery used to store renewable energy and support the power grid.

Lab tests revealed the demonstration battery discharged 167 Wh l-1 of electrolyte. In comparison, zinc-bromide flow batteries generate about 70 Wh l-1, vanadium flow batteries can create between 15 and 25 Wh l-1, and standard lithium iron phosphate batteries could put out about 233 Wh l-1. The team calculated that their new battery theoretically could discharge even more—up to 322 Wh l-1—if more chemicals were dissolved in the electrolyte. An open access paper on the work appears in Nature Communications.

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Siemens researching use of infrastructure radar sensor networks to support parking management

26 February 2015

Siemens is researching the use of infrastructure sensor networks in an advanced parking management solution intended to counter the increasing parking space crisis in cities. The system, analogous to vehicle-based research underway by Ford Motor on the same problem (earlier post), will be used this spring for the first time in a pilot project in Berlin.

In the Siemens concept, networks of stationary sensors collect information about the parking situation in cities. The information is forwarded to the drivers in order to make it easier for them to find unoccupied parking spaces. In addition, the data is transmitted to a parking management center so that cities can intelligently manage their parking spaces.

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Europe moves forward on the Energy Union; transport key element

26 February 2015

The European Commission has adopted the European Energy Union package—a framework strategy for a resilient energy union with a forward-looking climate change policy. As a next step, the Commission will present it to the EU institutions. The European Council will discuss the Energy Union at its meeting in March 2015.

According to the EC, the European Energy Union is intended to bring about a fundamental transition in Europe’s energy system towards an economy that is no longer driven by fossil fuels and where energy security is based on solidarity and trust; where energy flows freely, without any barriers, in a truly integrated EU-wide energy system; where strong, competitive companies develop innovative products and technologies with the help of European research and innovation, and where citizens play a stronger role in the energy system, using technology to reduce their bills, and vulnerable consumers are not left behind.

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DOE FCTO selects 11 fuel cell incubator projects for up to $10M in awards; exploring alkaline exchange membrane FCs

26 February 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) has selected 11 projects to receive up to $10 million in funding through the fuel cell technology incubator FOA (earlier post) in support of innovations in fuel cell and hydrogen fuel technologies. The intention of these selections is to identify high-impact technologies that are not already addressed in FCTO’s strategic plan or mainstream project portfolio.

The selected projects will support research and development efforts to address critical challenges and barriers for hydrogen and fuel cell technology development. The projects selected have the potential significantly to lower the cost or improve the performance, durability, or efficiency of fuel cells or hydrogen fuel production. For example, in contrast to industry’s primary focus, which is polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFC), selected projects include a higher risk, completely different approach—alkaline exchange membrane fuel cells (AEMFC)—that can significantly reduce or even eliminate the need for expensive platinum as a catalyst in the long term. Such high-risk but high-impact potential projects complement the current FCTO portfolio.

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Mitsubishi Motors to unveil new small crossover PHEV concept at Geneva; headed for production

25 February 2015

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) will stage the global debut of the Mitsubishi Concept XR-PHEV II at the 85th Geneva International Motor Show. The Concept XR-PHEV II is a small crossover powered by a new plug-in hybrid EV (PHEV) system. Mitsubishi said it expects the Concept XR-PHEV II to become MMC’s second production PHEV following the Outlander PHEV launched in January 2013. (Earlier post.) (The Outlander PHEV was Europe’s top-selling plug-in vehicle in 2014, with 19,980 units sold.)

The new PHEV system presented in the Concept XR-PHEV II is a lightweight, compact and high-efficiency front-engine/front-drive system suited for an urban crossover. The system is estimated to achieve very low CO2 emissions of below 40 g/km, while also delivering performance and response with its 120 kW electric motor.

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Audi introducing Audi prologue Avant diesel plug-in hybrid show car at Geneva; 147 mpg, wireless charging

25 February 2015

At the Los Angeles Auto Show, Audi presented the Audi prologue concept car, featuring a mild hybrid powertrain with a 48V electrical subsystem. (Earlier post.) At the upcoming Geneva show, Audi will show a new variant of the prologue—the Audi prologue Avant—featuring a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Both prologue variants provide a view into coming Audi design language, as well as the technology experience inside and outside.

The Audi prologue Avant uses technology which is close to series production. It is equipped with the plug‑in diesel hybrid drive from the Audi Q7 e‑tron quattro (earlier post)—which achieves even higher performance in the show car.

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