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First investigation of HCCI combustion of polyoxymethylene dimethyl ether; alternative diesel fuel

25 June 2016

Researchers at Tsinghua University, along with Professor Rolf Reitz at the Engine Research Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, have investigated for the first time the the characteristics of homogenous charge compression ignition (HCCI) of polyoxymethylene dimethyl ether (PODE).

PODE is a promising alternative fuel for diesel engines, and offers high volatility, high ignitability and high oxygen content. PODE is thus also suited for for blend and dual-fuel combustion—such as reactivity controlled compression ignition (RCCI)—due to the low-temperature chemistry. A paper on their work appears in the journal Fuel.

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Torotrak outlines advances in its full-toroidal traction-drive CVT using PitchSteer; EV applications as well

24 June 2016

At the 2016 International VDI Congress “Drivetrain for Vehicles” in Friedrichshafen, Germany, John Fuller, Director of Concepts & IP for Torotrak Group, presented and discussed the company’s latest advances to optimize its full-toroidal variator technology for the light vehicle market as applied in continuously variable transmissions (CVTs).

Torotrak’s main drive CVTs combine its full toroidal traction drive variator with other conventional transmission components. By combining its extensive experience in main drive and auxiliary drive transmissions, Torotrak has designed a variator concept with ratio spread of up to 12, operated by a low cost actuation system.

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Argonne Lab partners with Strem Chemicals to bring next-gen battery materials to market

24 June 2016

Strem Chemicals, a manufacturer and distributor of specialty chemicals founded in 1964, has licensed 23 separate pieces of intellectual property for next-generation battery materials from Argonne. Strem will manufacture and distribute nine resulting battery solvents and additives via its extensive marketing and global distribution networks.

The materials were all invented at Argonne’s Electrochemical Energy Storage Center and scaled at Argonne’s Materials Engineering Research Facility (MERF). Since its founding, MERF has scaled up and distributed more than 30 kilograms of materials in the form of more than 150 different samples.

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UMD team develops new nanocomposite sulfur electrode for high-performance all-solid-state Li-S batteries

24 June 2016

A team at the University of Maryland have synthesized a mixed conducting nanocomposite sulfur electrode that consists of different nanoparticles with distinct properties of lithium storage capability, mechanical reinforcement, and ionic and electronic conductivities.

As described in a paper published in the ACS journal Nano Letters, the new nanocomposite serves as a mechanically robust and mixed conductive (ionic and electronic conductive) sulfur electrode for all-solid-state lithium–sulfur batteries (ASSLSBs). The team achieved a reversible capacity of 830 mAh/g (71% utilization of Li2S) at 50 mA/g for 60 cycles with a high rate performance at room temperature even at a high loading of Li2S (∼3.6 mg/cm2).

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Columbus, Ohio wins $40M DOT Smart City Challenge; $10M more from Vulcan, $90M from private partners

24 June 2016

US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced that Columbus, OH has been selected as the winner of the US Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge. (Earlier post.) As winner of the Challenge, Columbus will receive up to $40 million from US DOT and up to $10 million from Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Inc. to supplement the $90 million that the city has already raised from other private partners to carry out its plan.

Using these resources, Columbus will work to reshape its transportation system to become part of a fully-integrated city that harnesses the power and potential of data, technology, and creativity to reimagine how people and goods move throughout their city.

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Stanford solar tandem cell shows promise for efficient solar-driven water-splitting to produce hydrogen

23 June 2016

Researchers at Stanford University, with colleagues in China, have developed a tandem solar cell consisting of an approximately 700-nm-thick nanoporous Mo-doped bismuth vanadate (BiVO4) (Mo:BiVO4) layer on an engineered Si nanocone substrate. The nanocone/Mo:BiVO4 assembly is in turn combined with a solar cell made of perovskite.

When placed in water, the device immediately began splitting water at a solar-to-hydrogen conversion efficiency of 6.2%—matching the theoretical maximum rate for a bismuth vanadate cell. Although the efficiency demonstrated was only 6.2%, the tandem device has room for significant improvement in the future, said Stanford Professor Yi Cui, a principal investigator at the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences and senior author of an open access paper describing the work published in Scientific Advances.

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Beijing Foton launches “China Internet Super Truck Global Innovation Alliance”; Auman Energy Super Truck

23 June 2016

Chinese truck and utility vehicle manufacturer Beijing Foton has launched the China Internet Super Truck Global Innovation Alliance and showcased the Auman EST (Energy Super Truck) at an event in Athens, Greece.

The Internet super truck project is a collaboration that brings together Foton Motor Group, Cummins, and Daimler AG and aims at building Internet-driven super trucks that are green, efficient, safe, and intelligent through the integration of global resources, the effective use of new energies, the establishment of vehicle networks, and the implementation of intelligent truck-loading technology.

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Volkswagen Group to begin equipping TSI and TFSI engines with gasoline particulate filters from June 2017

23 June 2016

The Volkswagen Group will begin equipping the Group’s new TSI and TFSI gasoline direct injection engines with gasoline particulate filters (GPF). This initiative, announced by Group CEO Matthias Müller at the Group’s annual general meeting, will begin with the 1.4 liter TSI engine in the new VW Tiguan and the Audi A5 in June 2017.

This will reduce particulate emissions from the direct injection gasoline engines by up to 90%. Up to 7 million Volkswagen vehicles could be equipped with this technology each year by 2022.

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UMD team develops new high-performance solid-state ion-conducting membrane for Li batteries

23 June 2016

Researchers at the University of Maryland have developed a novel, flexible, solid-state, ion-conducting membrane based on a 3D ion-conducting ceramic nanofiber network. The researchers said that their work, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), represents a significant breakthrough to enable high performance lithium batteries. The all-solid ion-conducting membrane can be applied to flexible Li-ion batteries and other electrochemical energy storage systems, such as lithium–sulfur batteries.

The 3D ion-conducting network is based on percolative garnet-type Li6.4La3Zr2Al0.2O12 (LLZO) solid-state electrolyte nanofibers, which enhance the ionic conductivity of the solid-state electrolyte membrane at room temperature and improve the mechanical strength of the polymer electrolyte.

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DOE issues request for information on a Hydrogen Technology Showcase and Training (HyTeST) station

23 June 2016

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Fuel Cell Technologies Office has issued a request for information (RFI) (DE-FOA-0001555) to obtain feedback from stakeholders regarding the construction and benefits of a National Hydrogen Technology Showcase and Training (HyTeST) station.

The facility would serve as a tool for research and development, testing, safety and demonstration training, and outreach for community and commercial early adopters, including station developers, owners, code officials, first responders, operators, investors, and insurers.

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Ricardo investigating potential for its split-cycle engine in large engine market

23 June 2016

Ricardo is exploring the value proposition for applications of its novel split-cycle combustion engine (earlier post). In a poster-session paper presented at CIMAC Congress 2016 in Finland, Ricardo described the use of this split-cycle concept in high- and medium-speed engines for power generation to achieve efficiencies of 60% from units of 1–30 MW mechanical output.

Ricardo, in collaboration with the University of Brighton, has been developing the split-cycle engine with an eye toward improving the thermal efficiency of heavy-duty engines. The engine is based on a fundamentally new split-cycle combustion concept using a recuperated split-cycle with isothermal compression via cryogenic injection. The technology has the potential to realize brake thermal efficiencies in the order of 60% across a number of applications, Ricardo says.

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Increase in US rig count will not cap oil prices

23 June 2016

by David Yager for Oilprice.com

The impact of rising oil prices on North American light tight oil (LTO) production is said to be a “Catch 22”, the title of Joseph Heller’s popular 1961 novel set in WWII. The premise was you could get out of the army if you were crazy but you weren’t crazy to try to get out of the army. So this avenue to escape the war didn’t work for the book’s main character John Yossarian.

Too many analysts continue to believe drilling and service has the same problem with rising oil prices. With WTI back above $50 a barrel—at least briefly last week—North American LTO developers are putting rigs, service equipment and personnel back to work. The so-called “fraclog” or “DUC” inventory (wells drilled but uncompleted) is being reduced. While this is good it is also thought by some to be temporary.

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