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China’s Kaidi to build €1B BTL biofuel refinery in Finland

13 February 2016

China-based Kaidi plans to build a €1-billion (US$1.1-billion) biofuel refinery in Kemi. The planned refinery will produce 200,000 tons of biofuels per year, of which 75% will be biodiesel and 25% biogasoline.

The second-generation biomass plant will use energy wood as the main feedstock and it will be the first of its kind, not only in Finland but globally. Kaidi will make the final investment decision by the end of the year. The plant could be operational in 2019.

Continue Reading “China’s Kaidi to build €1B BTL biofuel refinery in Finland”

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Study finds household and outdoor air pollution contributes to more than 5.5 million premature deaths worldwide per year

12 February 2016

New research shows that household (indoor) and outdoor air pollution contribute to more than 5.5 million premature deaths every year. More than half of deaths occur in two of the world’s fastest growing economies, China and India.

In the context of the Global Burden of Disease 2013 study (earlier post), researchers from Canada, the United States, China and India quantified air pollution levels and attributable health impacts for 188 countries for the period 1990-2013. They found that in 2013 there were 2.9 million deaths (5.3% of all global deaths) caused by outdoor fine particulate air pollution and an additional 215,000 deaths from exposure to ozone. Further, indoor exposure to household air pollution from the use of solid fuels for cooking and heating was responsible for 2.9 million deaths in 2013.

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UK companies in $2.5M project to develop marine magnetically geared propulsion motor; potential 10% efficiency gain

12 February 2016

Rolls Royce, magnetic gear company Magnomatics and electric motor company ATB Laurence Scott are partnering in a two-year, £1.7-million (US$2.5-million) project to develop an electric Magnetically Geared Propulsion Motor (MGPM) for marine applications. Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, is providing £925,708 (US$1.3 million) in funding.

A magnetic gear uses permanent magnets to transmit torque between an input and output shaft without mechanical contact. The highly efficient (MGPM) may offer significant benefits for marine propulsion by increasing the electrical efficiency by up to 7% compared to existing state of the art electrical machines.

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CMU study finds that coal retirement is needed for EVs to reduce air pollution

12 February 2016

Electric vehicles charged in coal-heavy regions can create more human health and environmental damages from life cycle air emissions than gasoline vehicles, according to a new consequential life cycle analysis by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University. However, the anticipated—albeit now possibly delayed, per the recent Supreme Court decision—retirement of coal-fired power plants will make electric vehicles more competitive on an air emissions basis, the researchers found.

Among the findings of the study, published as an open-access paper in the journal Environmental Research Letters, was that battery electric vehicles with large battery capacity can produce two to three times as much air emissions damage as gasoline hybrid electric vehicles, depending on charge timing.

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NREL analysis of Proterra electric bus demo finds average fuel economy nearly 4x that of CNG baseline buses

12 February 2016

Proterra battery-electric buses in service in a 12- vehicle demonstration by Foothill Transit in California offered significant fuel savings compared to similar conventional vehicles, according to a recently published analysis of the results of the demonstration by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

The NREL team found, inter alia, that the battery-electric buses (BEBs)had an overall average efficiency of 2.15 kWh per mile on the service route, which equated to 17.48 miles per diesel gallon equivalent (DGE). The baseline CNG buses had an average fuel economy of 4.04 miles per gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE), which equates to 4.51 miles per DGE. These results indicated that the BEBs have an average fuel economy that is nearly 4 times higher than that of the CNG buses.

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BMW introduces iPerformance designation, starting with three 7-Series plug-ins

12 February 2016

At the upcoming Geneva Motor Show, BMW will officially introduce the new iPerformance model designation, which will be given to all BMW plug-in hybrid vehicles starting in July 2016, as a visible indicator of the transfer of technology from BMW i to the BMW core brand.

In order to make BMW’s electrification strategy visible from the outside, all iPerformance models will display a BMW i logo on the front side panel, BMW i-style blue elements in the kidney grille and wheel hubs, and an eDrive logo on the C-pillar. BMW iPerformance will celebrate its premiere in the new BMW 7 Series luxury sedan through the plug-in hybrid members of the line-up: the new BMW 740e iPerformance, BMW 740Le iPerformance and BMW 740Le xDrive iPerformance.

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Antelope Valley Transit orders up to 85 electric buses from BYD; first US all-electric public transit fleet

12 February 2016

The board of directors of the Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) in California voted to award BYD a contract to manufacture up to 85 electric buses over a five-year period. Under the order from AVTA, BYD Motors will build and deliver a variety of all-electric bus models including a 40-foot low floor transit bus, a 60-foot low floor articulated bus, and a 45-foot commuter coach.

All 85 buses will have a range of more than 160 miles on a single battery charge. AVTA is also installing a wireless charging system to extend the fleet’s range to ensure the electric buses will be able to serve the agency’s longest rural routes.

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Kia introduces 2017 Niro Hybrid Utility Vehicle, Optima Hybrid and Optima Plug-in Hybrid at Chicago

12 February 2016

Kia unveiled three major hybrid offerings at the Chicago Auto Show: the 2017 Niro Hybrid Utility Vehicle; the new Optima Hybrid; and the new Optima Plug-in Hybrid. While the Niro Hybrid was preceded by clean mobility products such as the Optima Hybrid and Soul EV, Niro is the first Kia to make use of an all-new, dedicated eco-car platform and is an important next step on the path to nearly tripling the brand’s global green car line-up by 2020.

The Niro features an all-new, advanced Kappa 1.6-liter GDI four-cylinder engine, engineered specifically for hybrid applications. Making 103 horsepower, the new engine marks the first combination of the Atkinson Cycle, cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), GDI and a long-stroke-narrow-bore specification to maximize efficiency.

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Beijing, Argonne researchers develop new solid-state Li-ion battery; glassy nanocomposite electrolyte with ILs

11 February 2016

Researchers from the Beijing Institute of Technology and Argonne National Laboratory have developed a new solid-state Li-ion battery technology, consisting of a solid nanocomposite electrolyte using porous silica matrices with in situ immobilizing Li+-conducting ionic liquids; mesocarbon microbeads (MCMB) as anode material, and LiCoO2 (LCO), LiNiCoMnO2 (NCM), or LiFePO4 (LFP) as cathode material.

Solid-state full cells tested with the various cathodes exhibited high specific capacities, long cycling stability, and excellent high temperature performance. A paper on the work is published in the ACS journal Nano Letters.

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Cal Energy Commission awards $1.5M to Berkeley to advance open-source advanced smart charging technology; OpenVBOSS

11 February 2016

The California Energy Commission is awarding the University of California, Berkeley $1.5 million to develop an advanced smart charging technology that maintains plug-in electric vehicle consumer needs while reducing charging loads, to achieve electricity grid benefits. The project will focus on controlling the charging of PEVs in residential and small commercial settings using a novel and flexible open-source, open-software architecture charge communication and control platform.

The proposed project addresses the problem of access and signals/controls for local data streams in order to control electricity systems loads for grid management. PEVs are proliferating in California under the Advanced Clean Cars Program, sometimes in geographic clusters; this is creating potential load management issues for electrical utility grids at the feeder and transformer level.

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Tesla projects GAAP profit in Q4 2016; 80k-90k new Model S and Model X in 2016

11 February 2016

In its Q4 and Full Year 2015 update, Tesla projected being net cash flow positive and achieving non-GAAP profitability for the year, even factoring in a $1.5-billion investment to add more production capacity, start cell production at the Gigafactory, and establish additional customer support infrastructure. Tesla expects moderate GAAP profitability is expected in the fourth quarter. Model 3 is on schedule to be unveiled on 31 March, with production and delivery slated for late 2017.

Tesla delivered 17,478 vehicles in Q4, including 206 Model X vehicles. Tesla directly leased 881 cars to customers in Q4, about the same percentage as last quarter and worth $85 million of aggregate transaction value. As expected, Model S average transaction price declined by about 2% due to vehicle and option mix. Price increases outside the US offset the impact of unfavorable movements in foreign currencies during the quarter.

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Researchers synthesize new Li-S cathode based on “carbon compartments”

10 February 2016

Researchers from Texas A&M and Purdue have developed a new cathode material for Li-S batteries based on what they call carbon compartments (CCs)—conductive 3D carbon mesostructures that possess macro- and meso-pores that allow for high loading of sulfur nanoparticles and enhanced electrolyte-sulfur contact.

Fabricated using a scalable, single-step, and inexpensive solid-state synthesis, the 3D carbon architectures provide a conductive backbone for non-conducting sulfur particles and also effectively accommodate volume expansion during Li2S formation. Described in an open-access paper in the Journal of the Electrochemical Society, the CCs demonstrate around 700 mAh g−1 (at 47%-wt S) reversible capacity with high coulombic efficiency due to their unique structures.

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