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PNNL team develops hybrid Mg-Li battery; excellent rate performance, safety and stability

30 July 2014

Hybridbattery
Schematic illustration of the the hybrid Mg-Li battery designed in this work. This battery has a piece of Mg foil as the anode, Mo6S8 as the cathode, and the electrolyte contains both Mg2+ and Li+. Cheng et al. Click to enlarge.

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have devised hybrid batteries assembled with a magnesium (Mg) metal anode; a Li+ ion intercalation cathode (Mo6S8), and a dual-salt electrolyte containing Mg2+ and Li+ ions. The objective was to combine the advantages of lithium and magnesium electrochemistries.

In a paper in the RSC journal Chemical Communications, they reported that such hybrid batteries delivered strong rate performance (105 mAh g-1 at 15 C) and superior cycling stability (B5% capacity drop for 3000 cycles at 10 C), along with reasonable output voltages. The researchers suggested that the inherent safety and stability features of such devices make them very promising for many applications, especially for large-scale static energy storage.

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New catalyst improves conversion of CO2 to syngas

30 July 2014

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) have identified molybdenum disulfide as a promising cost-effective substitute for noble metal catalysts for the electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide. A paper on their work is published in the journal Nature Communications.

While noble metals such as gold and silver are able to reduce carbon dioxide at moderate rates and low overpotentials, their cost is a challenge to the development of inexpensive systems with an efficient CO2 reduction capability. Amin Salehi-Khojin, UIC professor of mechanical and industrial engineering, and his colleagues developed a novel two-step catalytic process for CO2reduction that uses molybdenum disulfide and an ionic liquid. The new catalyst improves efficiency and lowers cost.

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NIST study suggests severe corrosion in underground gasoline storage tanks may require component replacement sooner than expected; 500K USTs in US

30 July 2014

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Optical micrographs of severe corrosion on steel alloy samples exposed to ethanol and acetic acid vapors—conditions typical of underground gasoline storage tanks—after 355 hours, 643 hours, and 932 hours. Source: NIST. Click to enlarge.

In recent years, field inspectors in nine states have reported many rapidly corroding underground gasoline storage tank (UST) components such as sump pumps. These incidents are generally associated with use of gasoline-ethanol blends and the presence of bacteria, Acetobacter aceti, which convert ethanol to acetic acid, a component of vinegar. Corrosion can result in failures, leaks and contamination of groundwater, a source of drinking water.

Following up on the inspectors’ findings, a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) laboratory study has demonstrated severe corrosion—rapidly eating through 1 millimeter of wall thickness per year—on steel alloy samples exposed to ethanol and acetic acid vapors. Based on this finding, NIST researchers suggest gasoline stations may need to replace submersible pump casings, typically made of steel or cast iron, sooner than expected.

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Space station droplet combustion experiments reveal cool-burning flames; potential to lead to better engines

30 July 2014

Isolated droplet combustion experiments performed on the International Space Station (ISS) by a team of international researchers have revealed a new type of cool-burning flames. The long durations of microgravity provided in the ISS enable the measurement of droplet and flame histories over an unprecedented range of conditions, enabling the discovery. The researchers detailed their findings in an open access paper in the journal Microgravity Science and Technology

A better understanding of the cool flames’ chemistry might help improve internal combustion engines in cars, for example by developing homogenous-charge compression ignition, which could potentially lead to engines that burn fuel at cooler temperatures, emitting fewer pollutants such as soot and nitric oxide and NOx, while still being efficient.

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EPRI, 8 automakers and 15 utilities to create an open grid integration platform for plug-in electric vehicles

29 July 2014

The Electric Power Research Institute, 8 automakers and 15 utilities are working to develop and to demonstrate an open platform that would integrate plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) with smart grid technologies enabling utilities to support PEV charging regardless of location. The open platform will simplify and streamline V2G (vehicle-to-grid) communications, enabling PEVs to provide grid services and increasing the overall value proposition of plug-in vehicles.

The goal of this program is to develop a cloud-based, central server that would receive grid requests from a utility—such as Demand Response—and then translate and standardize that request so it could be relayed to all appropriate plug-in vehicles in the designated area. Automakers would be expected to develop and deploy technologies compatible with these smart grid communications.

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GKN to supply 500 electric flywheel hybrid drive systems to Go-Ahead Group for buses

29 July 2014

UK transport operator Go-Ahead Group has ordered 500 electric flywheel Gyrodrive systems from GKN Hybrid Power for use in buses. The Gyrodrive Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) system (featured in Audi’s LeMans-winning R18 e-tron quattro) harvests braking energy normally lost as heat.

When the driver brakes, a traction motor on one of the axles slows the vehicle, generating electricity at the same time. This electricity is used to charge the flywheel, spinning it at up to 36,000 rpm. When the driver accelerates, the system works in reverse. The energy is drawn from the flywheel and converted back into electricity to power the traction motor, which helps accelerate the bus back up to speed, generating fuel savings of more than 20% at a significantly lower cost and weight (60 kg, 132 lbs) than battery hybrid alternatives. Useable stored energy is 1.2MJ, with peak power of 120kW.

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Jaguar: aluminum-intensive XE will feature fuel consumption lower than 4L/100km; structure is 75% aluminum

29 July 2014

Jaguar-xe_aluminium_-infographic_29071
The aluminum body of the XE. Click to enlarge.

In the second of four technology previews leading up to the introduction of the new Jaguar XE on 8 September, Jaguar outlined its extensive use of aluminum in the new model. Designed around Jaguar’s modular vehicle architecture, the XE is the only car in the class to use an aluminum-intensive monocoque, with lightweight aluminum accounting for 75% of the structure.

The new aluminum-intensive SE will be paired with engines from the new Ingenium family of efficient diesel and gasoline engines (earlier post)—powertrains specifically designed and calibrated to complement reduced-weight vehicles. Jaguar projects that the resulting XE will achieve fuel consumption of less that 4.0 l/100 km (59 mpg US) on the NEDC combined cycle (subject to certification) and CO2 emissions of less than 100 g/km.

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Mercedes-Benz introduces new Vito mid-size van; up to 41.3 mpg US, new front-wheel drive option

29 July 2014

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New Vito. Click to enlarge.

Mercedes-Benz introduced its new Vito model series for the mid-size van (2.5–3.2 t GVW) segment. Among the variants is the Vito 116 CDI BlueEfficiency, offering fuel consumption of 5.7 l of diesel per 100 km (41.3 mpg US).

The new Vito is also the first van in the mid-size segment to offer three different drive system variants—rear-wheel, all-wheel, and, new, front wheel drive systems. The Vito also and incorporates a broad range of innovative safety and assistance systems.

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BMW introduces compact i DC Fast Chargers; ChargeNow DC Fast program for no-cost 30-min charge through 2015

28 July 2014

BMW of North America launched its BMW i DC Fast Chargers, which can charge the BMW i3 all-electric vehicle’s battery up to 80% in 30 minutes, at the Plug-In 2014 conference. The fast chargers are a joint development between BMW and Bosch Automotive Service Solutions.

BMW also announced its new ChargeNow DC Fast program in cooperation with NRG eVgo, in which BMW i3 drivers in California can enjoy no-cost unlimited 30 minute DC fast charging, at NRG eVgo Freedom Station sites equipped with DC Combo Fast Charging, through 2015.

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Google and IEEE launch $1M challenge for downsized inverters

28 July 2014

Google and the IEEE have launched the Littlebox Challenge—an open competition to design and build a small kW-scale inverter with the highest power density (of at least 50 W/in3, or 3.05 kW/L) in an enclosure of less than 40 in3 in volume (0.66L). The winning inverter, which will receive a $1-million prize, will be the unit which achieves the highest power density while meeting the required specifications under testing for 100 hours. In the event of a tie on volume, efficiency will be used to determine the grand prize winner. The grand prize winner will be announced sometime in January, 2016.

Google and IEEE are emphasizing size reduction in their challenge, without targeting a specific application area such as automotive. As a few points of comparison, the Bosch INVCON 2.3 inverter used in the Fiat 500e has a volume of about 5 liters, while the motor inverter used in the 2010 Prius drivetrain has a volume of about 5.4L (according to a DOE deconstruction.) The peak power density of the 2010 Prius motor inverter is 11.1 kW/L (while the peak PD for the Lexus 600h 6.4-liter unit reaches up to 17.2 kW/L.)

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Navigant forecasts global road transportation energy consumption to increase 25% by 2035; 84% from conventional fuels

28 July 2014

In a new report (Transportation Forecast: Global Fuel Consumption), Navigant Research forecasts total road transportation energy consumption will grow from 81.1 quadrillion Btu in 2014 to 101.7 quadrillion Btu in 2035—an increase of 25.4%. Approximately 84% of that will be provided by conventional fuels. The United States is currently the largest consumer of energy in the road transportation sector, with nearly 23.1 quadrillion Btu projected to be consumed in 2014.

Navigant also projects that investments in alternative fuel and fuel efficiency improvements will reduce annual energy consumption in the United States year-over-year. Most developed countries in Western Europe and parts of Asia Pacific will also exhibit similar decreases in energy consumption. In contrast, energy consumption will grow in developing regions, particularly in Eastern Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East & Africa. Brazil, Russia, India, and China (the BRIC nations) will represent the largest increases, as the percentage of global road transportation energy consumed by these nations is forecast to grow from 20% in 2014 to 36% in 2035.

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U Mich professor finds fuel cycle analysis for evaluating CO2 impacts of liquid fuels is fatally flawed; calls for focus on CO2 removal

28 July 2014

Fuel cycle analysis (FCA)—or “well-to-wheels analysis”—is a type of lifecycle analysis (LCA) that examines fuel products and their supply chains, and that has greatly influenced climate-related research priorities and public policies for transportation fuels.

However, in a major review of methods for evaluating the net CO2 impacts of liquid transportation fuels, Professor John DeCicco at the University of Michigan Energy Institute (UMEI) compared FCA to other methods of analysis, and found “flaws fatal enough to raise serious concerns about the role of FCA in shaping fuel-related CO2 mitigation strategies. Instead, DeCicco proposes “setting the lifecycle paradigm aside” and focusing on the problem of carbon dioxide removal.

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