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ARPA-E awards $30M to 21 projects advance new class of high-performance power converters

23 August 2017

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) announced $30 million in funding for 21 innovative projects as part of the Creating Innovative and Reliable Circuits Using Inventive Topologies and Semiconductors (CIRCUITS) program. CIRCUITS project teams will accelerate the development and deployment of a new class of efficient, lightweight, and reliable power converters, based on wide-bandgap (WBG) semiconductors. (Earlier post.)

CIRCUITS projects will establish the building blocks of this class of power converter by advancing higher efficiency designs that exhibit enhanced reliability and superior total cost of ownership. In addition, a reduced form factor (size and weight) will drive adoption of higher performance and more efficient power converters relative to today’s state-of-the-art systems.

Continue Reading “ARPA-E awards $30M to 21 projects advance new class of high-performance power converters”

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Audi partners with Alta Devices on thin-film solar cells in panoramic glass roofs; first prototype this year

23 August 2017

Audi and Alta Devices, a wholly-owned US subsidiary of the Chinese solar-cell specialist Hanergy, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Strategic Cooperation in thin film solar cell technology. Through this cooperation, the partners aim to generate solar energy to increase the range of electric vehicles. The first prototype is to be built by the end of 2017.

As the first step in the joint Audi/Hanergy thin film solar cell research and development project, the partners will integrate Alta Devices’ GaAs thin-film solar cells into a panoramic glass roof. The system will extend EV range by feeding solar energy into the internal vehicle electrical system—supporting air conditioning and other electrical appliances.

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Federal-Mogul Powertrain to launch first valve rotator for downspeeded light vehicle engines

23 August 2017

At this year’s IAA in Frankfurt, Federal-Mogul Powertrain will launch a new, smaller version of its proven Rotocap valve rotator, the first such for 4 valve per cylinder light vehicle engines. The miniaturized design features an outer diameter in the range of 20-25 mm and allows the Rotocap to package into the valve assembly on automotive powertrains.

Rotocap provides the enhanced valve rotation control required to compensate the challenges caused by reduced valvetrain lubrication and engine downspeeding—two main design trends to achieve lower emissions and improve fuel efficiency. The new mini Rotocap will be marketed alongside Federal-Mogul Powertrain’s existing valve rotator products.

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PNNL ShAPE magnesium extrusion process makes lightest automotive metal more economic, useful

23 August 2017

Magnesium is one of the lightest of all structural metals—75% lighter than steel, 33% lighter than aluminum—and is the fourth most common element on earth behind iron, silicon and oxygen. But despite its light weight and natural abundance, automakers have been stymied in their attempts to incorporate magnesium alloys into structural car parts. To provide the necessary strength has up to now required the addition of rare elements such as dysprosium, praseodymium and ytterbium.

Now, a new process developed at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory should make it more feasible for the auto industry to incorporate magnesium alloys into structural components. The new extrusion process has the potential to reduce cost by eliminating the need for rare-earth elements, while simultaneously improving the material’s structural properties.

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Bosch study highlights potential of e-fuels to reduce CO2 emissions

22 August 2017

According to a new study by Bosch, the use of e-fuels—synthetic fuels based on renewable energy—in Europe by 2050 as a scheduled supplement to electrification could save up to 2.8 gigatons of CO2: three times Germany’s carbon-dioxide emissions in 2016.

The calculation is based on an assumed e-fuels blend of 1% in 2025, 10% in 2030, 40% in 2040 and completely replacing the fossil fuel share by 2050.

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Empa recommends buying diesel vehicles only if Euro 6d-TEMP or Euro 6d

22 August 2017

On 1 September 2017, new emissions regulations for passenger vehicles come into force in the EU and Switzerland. These will plug the gaps in the existing legislation and will help to ensure that diesel vehicles in particular become considerably cleaner as regards their NOx emissions. However, the new regulations also permit existing vehicles to continue to be sold for some time. Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research for Industry, Construction and Commerce, recommends buying diesel vehicles only if they have been approved in accordance with Euro 6d-TEMP or Euro 6d.

At the end of 2016 around 3.1 million passenger vehicles with gasoline engines and 1.3 million with diesel engines were registered in Switzerland. Despite representing only 30% of the country’s entire passenger vehicle fleet, diesel vehicles are responsible for 80% of NOx emissions.

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Ford to explore new 50:50 electric vehicle JV in China with Zotye Auto

22 August 2017

Ford has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Anhui Zotye Automobile Co., Ltd., a major manufacturer of all-electric vehicles in China, to explore the establishment of a 50:50 joint venture for the development, production, marketing and servicing of a new line of all-electric passenger vehicles in China.

China is the fastest-growing market in the world for new energy vehicles (NEVs). Ford expects the market for NEVs in China to grow to six million units per year by 2025, of which approximately 4 million vehicles will be all-electric.

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Continental introduces electric Active Purge Pump (APP) to meet stricter hydrocarbon evaporation legislation around the globe

22 August 2017

Continental has developed an electrified solution to further reduce hydrocarbon evaporative emissions: the Active Purge Pump (APP). The APP actively pulls HC-laden air from the canister used to control evaporative HC emissions. The pump used for this action is a very compact and light-weight radial pump, driven by a highly efficient brushless DC motor.

The APP can be use on-demand, activated any time when necessary. The APP thus makes canister purging available independent from the engine operation point and vacuum availability. Further, APP’s main function can be extended by integrating algorithms to provide additional functions that either require stand-alone products today or are not even currently available. Start of production is planned for end of 2019.

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Ninth annual Green Innovation Index finds California light-duty vehicle emissions spike; major challenge to 2030 climate goals

22 August 2017

The ninth annual California Green Innovation Index—released by the nonpartisan nonprofit group Next 10 and prepared by Beacon Economics—finds that the state’s ambitious climate policies have allowed for considerable economic growth, with California outpacing the growth of other states during the recovery period following the Great Recession. Between 2006 and 2015, California’s GDP per capita grew by almost $5,000 per person, nearly double the growth experienced by the US as a whole. At the same time, per capita emissions in the state decreased by 12%. Job growth between 2006 and 2015 in California outpaced rates experienced prior to 2006, and outpaced total US employment gains by 27%.

However, although the state has made considerable progress decoupling economic growth from greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the rate of emissions decline appears to be slowing, due in part to a spike in transportation emissions attributed to an increase from light-duty vehicles. On an absolute basis, California’s total GHG emissions fell only slightly in 2015, down 0.34% from 2014. This compares to a 0.73% reduction in the previous year and sharper falls in years before.

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EMA concerned that EPA’s revisiting Phase 2 GHG rules could lead to misaligned regulatory requirements

22 August 2017

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its intent to revisit provisions of the second phase of the greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency rules for medium- and heavy-duty on-highway trucks and engines that were finalized last year. (Earlier post.) The Phase 2 program builds on the Phase 1 regulations that manufacturers have successfully implemented starting in 2014.

While the new regulations are significantly more ambitious and complex than the Phase 1 requirements, the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA) and its members have consistently supported their implementation. EMA is now concerend that EPA’s revisiting the rule could lead to a misalignment of regulatory requirements.

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TUM, partners to present electric aCar prototype at IAA; transport for sub-Saharan Africa

21 August 2017

Researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and partners will present their new prototype of an electric four-wheel drive utility vehicle designed for Africa—the aCar— at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt next month. The aCar is designed for passenger and cargo transportation and is also of interest for the European automotive market.

The vehicle is primarily intended for transporting passengers and cargo, with a total load capacity of one ton. The battery offers a variety of other possible applications, either as an energy source or as a drive for high-consumption applications, for example as a winch. A number of various modules have been designed for the cargo bed which can be used on a modular basis—e.g., to set up a mobile physician’s office or a water treatment station.

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Aral car buying trends study: German new car buyers looking to gasoline, hybrid vehicles

21 August 2017

Interest in gasoline engined and hybrid vehicles has jumped in Germany while interest in diesel is falling, according to the latest biennial study on automotive buying trends in that country by leading German fuel retailer Aral.

According to the new Trends report, 52% of buyers want a conventional gasoline engine. Compared to the previous Aral study, this corresponds to an increase of 10 percentage points. Diesel came in a distant second with only 18%; two years ago, 31 percent of the respondents identified diesel as their choice. Hybrids now come in at 15%, up from 6%.

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