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UC Santa Barbara team develops catalytic molten metals for direct conversion of methane to hydrogen without forming CO2

17 November 2017

Researchers at the University of California Santa Barbara have developed catalytic molten metals to pyrolize methane to release hydrogen and to form solid carbon. The insoluble carbon floats to the surface of the melt, where it can be removed and stored or incorporated into composite materials. This method also avoids carbon formation on steam-reforming catalysts, which usually deactivates the catalysts.

In a paper in the journal Science, the team reported that a 27% Ni–73% Bi alloy (Ni0.27Bi0.73) achieved 95% methane conversion at 1065°C in a 1.1-meter bubble column and produced pure hydrogen without CO2 or other by-products. Under these conditions, the equilibrium conversion is 98%. When the temperature was reduced to 1040 °C, the CH4 conversion decreased to 86%.

Continue Reading “UC Santa Barbara team develops catalytic molten metals for direct conversion of methane to hydrogen without forming CO2”

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Volkswagen Group to spend >$40B over next 5 years to develop electric mobility, autonomous driving, new mobility services and digitalization

17 November 2017

The Volkswagen Group will spend more than €34 billion (US$40 billion) by the end of 2022 on the development of electric mobility, autonomous driving, new mobility services and digitalization.

Most of this investment will go into the electrification and hybridization of all Group models. This marks another move to advance the Roadmap E electrification offensive which was announced in September; the goal is to electrify the entire model portfolio by 2030. (Earlier post.)

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Univ of Washington team working to make poplar coppice viable cheap, high-volume biofuel feedstock

17 November 2017

A University of Washington team is trying to make poplar an economically viable biofuel feedstock by testing the production of younger poplar trees that could be harvested more frequently—after only two or three years—instead of the usual 10- to 20-year cycle. These juvenile trees are planted closer together and cut in such a way that more branches sprout up from the stump after each harvest, using the same root systems for up to 20 years. This method is called “coppicing,” and the trees are known as poplar coppice.

The UW team is the first to try converting the entire young tree—leaves, bark and stems—into bio oil and ethanol using two separate processes. Their results, published recently in two papers—one in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering and the other in Biotechnology for Biofuels (open access)—point to a promising future for using poplar coppice for biofuel.

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Sumitomo Electric, Univ of Toyama develop magnesium alloy for die casting with superior heat resistance

17 November 2017

Sumitomo Electric Industries and the University of Toyama have developed a high heat-resistant magnesium alloy for die casting applications. In die casting, a molten metal is injected into a die under high pressure and quickly cooled and solidified into the final part. Owing to its high productivity, die casting is widely used for manufacturing aluminum automotive parts.

One important way the automotive industry is seeking to improve the fuel efficiency of vehicles is by reducing their weight. Due to their low castability and heat resistance, high component production cost, and low recyclability, conventional magnesium alloys cannot be used as substitutes for aluminum alloys.

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Toyota introducing new EV in China in 2020, expanding scope of fuel cell feasibility study

17 November 2017

At Auto Guangzhou 2017, Toyota Motor announced it will introduce an electric vehicle under the Toyota brand in the Chinese market in 2020, and that the scope of a fuel-cell vehicle feasibility study will be expanded to cover commercial vehicles such as buses.

For years, Toyota has developed China-made hybrid units and expects to sell a total of approximately 100,000 units of the Corolla Hybrid and Levin Hybrid models in 2017, both of which feature domestically-produced hybrid units. In addition, development of plug-in hybrid variants of the Corolla and Levin is underway in preparation for their rollout.

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Musk unveils Tesla Semi; 500-mile range at highway speed with 80,000 lbs GVW; next-gen Roadster appears

17 November 2017

Emphasizing “BAMF” performance, Tesla CEO Elon Musk introduced the Tesla Semi in an evening event. The sleek electric truck, with a 0.36 coefficient of drag (supported by intelligent flaps that support a range of trailers), will accelerate from 0-60 mph in 5 seconds, charge up a 5% grade at 65 mph, and deliver 500 miles of range, Musk said.

According to Musk, 80% of truck routes are less than 250 miles; the Tesla Semi thus in theory could make a round trip on those routes without charging, he suggested.

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PPG partners with SiNode Systems to commercialize high-energy silicon-graphene anodes

16 November 2017

PPG has entered into a partnership with SiNode Systems to accelerate the commercialization of high-energy silicon-graphene anode materials for advanced battery applications in electric vehicles. The 30-month project will enable the partners to rapidly develop and demonstrate anode materials that will store more energy than conventional lithium-ion battery materials, enabling electric vehicles to travel farther on a single charge or to have a lighter-weight battery.

In 2016, SiNode was selected among several competitors to receive a contract for the project from the United States Advanced Battery Consortium LLC (USABC), which is providing 50% of the project’s funding through the US Department of Energy. (Earlier post.) Project partners are funding the remaining 50%.

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Federal-Mogul Powertrain acquires Controlled Power Technologies; adds electrification capability; 48V

16 November 2017

Federal-Mogul Powertrain has completed the acquisition of UK-based Controlled Power Technologies Ltd (CPT). The purchase provides a timely route for Federal-Mogul Powertrain to expand into the development and manufacture of powertrain technologies for electrification and hybridization that complement the company's existing capabilities.

Headquartered in Laindon, Essex and with a further site in Coventry (UK), CPT specializes in the development of 12V and 48V electric motor-generators for start-stop applications, mild hybridization, exhaust-driven electrification technologies, e-boosting for combustion engines, e-compressors for fuel cells and similar products. (Earlier post.)

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Akasol opens €10M, 600 MWh production facility for commercial electric vehicle batteries

16 November 2017

Akasol announced the opening of a new semi-automated production facility for high-performance lithium-ion battery systems for commercial vehicles. The company has invested €10 million (US$11.8 million) into the new commercial plant at Langen, and may double that investment as demand increases.

Akasol has begun serial production at the facility, which, with a capacity of 600 MWh, is now the largest assembly line for commercial vehicle battery systems in Europe. As recently announced, Akasol will supply its lithium-ion system to two leading European bus manufacturers in contracts to build approximately 10,000 buses within the next few years. (Earlier post.) Akasol currently also supplies technology and consulting to leading companies including VDL Bus & Coach, Alexander Dennis, Alstom, Bombardier and Bucher Municipal.

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Toyota’s Collaborative Safety Research Center to study societal acceptance of connected and automated vehicle technologies

16 November 2017

Toyota’s Collaborative Safety Research Center (CSRC) announced five new research projects focused on better understanding how drivers use and respond to advanced vehicle technologies, including automated driver assistance systems. The new projects, undertaken in partnership with five US research institutions, will launch as part of CSRC Next, the Center’s new five-year program designed to support and inform a safe transition to future mobility.

Emerging vehicle technologies, including automated driver assistance systems, offer tremendous promise to help improve road safety, but important questions remain about the most beneficial interaction with drivers, and how drivers can be educated about their safe operation. Four of the five research projects will focus on societal acceptance and generate data-driven insights into the use of these technologies. This data can help support their effective integration, foster safer driving behaviors, and offer potential countermeasures to risky driving behavior.

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Ipsos RDA study finds traditional US dealerships often not prepared for EVs

16 November 2017

A new study by market research company Ipsos RDA has found that the EV sales process at traditional brand dealers who sell EVs alongside other vehicles, has, in many instances, has not been differentiated from the traditional process and is, in effect, passive. The availability of inventory, as well as critical EV ownership information in-store (from the sales staff or marketing materials) and online, is concerning and leaves shoppers with unanswered questions.

This, by contrast, is not the case with Tesla sales staff, who, advantaged given their EV-only product line, exude a passion for electric vehicles and are equipped with the information needed to help consumers make informed decisions.

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Hyundai Motor America to release 8 new crossovers by 2020; gasoline, diesel, hydrogen and electricity

16 November 2017

Hyundai Motor America said it will introduce to eight new or re-engineered crossover utility vehicles (CUVs) in the United States by the year 2020. Beginning with the US launch of the Kona—Hyundai’s first global B-segment CUV)—in March, this new lineup will encompass models from the A-segment (entry level) size class all the way up to the eight-passenger midsize class.

Hyundai said it will showcase its latest gasoline engine, diesel engine, hydrogen fuel cell (earlier post) and battery electric technologies in these vehicles. Hyundai currently offers gasoline, diesel, hydrogen and battery-electric vehicles—but not a diesel—in the US.

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