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Audi to demonstrate automated driving technology in Florida

26 July 2014

Audi will be the first to test its automated driving technology on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway in Tampa, Florida—which recently was designated as an automated driving and connected car test bed—using an Audi A7 equipped to handle piloted driving functions on freeway conditions up to 40 mph (64 km/h).

Audi believes this initial version of piloted driving—Traffic Jam Pilot—could be available to consumers within five years. As Audi outlined this type of piloted driving functionality at CES in 2013 (earlier post), the system is based on the functionality of Audi adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go, extended by adding the component of lateral guidance.

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Kyoto team develops new cathode material for high-energy-density rechargeable magnesium batteries

25 July 2014

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Charge–discharge profiles of ion-exchanged MgFeSiO4. Three-electrode cells using Mg metal counter electrode and silver reference electrode were used. Electrolyte was 0.5 M magnesium (trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide (Mg(TFSI)2) in acetonitrile (solvent). Measurement temperature was 55°C. Current density was 6.62 mA·g−1 (MgFeSiO4). Orikasa et al. Click to enlarge.

A team of researchers from Kyoto University has demonstrated ion-exchanged MgFeSiO4 as a feasible cathode material for use in high-energy-density rechargeable magnesium batteries. A paper on their work is published in the Nature open access journal Scientific Reports.

The ion-exchanged MgFeSiO4 cathode materials provide a capacity of more than 300 mAh·g−1 at an average potential of 2.4 V vs. Mg2+/Mg, with good retention upon cycling. Batteries using a combination of ion-exchanged MgFeSiO4 and a magnesium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide–triglyme electrolyte system represent a prototype for a low-cost, high-energy-density rechargeable magnesium battery in which no toxic or explosive components are used, the researchers concluded.

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Study finds testing the technology the strongest initial motivation for fleet managers adopting EVs

25 July 2014

According to a report from Frost and Sullivan (Kumar, 2013), fleet managers adopted more than half of EVs sold globally up to 2013. A new study of factors influencing fleet managers’ adoption of electric vehicles has found that testing new technologies was the strongest driver of initial EV adoption, followed by lowering environmental impacts; government grants; and improving the organization’s public image. Thereafter fleet managers adopted or indicated an intent to adopt a larger number of EVs because of the benefits that they offer.

The study by William Sierzchula at Delft University of Technology, published in the journal Transportation Research Part D, used fleet manager interviews and pilot project report to investigate 14 US and Dutch organizations that adopted EVs from 2010 to 2013 to determine which factors influenced their purchase decisions. In addition, Sierzchula also analyzed the reasons why these same firms did or did not expand their EV fleets.

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Ethanol producer to integrate renewable diesel production from corn distiller oil

25 July 2014

Ethanol producer East Kansas Agri-Energy LLC (EKAE) intends to integrate renewable diesel production at its ethanol plant in Garnett, Kansas. Renewable diesel will be made from the corn distillers oil (CDO) already produced at the plant along with other feedstocks purchased on the market. WB Services is the technology provider for the catalytic renewable diesel process.

Construction on the new facility will begin soon and will be complete in about 12 to 14 months. The plant will be able to produce three million gallons of hydrocarbon fuel per year, with the ability to double that capacity in the future. The plant currently produces some 40 million gallons of ethanol; 200,000 tons of the livestock feed distillers grains; and 5 million pounds of corn oil each year from more than 16 million bushels of locally-sourced corn.

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California Energy Commission selects 11 advanced biofuels projects for $43.6M in awards

25 July 2014

The California Energy Commission (CEC) has selected 11 biofuel projects projects—including gasoline substitutes, diesel substitutes and biomethane projects—for $43,633,421 in awards under a grant solicitation released in January for the development of new, or the modification of, existing California-based biofuel production facilities that can sustainably produce low carbon transportation fuels.

The grant solicitation had announced a total of $24 million available for projects funded by the solicitation; however, the Energy Commission, at its sole discretion, reserves the right to increase or reduce the amount of funds available.

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IHS: continued legislative focus on pollutants to drive sensor market for internal combustion engines

24 July 2014

The global market for sensors used in internal combustion engines (ICE) is on the road of steady growth for the next few years, propelled by increasing utilization in engine management and exhaust aftertreatment, according to a new report from IHS Technology. IHS projects that sensor shipments for ICEs will top 1.34 billion units in 2019, up from about 1.08 billion in 2013. Overall, IHS expects a six-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2013 to 2019 of 3.6%.

The report—“Powertrain Sensor Market Tracker – H1 2014”—is part of the Semiconductors & Components service of IHS Technology. The report examines more than 20 sensors attached to the engine, fuel and exhaust systems of passenger vehicles. The list includes pressure sensors, devices to monitor flow and temperature, ceramic sensors for the gases nitrogen oxide (NOx) and oxygen, in addition to knock sensing, position and speed.

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Porsche introducing new plug-in Cayenne S E-Hybrid SUV; third plug-in from Porsche

24 July 2014

The new generation of the Cayenne will enter the market later this year in five versions: Cayenne S, Cayenne Turbo, Cayenne Diesel, Cayenne S Diesel and—in a world premiere—the Cayenne S E-Hybrid, the first plug-in hybrid in the premium SUV segment. The introduction of this model, together with the Panamera S E-Hybrid (earlier post) and the 918 Spyder, will give Porsche three production plug-in hybrid models. (Although, with a US MSRP of $845,000, the 918 Spyder (earlier post) is a little out of the range of what we might consider a volume production model.)

The new plug-in Cayenne S E-Hybrid is displacing the Cayenne S Hybrid (a parallel full hybrid introduced in 2010) from the line-up—as the Panamera S E-Hybrid did to the older Panamera hybrid. The Cayenne S E-Hybrid shares most of the plug-in powertrain components of the Panamera S E-Hybrid.

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Optimized Li-ion battery with LiFePO4 cathode and graphene nanoflake anode

24 July 2014

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Schematic of graphene/lithium iron phosphate battery. Credit: ACS, Hassoun et al. Click to enlarge.

Researchers in Italy have developed an advanced lithium-ion battery based on a graphene nanoflake ink anode and a lithium iron phosphate cathode. By balancing the cell composition and suppressing the initial irreversible capacity of the anode in the round of few cycles, they reported an optimal specific capacity of 165 mAhg–1, of an estimated energy density of about 190 Wh kg–1 and a stable operation for more than 80 charge–discharge cycles.

In a paper published in the ACS journal Nano Letters, they observed that—to the the best of their knowledge—complete, graphene-based, lithium-ion batteries having comparable performances are rarely reported. They suggested that their results disclosed might open up new opportunities for exploiting graphene in lithium-ion battery science and development.

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California Energy Commission approves $46.6M for hydrogen refueling and $2.8M for EV charging projects

24 July 2014

The California Energy Commission gave final approval for nearly $50 million in grant awards for hydrogen refueling and electric charging construction projects recommended for funding in notices of proposed awards published in April and May.

California’s zero-emission vehicle goal is to get 1.5 million hydrogen, battery electric, and plug-in electric vehicles on the roadway by 2025. In response to this directive, the Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP) has already allocated nearly $400 million to help bolster statewide infrastructure and create a viable market for zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), and to promote alternative fuels.

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EEI encourages utilities to spend at least 5% of fleet acquisition budgets on plug-ins

23 July 2014

The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) released a white paper, “Transportation Electrification: Utility Fleets Leading the Charge,” that focuses on the electric power industry’s effort to accelerate the expansion of electric transportation in commercial and retail markets, beginning with electric utility fleets. The paper encourages investor-owned electric utilities to meet an industry-wide goal to spend at least 5% of annual fleet acquisition budgets on plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and technologies.

An analysis of utility fleets by Utilimarc shows only about 1.7% of the vehicles purchased by electric utilities in the last five years were equipped with plug-in technology.

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SwRI receives $1.8M DOE award to develop linear motor reciprocating compressor for hydrogen

23 July 2014

Compressorcost
Compression is a major contributor to the cost of hydrogen fueling. Source: Elgowainy et al. Click to enlarge.

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) will begin work in August on a $1.8-million contract awarded by the US Department of Energy DOE to develop, to fabricate and to test a linear motor reciprocating compressor (LMRC). The contract is one of 10 awarded by DOE for projects that will advance hydrogen production and delivery technologies for this fuel source. (Earlier post.)

In its 2012 Multi-Year Research, Development and Demonstration Plan, DOE notes that hydrogen fueling station compressor flow rates may be 5 - 100 kg/hr and require compression pressures as high as 90 MPa (900 bar). (Consumer vehicles will likely require gaseous hydrogen compressed to 70 MPa to meet acceptable range targets.) At present, hydrogen delivery (which includes compression) and storage is an expensive operation. Capital costs are high, and the equipment used is often inefficient and unreliable, leading to costly routine maintenance, repairs and downtime.

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97% of US buyers opted for 2.5L stop/start base engine on 2014, 2015 Malibu

23 July 2014

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2014 ECOTEC 2.5L I-4 iVLC DI (LKW) with stop/start. Click to enlarge.

Ninety-seven percent of customers in the US who purchased a 2014 or 2015 Malibu—accounting for about 83,000 vehicles—opted for the 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder base engine (LKW) equipped with standard stop/start technology, according to GM. (Earlier post.) This marks the the most aggressive rollout of stop/start technology in the US by an American automaker.

The 2014 Malibu was the first in its segment with a standard engine featuring fuel-saving stop/start technology. Stop/start is featured along other technologies in the Malibu’s new 2.5L intake valve lift control (iVLC), powertrain along with direct injection, variable valve lift control and a new six-speed automatic transmission. All contribute to EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 25 mpg (9.4 l/100 km) in city driving and 36 mpg (6.5 l/100 km) on the highway—14% and 6% improvements, respectively, over earlier models.

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