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MIT study: higher octane standard fuel in US could lower fleet fuel consumption & GHG an extra 4.5-6% by 2040

24 April 2014

Offering a higher-octane gasoline to the consumer market in the US as the standard grade could deliver an incremental 4.5% to 6% reduction in fleet fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, on top of a projected 26.8% reduction by then in the baseline case (i.e., without higher octane fuel, but with other projected vehicle and powertrain technology improvements), according to a new analysis by a team at MIT. For their paper, the team proposed a 98 RON gasoline—currently the US premium grade—as the new standard fuel. In other words, they proposed making the current premium fuel the new standard grade.

The analysis by Eric Chow, John Heywood and Raymond Speth, presented as a paper at the recent SAE 2014 World Congress, seeks to quantify the reductions in consumption and GHG if new vehicles designed to use the higher-octane fuel were deployed. Raising octane reduces engine knock constraints, enabling the design of new spark-ignition engines with higher compression ratios and boost levels. This leads to improved engine efficiencies and the sought reductions. (Earlier post.)

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Navigant: US to remain largest national plug-in vehicle market over next 10 years; Tokyo to take metro market lead spot from LA

24 April 2014

Navigant Research forecasts that the United States will remain the largest national market for light-duty plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) during the next 10 years, with LD PEV sales exceeding 514,000 in 2023. Currently, North America is the strongest market for light duty PEVs with nearly 100,000 sold in 2013, according to the market research firm. Japan is a distant second, with just under 30,000 sales, followed by the Netherlands (more than 23,000) and China (more than 17,000).

Navigant Research forecasts that the global LD PEV market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.6% while the global market for LD vehicles will grow at a CAGR of only 2.6% during that period. Navigant Research estimates the US PEV market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.3% between 2014 and 2023. Canada, which is about 1 year behind the United States in terms of vehicle availability, is expected to have a CAGR of 25.4%, reaching more than 66,000 vehicles in 2023.

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Researchers use neutron crystallography to show outcome of hydrogen cleavage by catalyst; helping to build better fuel cell catalyst

24 April 2014

Image
Neutron crystallography shows this iron catalyst gripping two hydrogen atoms (red spheres). This arrangement allows an unusual dihydrogen bond to form between the hydrogen atoms (red dots). Source: Liu et al. Click to enlarge.

Using neutron crystallography, researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and their colleagues at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have shown for the first time precisely where the hydrogen halves end up in the structure of a molecular catalyst—an iron hydrogenase inspired by a natural hydrogenase enzyme—that breaks down hydrogen. A paper on their study is published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

The view confirms previous hypotheses and provides insight into how to make the catalyst work better for energy uses—i.e., for fuel cells—as an alternative to platinum.

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Dearman-led consortium awarded $3.1M to develop waste-heat-recovery system using liquid air engine

23 April 2014

A consortium led by the Dearman Engine Company has been awarded £1.86 million (US$3.12 million) in the latest round of IDP10 funding from the UK’s Technology Strategy Board to support the development of a heat-recovery system for urban commercial vehicles. The tenth competition under the Low Carbon Vehicles Innovation Platform’s integrated delivery program (IDP), IDP10 is targeting the building of an integrated low-carbon-vehicle innovation chain, from the science base, through collaborative R&D to fleet-level demonstration.

The Dearman project is to deliver a production-feasible waste-heat recovery system for urban commercial vehicles, which offers life-cycle CO2 savings of up to 40%; fuel savings of 25%, with the potential of up to almost 50%; and potential payback in less than three years. The project uses the Dearman Engine, a highly-efficient liquid nitrogen or air (LiN) engine (earlier post) that harvests low-grade heat sources and, in this configuration, is most effective in urban duty cycles, working with the internal combustion engine (ICE) as a hybrid powertrain.

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UQM Technologies and Kinetics Drive Solutions collaborate on electric drive systems for all-electric commercial vehicles

23 April 2014

Kinetics
EV3-850 combined with PowerPhase HD220. Click to enlarge.

UQM Technologies Inc. and Kinetics Drive Solutions Inc. are collaborating to offer an integrated electric motor and multi-speed transmission system for commercial vehicle applications that will benefit from a full system approach. This system is engineered to provide commercial vehicle manufacturers with an efficient electric drive powertrain while minimizing the development time for integration.

Advantages for customers will be a fully integrated and calibrated system that allows quicker time to market and reduced development time and cost, as well as fewer engineering variables. Systems will feature UQM PowerPhase HD electric motors and controllers combined with Kinetics NexDrive transmissions.

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Toyota Central R&D developing free-piston engine linear generator; envisioning multi-FPEG units for electric drive vehicles

22 April 2014

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Toyota’s FPEG features a hollow step-shaped piston, combustion chamber and gas spring chamber. Click to enlarge.

A team at Toyota Central R&D Labs Inc. is developing a prototype 10 kW Free Piston Engine Linear Generator (FPEG) featuring a thin and compact build, high efficiency and high fuel flexibility. Toyota envisions that a pair of such units (20 kW) would enable B/C-segment electric drive vehicles to cruise at 120 km/h (75 mph). The team presented two papers on the state of their work at the recent SAE 2014 World Congress in Detroit.

The FPEG consists of a two-stroke combustion chamber, a linear generator and a gas spring chamber. The piston is moved by the combustion gas, while magnets attached to the piston move within a linear coil, thereby converting kinetic energy to electrical energy. The main structural feature of the Toyota FPEG is a hollow circular step-shaped piston, which Toyota calls “W-shape”. The smaller-diameter side of the piston constitutes a combustion chamber, and the larger-diameter side constitutes a gas spring chamber.

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Oak Ridge researchers pursuing in-cylinder reforming for control of advanced combustion

21 April 2014

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are pursuing investigations into the use of a non-catalytic in-cylinder reforming process—i.e., the conversion of liquid hydrocarbon fuel to a hydrogen- and CO-rich syngas—potentially for controlling combustion phasing in homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) and other forms of advanced combustion.

When fuel is injected during negative valve overlap (NVO) in O2-deficient conditions, a portion of the fuel is reformed to products containing H2 and CO. In a paper presented at the recent SAE 2014 World Congress, the ORNL team and colleague from Sandia National Laboratories reported on the chemistry of an NVO in-cylinder reforming process as experimentally determined from a single-cylinder engine. The Oak Ridge team plans to pursue the in-cylinder reforming technique in a multi-cylinder configuration in which one of the engine cylinders would act as the reformer, “essentially breathing in reverse compared to the other cylinders (breathing in from the exhaust manifold and exhausting into the intake system).”

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Daimler-BYD JV unveils battery-electric DENZA at Auto China; 47.5 kWh pack; focus on safety

21 April 2014

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DENZA. Click to enlarge.

Shenzhen BYD Daimler New Technology Co., Ltd. (BDNT) officially unveiled its DENZA all-electric vehicle at Auto China 2014, in Beijing. The world premiere of the serial production model is the culmination of cooperative efforts at the 50:50 R&D technology joint venture established by Daimler and BYD back in 2010—the first Sino-German joint venture dedicated to an all-electric vehicle in China. (Earlier post.)

DENZA is powered by an 86 kW (peak) motor that provides a maximum speed of up to 150 km/h (93 mph) and peak torque of 290 N·m. With 47.5 kWh lithium iron phosphate battery capacity, DENZA has a range of up to 300 km (186 miles). In light of the fact that the average daily driving distance in China is 50 to 80 kilometers a day, the typical customer will only have to recharge DENZA twice a week. Driving 100 km with a DENZA costs less than 20 RMB (US$3.20).

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Study finds removing corn residue for biofuel production can decrease soil organic carbon and increase CO2 emissions; may miss mandated 60% GHG reduction

21 April 2014

Liska
Contribution of modeled CO2 emissions from SOC to the life cycle of biofuel from corn residue. Error bars are ± one standard deviation. Liska et al. Click to enlarge.

Using corn crop residue to make ethanol and other biofuels reduces soil carbon and under some conditions can generate more greenhouse gases than gasoline, according to a major, multi-year study by a University of Nebraska-Lincoln team of researchers published in the journal Nature Climate Change. The findings cast doubt on whether biofuels produced from corn residue can be used to meet federal mandates for cellulosic biofuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 60% compared to gasoline.

The study, led by assistant professor Adam Liska, was funded through a three-year, $500,000-grant from the US Department of Energy, and used carbon dioxide measurements taken from 2001 to 2010 to validate a soil carbon model that was built using data from 36 field studies across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Using USDA soil maps and crop yields, they extrapolated potential carbon dioxide emissions across 580 million 30-meter by 30-meter geospatial cells in Corn Belt states.

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Siemens and BAIC form JV to produce high efficiency electric powertrain systems for NEVs

21 April 2014

Siemens AG and Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co., Ltd. (BAIC), one of the major Chinese carmakers, signed a joint venture agreement at the 2014 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition and outlined their plan to utilize Siemens’ electric drive train components in a range of BAIC new energy vehicles (NEVs).

The JV, Beijing Siemens Automotive E-Drive System Co., Ltd., will manufacture components for the electric drivetrain including power-electronics and electric motors. The new electric drivetrains consist of a safer and higher power density inverters and highly energy efficient motors. Prototype and small volume production will start in 2014, followed by mass production in a new Beijing-based factory in 2015. The production volume is planned to be more than 100,000 units per year with upside potential.

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New Toyota TS040 HYBRIDs take 1st and 2nd at Six Hours of Silverstone in UK; new Porsche 919 Hybrid takes 3rd

21 April 2014

Toyota Racing scored a one-two finish (#8 taking first, #7 second) from pole position in the Six Hours of Silverstone with its new TS040 HYBRIDs (earlier post) in a the first race of the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship season. Porsche’s new 919 Hybrid with two energy recovery systems (earlier post) posted a third its in its first race.

Track conditions varied from completely dry to torrential rain, which ultimately saw the race red flagged less than 30 minutes before the checkered flag. Rain initially came around the 40-minute mark. Both Toyota cars pitted for new tires, the #7 taking wets and the #8 taking hybrid intermediates. With the rain soon easing, hybrid intermediate tires proved the most effective.

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GM’s China JVs investing $12B between 2014-2017 to expand; GM outlines China market trends

21 April 2014

In conjunction with the start of Auto China 2014 in Beijing, GM China President Matt Tsien announced that GM’s China joint ventures will make capital expenditures of about $12 billion between 2014 and 2017. That investment will help GM step up its pace by funding facility and capacity expansion and new product programs. China has been GM’s largest market since 2010, last year accounting for about one-third of its global sales.

Some of the $12 billion investment will fund the launch of more than 60 new and upgraded vehicles coming to market through 2018. GM’s focus will be on answering the growing demand for luxury vehicles, SUVs, multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) and smaller passenger cars.

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