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SABIC introduces novel thermoplastic roof fairing concept for 3% improvement in heavy-duty truck fuel economy

26 March 2015

SABIC has introduced a thermoplastic roof fairing concept that can potentially reduce annual fuel consumption of a heavy-duty truck by at least 3%. SABIC’s design concept is aerodynamically optimized to deflect air by accelerating airflow through and across the top and sides of the roof fairing. The result is a significant drop in drag, up to 5.9%, improving the aerodynamic performance and fuel efficiency of a heavy-duty truck.

SABIC’s new thermoplastic roof fairing concept incorporates air ducts to reduce front end pressure and accelerate airflow both over the surface and through the fairing itself. Conventional roof fairings, in contrast, achieve aerodynamic efficiencies simply by maximizing airflow over smooth, closed surfaces.

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EPA annual report finds automakers outperforming GHG emissions standards

26 March 2015

Epa3
Process for determining compliance status. Source: EPA. Click to enlarge.

For the second consecutive model year, the automotive industry outperformed the national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards by a wide margin, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) second annual Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for Light Duty Vehicles: Manufacturer’s Performance Report.

Overall industry compliance in model year 2013 was 12 grams/mile— or 1.4 miles per gallon—better than required by the 2013 standard. (Industry compliance in 2012 was 11 grams/mile better than required.) EPA’s GHG emissions standards cover light-duty vehicles from model year 2012 to 2025. Findings of this year’s report included:

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BASF and Floatility partner on ultra-lightweight solar-powered electric scooter: 12kg e-floater

26 March 2015

BASF and Floatility have partnered for the development of an ultra-lightweight and solar-powered electric scooter. Weighing less than 12 kilograms (26.5 lbs) and consisting of more than 80% composite and plastic materials from BASF, the scooter will give commuters the sensation of floating and thus has been named ‘e-floater’. The e-floater is designed to bridge the gap on the last mile between home or city center and the nearest public transport.

BASF will provide versatile plastic materials and support the project with its extensive development capabilities. Molding multiple parts to create complex shapes with plastic materials enables design freedom and the streamlined construction of the ‘e-floater’.

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DOE announces conditional commitment for $259M loan to Alcoa for automotive aluminum production

26 March 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced a conditional commitment for a $259-million loan to Alcoa Inc. If finalized, the loan would support the company’s Alcoa, Tennessee, manufacturing facility (Tennessee Operations), where the company will produce high-strength aluminum for North American automakers looking to lightweight their vehicles. (Earlier post.)

This conditional commitment is the first issued by the Department under the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program since Secretary Moniz announced a number of improvements to the program last year, and is the first step toward issuing a final loan to Alcoa.

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Mercedes-Benz introduces its first plug-in hybrid SUV: the GLE550 e

26 March 2015

Keeping pace with its announced intention to roll out 10 plug-in hybrids by 2017 (earlier post), Mercedes-Benz introduced the new GLE550 e 4MATIC plug-in hybrid (PHEV) along with the other members of the new GLE family of full-size SUVs. The GLE550 e is Mercedes-Benz’ first plug-in hybrid SUV. The high-performance SUV models, the Mercedes-AMG GLE63 4MATIC and the GLE63 S 4MATIC, will also celebrate their world premieres at the same time at the New York International Auto Show.

With full system output of 436 hp (325 kW), the GLE550 e 4MATIC delivers European cycle CO2 emissions of just 78 g/km (3.3 l/100 km, 71 mpg US). (EPA estimated fuel consumption for the US is still TBD.) With a power consumption of 16.7 kWh/100 km, the PHEV model is capable of up to 30 km (18.6 mi) of all-electric driving.

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Cummins ATLAS light-duty diesel surpasses fuel economy targets, with criteria emissions lower than Tier 2/Bin 2

26 March 2015

Cummins Inc. is showcasing the results of a four-year joint program with the US Department of Energy (DOE) at the Mid-America Trucking Show. The Advanced Technology Light Automotive Systems (ATLAS) program (earlier post) was initiated to develop a commercially viable diesel engine for the half-ton pickup truck market that is capable of meeting future Tier 2 Bin 2 emissions regulations and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and stringent greenhouse gas (GHG) requirements out to the year 2025.

The Cummins team not only surpassed all fuel-economy targets, but also achieved criteria emissions lower than the stringent Tier 2/Bin 2 levels.

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GM to introduce strong hybrid version of Malibu; combined fuel economy above 45 mpg; leverages Volt

25 March 2015

GM will introduce a strong hybrid version of the next-generation Malibu. Using technology from the 2016 Chevrolet Volt propulsion system (earlier post), Malibu Hybrid will offer an estimated combined fuel economy rating exceeding 45 mpg (5.22 l/100 km), higher than the combined cycle mileage ratings of the Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry and Hyundai Sonata hybrid variants and a significant boost over the 29 mpg combined of the MY 2015 Malibu with 2.5L engine with start/stop.

An all-new direct-injection 1.8L 4-cylinder engine mated to a two-motor drive unit slightly modified from the 2016 Chevrolet Volt drive unit powers the Malibu Hybrid. The drive unit provides additional power to assist the engine during acceleration, for 182 horsepower (136 kW) of total system power.

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New ABB Azipod D for electric marine propulsion requires 25% less installed power, boosts flexibility

25 March 2015

Pod
Azipod D. Click to enlarge.

ABB has introduced a new offering, Azipod D, to its line of Azipod marine electric propulsion systems. This new product will allow a wider range of vessel types to benefit from the proven reliability and flexibility that have made Azipod the leading propulsion system across numerous ship types.

Azipod Propulsion is a gearless steerable propulsion system in which the electric drive motor is in a submerged pod outside the ship hull. A ship with Azipod Propulsion does not need rudders, long shaftlines or stern transversal thrusters. This new Azipod D provides designers and ship builders with increased design flexibility in order to accommodate a wide range of hull shapes and propeller sizes, as well as simplicity of installation. The Azipod D requires up to 25% less installed power. This is partly due to the fact that the new hybrid (air and water) cooling helps reduce the thruster’s weight and directs more power toward propulsion of the ship, not cooling requirements. The performance of the electric motor is increased by up to 45%.

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California Energy Commission awards $24.9M to 9 medium- and heavy-duty advanced truck demo projects

25 March 2015

The California Energy Commissions has selected 9 projects to receive a combined $24,873,512 in proposed funding for cost share in the field demonstration of advanced medium- and heavy-duty on-road vehicle technologies—primarily battery electric and fuel cell technology—that may become commercially available in California. The match amount for the nine projects is $17,212,984. The solicitation (PON-14-605) was under the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP).

Nineteen other projects also passed the screening. However, the Energy Commission started with the highest score and began determining the awards, descending through the list of finalists until the money available (the $24,873,512) ran out. Five applications did not pass. The nine projects receiving funding are:

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XALT Energy in major multi-year contract to supply LTO batteries to HK Group for electric buses in China

25 March 2015

XALT Energy (originally founded in 2009 as Dow-Kokam, LLC), a leading developer and manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries, signed a global exclusive agreement with Hybrid Kinetic Group (HK Group) of China for the supply of its Lithium Titanate (LTO) batteries from its manufacturing facilities in Midland, Michigan for all-electric buses in China.

Production is expected to begin during the third quarter of 2015. The multi-year contract, valued at more than $1.0 billion, will create 300 new high-tech and manufacturing jobs in Midland this year. Hiring is underway with 80 positions expected to be filled in April.

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UT Austin researchers significantly boost yield and speed of lipids production from engineered yeast; more efficient biofuel production

24 March 2015

Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin have used a combination of metabolic engineering and directed evolution to develop a new strain of the yeast Yarrowia lipolytica featuring significantly enhanced lipids production that could lead to a more efficient biofuel production process. Their findings were published online in the journal Metabolic Engineering.

Beyond biofuels, the new yeast strain could be used in biochemical production to produce oleochemicals, chemicals traditionally derived from plant and animal fats and petroleum, which are used to make a variety of household products.

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Report: VW Group to decide how to proceed with Quantumscape solid state energy storage by July

24 March 2015

Bloomberg reports that the Volkswagen Group will decide by July how to proceed with solid state energy storage technology under development by Quantumscape (earlier post), citing Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management, who spoke outside a press conference in Stuttgart.

According to the report, Winterkorn said that the technology’s potential to boost the range of battery-powered vehicles is compelling and tests are progressing. “Progress has been made,” he said. Quantumscape several days ago posted 11 job openings, seeking a manager or director of battery manufacturing operations; a process engineering manager to lead a team in the development of a new energy storage technology from initial process concept through demonstration of stable production; and R&D technicians, battery engineers and scientists.

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