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Penn State, U Mich team characterizes soot generated by low-temperature diesel combustion

29 July 2016

Researchers from Penn State and the University of Michigan have characterized the nanostructure and oxidative reactivity of soot generated by a light-duty turbodiesel engine operating under a dilute, low-temperature combustion process referred to as high-efficiency clean combustion (HECC). Their paper appears in the International Journal of Engine Research.

Earlier work by members of the team (Gregory Lilik and André Boehman) had shown that high cetane number fuel with HECC leads to reductions in all primary pollutant emissions—i.e., THC and CO as well as NOx and PM. (Earlier post.) Less established, however, is how well such dilute combustion processes influence soot formation.

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EIA projects energy intensity of US steel production to drop 27% by 2040

29 July 2016

Steel production is energy-intensive; in 2015, the steel industry accounted for 1.5% of all industrial shipments in the US but 6.1% of industrial delivered energy consumption. The US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Annual Energy Outlook 2016 (AEO2016) Reference case projects that energy use in the steel industry will further increase by 11% over 2015–2040.

Over the same period, however, the AEO2016 projects in its Reference case a 27% drop in the steel industry’s energy intensity, compared with an 18% reduction in total industrial energy intensity. Several alternative cases examine drivers for further energy intensity reductions in the steel industry.

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Study: Overall automotive aluminum recycling rate above 90%

29 July 2016

New research from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s (WPI) Center for Resource Recovery and Recycling calculated an overall recycling rate of 91% for automotive aluminum. The peer-reviewed study, funded by the Aluminum Association, examines how much aluminum used in the United States’ light-duty automotive sector is recovered and recycled from vehicles at end of life.

The new study, Automotive Aluminum Recycling at End of Life: A Grave-to-Gate Analysis, details a “grave-to-gate” analysis, which spans the moment an automobile becomes obsolete to the moment the aluminum metal units are completely recycled and enter back into life as input material for new applications, including vehicles. Researchers attribute automotive aluminum’s high recycling rate to the metal’s economic value, citing the “concerted effort to recover this valuable lightweight commodity from end-of-life vehicles.”

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US releases Federal alternative jet fuels R&D strategy

29 July 2016

The Obama Administration has released the Federal Alternative Jet Fuels Research and Development (R&D) Strategy (FAJFS), which maps out a unified federal plan to advance R&D as well as science and technology solutions to support deployment of alternative jet fuels (AJFs) in both civil and military aviation.

The strategy provides a prioritized list of R&D goals and objectives addressing specific scientific, technical, analytical, and logistics challenges that hinder the development, production, and wide-scale economic deployment of AJFs. In releasing the FAJFS, the federal government hopes to accelerate the development of the AJF industry by minimizing technical uncertainty to encourage further private sector interest, facilitate the development and approval of new AJF pathways, and reduce the cost of AJF production in the United States.

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BMW provides some insight into Dingolfing eDrive competence center; motors, battery packs and more

29 July 2016

During its Innovation Days 2016 event in Munich, the BMW Group provided some insight into its Dingolfing competence center for the manufacture of electric drive systems (eDrive). Dingolfing supplies the high-voltage batteries and other chassis and powertrain components for BMW i models and the BMW Group’s plug-in hybrid models—current (earlier post) and future.

Beginning with the launch of the first BMW i production models, the Dingolfing plant has produced high-voltage batteries and other powertrain and chassis components for these vehicles. Prior to that, the plant had supplied high-voltage batteries for the BMW Active E; BMW 3 Series ActiveHybrid; BMW 5 Series ActiveHybrid; and BMW 7 Series ActiveHybrid. Now, with the market launch of the first plug-in hybrid versions of the BMW core-brand models—for which the plant supplies the rear-mounted electric motors and all high-voltage battery packs—production of BMW eDrive components in Dingolfing is scaling up once again.

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BMW unveils latest Efficient Dynamics 3- and 4-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines

29 July 2016

At its Innovation Days 2016 event in Munich, BMW unveiled new versions of its three and four- cylinder gasoline and diesel engines. Like their predecessors, the new power units are based on the modular system that enables the application of consistent design principles, a shared architecture and matching components.

The key elements of the standardized concept include the in-line engine’s basic design principle; an aluminium crankcase with uniform positioning of the intake and exhaust sides; a cylinder displacement of around 500 cubic centimeters per combustion chamber; as well as the arrangement of timing chains and ancillary units. In addition to this, the full line-up of gasoline and diesel engines feature BMW TwinPower Turbo technology.

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Researchers improve aluminum-air battery performance by using flax straw extract as corrosion inhibitor

28 July 2016

In a paper in ChemSusChem, a team from Israel and Russia reports substantial improvements in the performance of aluminum-air batteries by adding flax straw extract (3 vol %) to the alkaline solution to act as a mixed-type aluminum corrosion inhibitor.

The Aluminum-air battery, a metal-air battery system which uses a catalytic air cathode in combination with an electrolyte and an aluminum anode, has been of great interest for a number of years due to its high theoretical specific energy. (Earlier post, earlier post, earlier post.) However, parasitic hydrogen evolution caused by the corrosion of the aluminum anode during the discharge process is a well-known obstacle to commercialization of the system, as it not only causes additional consumption of the anode material but also increases the ohmic loss in the cell.

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DOE issues Request for Information on hydrogen infrastructure RD&D

28 July 2016

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) has issued a request for information (RFI) (DE-FOA-0001626) to obtain feedback from stakeholders regarding deployment of hydrogen fueling stations, delivery infrastructure, and barriers and activities to pursue in both the near and longer term.

Potential activities would complement existing FCTO activities that address the barriers hydrogen fueling stations face today, including renewable hydrogen fuel cost; station and equipment cost; station reliability and performance; codes and standards development; manufacturing needs; and outreach and training needs.

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BMW introducing fully-automated, optical measuring cell in pilot plant; digitalization for production

28 July 2016

The BMW Group has introduced a fully-automated, optical measuring cell in its pilot plant in Munich. Freely moving robot arms use sensors to create a three-dimensional image of an entire vehicle and generate a 3D data model from the data captured, with an accuracy of less than 100 µm. This allows barely visible deviations to be identified at an early stage.

The optical measuring cell is deployed at the interface between development and series production. It forms part of the BMW Group’s digitalization strategy for production and supports the high quality standards for production of premium vehicles. The next generation of the BMW 5 Series Sedan will be the first to benefit from this new technology.

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Sony to sell battery business to Murata

28 July 2016

Sony Corporation, the company that in 1991 commercialized the world’s first lithium-ion battery, and Murata Manufacturing have entered into a non-binding memorandum of understanding that confirms their intent to negotiate the transfer of the Sony Group’s battery business to the Murata Group. Sony has operated its battery business since 1975.

Following due diligence and negotiation of detailed terms and conditions of the Transfer, Murata and Sony are aiming to execute binding definitive agreements by the middle of October 2016, and to complete the Transfer by the end of March 2017, subject to required regulatory approvals.

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Silicon/soft-carbon nanohybrid as high-performance anode for Li-ion batteries

28 July 2016

A team from Samsung R&D and Shinshu University has developed a silicon/soft-carbon nanohybrid anode material for high performance lithium-ion batteries (LIBs). The material, which is composed of micronized silicon coated with “soft-carbon” dispersed in soft-carbon matrix at nanometer level, is characterized with abundant nanosized voids (nanovoids) (diameter of ~70 nm) and hard bulk skeletal structure.

As described in a paper in the Journal of Power Sources, the material’s volume expansion ratio is 6.9% at a capacity level of 1100 mAh/g. This electrode capacity is approximately three times larger than that of graphite-based electrode currently used in LIB. Furthermore, the electrode retained 80.9% of its capacity at 250 cycles in a full cell with a LiCoO2 counter electrode. Addition of 5 wt % fluoroethylene carbonate (FEC) to the electrolyte improved the retention up to 81.3% after 300 cycles.

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$50M Battery500 consortium targeting battery pack with specific energy of 500 Wh/kg

27 July 2016

Announced last week as one of the Obama Administration’s new initiatives to advance electric vehicle adoption (earlier post), the Battery500 consortium, led by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), aims to build a battery pack with a specific energy of 500 watt-hours per kilogram, compared to the 170-200 watt-hours per kilogram in today’s typical EV battery.

The team in this 5-year project hopes to reach these goals by focusing on lithium-metal batteries, which use lithium instead of graphite for the battery’s anode. The team will pair lithium with two different materials for the cathode. While studying these materials, the consortium will work to prevent unwanted side reactions in the whole battery that weaken a battery’s performance.

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