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Ford and Pivotal collaborate on software platform for FordPass

8 February 2016

Ford is working with platform-as-a-service (PaaS) provider Pivotal to build a software platform supporting FordPass, announced at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) (earlier post), that will enable the company to innovate rapidly and to iterate on new applications and mobility solutions for consumers.

FordPass, described as a free digital, physical and personal platform, is an ambitious new customer service product that incorporates software services and apps, human agents and storefronts and is intended to support the company’s strategic transformation into an auto and a mobility company. FordPass features four benefits for members: Marketplace includes mobility services such as parking and sharing; FordGuides help consumers move more efficiently; Appreciation, where members are recognized for their loyalty; and FordHubs, where consumers can experience Ford’s latest innovations.

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Renesas Electronics and TTTech collaborate on new ADAS-ECU development platform with high computing performance and advanced functional safety

8 February 2016

Renesas Electronics Corporation and TTTech Computertechnik AG, a global leader in robust networking and safety controls, have agreed to collaborate on the development of a new automotive platform solution aimed at providing a future-proof, high-performance advanced electronic control unit (ECU) development platform for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and automated driving functionality.

The automotive platform solution will integrate Renesas’ automotive control microcontroller (MCU), the RH850/P1x, and high-performance R-Car system-on-chips (SoCs) with TTTech’s TTIntegration, a software platform, to enable highly complex automotive solutions including highly automated driving. Additionally to the physical integration, the development platform achieves parallel, multi-vendor development and integration of individual software components.

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Renesas camera video processing circuit block with low latency, high performance, and low power consumption for SOC for autonomous driving

8 February 2016

At the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) held in San Francisco earlier this month, Renesas Electronics announced the development of a new video processing circuit block for use in automotive computing system-on-chips (SoCs) that will support autonomous vehicles.

The newly developed video processing circuit block will realize automotive computing systems integrating vehicle information systems and driving safety support systems by enabling massive video processing without imposing any additional load on the CPU and GPU, with real-time performance, low power consumption, and low delay. Renesas intends to incorporate the new video processing circuit block into its future automotive computing SoCs to contribute to a safer and more convenient driving experience.

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Purdue team uses pollen grains as basis for carbon architectures for Li-ion anodes

8 February 2016

A team at Purdue University has used pollens as the basis for carbon architectures for anodes in energy storage devices. As reported in an open-access paper in Nature’s Scientific Reports, Jialiang Tang and Vilas Pol converted bee pollen and cattail pollen grains into carbon microstructures through a facile, one-step, solid-state pyrolysis process in an inert atmosphere.

They air-activated the as-prepared carbonaceous particles at 300 °C, forming pores in the carbon structures to increase their energy-storage capacity, and then evaluated them as lithium-ion battery anodes at room (25 °C) and elevated (50 °C) temperatures. Findings showed the cattail pollens performed better than bee pollen. At a C/10 rate, the ACP (activated cattail pollen) electrode delivered high specific lithium storage reversible capacities (590 mAh/g at 50 °C and 382 mAh/g at 25 °C) and also exhibited excellent high rate capabilities.

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NREL and BESC discovery explains higher biomass degrading activity of C. thermocellum; potential boon for cellulosic biofuels

6 February 2016

Researchers at the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) have discovered a new cell-free cellulosomal system in Clostridium thermocellum—the most efficient single biomass degrader characterized to date —that is not tethered to the bacterial cell wall and is independent of the primary (tethered) cellulosomes.

Their discovery was made during an investigation into the performance of C. thermocellum. The scientists found the microorganism utilizes the common cellulase degradation mechanisms known today (free enzymes and scaffolded enzymes—i.e., a structured architecture of enzymes—attached to the cell), and a new category of scaffolded enzymes not attached to the cell. Reported in an open-access paper in Science Advances, the finding could lead to cheaper production of cellulosic ethanol and other advanced biofuels.

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€3.4M OmniSteer project seeks to increase urban maneuverability with highly-integrated lateral and transverse guidance systems for EVs

5 February 2016

Automobile maneuverability is limited by cramped inner city conditions. Those who need to park their vehicles frequently—such as delivery services and mobile care providers—lose a lot of working time searching for and then getting into parking spaces. New chassis types with wheels that can be steered individually and electric drives make it possible to increase maneuverability and therefore efficiency, particularly in flowing urban traffic.

The OmniSteer project, which is funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research, is aimed at researching suitable concepts and prototypes by 2018 and has a budget of €3.4 million (US$3.8 million).

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Continental urea sensors for efficient SCR NOx aftertreatment in diesels; measuring level, quality and temperature

5 February 2016

Continental has begun production of urea sensors for the first time to support more efficient exhaust-gas aftertreatment in diesel engines. The sensor measures the level, quality, and temperature of the aqueous urea solution in the “AdBlue” tank used in conjunction with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) for NOx reduction.

The sensor-aided denitrification supports fulfillment of the legal requirements and reinforces drivers’ trust that their car emits no more than the maximum permissible level of nitrogen oxides.

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U Toronto study measures GDI emissions in urban near-road environment

5 February 2016

A study of emissions from gasoline direct injection (GDI) vehicles in an urban near-road environment in Toronto over a wide range of weather conditions (February 2014 to January 2015) found that—other than for NOx and CO—the GDI engines had elevated emissions compared to the Toronto fleet.

In four campaigns over the year-long study, the team from the University of Toronto measured emissions 15 meters from the roadway, then converted the measurements to fuel-based emission factors (EFs). BC (black carbon) EFs were in the 73rd percentile; BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene-xylenes) EFs were in the 80–90th percentile; and size-resolved PN (particle number) EFs were in the 75th percentile during wintertime measurements.

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Study shows viability of RCCI in a two-stroke engine; higher efficiency than direct-injection spark ignition

5 February 2016

A team at the Engine Research Center (ERC), University of Wisconsin-Madison has demonstrated the viability of reactivity-controlled compression ignition (RCCI) in a two-stroke engine. (Earlier post.) A paper on their work is published in Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part D: Journal of Automobile Engineering.

RCCI is a dual-fuel combustion technology developed by Dr. Rolf Reitz and colleagues at the ERC. RCCI, a variant of Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI), provides more control over the combustion process and has been shown to have the potential to lower fuel use and emissions significantly. The RCCI process uses in-cylinder fuel blending with at least two fuels of different reactivity and multiple injections to control in-cylinder fuel reactivity to optimize combustion phasing, duration and magnitude.

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President Obama proposes 50% increase in spending on clean transportation, funded by $10/barrel tax on oil

5 February 2016

President Obama has laid out a plan for building a “21st Century Clean Transportation System”, the investment for which would be funded by a new $10 per barrel fee on oil paid by oil companies, which would be gradually phased in over five years. The President’s plan would increase US investments in clean transportation infrastructure by roughly 50%.

The President’s plan invests nearly $20 billion per year above current spending to reduce traffic and provide new ways for families to get to work and to school. The plan would expand transit systems in cities, suburbs and rural areas; make high-speed rail a viable alternative to flying in major regional corridors and invest in new rail technologies like maglev; modernize the freight system; and expand the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program begun in the Recovery Act to support high-impact, innovative local projects.

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Study finds nanoparticle NMC material used in Li-ion batteries harms key soil bacterium

4 February 2016

Nanoparticle nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC), an emerging material that is being rapidly incorporated into lithium-ion battery cathodes, has been shown to impair Shewanella oneidensis, a key soil bacterium, according to new research published in the ACS journal Chemistry of Materials.

The study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin—Madison and the University of Minnesota is an early signal that the growing use of the new nanoscale materials used in the rechargeable batteries that power portable electronics and electric and hybrid vehicles may have unforeseen environmental consequences.

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ANGP gets exclusive license to UTRC technology for conformable natural gas vehicle storage tanks

4 February 2016

Adsorbed Natural Gas Products (ANGP) announced an exclusive licensing agreement with United Technologies Research Center (UTRC) allowing ANGP to use UTRC’s patent-pending technology—developed with support from DOE’s ARPA-E (earlier post)—to develop and produce the first commercially viable conformable adsorbent-based low pressure natural gas (ANG) storage tank for motor vehicles.

The license applies to non-metal composite tanks containing activated carbon adsorbents at operating pressures of up to 1,000 psi.

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