Green Car Congress - 切り抜き一覧
Volkswagen Group Components and DU-POWER establish JV for flexible quick-charging stations in China
Volkswagen Group Components and the start-up Shanghai DU-POWER New Energy Technical Co., Ltd. plan to form a joint venture to produce flexible quick charging stations in China. Series production of the flexible quick charging stations is currently scheduled to start in the second half of 2020. A comprehensive charging infrastructure is the key to the success of e-vehicles. The planned joint venture with DU-POWER therefore represents a significant milestone as we continue to make progress along the path to electric mobility. The innovative design of our flexible quick charging station has huge potential in China, not least because of the rapid growth of electric mobility.—Thomas Schmall, CEO of Volkswagen Group Components The electrification of the global automotive industry is a megatrend. As an ambitious high-tech company with a competent technical development core, we will work with Volkswagen to create a solid foundation to support the success of electric vehicles. The partnership for establishing a joint venture in China enables us to collaborate close on the technical aspects of the project to provide flexible, reliable and efficient solutions for the charging infrastructure.—Yong Kang, CEO of Shanghai DU-POWER New Energy Technical Following the conclusion of the requisite approval process with authorities, including merger control, Volkswagen AG and Shanghai DU-POWER New Energy Technical Co., Ltd. will ultimately each own 50% of the shares in the joint venture. The new company will be located in the Suzhou Wuzhong Economic & Technological Development Zone, near Shanghai, China. As previously announced, flexible quick charging stations will also be produced at the Hannover site in future. Production is to begin this year. With compact dimensions, the flexible quick charging station can be installed almost anywhere it’s needed or where a charging infrastructure is not yet in place. When connected to the low-voltage grid, the station becomes a permanent charging point without the additional cost and effort required for a comparable fixed quick charging station. The built-in battery pack can store a buffer of energy meaning that it can be disconnected from the grid. This then eases the strain on the power grid, particularly at peak times. If electricity generated from renewable sources is fed into the charging station and temporarily stored there, the station enables carbon-neutral mobility. To ensure the sustainable use of valuable resources, the charging station is also designed to be able to use old batteries from electric vehicles as energy accumulators in future. The system can charge e-vehicles with up to 150 kW.
Snam and RINA team up to accelerate the development of hydrogen sector
Italy-based Snam, a global energy infrastructure company, and RINA, a global testing, inspection, certification and engineering consultancy services firm, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate in the hydrogen sector, in order to realize the significant potential of hydrogen as a fundamental energy carrier. From a presentation given by Faith Birol, Executive Director, International Energy Agency, on hydrogen’s role in tackling energy and climate challenges. The two companies have formed a joint working group to study and test the compatibility of industrial burners and other existing infrastructure already in operation with hydrogen. The group will also begin experiments, analysis and technology scouting in various areas involving hydrogen including production, storage and distribution. This agreement will combine the skills of Snam and RINA to accelerate the introduction of hydrogen as a new clean energy carrier and give further impetus to create an Italian hydrogen value chain. The use of green hydrogen in existing infrastructure will play a key role in enabling the energy transition and achieving climate objectives, whilst also creating new opportunities for economic development, which are now more important than ever. Italy and its companies have the opportunity to pioneer this approach at an international level.—Snam CEO Marco Alverà We are proud to collaborate with Snam to promote the sustainable progress of the energy sector. We believe that hydrogen is currently one of the best options for reducing carbon dioxide emissions. We are delighted to contribute our research and certification skills on hydrogen-compatible materials and our expertise in the field of analysis, studies and tests for storage to this partnership. This agreement demonstrates Snam and RINA’s joint commitment to the common goal of curbing global warming.—RINA CEO Ugo Salerno Introducing hydrogen into energy networks represents the first step for spreading and developing green hydrogen from renewable sources, while reducing its costs. Green hydrogen generated by water electrolysis, a process that takes place without CO2 emissions, has the advantage of being able to use the existing capillary gas infrastructure. In 2019, Snam became the first European company to successfully test the introduction of hydrogen blends into its gas transmission network with a percentage volume of up to 10%. RINA offers specific and unique engineering skills in Italy to support industries in the transition to a wider use of hydrogen. Most notably, it co-owns the first laboratory in Italy (one of the very few in the world) with the University of Calabria, which is capable of performing tests at high pressures (up to 1000 bar) for the storage of gases including hydrogen. According to a recent study (‘Hydrogen Challenge: The potential of hydrogen in Italy’) commissioned by Snam, hydrogen could cover almost a quarter (23%) of national energy demand by 2050 under a deep decarbonization scenario. The biggest potential is in transport, buildings and industrial applications where some players use grey hydrogen today (e.g., refining, high-heat processes). Other key findings of the report include: Long-haul trucking should become one of the first segments to make hydrogen economic. Hydrogen will achieve Total Cost of Ownership parity with diesel by 2030, even without additional incentives. Blending hydrogen in the grid (up to a 10-20% mix) for building heating is another area of wide possible adoption that could take place in the short- to mid-term. Hydrogen will also integrate renewables into the electricity grid: it can provide flexibility, seasonal storage—in collaboration with other storage solution covering shorter balance need (e.g., batteries for intraday balancing)—and alternative energy transportation solutions to the grid. Low-cost hydrogen to break-even before 2030—earlier than other European markets. Given Italy’s strong renewables endowment, “green hydrogen” from them will break even with “grey hydrogen” from natural gas 5-10 years earlier than in many other countries, including Germany. This makes Italy the ideal place to begin the deployment and scale-up of electrolysis for industrial and other uses (especially in cases where breakeven should occur in the next decade). Italy could import hydrogen from North Africa, at cost 14% below domestic production. Italy could employ its existing pipelines to Northern Africa to put solar panels “where the sun shines” more, produce hydrogen locally, and then transport the hydrogen to Italy through the pipes. This could also provide hydrogen exports through Italy into Europe. Italian gas infrastructure supports hydrogen’s potential: Its wide-ranging infrastructure can connect the renewables-rich South with the demand centers in the North, and make possible highly independent, fully-renewable energy systems on Italy’s islands. Hydrogen in Sicily is a cost-competitive way to start decarbonize industry that is hard to decarbonize in other way. 50MW of electrolyzer capacity could initially be built to produce renewable hydrogen leveraging wind and solar lower production costs, which could be transported in (existing) pipelines, used in a local refinery as well as for a hydrogen-fueled train and as part of the local gas grid for household heating. Future expansion could increase the scale of the project to include a 2 GW electrolyzer, the supply of two refineries and the replacement of a significant share of 10-20% of natural gas in household heating. To start the deployment of hydrogen in Italy, industry and policymakers should work together to put a supporting regulatory framework in place and begin deployment. International co-operation will accelerate the uptake of hydrogen across the EU and create a single unified European hydrogen market in the future. Snam is ready and willing to support this transition leveraging its assets, experience, and capabilities to deliver the transition to a sustainable and competitive energy future in Italy.
IHS Markit forecasts 18% drop in global vehicle sales YoY to 73.3M units under extended lockdown scenario
IHS Markit is projecting an 18% drop in global new vehicle sales year-on-year under an extended lockdown scenario to 73.3 million units. Regionally, that breaks out to: -26% US vehicle sales decline YoY to 12.6 million units -17% Europe vehicle sales decline YoY to 17.1 million units -14% China vehicle sales decline YoY to 21.8 million units The US has seen a 30% decline in national registration volume in March 2020 over February 2020. Half of the United States is now seeing a MoM new vehicle registration decline of 25% or greater from February into March. As April unfolds, there will likely be a further decline as more states move to tighter consumer and business restrictions, IHS Markit suggested. IHS Markit said that the 40% chance of an extended lockdown forecast reflects immediate impacts of new containment measures that have been announced globally and expanded within countries already confronting the virus. A stronger economic response in 2021-2023 pushes global growth above 3% annually. A 15% probability of an extended lockdown with ineffective stimulus scenario contains stringent virus-fighting efforts lasting into the third quarter of 2020. Stimulus measures prove ineffective at backstopping crisis and unemployment rates spiral. Recovery begins later and at a much slower rate than anticipated. Global vehicle sales in this scenario collapse by more than 20% to 71.2 million units.
Electrify America, Kia Motors America offer DC fast charging plan for Kia Niro EV drivers
Electrify America announced an agreement with Kia Motors America to offer Kia Select, a new charging program with optimized pricing for the Kia Niro electric vehicle (EV) model on Electrify America’s direct current (DC) fast charging network. The Kia Select program offers a flat rate of 35 cents per-minute charging for current Kia Niro EV drivers, designed specifically for the unique DC charging characteristics of the model. The program also waives session fees and has no subscription fees for participants. Electrify America has worked closely with Kia Motors America to develop a pricing program that recognizes the unique charging profile of the Kia Niro EV, and enhances the charging experience of Niro EV drivers. While we will continue to offer ways to facilitate the mobility of EV drivers with our rapidly expanding ultra-fast nationwide charging network, we encourage all our customers to stay at home as much as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, and abide by all government and CDC guidelines.—Wayne Killen, director of infrastructure planning and business development at Electrify America To participate in the program, drivers can simply download the Electrify America charging app and complete a brief enrollment process. Drivers can also use the app to locate Electrify America charging stations, start a charging session, and remit payment using their credit or debit card entered during the registration process. The Kia Select program is available now in the United States for all 2019 and 2020 model year Niro EV owners and lessees. The two companies will promote the program in a joint communications effort to encourage enrollment for all eligible drivers. The Kia Select program will continue in effect until 31 December 2020 and will be re-evaluated at the end of 2020.
DOE, NSF, DHS partner on a research and action competition for smarter communities: Civic Innovation Challenge (CIVIC)
The National Science Foundation (NSF), in partnership with the US Department of Energy (DOE) and US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), launched the Civic Innovation Challenge, a national research and action competition in the smart and connected communities domain. Teams will compete for awards of up to $1 million to support ready-to-implement, research-based pilot projects that have the potential for scalable, sustainable, and transferable impact on community-identified priorities. Teams will include civic partners—such as local, state, and tribal government officials, and non-profit and community leaders—working together with technical and social science researchers. The Civic Innovation Challenge is funded with an anticipated $9 million in funding from NSF, DOE, and DHS. Development of the Civic Innovation Challenge has been ongoing for more than a year. The release of the Challenge comes as the world faces unprecedented obstacles in response to the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, which is impacting healthcare, economic, and social systems. Although the collective energy and effort of communities must focus on the crisis at hand, community members, researchers, and leaders will soon also be considering how civic services and systems should be rebuilt to be stronger and more resilient once communities emerge from this crisis. As teams reflect on the focus areas of the Civic Innovation Challenge, they are encouraged to consider how both the current situation and other experiences in their communities uncover new challenges, motivate new questions, and highlight the need for new perspectives. The Civic Innovation Challenge comprises two tracks, shaped by input from cities and communities from across the country at an Ideas Festival held in early 2019: Communities and Mobility: Offering Better Mobility Options to Solve the Spatial Mismatch Between Housing Affordability and Jobs; and Resilience to Natural Disasters: Equipping Communities for Greater Preparedness and Resilience to Natural Disasters. The Challenge is organized in two stages. In the first stage, teams will compete for planning grants of up to $50,000 per team over a period of four months. Awards will be offered to approximately 12 teams per track and are expected to be made in Fall 2020. Planning grant applications are due on 1 July 2020. With the support of the planning grant, the selected teams will then refine their projects and compete for second-stage grants of up to $1 million per team over a period of 12 months; these awards will support ready-to-implement, research-based pilot projects and will be offered to a cohort of awardees in each track. Only awardees of Stage 1 will be eligible to submit proposals for Stage 2. NSF has a cooperative agreement with MetroLab Network, a non-profit organization that will support the Civic Innovation Challenge through organizing outreach to prospective communities and teams in preparing for Stage 1 and Stage 2, as well as cultivating communities of practice among awardees to help teams develop methods and solutions transferable to communities across the US. MetroLab contributed to the design of the Civic Innovation Challenge, supported by a grant from NSF. Because of competing priorities and schedule disruptions due to the COVID-19 crisis and response, several measures will be taken to accommodate those responding to the Civic Innovation Challenge: MetroLab will host webinars to share guidance on best practices in crafting research-community partnerships amid the current organizational responsibilities of civic leaders. In preparing the planning grant proposals, partnerships with civic leaders may be not be as developed as they would have been under typical circumstances; MetroLab will provide general guidance on how teams can ensure sufficient “buy-in” from civic leaders and enlist additional partners that will strengthen their planning grant efforts. All workshops and events associated with the Civic Innovation Challenge will be held virtually until public health guidance changes.
Harvard study finds small increase in long-term exposure to PM2.5 leads to a large increase in COVID-19 death rate
A new study by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health concludes that a small increase in long-term exposure to PM2.5 leads to a large increase in COVID-19 death rate, with the magnitude of increase 20 times that observed for PM2.5 and all-cause mortality. US government scientists estimate that COVID-19 may kill between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans. The majority of the pre-existing conditions that increase the risk of death for COVID-19 are the same diseases that are affected by long-term exposure to air pollution. The Harvard team investigated whether long-term average exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) increases the risk of COVID-19 deaths in the United States. They collected data for approximately 3,000 counties in the United States (98% of the population) up to 4 April 2020. They fit zero-inflated negative binomial mixed models using county-level COVID-19 deaths as the outcome and county level long-term average of PM2.5 as the exposure. They adjusted by population size, hospital beds, number of individuals tested, weather, and socioeconomic and behavioral variables including, but not limited to obesity and smoking. They also included a random intercept by state to account for potential correlation in counties within the same state. They found that an increase of only 1 μg/m3 in PM2.5 is associated with a 15% increase in the COVID-19 death rate, 95% confidence interval (CI) (5%, 25%). Results are statistically significant and robust to secondary and sensitivity analyses. Resources Xiao Wu, Rachel C. Nethery, Benjamin M. Sabath, Danielle Braun, Francesca Dominici (2020) “Exposure to air pollution and COVID-19 mortality in the United States.” medRxiv 2020.04.05.20054502; doi: 10.1101/2020.04.05.20054502
GlobalData: COVID-19 puts EV sales and CO2 fleet emission targets at risk
GlobalData research shows that lower oil prices as a result of the COVID-19 crisis could reduce electric vehicle demand and impair EU efforts to significantly reduce average new vehicle CO2 emissions in the European car market. GlobalData’s analysis suggests that low oil prices will lead to a longer waits for the reduced fuel costs offered by electric vehicles (EVs) to amortize their higher purchase prices. This could prove very problematic for the industry in a year that was supposed to mark the big shift to EVs to reduce fleet CO2 emissions in line with new tighter EU CO2 targets.—Mike Vousden, Automotive Analyst at GlobalData EVs typically cost more than an equivalent internal-combustion-engined (ICE) vehicle but their lower running costs reduce that price differential over time and, in the longer term, end up costing less overall than their ICE counterparts. However, the amount of time taken to make up that price differential depends on the cost of fuel. Higher prices at the pumps mean EVs make up their extra purchase cost sooner, while lower fuel prices see ICE cars remain cheaper than EVs for longer. Much lower pump prices for gasoline and diesel have been ushered in by the COVID-19 crisis and a big hit to global oil demand. If pump prices are low in the long-term this will throw into question the economic case for users switching to electric vehicles. In the long run, this could see fewer motorists switching to EVs, putting the government’s ambitious targets for electrification at risk and potentially bringing increased fines for the vehicle manufacturers not complying with EU fleet average CO2 targets.—Mike Vousden
Researchers suggests high level of air pollution in Northern Italy a co-factor in COVID-19 mortality rate
Researchers from the University of Siena in Italy and Aarhus University in Denmark are suggesting that the high level of pollution in Northern Italy should be considered an additional co-factor of the high level of COVID-19 fatalities recorded in that area. An open-access paper on their work is published in the journal Environmental Pollution. The course of COVID-19 differs for patients the world over: many experience flu-like symptoms, while many others need hospital treatment for acute respiratory infection that, in some cases, leads to death. What factors affect the course of the disease and the possibilities to combat COVID-19 remains unclear, as long as there is no medical treatment or vaccine. The COVID-19 mortality rate is up to 12% in the northern part of Italy, while it is only approx. 4.5% in the rest of the country. Lombardy and Emilia Romagna are Italian regions with both the highest level of virus lethality in the world and one of Europe’s most polluted areas. The researchers used data from the NASA Aura satellite, which has demonstrated very high levels of air pollution across precisely these two regions. The team compared these data with the Air Quality Index—a measurement of air quality developed by the European Environment Agency. The index gathers data from several thousand measuring stations all over Europe, providing a geographical insight into the prevalence of a number of pollutant sources in the EU. The team provided evidence that people living in such an area with high levels of pollutant are more prone to develop chronic respiratory conditions and suitable to any infective agent. Moreover, a prolonged exposure to air pollution leads to a chronic inflammatory stimulus, even in young and healthy subjects. There are several factors affecting the course of patients’ illness, and all over the world we’re finding links and explanations of what is important. It’s very important to stress that our results are not a counter-argument to the findings already made. At the moment, all new knowledge is valuable for science and the authorities, and I consider our work as a supplement to the pool of knowledge about the factors that are important for the course of patients’ illness. Our considerations must not let us neglect other factors responsible of the high lethality recorded: important co-factors such as the elevated medium age of the Italian population, the wide differences among Italian regional health systems, ICUs capacity and how the infects and deaths has been reported have had a paramount role in the lethality of SARS-CoV-2, presumably also more than pollution itself. All over the world, we’re seeing different approaches from countries’ authorities, in countries’ general public health outset and in the standards and readiness of different countries’ national healthcare systems. But this doesn’t explain the prevalence and mortality rates that we’re seeing in northern Italy compared with the rest of Italy. This feeds hope that we may have found yet another factor in understanding the high mortality rate of the disease in northern Italy.—Dario Caro, corresponding author Resources Edoardo Conticini, Bruno Frediani, Dario Caro (2020) “Can atmospheric pollution be considered a co-factor in extremely high level of SARS-CoV-2 lethality in Northern Italy?” Environmental Pollution, doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2020.114465
Aarhus team seeking to produce bioethanol from biomass by leveraging panda gut microbiome
Researchers at Aarhus University (Denmark) have launched a project to produce cellulosic bioethanol via completely natural processes. They are looking for the solution in the intestines of pandas and slugs, and in ants’ fungus gardens—special enzymes and microorganisms that, for millions of years, have specialized in the breakdown of this particular material. Among other things, we’ve collected a large amount of panda poo, and incubated the bacteria in the laboratory. We then fed bamboo to these bacterial colonies and found that they can very quickly break down lignocellulosic biomass into ethanol, lactate and hydrogen. The microbial culture that has developed in the gut of pandas seems to be quite unique.—Associate Professor Alberto Scoma, heading the Engineered Microbial Systems research group In a study published this year in the Journal Frontiers of Microbiology, Scoma and his team collected gut microbiomes from fresh fecal samples of a giant panda (either entirely green or yellow stools) and supplied them with green leaves or yellow pith (i.e., the peeled stem). Microbial community composition was substrate dependent, and resulted in markedly different fermentation profiles, with yellow pith fermented to lactate and green leaves to lactate, acetate and ethanol, the latter to strikingly high concentrations (∼3%, v:v, within 3.5 h). Scoma et al. Characterization of green and yellow stools from giant panda. Squares of the same color represent each a single replicate (n = 3), with black dots or lines indicating the mean. Scoma et al. Scoma came up with the idea for the project during a visit to a zoo in Belgium. While watching two new panda arrivals, he came to think about how strange it is that a bear can live almost exclusively on bamboo. Pandas are bears, and in terms of physiology, they are carnivores. Nevertheless, up to 99% of a panda’s diet is bamboo. It takes just 5 to 12 hours before the lignocellulosic biomass of which bamboo consists is excreted. If a heavy Panda can feed itself with lignocellulosic biomass with a digestion time of only up to 12 hours, its digestive system must be really good at breaking down the material. Pandas eat a lot of bamboo per day, about 10 kg. So, the microbes in the gut are used to receive a high amount of lignocellulose and must process it very quickly. We can do something useful with microbes like these. Therefore, we’re trying to understand the process in detail, so that we can repeat it in the laboratory, and hopefully use it in industry in the future.—Alberto Scoma Working with Stine Slotsbo, special consultant, Hans Joachim Offenberg, senior researcher, and Jesper Smærup Bechsgaard, all from the Department of Bioscience, and with Thomas Boesen, Associate Professor at the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Associate Professor Alberto Scoma has included other species in the project—species which, like the panda, also digest lignocellulosic biomass. Portuguese slugs (Arion lusitanicus) and leaf-cutter ants (Atta cephalotes) were an obvious choice for the project, as both species feed on similar biomass. Slugs, like pandas, by eating it directly, while the ants use fungi to break down the biomass for them. Evolution always finds a solution, as long as it has enough time. Now it's just up to us to understand the complex microbial degradation, so that we can take the relevant enzymes out of the equation and test them in vitro, and I hope that then we will be able to find out exactly what the enzymes are capable of. We’re using millions of years of evolution to solve a modern problem.—Hans Joachim Offenberg Resources Scoma Alberto, Khor Way Cern, Coma Marta, Heyer Robert, Props Ruben, Schoelynck Jonas, Bouts Tim, Benndorf Dirk, Li Desheng, Zhang Hemin, Rabaey Korneel (2020) “Substrate-Dependent Fermentation of Bamboo in Giant Panda Gut Microbiomes: Leaf Primarily to Ethanol and Pith to Lactate ” Frontiers in Microbiology doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2020.00530
DOE selects 15 projects for $32M to advance lower-cost fusion concepts; ARPA-E BETHE
The US Department of Energy announced the winners of $32 million in funding for 15 projects as part of the ARPA-E Breakthroughs Enabling THermonuclear-fusion Energy (BETHE) program. (Earlier post.) These projects will work to develop timely, commercially viable fusion energy, with the goal to increase the number and performance levels of lower-cost fusion concepts. Fusion energy technology holds great potential to be a safe, clean, reliable energy source, but research and development of fusion technology is often constrained by prohibitive costs. BETHE teams will build on recent progress in fusion research and the growing fusion community to lower costs and further foster viable commercial opportunities for the next generation of fusion technology.—Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes BETHE projects will work to deliver higher-maturity, lower-cost fusion options via three research categories: Concept Development to advance the performance of inherently lower-cost but less-mature fusion concepts; Component Technology Development that could significantly reduce the capital cost of higher-cost, more-mature fusion concepts; and Capability Teams to improve/adapt and apply existing capabilities (including theory/modeling, machine learning, and diagnostics) to accelerate the development of multiple concepts. Commercial fusion technology has long been viewed as an ideal energy source. However, there remains a need to lower the costs of fusion development and accelerate its development timeline to have appreciable impact. If a grid-ready fusion demonstration can be realized within approximately 20 years, while achieving cost competitiveness, then fusion can contribute to meeting low-carbon energy demand and achieving cost-effective deep decarbonization in the latter half of the 21st century. BETHE projects address these needs by building on Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy’s (ARPA-E) first focused fusion program, ALPHA, to grow the number of privately funded fusion companies. BETHE teams will pursue additional approaches that reduce cost, unit size, and complexity of fusion systems, while also smoothing the path to fusion commercialization to include public, private, and philanthropic partnerships with the BETHE teams. Winning BETHE projects are: Category A: Development of Lower-Cost Concepts University of Wisconsin-Madison. An HTS Axisymmetric Magnetic Mirror on a Faster Path to Lower Cost Fusion Energy - $5,000,000 The Wisconsin High-field Axisymmetric Mirror (WHAM) project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison will leverage advances in the stability and confinement of the mirror fusion concept, innovative plasma heating, and high-field superconducting magnets to demonstrate a potentially transformative development path toward a low-cost linear fusion device. The project aims to demonstrate a novel “end cell” that confines stable, heated plasmas with electron temperatures exceeding 1 keV and a fusion triple product exceeding 1018 keV s/m3. Success in this project would justify follow-on pursuit of the low-cost Break-Even Axisymmetric Tandem (BEAT) device, which would use two of the end cells at either end of a longer central mirror cell to reach breakeven conditions. Zap Energy. Sheared Flow Stabilized Z-Pinch Performance Improvement - $1,000,000 The SFS Z pinch is an approach that gets smaller as the fuel is heated closer to fusion conditions. An electrical current is driven through the fusion fuel, creating self-generated magnetic fields that compress and heat the fuel toward fusion conditions. This may be the simplest and most compact of all known controlled fusion approaches, as it does not require magnetic coils nor any external heating systems other than the source to drive the electrical current. Under the ALPHA and OPEN 2018 programs, the SFS Z-pinch demonstrated a fusion triple product exceeding 1017 keV s/m3. This project will enable Zap Energy to implement an upgrade to their new SFS Z-pinch device to allow independent control of the plasma formation and acceleration stages. They will use the new, upgraded device to advance their triple product toward breakeven conditions. University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Centrifugal Mirror Fusion Experiment - $4,000,000 The University of Maryland, Baltimore County will advance the performance of the centrifugal mirror (CM) fusion concept, which has previously demonstrated stable plasmas with temperatures above 100 eV. The CM has a simple, axisymmetric geometry and provides a potential low-cost pathway to a breakeven experiment. The team will azimuthally rotate a mirror-shaped magnetized plasma to supersonic speeds using high-voltage biasing between a central rod and outer electrode rings. The rotation will stabilize, heat, and centrifugally confine the plasma, potentially eliminating the need for costly auxiliary heating systems requiring high recirculating power, which would degrade the economics of a fusion power plant. The project aims to overcome engineering challenges of the high-voltage biasing, and scientific challenges of achieving good stability and confinement while pushing into higher-temperature regimes. The project aims to achieve a triple product exceeding 1017 keV s/m3. NK Labs, LLC. Conditions for High-Yield Muon Catalyzed Fusion - $830,000 NK Labs seeks to advance muon-catalyzed fusion, which uses muons (a subatomic particle much more massive than an electron) to induce fusion between deuterium and tritium at temperatures 100,000 times lower than that of conventional fusion approaches. If each muon can catalyze around 500 fusion reactions (compared to the present state-of-the-art of 110–150 reactions), then a net-energy-gain system may become feasible. NK Labs will measure muon-catalyzed fusion rates and muon-recycling rates in a laser-heated, diamond anvil cell at 100-times higher pressures than what has been done. They will update publicly available computer models and databases based on their results. If the results are favorable, it could enable a new low- cost path toward net-gain fusion. University of Washington. Demonstration of Low-Density, High-Performance Operation of Sustained Spheromaks and Favorable Scalability Toward Compact, Low-Cost Fusion Power Plants - $1,500,000 This project will advance the technical viability of a novel method for efficiently sustaining stable, high- performance spheromak plasmas to serve as the basis of compact, low-cost fusion power plants. The University of Washington will advance the method of Imposed-Dynamo Current Drive (IDCD) for sustaining spheromak plasmas. IDCD can efficiently couple large amounts of power to the plasma at much lower costs relative to other methods of higher-frequency plasma heating. The proposed R&D aims to increase plasma performance to enable ion and electron temperatures > 100 eV during sustainment on an existing experimental prototype, and increase confidence in projections and designs of future, higher-performance devices. Los Alamos National Laboratory. Target Formation and Integrated Experiments for Plasma-Jet Driven Magneto-Inertial Fusion - $4,618,001 Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) will develop an innovative approach to fusion energy: plasma-jet driven magneto-inertial fusion. This concept uses a spherical array of plasma guns to form a spherically imploding plasma shell, or “liner,” which compresses and heats a pre-injected magnetized plasma “target” in a bid to attain fusion conditions. This project seeks to develop a sub-scale magnetized target plasma, and perform first integrated liner-on-target compression experiments at LANL’s Plasma Liner Experiment facility. Compression and heating will be studied and compared with computer simulations. The results will illuminate the viability and scaling behavior of this class of fusion devices, informing the prospects for future development and energy scaleup of this concept. Category B: Technology Development to Lower the Cost of More- Mature Concepts Commonwealth Fusion Systems. Pulsed High Temperature Superconducting Central Solenoid for Revolutionizing Tokamaks - $2,390,000 Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) aims to resolve several higher-risk engineering challenges in order to design a new fast-ramping, high-temperature-superconducting (HTS) central solenoid (CS). The CS sits at the center of a tokamak (a donut-shaped fusion machine) and induces an electric field and electrical current along the toroidal axis of the donut. An HTS CS could transform tokamak development, enabling repetitive, long-pulse (hours) tokamak operation that could potentially eliminate or drastically reduce the need for costly auxiliary current drive. If successful, this could open a new pathway for pulsed HTS tokamaks to become the quickest and lowest-cost pathway to a tokamak-based fusion power plant. Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. Stellarator Simplification using Permanent Magnets - $3,000,000 Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), in partnership with SABR Enterprises, will design and build a prototype structure that houses an array of rare-earth permanent magnets to generate the precise shaping fields of an optimized, quasi-axisymmetric stellarator design. The stellarator concept might arguably claim the best combination of achieved performance and remaining scientific risk of any fusion approach, and has low recirculating power, minimal auxiliary systems, and no time-dependent magnet systems, all of which are major advantages for a commercial fusion system. However, present state-of-the-art stellarators require complex 3D magnetic coils with very high fabrication and assembly costs. Use of permanent magnets along with planar toroidal field coils could dramatically simplify stellarator construction, assembly, and maintenance, and place the stellarator on a compelling path toward lower-cost fusion energy. University of Rochester. Advanced Inertial Fusion Energy Target Designs and Driver Development - $1,750,000 The University of Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics and the Naval Research Laboratory will advance inertial fusion energy (IFE) by developing (1) innovative direct-drive, high-bandwidth, high-gain target designs using high-bandwidth laser technologies with < 1 MJ of laser input energy, and (2) high-efficiency, high- bandwidth IFE drivers to eventually enable experimental demonstration of the advanced target designs. The new laser-driver technologies, including both diode-pumped solid-state and excimer lasers, are expected to mitigate laser-plasma instabilities, potentially allowing for greater and more-symmetric energy coupling to the target. This work leverages the multiple decades of investment into inertial confinement fusion (ICF), which has achieved high values of fusion triple product, and will help place ICF on a path toward lower-cost IFE. Category C: Capability Teams to Support Multiple Concepts Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Capability in Theory, Modeling, and Validation for a Range of Innovative Fusion Concepts Using High-Fidelity Moment-Kinetic Models - $2,400,000 Virginia Tech and PPPL will apply a versatile set of computational plasma modeling capabilities to better understand and advance the performance of lower-cost fusion concepts. This Capability Team will use fluid and reduced kinetic models to achieve this goal, including building on its existing open-source simulation technology, Gkeyll, and a multi-phase, incompressible magnetohydrodynamic model to study liquid-metal wall dynamics in the presence of fusion plasma. The team will perform high-fidelity kinetic plasma simulations that can also account for complex plasma-wall interactions, to support the development of multiple lower-cost concepts. Sapientai, LLC. Data-Enabled Fusion Technology - $1,650,000 Sapientai’s DeFT (Data-enabled Fusion Technology) Capability Team will use machine learning and artificial intelligence to accelerate the path toward commercial fusion energy. Fusion experiments generate substantial amounts of data. This project will carefully curate the data from multiple projects, and use the curated database to aid in discovering and enhancing predictive understanding, and in helping guide and prioritize experiments that take a lot of time and funding. The project seeks to apply state-of-the-art techniques in machine learning to accelerate the development of multiple lower-cost fusion concepts. University of Rochester. A Simulation Resource Team for Innovative Fusion Concepts - $2,000,000 Establishing an adequate simulation capability for a new fusion concept can easily be more expensive and time-consuming than building the first experiment. This Capability Team will provide simulation support for Concept Teams and independent analysis of fusion concepts. The codes central to this project will be FLASH, TriForce, and OSIRIS, chosen because they are flexible, high-performance computing codes, capable of 1D, 2D and 3D simulations, and can eventually all be used by concept teams to carry out their own simulations. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Radio Frequency Scenario Modeling for Breakthrough Fusion Concepts - $1,250,000 Fusion requires confining plasmas at extraordinarily high temperatures. One of the most promising ways to heat plasmas to these temperatures is with electromagnetic waves. By increasing power by thousands of times more than the kilowatts used in household appliances, a plasma is heated to the temperatures required for fusion. Complex analytic theory and computer simulations are required to design effective and efficient plasma- heating scenarios. MIT’s project seeks to apply established state-of-the-art theoretical and simulation tools, developed and tested by the fusion community on more traditional concepts, to accelerate the development of potentially transformative, lower-cost fusion concepts. Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Magnetic Field Vector Measurements Using Doppler-Free Saturation Spectroscopy - $600,000 Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) will build a non-perturbative, portable diagnostic to measure the topology of the equilibrium magnetic field vector in potentially transformative, magnetically confined fusion devices. The measurement is based on an innovative spectroscopic technique that has already been demonstrated in the laboratory. The new diagnostic will be built and tested during this project, and will be ready to deploy to multiple fusion experiments around the country. Los Alamos National Laboratory. Electromagnetic and Particle Diagnostics for Transformative Fusion-Energy Concepts - $375,000 Los Alamos National Laboratory will provide a suite of proven, absolutely calibrated, vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) and soft x-ray diagnostics to characterize the performance of a number of lower-cost, potentially transformative fusion-energy concepts. Spectral measurements will enable the identification of impurities and their spatial and temporal variation in the plasmas. LANL will also seek to advance a state-of-the-art, solid-state x-ray imager to make soft x-ray movies of the hot plasma core, enabling visualization of the evolution of instabilities.
Loop Energy receives fuel-cell range-extender order for transit buses in Nanjing
Loop Energy, a mobile-power company providing hydrogen-fuel-cell-based solutions for the medium-to-heavy duty vehicle market, has received a purchase order from a leading bus manufacturer in China to support the Nanjing municipal government’s objective of replacing its existing 7,000-unit battery-electric bus fleet with an improved battery-hydrogen hybrid alternative that offers all-season, long-range, and higher passenger-capacity operation. The multiple-unit range extender order, which represents the start of a long-term commercial agreement with a total estimated value of approximately US$15 million over a three-year period, follows the receipt of product certification for Loop’s 50 kW Fuel Cell Range Extender Module series from the China Automotive Technology and Research Center (CATARC), a national independent testing and certification organization for vehicular products in China. We are pleased to receive this initial order for Loop’s 50 kW fuel cell range extenders immediately following the earning of product certification from CATARC, who is widely recognized as one of the premier vehicle testing organizations worldwide. This agreement marks an important milestone for Loop as it signifies a ramp-up of commercial activity, but it is also a testament to the growing market recognition of Loop product’s performance and cost advantages. We look forward to building on this momentum as we expand our market footprint in China, Europe and other international markets.—Ben Nyland, President and Chief Executive Officer of Loop Energy As the company’s premier product for heavy-duty trucks and buses, Loop Energy’s 50 kW range extenders unlock multiple cost and performance benefits over traditional fuel cell designs including the industry’s highest power density which results in substantial fuel cell manufacturing and system integration cost advantages. Certified to GB/T standards, Loop Energy’s range extender is officially listed with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China (MIIT) and approved for vehicle indexing, enabling original equipment manufacturers to select Loop Energy’s product for integration into market-ready fuel cell electric vehicles in China. Cummins Inc. recently increased its investment in Loop Energy, following Loop’s successful completion of milestone requirements established at the time of Cummins initial investment in September 2019. (Earlier post.)
California Department of State Hospitals orders 12 electric Ford Transit 350HD vans from Lightning Systems
Lightning Systems, a global developer of zero-emission drivetrains, announced an order from the California Department of State Hospitals for 12 zero-emission, all-electric Ford Transit 350HD models. The Lightning Electric models are being provided to the hospital system by Wondries Fleet Group, a leading fleet dealer in California. All twelve are Class 3 delivery vans and were purchased under the terms of a California state contract. Lightning Electric is a battery-electric drivetrain package for the Ford Transit 350HD, a product used extensively by commercial and government fleets. The vans ordered by California Department of State Hospitals have zero tailpipe emissions and achieve 61 MPGe on EPA city and highway routes, compared to 13 MPG for a gasoline version of the same vehicle. Vehicles equipped with the package are being deployed across the United States. Lightning’s powertrain in the Ford Transit offers peak power of 160 kW (equivalent 215 horsepower), a torque rating of 994 N·m, (733 lb-ft), and a top speed of 65 MPH. The Lightning Electric Ford Transit’s batteries are housed under the floor of the vehicle, with no impact on ground clearance, creating a more elegant and seamless integration. The full-electric system is available for the Ford Transit Passenger van, Cargo van, Cutaway and Chassis Cab models. State agencies and city and county governments throughout California can order Class 3 to 6 shuttle buses, cargo vans, box trucks, cab-over vehicles, and stripped chassis models under the California state contract. Vehicles eligible include the Ford Transit 350HD Passenger Van and Cargo Van, Ford E-450 Cutaway Chassis, Ford F-59 Stripped Chassis, and Chevrolet 6500XD Low Cab Forward Truck. Wondries Fleet Group, based in Alhambra, California, under a statewide dealer contract with the California Department of General Services is supplying the all-electric van chassis in conjunction with additional upfit equipment installed by Phenix Enterprises of Pomona, California. The Department of State Hospitals (DSH) manages the California state hospital system, which provides mental health services to patients admitted into DSH facilities. The department strives to provide effective treatment in a safe environment and in a fiscally responsible manner. DSH oversees five state hospitals—Atascadero, Coalinga, Metropolitan (in Los Angeles County), Napa and Patton. In fiscal year 2018-2019, the department employed nearly 13,000 staff and served 11,752 patients in the 24/7 hospital system.
IHS Markit: oil price collapse will change trajectory of North American gas supply
The trajectory of North American gas supply is set to change radically as a result of the fall in oil prices that has occurred due to COVID-19 and the breakdown in production cooperation between OPEC and Russia, according to IHS Markit. Prior to the global pandemic, languishing North America gas demand and near-full storage was already pushing gas supply and prices to near-record lows in 2020. The impact of low oil prices could result in a drop of 8-10 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in associated gas volumes by the end of 2021. Associated gas is regular natural gas that is produced together with oil out of the same well. Associated gas volumes comprise nearly one third of total US gas production (31 Bcf/d out of more than 96 Bcf/d total US production as of December 2019). As oil activity declines and production is curtailed in response to lower oil prices, the associated gas production from those oil wells will also fall. This massive reduction in gas supply will help offset or even overtake the drop of gas export demand as a result of COVID-19. While the significant shifts in both supply and demand should help offset each other, they will not occur simultaneously or over the same time period. Roughly speaking, for every 500,000 bbl/d of oil production drop, we see associated gas volumes fall by about 1 Bcf/d. Considering the depth and duration of the global oil situation, we could see an 8 Bcf/d reduction in associated gas.—Narmadha Navaneethan, director, North America upstream research, IHS Markit The Permian Basin, long viewed as the gem of US unconventional oil production, currently produces 4.6 MMbbl/d, along with 12.9 Bcf/d of gas (About 1 Bcf/d of that is flared at the wellhead due to current infrastructure constraints). As low oil prices constrain activity in the West Texas basin, oil production will fall to nearly 3 MMbbl/d, with gas volumes falling below 10 Bcf/d. Combined, the Bakken and Eagle Ford are producing nearly 3 MMbbl/d of oil and 7.2 Bcf/d of gas. By December of 2021, production will fall to 1.8 MMbbl/d and 4.6 Bcf/d, as the Eagle Ford’s decline will further alleviate pipeline constraints from Texas wells to Gulf Coast markets. Further reductions in associated gas volumes will come from smaller plays including the Wattenberg, Powder River Basin, and various mid-continent plays. These smaller oil producing regions will combine to contract about 2.5 Bcf/d. These are unprecedented times in oil markets, and they will affect US gas markets once the COVID-19 impact subsides. As demand returns, dry gas producers are going to have to step up and fill the supply gap left by reductions in associated gas volumes, and the commodity markets are going to have to make it profitable to drill new wells.—Reed Olmstead, director, North America upstream research, IHS Markit
Berkeley Lab researchers quantify how accumulation of high-value bioproducts in plants improves economics of biofuels
Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the Department of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), which is managed by Berkeley Lab, have quantified how bioproduct accumulation in planta—i.e., engineering plants to produce valuable chemical compounds, or bioproducts, as they grow—affects biofuel selling prices. Their open-access study, jointly led by Corinne Scown and Patrick Shih, was published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In the study, they present the range of bioproduct selling prices and accumulation rates needed to compensate for additional extraction steps and reach a target $2.50/gallon minimum biofuel selling price. Minimum required selling price ranges for bioproducts ($/kg) under different in planta accumulation amount (dry basis) in order to reach the MESP parity ($3.61/gal) and targeted selling price of ethanol ($2.50/gal). The Inset shows the estimated bioproduct selling price of less than $100/kg. Yang et al. The researchers first gathered information on a group of well-studied bioproducts that plants can already effectively produce—ranging from flavors and fragrances to biodegradable plastic. Making a valuable bioproduct would help offset the cost of making biofuels and make the whole process cheaper. They then designed and simulated what it would take to extract these bioproducts from plant material in the context of an ethanol biorefinery. In this setting, valuable bioproducts would be extracted from the plant, while the remaining plant material would be converted into ethanol. A schematic of bioethanol production process with the value-added bioproduct and the integrated one-pot high gravity ionic liquid-based pretreatment process. Biomass sorghum is used as a representative bioenergy crop. In this study, the selected value-added bioproducts are limonene, artemisinin, PHB, latex, and cannabidiol. Yang et al. The results showed that the amount plants need to make is actually quite feasible. For example, they calculated that when accumulated at 0.6% of the biomass dry weight, a compound such as limonene would offer net economic benefits to biorefineries. In other words, for 10 dry metric tons of sorghum biomass from an acre of land, they need to recover only around 130 pounds of limonene from that biomass. The researchers in our Feedstocks Division were surprised by how modest the target levels were. The levels we need to accumulate in plants to offset the cost of bioproduct recovery and drive down the price of biofuels are well within reach.—Corinne Scown The results show that this strategy for reducing the cost of biofuels is feasible; but also that the market for each high-value product is limited in size. The analysis suggests that just five commercial-scale biorefineries could support the entire projected 2025 market demand for limonene. Scown said crops need to be engineered to produce a broad range of products to make sure the industry is diversified and the market is not flooded for any one product. This research was supported by the DOE Office of Science. Resources Minliang Yang, Nawa Raj Baral, Blake A. Simmons, Jenny C. Mortimer, Patrick M. Shih, Corinne D. Scown (2020) “Accumulation of high-value bioproducts in planta can improve the economics of advanced biofuels” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences doi: 10.1073/pnas.2000053117
Mazda continues supporting algae biofuels research
Mazda continues to be involved in joint research projects and studies as part of an ongoing industry-academia-government collaboration to promote the wide-spread adoption of biofuels from microalgae growth. (Earlier post.) As part of its Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030 long-term technology development program, the company is committed to reducing its average Well-to-Wheel CO2 emissions to 50% of 2010 levels by 2030, and to 90% by 2050. Expecting that internal combustion engines combined with some form of electrification will still account for some 95% of the vehicles it produces in 2030, and that liquid fuel will remain dominant in the automotive industry until at least 2040, Mazda considers a renewable liquid fuel essential to steep reductions in CO2. Because when burnt, algae biofuel only releases CO2 recently removed from the atmosphere via photosynthesis as the algae grew, Mazda considers its development to be critical to achieving the carbon-neutrality of cars powered by the internal combustion engine. Microalgae biofuel has numerous positive attributes as a renewable liquid fuel. Algae fuels can be farmed on land unsuitable for agriculture, can be grown with minimal impact on freshwater resources, can be produced using saline and wastewater, have a high flash point, and are biodegradable and relatively harmless to the environment if spilled. Improving productivity and reducing costs are fundamental to the widespread future availability of algae biofuels. To that end, Mazda is lending research-accelerating technical support to the combination of research into genome editing by long-time academic partner Hiroshima University and plant physiology by the Tokyo Institute of Technology which is intended to lead to a breakthrough in these areas. In 2018, Mazda joined the Hiroshima “Your Green Fuel” Project, a demonstration project for next-generation biofuels jointly run by the Hiroshima Council for the Promotion of Collaboration between Government, Academia and the Automobile Industry and Euglena Co., Ltd. In collaboration with Euglena’s Made-in-Japan Biofuels Project, this project aims to promote the spread of biofuels and establish a model for revitalizing regional areas by retaining the entire biofuel value chain—from the manufacture and supply of raw materials through to fuel use—within the Hiroshima area. Specifically, the project promotes the production of biofuels from oils derived from microalgae or used cooking oil and encourages the use of such biofuels in passenger cars in Hiroshima. The project is also planning research into cultivating microalgae using CO2 emitted by Hiroshima-based businesses as well as algal residue-based fertilizers and feed for use in the agriculture, livestock and fishery industries. These initiatives will be launched in phases by around 2020. As part of its Well-to-Wheel initiative, Mazda has developed a multi-solution approach to reduce overall carbon dioxide emissions without any compromise to driving pleasure and performance to its vehicles. Skyactiv technologies such as i-STOP, Cylinder Deactivation and Mazda M Hybrid 24V mild-hybrid system are fitted as standard on selected models across the range, while the Mazda3 and CX-30 (earlier post) are offered with Mazda’s advanced 2.0-liter 180ps Skyactiv-X Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI) gasoline engine. (Earlier post.) The company will introduce EVs as the optimum environmentally-friendly solution to regions that generate electricity from clean energy sources or restrict certain vehicle types to reduce air pollution. The new all-electric Mazda MX-30 First Edition features an AC synchronous electric motor and a 35.5 kWh lithium-ion battery that allows for rapid charging up to 50KW. With its freestyle doors, ecological materials and right-sized battery giving a range of approximately 125 miles, exceeding the 30-mile average daily drive of the European customer, the Mazda MX-30 marks another step in Mazda’s multi-solution approach to reducing emissions following the recent arrival of the innovative Skyactiv-X engine.
Woodside joins Japanese consortium to study exporting carbon-neutral hydrogen as ammonia
Australia-based Woodside has signed an agreement with Japanese companies JERA Inc, Marubeni Corporation and IHI Corporation to undertake a joint study examining the large-scale export of hydrogen as ammonia for use decarbonizing coal-fired power generation in Japan. The consortium has received approval from Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) for a feasibility study covering the entire hydrogen-as-ammonia value chain. The study will examine the construction and operation of world-scale ammonia facilities and the optimization of supply chain costs. As part of the study, Woodside will be investigating the transition from blue to green hydrogen for export. Blue hydrogen is produced from gas using steam methane reforming, with related carbon emissions offset. Green hydrogen is produced from renewable energy using electrolysis. In both production processes hydrogen is combined with nitrogen to form ammonia to enable it to be shipped as a liquid. Ammonia does not produce any on site carbon emission when consumed in a power plant. Source: ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency) Woodside CEO Peter Coleman said the agreement was another step forward in Woodside’s exploration of the potential of hydrogen as a clean fuel of the future. JERA, Marubeni, IHI and Woodside will jointly contribute to studying the application of hydrogen as an energy source, including in the form of ammonia. The partners will consider further joint projects in areas where they identify synergies. Woodside and its partners in Japan have forged new energy pathways before and we can do so again, as we expect by 2030 to see large-scale hydrogen production around the world and we intend to be part of that.—Woodside CEO Peter Coleman JERA Inc. is a 50/50 joint venture between TEPCO Fuel & Power Inc. and Chubu Electric Power Company Inc. It handles one of the largest volumes of LNG in the world and controls nearly half of Japan’s domestic thermal power generation capacity. Marubeni Corporation is a major Japanese integrated trading and investing business, active in a broad range of products and services globally. Its global activities encompass importing and exporting, as well as transactions in the world market across a number of business sectors. IHI Corporation is a comprehensive heavy-industry Japanese manufacturer working in four main areas— Resource, Energy and Environment; Social Infrastructure and Offshore Facilities; Industrial Systems and General-purpose Machinery; and Aero Engine, Space and Defense.
Griffith researchers enhance catalytic activity for water splitting
In an open-acess paper published in Nature Communications, Griffith University (Australia) researchers report having enhanced the catalytic activity of CoSe2 for oxygen evolution in water splitting by incorporating both Fe dopants and Co vacancies into atomically thin CoSe2 nanobelts. CoSe2 nanobelts are ultrathin sheets made out of a lattice of cobalt (Co) and selenium (Se). Both the iron doping and creating cobalt vacancies, when applied individually, improve the nanobelt’s ability to speed up reactions to a small degree. The Griffith advance was discovering that when both processes are put together their combined effect substantially increases the power of nanobelts to speed up reactions. Fe doping and Co vacancy synergistically tune the electronic states of Co2 to a near-optimal value, resulting in greatly decreased binding energy of OH* (ΔEOH) without changing ΔEO, and consequently lowering the catalytic overpotential. The proper combination of multiple defect structures is promising to unlock the catalytic power of different catalysts for various electrochemical reactions.—Dou et al. Our discovery, that by combining these two processes we can push this catalyst to its activity limit, is very exciting. This unlocks not just the catalytic power of CoSe2 nanobelts, but catalysts for all sorts of electrochemical reaction.—Dr Yuhai Dou, lead author Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy (2019) aims to establish Australia’s hydrogen industry as a major global player by 2030. Resources Dou, Y., He, C., Zhang, L. et al. (2020) “Approaching the activity limit of CoSe2 for oxygen evolution via Fe doping and Co vacancy.” Nat Commun 11, 1664 doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-15498
Karma Automotive in final development stages for SiC traction inverters; 400V and 800V
Karma Automotive has entered the final stage of development for two new Silicon Carbide (SiC) Inverters to enhance electric mobility charging. The new SiC traction inverters are engineered in-house by Karma’s Powertrain Power Electronics team, in collaboration with the Power Electronic System Laboratory at University of Arkansas (PESLA). Engineered to deliver enhanced efficiency and performance, the SiC traction inverters will be used in both future Karma vehicles and company partners. This flexible architecture design in a 400V system can be customized to fit various vehicle platforms and is also available in 800V power levels to leverage higher voltage for fast charging. The new inverters will also be compatible with a variety of industries including automotive, aircraft, train, agriculture and industrial applications. Prior to this, Karma also developed its own insulated gate bipolar transistor (IGBT)-based traction inverter that currently supports its 2020 Revero GT and GTS luxury electric vehicles. The development of Karma’s new SiC power inverters come at an important time for the company, which last week announced its E-Flex Platform initiative (earlier post), a series of highly versatile platforms that will offer new electric vehicle mobility solutions ranging from autonomously-driven utility vans, to ‘every-day’ driver vehicles, to high-performance supercars. The platform will allow manufacturers a fast-track into the electric vehicle market with greater speed and efficiency. Electrification represents a pivotal shift in the mobility industry, which is why Karma is focusing company efforts on our technology capabilities and solutions for our partners. Our SiC inverters, coupled with our upcoming Karma E-Flex Platforms, are a testament to the revolutionary performance and efficiency we are proud to bring to the electric mobility industry.—Karma Automotive CEO, Dr. Lance Zhou
BMW, MINI electrified vehicle sales up 13.9% in Q1; 6.4% share
In the first quarter 30,692 (+13.9%) electrified vehicles of the BMW and MINI brands (BMW i, BMW iPerformance, MINI Electric) were sold worldwide. This means we are also on track to meet the EU’s CO2 targets. We do not see any necessity to defer climate protection goals.—Pieter Nota, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Customer, Brands and Sales During the same period, a total of 411,809 (-20.1%) BMW vehicles were delivered to customers, while the MINI brand sold 64,449 (-23.4%) units during the same period. That gives electrified vehicles a 6.4% share of BMW and MINI sales in Q1.
Goodyear: connected tires can reduce lost stopping distance by 30%
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company recently eclipsed 3 million miles of data from road tests and field trials with its connected tires. (Earlier post.) Connected tires—those with embedded sensors—are able to “talk” to the vehicle and the road and measure characteristics of the tire, leading to potential enhanced vehicle performance and safety. Initial studies have shown that Goodyear’s connected tires can reduce stopping distance lost between a new and worn tire by 30%. With the evolution to electric and autonomous vehicles, connected tires and the impact they can have on stopping distance, communication with the vehicle will only increase in importance. Goodyear’s connected, intelligent tire system continuously measures and records tire-derived information, which is paired with other vehicle data and connected to Goodyear’s cloud-based proprietary algorithms. The intelligent tires can measure tire wear, load, inflation and temperature, along with road surface conditions, in real time, allowing the vehicle to adjust and respond to these measurements and optimize vehicle performance. Consider someone driving on a slick, curvy road in cold temperatures. The driver adjusts his movements by slowing down, tapping the brakes or avoiding sudden steering. But what happens when nobody is behind the wheel? The tire is the only part of the vehicle that touches the ground and it can communicate vital information to the vehicle, enhancing safety and performance.—Chris Helsel, Goodyear’s chief technology officer While Goodyear’s connected tires are not yet available to consumers, the company is continuously testing connected tires extensively with auto makers, startups and more, developing custom products and solutions to help enhance safe riding experiences with eventual use by consumers down the road.
Enovix raises $45M; working to develop its 3D Silicon Lithium-ion technology for EV market
Enovix Corporation has secured $45 million in new funds to produce and commercialize its 3D Silicon Lithium-ion Battery. The funding sources include a major new strategic investor, current investors (including T. J. Rodgers and York Capital), and non-dilutive funding from market-leading customers. Enovix has developed a lithium-ion battery that incorporates a 100% active silicon anode using a patented 3D cell architecture to increase energy density and maintain high cycle life. The patented 3D cell architecture vertically stacks high-capacity silicon anodes, cathodes, and separators in an inherently flat structure. Unlike the horizontally wound structure of a conventional lithium-ion cell, 3D architecture allows for an integrated stainless-steel constraint to apply stack pressure and maintain silicon particle connection for uniform discharge. The result is both a significant increase in energy density and high cycle life. Source: Enovix. Enovix replaces electrode winding in a standard pouch lithium-ion battery production process with proprietary laser patterning and high-speed stacking tools to increase line MWh capacity by 30%. Enovix will use the bulk of the funds to complete its Fremont, California high-volume battery production facility, where about 75% of the equipment and processes are identical to standard pouch lithium-ion battery manufacturing. We initially attracted customers when we sampled cells about a year ago with energy density over 900 Wh/l and full-depth of discharge cycle life over 500. As customers and investors visited our production site and saw our proprietary electrode laser patterning and high-speed stacking tools in action, their confidence in our production capability was sufficient to generate revenue and secure additional funding.—Harrold Rust, Enovix co-founder and CEO The facility is expected to produce batteries for delivery in late 2020 and to reach a run-rate of 8 million units per year as it ramps in 2021 and 2022. Enovix has also signed new agreements with two additional portable electronics companies. The company now has agreements with four category leading customers to develop and produce silicon-anode lithium-ion batteries for portable electronic devices, worth an anticipated $250 million in annual revenue once fully ramped. Based on successfully deploying 3D Silicon Lithium-ion Battery technology in portable electronic devices, Enovix is now working with leading international automobile manufacturers to develop its patented battery technology for the electric vehicle (EV) market. Initial R&D indicates that cells can achieve gravimetric energy density greater than 340 Wh/kg at a cost equivalent to or below present industry forecasts. Enovix expects to supply the EV market within 5 years. The company is backed by strategic relationships with Intel, Qualcomm and Cypress and more than $200 million in venture, strategic and private funding. It has been awarded more than 70 patents and has more than 40 applications pending.
Fortescue and ATCO to explore the deployment of hydrogen vehicle fueling infrastructure in W Australia; renewable H2
Fortescue Metals Group and ATCO Australia have signed an agreement to explore the deployment of hydrogen vehicle fueling infrastructure in Western Australia. Under the agreement, the two parties will collaborate to build and operate a combined hydrogen production and refueling facility at ATCO’s existing facility in Jandakot in the Perth metropolitan area, with the possibility of wider deployment across the State. The initial refueling facility will provide Fortescue, ATCO and approved third parties with the opportunity to refuel vehicles capable of utilizing hydrogen as the primary fuel source, including a fleet of Toyota Mirai fuel cell electric vehicles which have been made available by Toyota Motor Corporation Australia. The project will serve as a showcase for hydrogen mobility in WA and support the transition to the next generation of zero-emission transport. Fortescue Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Gaines said the company is committed to working with other organizations to position Australia as a leader in the global hydrogen economy. ATCO Managing Director in Australia Pat Creaghan said ATCO is committed to expediting the global transition to a net-zero emissions balance in the future and sees a significant opportunity for hydrogen to play a role in that future. ATCO’s Clean Energy Innovation Hub has been generating and testing the use of renewable hydrogen for more than six months in gas blending and power applications. The Hub provides a fantastic base from which to partner with Fortescue to contribute to Western Australia’s burgeoning renewable hydrogen industry. We look forward to working with Fortescue capitalize on Western Australia’s natural advantages for the benefit of the environment, the economy and the community—Pat Creaghan ATCO and Fortescue have sought funding under the State Government’s Renewable Hydrogen Fund to support the development of this infrastructure, and are awaiting the outcome of this submission.
Skoltech researchers develop titanium fluoride phosphate cathode material for potassium-ion batteries
Researchers from the Skoltech Center for Energy Science and Technology (CEST) in Russia have developed a new cathode material based on titanium fluoride phosphate which enabled achieving superior energy performance and stable operation at high discharge currents in potassium-ion batteries. The results of their study are published in an open-access paper in Nature Communications. The rapid progress in mass-market applications of metal-ion batteries intensifies the development of economically feasible electrode materials based on earth-abundant elements. Here, we report on a record-breaking titanium-based positive electrode material, KTiPO4F, exhibiting a superior electrode potential of 3.6 V in a potassium-ion cell, which is extraordinarily high for titanium redox transitions. We hypothesize that such an unexpectedly major boost of the electrode potential benefits from the synergy of the cumulative inductive effect of two anions and charge/vacancy ordering. Carbon-coated electrode materials display no capacity fading when cycled at 5C rate for 100 cycles, which coupled with extremely low energy barriers for potassium-ion migration of 0.2 eV anticipates high-power applications. Our contribution shows that the titanium redox activity traditionally considered as “reducing” can be upshifted to near-4V electrode potentials thus providing a playground to design sustainable and cost-effective titanium-containing positive electrode materials with promising electrochemical characteristics.—Fedotov et al. The rapid development of electric transport and renewable energy sources calls for commercially accessible, safe and inexpensive energy storage solutions based on metal-ion batteries. The high price of the existing lithium-ion technology is a weakness further exacerbated by speculations of supply limitations for lithium and cobalt essential to the production of the cathode. Skoltech scientists succeeded in creating a commercially attractive advanced cathode material based on titanium fluoride phosphate, KTiPO4F, exhibiting a high electrochemical potential and unprecedented stability at high charge/discharge rates. This is an exceptional result that literally destroys the paradigm prevailing in the battery community and claiming that titanium-based materials can perform as anodes only due to titanium’s low potential. We believe that the discovery of the high-voltage KTiPO4F can give fresh impetus to the search and development of new titanium-containing cathode materials with unique electrochemical properties.—Professor Stanislav Fedotov Resources Fedotov, S.S., Luchinin, N.D., Aksyonov, D.A. et al. (2020) “Titanium-based potassium-ion battery positive electrode with extraordinarily high redox potential.” Nat Commun 11, 1484 doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-15244-6
Photocatalytic optical fibers convert water into hydrogen
Researchers at the University of Southampton have transformed optical fibers into photocatalytic microreactors that convert water into hydrogen fuel using solar energy. The technology combines, for the first time, microstructured optical fiber technology with photocatalysis, creating a photocatalytic microreactor coated with TiO2, decorated with palladium nanoparticles. The microstructured optical fiber canes (MOFCs) with photocatalyst generate hydrogen that could power a wide range of sustainable applications. The researchers have published their proof-of-concept in ACS Photonics and will now establish wider studies that demonstrate the scalability of the platform. Computerized tomography of a MOFC, showing buildup of TiO2 (light blue particles) in the triangular channels. Zepler Institute, University of Southampton. The MOFCs have been developed as high pressure microfluidic reactors by each housing multiple capillaries that pass a chemical reaction along the length of the cane. Alongside hydrogen generation from water, the multi-disciplinary research team is investigating photochemical conversion of carbon dioxide into synthetic fuel. The unique methodology presents a potentially feasible solution for renewable energy, the elimination of greenhouse gases and sustainable chemical production. Being able to combine light-activated chemical processes with the excellent light propagation properties of optical fibers has huge potential. In this work our unique photoreactor shows significant improvements in activity compared to existing systems. This as an ideal example of chemical engineering for a 21st century green technology.—Dr Matthew Potter, Chemistry Research Fellow and lead author Advances in optical fiber technology have played a major role in telecommunications, data storage and networking potential in recent years. This latest research involves experts from Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC), part of the Zepler Institute for Photonics and Nanoelectronics, to tap into the fibers’ unprecedented control of light propagation. The scientists coat the fibers with titanium oxide, decorated with palladium nanoparticles. This approach allows the coated canes to simultaneously serve as both host and catalyst for the continuous indirect water splitting, with methanol as a sacrificial reagent. Optical fibers form the physical layer of the remarkable four billion kilometer long global telecommunications network, currently bifurcating and expanding at a rate of over Mach 20, i.e. over 14,000 ft/sec. For this project, we repurposed this extraordinary manufacturing capability using facilities here at the ORC, to fabricate highly scalable microreactors made from pure silica glass with ideal optical transparency properties for solar photocatalysis.—Dr Pier Sazio, study co-author from the Zepler Institute The research builds upon findings from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPRC)-funded Photonic fiber technologies for solar fuels catalysis (EP/N013883/1). Resources Matthew E. Potter, Daniel J. Stewart, Alice E. Oakley, Richard P. Boardman, Tom Bradley, Pier J. A. Sazio, Robert Raja (2020) “Combining Photocatalysis and Optical Fiber Technology toward Improved Microreactor Design for Hydrogen Generation with Metallic Nanoparticles”, ACS Photonics doi: 10.1021/acsphotonics.9b01577
Aalborg U study finds biogas and biomethane reduce dry biomass consumption by up to 16%
Replacing dry biomass-derived fuels with biogas and biogas-derived fuels in certain sectors of the energy system can reduce dry biomass consumption by up to 16% when used for power, heat or industrial sectors, according to a new study by researchers By Aalborg University in Denmark. This paper analyses the role of biogas and biogas-derived fuels in a 100% renewable energy system for Denmark using the energy system analysis tool EnergyPLAN. The end-fuels evaluated are biogas, biomethane and electromethane. First, a reference scenario without biogas is created. Then biogas, biomethane and electromethane replace dry biomass-derived fuels in different sectors of the energy system. If biogas feedstock is free for energy purposes, this brings significant energy system cost reductions, but when the energy sector pays for the biogas feedstock, then savings are lower, in which case biogas and biomethane still reduce the energy system costs for use in power, heat or industrial sectors. Replacement of liquid bio-electrofuels for transport with biomethane shows slight cost reductions, but considerably higher costs when using electromethane. The marginal cost difference to the reference scenario for utilization of biogas in different parts of the energy system with different levels of manure costs with fixed biomass price of €6/GJ. Korberg et al. For power, heat, industry and partly transport, electromethane is economically unfeasible, independent of the dry biomass costs. Biogas should be used directly or in the form of biomethane. It is a limited resource dependent on the structure of the agricultural sector, but it can supplement other renewable energy sources. Resources Andrei David Korberg, Iva Ridjan Skov, Brian Vad Mathiesen (2020) “The role of biogas and biogas-derived fuels in a 100% renewable energy system in Denmark,” Energy, Volume 199, 117426 doi: 10.1016/j.energy.2020.117426
Toyota establishes Toyota Green Energy to conduct renewable energy power generation business
Toyota Motor Corporation, Chubu Electric Power Co., Inc., and Toyota Tsusho Corporation agreed to establish Toyota Green Energy LLP for the purposes of obtaining and managing renewable energy sources in Japan and supplying electric power from renewable energy sources to the Toyota Group in the future. Under Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050, Toyota plans to reduce the environmental impact from automobiles to as close to zero as possible and at the same time engage in activities that contribute to the global environment and society. The clean energy to be supplied through this business is expected to reduce CO2 emissions from plants and other facilities to zero in the future and to contribute to the realization of a low-carbon society. Chubu Electric Power has been increasing the use of renewable energy in its drive to expand the scope of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) management and to contribute to resolving issues relating to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). By participating as a business partner in the activities of the Toyota Group to create a low-carbon society, the company will contribute to improving Japan’s energy self-sufficiency rate and reducing CO2 emissions. Toyota Tsusho has engaged in the renewable energy business for more than 30 years, from development to operation of power stations, with a focus on wind power and solar power generation. The company plans to make use of its expertise in management of such business in this project in order to foster the transition to a low-carbon society. Going forward, Toyota Green Energy will achieve sustainable and competitive energy by maintaining sustainable practices through cost reductions and extending the lifespans of and replacing existing facilities.
Ricardo report analyzes global development of high voltage fast charging for EVs
A new report published by Ricardo highlights the rapidly changing landscape for fast-charging electric vehicles, and the implications for vehicle makers, supply chains, charging infrastructure providers and equipment manufacturers. The report—High Voltage and Fast Charging for Electric Vehicles—shows how automotive manufacturers and infrastructure providers in the US, China and Europe are responding to the needs of consumers, in order to make electric vehicles more attractive to users. It also addresses how technologies, standards and electric powertrain systems will need to be developed to meet these consumer needs. The publication provides an overview of the future landscape for fast-charging of electric vehicles. It includes a description of the latest battery-electric vehicle charging trends; an overview of planned fast-charging networks in Europe, the USA and China, along with fast-charging network statistics; a look at current and future development of battery-electric vehicle technology; and an overview of the capabilities needed to accept faster charging and provide longer vehicle driving ranges. The automotive industry is moving toward larger battery capacities with longer driving ranges and faster charging times. The report provides insight into current and future electric vehicle specifications. The broader technical implications of high voltage charging on infrastructure, battery life, battery chemistry and vehicle electrical architecture are also addressed.
IPSOS study finds private cars jump to 1st place as preferred means of transport in China; protection against infection
In a recent study by the market research institute Ipsos, two out of three respondents say that they prefer their own car to public transport—twice as many as before the COVID-19 outbreak. At the end of February, Ipsos asked 1,620 Chinese citizens about their mobility preferences, and the fear of the coronavirus in changing their habits. Private cars jumped from 3rd to 1st place in terms of preferred means of transport, while buses and metros lost ground to a similar extent. Individually driven two-wheelers, on the other hand, maintained second place. The consulting firm Kantar came to similar conclusions as the Ipsos study. “Due to the epidemic, people will rethink how they move around in the future,” says a study on the consequences of the corona situation for the Chinese industry. This could increase the desire to buy a car. One of the key findings of the Ipsos study: Two-thirds of all respondents who do not currently own a vehicle want to buy a car within six months. For three out of four first-time buyers, protection against infection is a key reason for their purchase intention. In the ranking of purchase arguments, health is thus clearly ahead of motives such as being family-friendly or flexibility. According to studies, around 80% of all vehicles in the Chinese entry-level segment go to customers who are buying a car for the first time in their lives. After a deep plunge in February, the Chinese car market is currently showing signs of recovery. I expect the car business to reach last year’s level in early summer.—Stephan Wöllenstein, CEO of Volkswagen Group China Production has already restarted at 22 of 24 Volkswagen locations in China. Volkswagen hopes that the JETTA brand, which Volkswagen launched on the Chinese market last year, has a particular opportunity. JETTA is targeted to young customers who are buying their own car for the first time. With almost 30,000 deliveries in the first three months, JETTA had the most successful launch of all new car brands in China.
GM and JVs deliveries in China down 43.3% in Q1; Wuling introduces EVs
General Motors and its joint ventures delivered 461,716 vehicles in China in the first quarter, down 43.3% from 813,973 in Q1 2019. Cadillac deliveries topped 26,800 units (-40% y-o-y). The CT4 sedan being launched in China this month will give Cadillac its strongest and most complete lineup ever, enabling it to compete in all key luxury segments. Buick had deliveries of nearly 129,600 units (-42.5% y-o-y). Preorders for the all-new GL8 Avenir luxury MPV family, which added four-seat and six-seat variants, commenced in March. Chevrolet deliveries surpassed 50,900 units (-54.7% y-o-y). The brand likewise began accepting preorders for the Blazer SUV to tap into the popular large SUV segment. Baojun sold nearly 82,200 vehicles (-51.5% y-o-y) and Wuling deliveries exceeded 172,200 units (-34.3% y-o-y). In response to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, GM shifted its primary focus to supporting control and prevention of the coronavirus while also ensuring the safety of its employees as well as company and dealer operations. The company’s brands adopted new tactics to stay connected with their customers and offer them peace of mind. New sales channels and methods such as livestreaming and touch-free vehicle services were introduced across the brands to reach out to customers in a secure way. GM reinforced its commitment to a zero-emissions future and is on track to exceed its plan of introducing 10 new energy vehicles in the domestic market between 2016 and 2020. The Chevrolet Menlo, the Chevrolet brand’s first all-electric vehicle in China, was launched in February. The all-new E300 will soon join the E100 and E200 in Baojun’s electric vehicle portfolio. Wuling also revealed its first all-electric models, the Hong Guang MINI EV and the Rong Guang electric van. Hong Guang MINI EV In addition to electric vehicles, GM is maintaining its focus on the introduction of luxury vehicles as well as midsize/large SUVs and MPVs—the segments with the strongest increase in customer demand. Wuling Rong Guang EV. The latest member of the popular Rong Guang family will be available later this month. Rong Guang EV The minivan has a range of 300 kilometers on a single charge and supports DC fast charging. It has been put through more than 100,000 kilometers of high-intensity road testing. The battery has undergone fire, water, collision, vibration and other testing to ensure it will offer a high level of safety. The Rong Guang electric vehicle has the same dimensions as the model powered by a standard internal combustion engine. It also has the same cargo space of 5.1 cubic meters.
Hyundai Motor Group appoints Bell Textron exec as Vice President of Urban Air Mobility Division
Hyundai Motor Group appointed J. Scott Drennan as Vice President of its Urban Air Mobility (UAM) Division. Drennan will report to Jaiwon Shin, Executive Vice President (EVP) and Head of UAM Division. In this role, Drennan will lead UAM research and development. Prior to joining Hyundai, Drennan spent more than 25 years with Bell Textron and made significant contributions to the V-22, the AW609 and the V-280, all vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft. He most recently served as Vice President of Innovation at Bell Textron, where he was responsible for developing advanced configurations, technologies and vertical lift missions to advance Bell Textron’s commercial and military business. Through its UAM Division, Hyundai Motor Group aims to provide innovative smart mobility solutions to address ever-increasing traffic congestion in megacities around the world that suffer economic and environmental tolls due to lost productivity and air pollution. Earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the Hyundai Motor Company presented its vision to offer an integrated mobility solution, including UAM, Purpose Built Vehicles (PBV) and Hub, that will help vitalize cities and improve people’s lives. Hyundai’s air vehicle concept. The Group showcased a concept personal air vehicle (PAV) model S-A1 that was built in collaboration with Uber Elevate, as Uber and Hyundai agreed to work together in the aerial ridesharing field. Drennan started his career as an engineer in 1990 as a co-op student with GE Aircraft Engines. Since then, he held various positions of increasing responsibility in engineering and program management. Prior to his innovation role at Bell Textron, he was a functional director of air vehicle integration and a program manager and chief engineer on the AW609 commercial tiltrotor program. His experience includes applied research, new aircraft development, certification and engineering support to experimental and production manufacturing. Drennan was appointed an Aeronautics Committee member on the NASA Advisory Council in June 2018.