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DOE collaborating with Michigan to advance hydrogen and fuel cells
The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) aiming to enhance collaboration on hydrogen and fuel cell research and development (R&D) with the state of Michigan to promote private investment and domestic job creation.
Through this MOU, MEDC will leverage capabilities at DOE’s national laboratories to enhance analysis and data collection to guide future R&D.
Michigan and DOE will also work to develop emerging hydrogen infrastructure technologies and grow the domestic supply chain.
DOE’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office focuses on advancing an innovative portfolio of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies through early-stage applied research and technology development. Technology R&D includes hydrogen production (from diverse domestic resources, including renewable, fossil, and nuclear resources); infrastructure development (including hydrogen delivery and storage); and fuel cells for transportation, stationary, and portable applications.
Through its H2@Scale initiative, the office brings together stakeholders to advance affordable hydrogen utilization to increase revenue opportunities in multiple energy sectors.
In Europe, Ford introduces Mondeo hybrid wagon, 2.0L EcoBlue diesel for Mondeo
Ford revealed the enhanced Mondeo—including a new Hybrid Wagon variant for the first time—at the Brussels Motor Show in Belgium. Further significant Mondeo powertrain upgrades include:
Ford’s advanced 2.0-liter EcoBlue diesel engine introduced to Mondeo, for superior long-distance cruising;
Ford’s new intelligent eight-speed automatic transmission introduced to Mondeo, which adapts shift patterns to driving style for improved refinement, and is controlled using a stylish and ergonomic rotary gear shift dial;
Adaptive Cruise Control enhanced with Stop & Go joins Mondeo’s sophisticated suite of driver assistance technologies alongside Intelligent Speed Limiter, for easier driving in motorway and stop-start traffic.
Combined with the benefits of a low CO2 petrol engine we expect the Hybrid to account for up to 50 percent of sales. At the same time we are introducing an all-new diesel powertrain with SCR (selective catalytic reduction) technology to meet and exceed the latest Euro 6d Temp emissions standards, with an all-new 8-speed automatic transmission available.
—Roelant de Waard, vice president, Marketing, Sales & Service, Ford of Europe
Ford has sold more than 250,000 Mondeos in Europe since the fourth generation model began reaching customers in 2015.
In both wagon and coupe-inspired four-door body styles, the self-charging Mondeo Hybrid is capable of pure electric driving and offers silent key start capability for refinement particularly in city and stop-start driving scenarios. The new Mondeo Hybrid wagon delivers the driving range and freedom offered by a traditional combustion engine with the efficiency and refinement of an electric powertrain for customers who require greater load-carrying capability.
The latest generation of Mondeo Hybrid powertrain control software delivers a smooth, linear response to acceleration demand for a refined driving experience. The enhanced powertrain software is also more effective at using the engine’s torque to deliver greater fuel efficiency and performance—adjusting transmission ratios to utilize the highest engine torque at lowest engine speed.
The hybrid powertrain delivers 187 PS, and combines a specially-developed 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle gasoline engine; electric motor; generator; 1.4 kWh lithium-ion battery; and a Ford-developed power-split automatic transmission that emulates the performance of a continuously-variable transmission.
Regenerative braking technology captures up to 90% of the energy normally lost during braking to replenish the battery, contributing to anticipated CO2 emissions from 96 g/km and fuel efficiency from 4.2 l/100 km (56 mpg US) for the four-door, and anticipated CO2 emissions from 101 g/km and fuel efficiency from 4.4 l/100 km (53.4 mpg US) for the wagon.
Further technologies designed to help drivers optimize efficiency without sacrificing comfort include:
Ford’s SmartGauge interface for monitoring fuel and energy consumption with features including Brake Coach that encourages gradual braking to help return more energy to the battery.
Electric power-assisted steering; and electrically-powered air-conditioning, powertrain cooling and vacuum systems, which significantly reduce drag on the engine.
A specially-developed exhaust gas heat recovery system that enables faster cabin warming.
The new wagon body style provides 403 liters (14.23 ft3) load capacity beneath the cargo cover for Mondeo Hybrid customers with the rear seats in place, and up to 1,508 liters (53.25 ft3) with the rear seats folded, while a flat floor makes loading and unloading of large or bulky items easier. Additional storage is concealed beneath the load floor.
The top-of-the-range Mondeo Hybrid Vignale is also now offered in both wagon and four-door body styles.
2.0L EcoBlue diesel. Fordis offering its advanced 2.0-liter EcoBlue diesel engine in Mondeo for the first time, delivering the driving performance of a larger capacity engine alongside the fuel efficiency and low CO2 emissions synonymous with a smaller engine capacity. The 2.0-liter EcoBlue engine is offered with:
120 PS, delivering from an anticipated 117 g/km CO2 emissions and from 4.5 l/100 km (52.2 mpg US) fuel efficiency
150 PS, delivering from an anticipated 118 g/km CO2 emissions and from 4.5 l/100 km fuel efficiency
190 PS, delivering from an anticipated 130 g/km CO2 emissions and from 4.9 l/100 km (48 mpg US) fuel efficiency
An integrated intake system with mirror-image porting for optimized engine breathing; low-inertia turbocharger that enhances low-end torque; and high-pressure fuel injection system that is more responsive, quieter and offers more precise fuel delivery than the outgoing 2.0-liter TDCi diesel engines, all help meet the latest stringent Euro 6d Temp emissions standards. Standard SCR emissions after-treatment contributes to improved NOx reduction.
Ford’s new eight-speed automatic transmission—offered with 150 PS and 190 PS 2.0-litre EcoBlue engines—has been engineered to optimize further fuel efficiency and deliver responsive performance and smooth, swift gearshifts. The transmission features:
Adaptive Shift Scheduling, which assesses individual driving styles to optimise gearshift timings. The system can identify uphill and downhill gradients and hard cornering, and adjust gearshifts accordingly for a more stable, engaging and refined driving experience.
Adaptive Shift Quality Control, which assesses vehicle and environmental information to help adjust clutch pressures for consistently smooth gearshifts. The technology can also adjust shift smoothness to suit driving style.
A six-speed manual transmission also is offered, and 2.0-liter EcoBlue Mondeo models can be equipped with Ford’s Intelligent All-Wheel Drive technology, which measures how the car’s wheels are gripping the road surface and can adjust torque delivery up to 50/50 between the front and rear wheels in under 20 milliseconds.
BMW Group moves step closer to holding 75% of BMW Brilliance Automotive in China
The long-term expansion of the BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd. (BBA) Joint Venture has achieved a significant milestone: a Special General Meeting of Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd. (CBA) in Hongkong has approved the sale of a 25% shareholding in BBA to the BMW Group. Around 63% of the represented shareholders voted in favor of this step.
As announced in October 2018 on the 15th anniversary of BBA, the BMW Group intends to increase its stake in BBA from 50% to 75%; both partners signed a corresponding agreement. As part of the agreement the contractual term of the joint venture, which would currently expire in 2028, is to be extended to 2040. The transaction remains subject to the approval of the relevant authorities. The deal is scheduled to close in 2022 at the latest when the joint venture requirement for auto manufacturing in China will be lifted.
It is the BMW Group’s goal to further strengthen its long-term cooperation with CBA; increase production capacity in Shenyang; and continue to expand the localization of additional models including new energy vehicles (NEVs). Therefore, an investment of more than €3 billion in new and existing plant structures in Shenyang over the coming years was announced in October: In Tiexi, the site’s capacity will double.
With its highly flexible production system, the new plant in Tiexi will be able to build vehicles with fully electric, partially electric and conventional drivetrains on a single production line. Further extensive remodelling and expansion measures will also be carried out at the neighbouring plant in Dadong.
Its structure will be expanded to accommodate future BMW model variants and the expected increase in customer demand. As a result, from the early 2020s the total annual production capacity of BMW automobiles at the BBA plants will gradually increase to 650,000 units, creating 5,000 new jobs.
GlobalData: China to account for 44% of Asia’s crude oil refining capacity in 2023
China will drive the majority of growth in the crude oil refining industry in Asia between 2018 and 2023, contributing 44% of Asia’s crude oil refining capacity in 2023, according to GlobalData.
The company’s report: ‘China Crude Oil Refinery Outlook to 2023’ finds that the total refining capacity of China in 2018 was 15,994 thousand barrels per day (mbd)—46% of Asia’s total refining capacity in 2018. The country’s total refining capacity is forecast to increase at an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 4.5% to 20,035 mbd in 2023. China’s planned and announced crude oil refining capacity is expected to increase from 460 mbd in 2018 to 3,721 mbd in 2023.
China is expanding its refinery capacity due to its industrial growth, and growing demand from the transportation sector. The refining capacity additions will drive China’s crude imports, and will further improve the country’s capability to export petroleum products.
—Soorya Tejomoortula, Oil & Gas Analyst at GlobalData
GlobalData also forecasts that China’s total crude distillation unit capacity will increase from 15,954 mbd in 2018 to 19,994 mbd in 2023. There will be no condensate splitter capacity additions in China during the outlook period, which will remain the same at 36 mbd.
The country’s total coking capacity, catalytic cracker capacity and the hydrocracking capacity is expected to increase during the outlook period. The total coking capacity is expected to increase from 1,991 mbd in 2018 to 2,371 mbd in 2023. China’s total catalytic cracker unit capacity is expected to increase from 4,359 mbd in 2018 to 5,532 mbd in 2023. Over the five year period, the hydrocracking unit capacity of the country is set to increase to 2,922 mbd from 1,846 mbd.
China has a total of 179 active crude oil refineries and around 12 planned and announced refineries are expected to commence operations by 2023. The top three active refineries in China, in terms of the crude distillation unit capacity, are Maoming, Zhenhai and Huizhou with 472 mbd, 462 mbd and 440 mbd, respectively. Dayushan Island refinery will be the largest planned refinery with planned crude oil refining capacity of 800 mbd in 2023, followed by Dalian III and Jieyang with 400 mbd each.
Hyundai Mobis, KT collaborating to develop connected vehicle systems using 5G and C-V2X
Hyundai Mobis and KT Corp. have launched 5G communication in the Hyundai Mobis proving ground in Seosan, Chungcheongnam-do, and have begun to collaborate to develop connected vehicle technology by actively utilizing this network.
Source: Hyundai Mobis
KT built the infrastructure in the Seosan proving ground; Hyundai Mobis is the first Korea-based automotive parts maker to cooperate with a common carrier for development of the connected vehicle technology.
The two companies utilized the new 5G communication network to start developing the real-time navigation update technology and the Cellular Vehicle to X (C-V2X) technology. C-V2X (Cellular Vehicle to X) uses mobile communication networks to share vast amounts of data in real time with the vehicle, infrastructure, other vehicles and pedestrians. The partners plan to secure more related technologies by the end of this year.
When the traffic information collected by preceding vehicles is sent to the server, the navigation update technology reflects it on the map in real time and delivers it to vehicles. It is a core technology in the era of autonomous driving that enables safer and expedient driving by updating optimal driving routes.
The 4G network-based navigation programs currently offered by carriers and IT companies can take several minutes to dozens of minutes to update the map and recalculate routes. Using a 5G network that is 100 times faster than 4G, it is possible to reflect traffic information in real time.
To this end, Hyundai Mobis is developing a technology that collects traffic information through the various sensors of M.Billy, its autonomous vehicle, and extracts key information that affects driving, and transmits it to the server. KT supports connection between the 5G terminals in M.Billy and the 5G communication base stations.
Hyundai Mobis will oversee the control system installed in vehicles, and KT is to develop the technology that uses the traffic information server and the infrastructure to deliver Korea Expressway Corporation information, traffic light information and sharp curve warnings to vehicles.
As the connected vehicle is completed with organic connections with the outside world, inter-industry cooperation to preoccupy related technologies is active in this area. As we are working with a trustworthy partner, such as KT which retains not only world-class communication technologies, but also a high understanding of automobiles, we will be able to secure competitive connected vehicle technologies that can lead the global market.
—Jang Jae-ho, head of the Electrical & Electronics R&D Center of Hyundai Mobis
Study finds link between sleep apnea and increases in PM2.5, NO2
In a new study published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society, researchers from the University of Washington, Harvard University and Columbia University report a link between obstructive sleep apnea and increases in two of the most common air pollutants: fine particulate pollution (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a traffic-related pollutant.
According to the Mayo Clinic, sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts.
Sleep disruption and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are associated with hypertension, diabetes, stroke, ischemic heart disease, cancer, and cardiac death. Proposed mechanisms include altered autonomic tone, increased inflammation and metabolic dysregulation. Similarly, air pollution has been linked with cerebrovascular disease, cancer and cardiovascular morbidity and overall mortality, attributed in part to an increased systemic inflammatory response to fine particles. Ambient air pollution consists of fine particulate matter as well as gaseous products of combustion (oxides of nitrogen), produced through burning fossil fuels from automobiles emissions to power plants. Although there is increasing interest in the influence of the environment on sleep, there is limited research evaluating the relationship between sleep and air pollution.
—Billings et al.
Prior studies have shown that air pollution impacts lung and heart health, but only a few studies have looked at how air pollution might affect sleep. It seemed likely that air pollution was detrimental to sleep, given that air pollution causes upper airway irritation, swelling and congestion, and may also affect the parts of the brain and central nervous system that control breathing patterns and sleep.
—Dr. Martha Billings, lead study author and associate professor of medicine at the University of Washington
The researchers analyzed data from 1,974 participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) who also enrolled in both MESA’s Sleep and Air Pollution studies. (MESA is a longitudinal study of cardiovascular disease among adults aged 45-84 years.) The participants (average age 68) were a diverse group: 36% were white, 28% black, 24% Hispanic and 12% Asian. Nearly half (48%) of the participants had sleep apnea.
Using air pollution measurements gathered from hundreds of MESA Air and Environmental Protection Agency monitoring sites in six US cities, plus local environment features and sophisticated statistical tools, the research team was able to estimate air pollution exposures at each participant’s home.
The study found a participant’s odds of having sleep apnea increased by:
The researchers adjusted their findings for factors that may have biased their results, including body mass index, family income, diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking and the social economic status of the neighborhood in which participants lived.
The researchers also looked at sleep efficiency—the percentage of time in bed spent actually asleep compared to total time in bed—using a device called a wrist actigraph that measures small movements. They did not find an association between air pollution and sleep efficiency when they adjusted for those same factors.
Because the study was not a randomized, controlled trial, it cannot prove a cause and effect relationship between air pollution and sleep apnea. The researchers said another study limitation was that they could not adjust their findings for noise and light pollution, which may affect sleep.
This study demonstrates an association of ambient air pollution exposure with sleep apnea. Chronic exposure to greater levels of air pollution may adversely influence breathing during sleep, suggesting possible etiologies of sleep health disparities. Future studies are needed to discern the effects of specific air pollutants from other neighborhood and regional features, to explore possible mechanisms, and to evaluate if improving air quality improves sleep health.
—Billings et al.
Martha E Billings, Diane Gold, Adam Szpiro, Carrie P Aaron, Neal Jorgensen, Amanda Gassett, Peter J Leary, Joel D. Kaufman, Susan R Redline (2018) “The Association of Ambient Air Pollution with Sleep Apnea: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis” Annals ATS doi: 10.1513/AnnalsATS.201804-248OC
Large-scale study finds air pollution increases ER visits for breathing problems; rate depends on age, pollutant and lung disease
As levels of ozone and fine particulate pollution (PM2.5) rise, more patients end up in the ER with breathing problems, according to the largest US study of air pollution and respiratory emergency room visits of patients of all ages. The study was published online in the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
In “Age-specific Associations of Ozone and PM2.5 with Respiratory Emergency Department Visits in the U.S.,” Heather M. Strosnider, PhD, MPH, and colleagues report on the associations between ground-level ozone and fine particulate pollution and ER visits for asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and respiratory infections.
Previous studies of ER visits related to respiratory illness have shown that children are particularly susceptible to air pollution, but those studies were mostly confined to a single city, said Dr. Strosnider, lead health scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Environmental Public Health Tracking Program (Tracking Program).
In the new study, the researchers leveraged the data available through the Tracking Program to look at the association between air pollution and respiratory ER visits across hundreds of US counties.
Ozone, the main ingredient of smog, and fine particulate pollution, microscopic particles that penetrate deep into the lung, are two important forms of air pollution in the US.
The study looked at the levels of these two pollutants in 869 counties in the week prior to an ER visit for a breathing problem. The study included nearly 40 million ER visits for breathing problems from the counties, which represent 45% of the US population.
The researchers divided patients into three groups: children under the age of 19, adults under the age of 65 and adults over the age of 65. The study found:
An association between ozone and respiratory ER visits among all age groups, with the strongest association in adults under age 65. Per 20 parts per billion (ppb) increase in ozone, the rate of an ER visit for respiratory problems increased 1.7% among children, 5.1% among adults under 65 and 3.3% among adults over 65.
Increased levels of ozone resulted in increased ER visits for asthma, acute respiratory infections, COPD and pneumonia. Overall the association was strongest for asthma among adults under 65.
An association was found between fine particulate pollution (PM5) and respiratory ER visits among children and adults under the age of 65, with the strongest association among children. Per 10 microgram per cubic meter (µg/m3) increase in PM2.5, the rate of an ER visit increased 2.4% in children and 0.8% among adults under 65.
Increased levels of fine particulate matter resulted in increased visits for asthma, acute respiratory infections and pneumonia.
The authors wrote that their study findings support the Environmental Protection Agency’s determination of a likely causal relationship between PM2.5 and respiratory effects and a causal relationship between ozone and respiratory effects. However, they emphasized that their study also found important variations in those relationships based on the age of the patient, the pollutant, and the respiratory illness under consideration.
Dr. Strosnider said that study findings should guide efforts to protect those most vulnerable to air pollution.
For example, we observed strong associations for ozone among adults under 65 and for fine particulate pollution among children. This information can be used by public health officials and governments to make important decisions about air pollution and respiratory health in our communities.
Study limitations include the fact that county air pollution measurements do not measure personal exposure and counties in the Northwest and mid-Atlantic were under-represented in the study.
This study was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Environmental Public Health Tracking Program.
Heather M Strosnider, Howard H Chang, Lyndsey A Darrow, Yang Liu, Ambarish Vaidyanathan, Matthew J Strickland (2018) “Age-specific associations of ozone and PM2.5 with respiratory emergency department visits in the US” Am J Respir Crit Care Med doi: 10.1164/rccm.201806-1147OC
Colorado Governor issues Executive Order supporting transition to ZEVs
On Thursday, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order outlining a suite of initiatives and strategies aimed at supporting a transition to zero-emission vehicles in the state.
Colorado has already taken steps to encourage the transition to electrified transportation for passenger cars and heavy-duty vehicles such as buses. The state offers a $5,000 tax credit for passenger electric vehicles (EV)s; partners with the private sector to build fast charging stations along Colorado’s major highways; allocates a portion of Volkswagen settlement funds to support vehicle electrification; and has adopted a goal of 940,000 EVs on the road by 2030.
The state is also a signatory to the Regional Electric Vehicles for the West (REV West) Memorandum of Understanding which creates a framework for collaboration in developing an Intermountain West Electric Corridor. The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission also recently adopted Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) standards.
The executive order includes the following directives:
Create an interdepartmental transportation electrification workgroup, to develop, coordinate and implement state programs and strategies to support widespread transportation electrification across the state.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shall develop a rule to establish a Colorado Zero Emission vehicle program, and shall propose that rule to the Air Quality Control Commission no later than May 2019.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) shall revise the state Beneficiary Mitigation Plan, which describes how the state will allocate nearly $70 million received in trust funds due to the settlement of the federal Volkswagen emissions case. The revised plan will focus all remaining, eligible investments on supporting electrification of transportation, including transit buses, school buses, and trucks.
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) shall develop a department electric vehicle policy and plan designed to assure that state transportation investments and programs support widespread transportation electrification aligned with the articulated goals and strategies outlined by the above mentioned workgroup.
DOE to issue a funding opportunity announcement on H2@Scale
The US Department of Energy DOE intends to issue a Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0002022) to advance the H2@Scale concept. The focus of H2@Scale is to enable affordable and reliable large-scale hydrogen generation, transport, storage, and utilization in the United States across multiple sectors. (Earlier post.)
The US produces more than 10 million metric tons of hydrogen per year, used primarily for petroleum refining and fertilizer production. However, there are a number of opportunities to increase hydrogen generation and utilization across the country.
H2@Scale is an initiative to enable affordable and reliable large-scale hydrogen generation, transport, storage, and utilization in the United States across sectors.
For example, electrolyzers can produce hydrogen by splitting water when power generation exceeds demand. This can reduce or prevent curtailment of renewables, optimize baseload (e.g., nuclear power) assets, and enable grid stability and resiliency, while also producing hydrogen as a fuel or feedstock for end users. In addition, hydrogen produced from existing baseload assets can be stored, distributed, and used as a fuel for transportation, stationary power, process or building heat, and industrial sectors (e.g. steel manufacturing), creating an additional revenue stream for those assets.
The DOE’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) anticipates that the FOA may include the following Areas of Interest:
Area of Interest 1 ‐ Early Stage H2@Scale‐Enabling R&D
Topic 1: Advanced Hydrogen Storage and Infrastructure R&D. Reducing the cost of hydrogen storage and infrastructure technologies would allow hydrogen and fuel cells to be more accessible to every day consumers, whether through vehicles, stationary power, or portable power applications. This topic seeks early stage concepts with the potential to reduce the cost of the storage, use, and transportation of hydrogen.
The two focus areas are: 1A) Hydrogen carrier materials R&D, with a focus on bulk storage and transport of hydrogen (selected projects will be integrated into the Hydrogen Materials—Advanced Research Consortium (HyMARC)); and 1B) Hydrogen materials compatibility R&D, with a focus on metallic and non‐metallic materials required across the infrastructure value chain (selected projects will be integrated into the Hydrogen Materials (H‐Mat) consortium).
Topic 2: Innovative Concepts for Hydrogen Production and Utilization. Hydrogen production and utilization technologies need to be more affordable for hydrogen and fuel cells to become more mainstream. This topic seeks applications for early stage foundational research in technologies for widespread hydrogen production and fuel cell concepts to hit $4 per gasoline gallon equivalent and $40/kW cost goals.
Focus areas include: 2A) Advanced water splitting materials research (selected projects will be integrated into the HydroGEN Advanced Water Splitting Materials consortium); 2B) Affordable biological hydrogen production from biomass resources; 2C) Co‐production of hydrogen and value‐add byproducts from diverse resources; and 2D) Reversible fuel cell development where hydrogen can be produced and utilized in a single system.
Area of Interest 2 ‐ H2@Scale Integrated System R&D
Topic 3: Integrated Production, Storage and Fueling System. There is little existing information available on the integration and optimization of advanced technologies for hydrogen production, storage, distribution, and utilization into a complete system and then evaluating its performance to meet consumer needs. FCTO intends to seek applications for industry‐led efforts to demonstrate a hydrogen‐focused integrated energy production, storage, and transportation fuel distribution/retailing system and to enable integrated energy systems using high or low temperature electrolyzers with the intent of advancing the H2@Scale concept.
In addition to the use of renewables, this topic seeks to encourage the use of nuclear baseload operation and systems optimization R&D for a viable value proposition.
This first of‐its‐kind R&D demonstration of an H2@Scale integrated approach can enable viable business cases for increasing asset utilization across the entire energy production to end‐use value chain. The effort would serve as a real world demonstration with multi‐ sector industry‐led validation of innovative technologies that will help guide future R&D needs. FCTO encourages regional clusters that enable economies of scale, rather than disparate, geographically unconnected demonstrations. Multiple regional end users in one demonstration can generate larger volumes (e.g. several hundred kilograms of hydrogen per day) that can reduce overall hydrogen cost.
The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) intends to issue the FOA in January/February 2019.
DOE launches Battery Recycling Prize and establishes Battery Recycling R&D Center
Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced the launch of a Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize and the establishment of an associated Battery Recycling R&D Center. These efforts aim to reclaim and recycle critical materials (e.g., cobalt and lithium) from lithium-based battery technology used in consumer electronics, defense, energy storage, and transportation applications.
Critical materials such as lithium and cobalt are both expensive and dependent on foreign sources for production. The President’s Executive Order 13817 issued in December 2017 identifies the need for “developing critical minerals recycling and reprocessing technologies” as part of a broader strategy to “ensure secure and reliable supplies of critical minerals.”
The goal of Recycling Prize and R&D Center is to develop technologies to profitably capture 90% of all lithium based battery technologies in the United States. Currently, lithium-ion batteries are collected and recycled at a rate of less than 5%.
The Battery Recycling Prize will encourage American entrepreneurs to find innovative solutions to collecting, storing, and transporting discarded lithium-ion batteries for eventual recycling. It will award cash prizes totaling $5.5 million to contestants in three progressive phases designed to accelerate the development of solutions from concept to prototype to demonstration.
The announcement, made at the Bipartisan Policy Center’s American Energy Innovation Council, also includes a $15-million investment to establish a Lithium Battery R&D Recycling Center focused on cost-effective recycling processes to recover lithium battery materials. The Center will be led by Argonne National Laboratory along with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
ARPA-E announces $11M for innovations in energy-water processing and agricultural sensing technologies; fourth, fifth OPEN+ cohorts
The US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) announced $11 million in funding for 7 projects in the fourth and fifth cohorts of the agency’s OPEN+ program: Energy-Water Technologies and Sensors for Bioenergy and Agriculture.
Energy-Water cohort teams will develop new, energy-efficient processing technologies for industrial (particularly oil and gas) and municipal wastewater.
The Sensors teams will develop ultra-low-energy distributed sensors to improve production efficiency in agriculture, boosting viability for bioenergy crops and reducing the energy and water requirements for agriculture more broadly.
Energy-Water Technologies cohort
Columbia University, Expanding the Boundaries of Autotrophic Nitrogen Removal for Energy-Efficient Clean Water Production – $1,620,136.Columbia University will produce clean water by removing nitrogen from wastewater streams through a process that uses up to 60% less energy and up to 80% less organic carbon, compared to conventional approaches. The new approach cleanses water through a bacterial process and advanced control solutions. The treated water streams can achieve the most stringent effluent water quality standards in the United States with a new cost-efficient, energy-positive model. The team will work with major public water treatment providers to develop and test its technology.
Oregon State University, Freshwater Recovery System for Hydraulic Fracturing (FRESH-Frac) Using a Thermally-Actuated Nozzle-Demister – $2,972,000.Oregon State University (OSU) is developing a system for extracting clean irrigation water from hydraulic fracturing wastewater using low-grade solar or industrial waste heat. The system would efficiently separate, condense, and reclaim water vapor from wastewater using a heat-activated swirling nozzle combined with an in-line demister. OSU’s technology would be modular, portable, scalable, and deployable at a fraction of the cost of existing treatment systems.
University of Oklahoma, An Innovative Zero-Liquid Discharge Intermediate-Cold-Liquid Eutectic-Freeze Desalination System – $608,333.The University of Oklahoma will develop a novel, zero-liquid discharge freeze system to remove dissolved salt from contaminated water, such as is produced by industrial processes like oil and gas production and fracking. The project will take advantage of how salt and water separate as water freezes, using a cooling approach that maximizes efficiency and avoids the need for energy-intensive evaporation methods. The system is constructed of low-cost material, operates under atmospheric pressure, and is suitable for highly concentrated/contaminated water.
Sensors for Bioenergy and Agriculture cohort
Geegah LLC, Integrated Gigahertz Ultrasonic Imager for Soil: Towards Targeted Water and Pesticide Delivery for Biomass Productions – $500,000.Geegah will develop an inexpensive wireless sensor, using ultrasound from MHz to GHz, that can measure water content, soil chemicals, root growth, and nematode pests (a type of small worm), allowing farmers to improve the output of biofuel crops while reducing water and pesticide use. The reusable device will include a sensor suite and radio interface that can communicate to aboveground farm vehicles. This novel integration of sensing and imaging technologies could provide a low-cost solution to precision sensor-based digital agriculture.
Northeastern University, Zero-Power Wireless Infrared Digitizing Sensors for Large Scale Energy-Smart Farm – $1,630,925.Northeastern University will develop a maintenance-free sensor network to improve energy and agricultural efficiency by monitoring water content in plants. The team’s zero-power sensors will form distributed networks that can capture, process, and communicate in-field data to help farmers determine how to maximize yield. Specifically, sensors will monitor water stress-related plant characteristics, relaying these data wirelessly to a control center in the irrigation system. The proposed technology does not consume any power in standby mode, eliminating the cost of battery replacements.
University of Colorado, Boulder, Precision Agriculture using Networks of Degradable Analytical Sensors (PANDAS) – $1,690,415.The University of Colorado, Boulder will develop 3D-printed, biodegradable soil sensors that enable farmers to precisely understand crop water and fertilizer needs. These sensor nodes can be embedded in a field, to accurately and continuously monitor soil and crop health for an entire season before degrading completely and harmlessly into the soil. This approach could enable real-time soil monitoring by farmers, enabling them to reduce agriculture’s energy footprint and water needs and increase soil carbon.
University of Utah, Low-Cost Wireless Chemical Sensor Networks for Early Detection of Invasive Parasitics in Biofuel Crops – $2,164,314. The University of Utah will develop low-power sensors to enable the early detection of invasive weeds and/or insects in biomass crop production. This would increase the overall energy efficiency of crop production. Farmers currently lose about 40% of biomass crops due to weeds and insects that ideally need to be removed within a week of detection. Early detection could minimize such a loss even with much smaller applications of pesticides and herbicides, significantly increasing the economic viability of biomass generation.
ARPA-E created OPEN+ cohorts to focus on targeted, high-value opportunities to innovate technologies and create new communities. To date, ARPA-E has announced OPEN+ projects in materials science for nuclear energy; low cost, ultra-durable concrete; and new ways to create high-value carbon and hydrogen from methane.
ARPA-E plans to announce a total of nine OPEN+ cohorts throughout late 2018 and early 2019.
Eaton introducing new power-dense inverter technology to help reduce weight, extend range of EVs
Eaton’s eMobility business has developed compact power-dense automotive inverters capable of increasing the range of electric vehicles. The inverters, which draw electricity from the battery and control how it is applied to the motor to manage power and torque, will be tested by a global automaker in first quarter 2019.
Leveraging Eaton’s expertise managing high-voltage power, eMobility developed the vehicle inverters with a power density of 35 kw/L and 98% operating efficiency. The inverter’s high-power density and compact, lightweight design help maximize range while taking up minimal space in the vehicle.
Scott Adams, senior vice president, eMobility, who spoke at AutoMobili-D, part of the 2019 North American International Auto Show, said that Eaton’s inverters can be tailored to a wide range of customer requirements and applications.
Most global automakers have different vehicle electrification strategies, so the products we are developing must be able to support a range of applications. Regardless of the strategy, electric vehicles need efficient and compact power electronics, and our new line of efficient inverters can be adapted for any application.
The inverter market for electric vehicles is still emerging. Among our advantages in this market are our established partnerships with key power electronics components suppliers and the fact that our inverters comply with the critical ISO 26262 standard for functional safety.
Eaton projects xEVs will increase to 38% of the global passenger car market by 2030, with share dispersed among battery electric, plug-in hybrid, hybrid electric and mild hybrid electric. Eaton’s inverters can be used in all types of electric vehicles, as well as other alternative fuel vehicles, such hydrogen fuel cell cars.
Eaton, with an extensive background in vehicle electrification, has high-voltage, fast-acting fuses in nearly 50 percent of global electrified cars and power electronics on a leading European battery-electric vehicle platform.
Eaton also has more than 15 years of experience in developing commercial vehicle hybrid systems and has a number of vehicle electrification products in the market, including DC/DC converters, power distribution units, battery-electric transmissions, and high-voltage fuses.
NCSU researchers create shortcut to terpene biosynthesis in E. coli
Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed an artificial enzymatic pathway for synthesizing isoprenoids, or terpenes, in E. coli. This shorter, more efficient, cost-effective and customizable pathway transforms the bacterium into a factory that can produce terpenes for use in everything from cancer drugs to biofuels. A paper on their work is published in the journal ACS Synthetic Biology.
Terpenes are a large class of naturally occurring molecules that are useful in a range of industries. In nature, terpenes are found in plants and microbes; for example, lycopene—which gives tomatoes their color—is a terpene.
Since it isn’t practical to extract these molecules directly from their natural sources, scientists can use biosynthesis to produce them. However, biosynthesizing terpenes has traditionally proven challenging.
Terpenes are difficult to biosynthesize because nature’s methods for making the building blocks of these molecules are lengthy, complicated and involve enzymes that are difficult to engineer. These difficulties in turn make it hard to engineer microbes to manufacture these molecules in large amounts.
—Gavin Williams, associate professor of chemistry at NC State and lead author
Williams works with E. coli, inserting enzymatic pathways into the bacteria that transform them into tiny molecular production factories. With former Ph.D. student Sean Lund, and current graduate student Rachael Hall, Williams designed an artificial pathway for terpene synthesis that utilizes only two enzymes, rather than the six or seven that occur in natural pathways.
Nature uses approximately two routes for terpene synthesis, and each consists of six or seven enzymes. We created a third route—a shortcut—with two enzymes that occur in nature, but that aren’t normally involved in this pathway.
One of the key enzymes Williams and his team used—an acid phosphatase (PhoN)—normally removes phosphates. But in the artificial pathway, this enzyme cleverly performs the reverse reaction.
PhoN is particularly useful here, due to its promiscuous nature. Promiscuity in enzymes means that they can carry out the same transformation on many different molecules.
The team engineered E. coli to produce several different varieties of terpene with the simplified pathway, including lycopene. They found that the new pathway was equally as productive as longer, more difficult-to-engineer pathways currently in use. Because the pathway is promiscuous, it’s customizable, Williams said.
… the prototype chemo-enzymatic pathway is a critical first step towards the construction of engineered microbial strains for bioconversion of simple scalable building blocks into complex isoprenoid scaffolds.
—Lund et al.
Next steps for the researchers include using the pathway to make terpenes that are new to nature for use in compounds that are too expensive to manufacture with current methods.
The work was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health (grant GM104258).
Sean Lund, Rachael Hall, and Gavin J Williams (2019) “An Artificial Pathway for Isoprenoid Biosynthesis Decoupled from Native Hemiterpene Metabolism” ACS Synthetic Biology doi: 10.1021/acssynbio.8b00383
Volvo CE to launch electric compact wheel loaders and excavators in 2020; stopping new diesel development on those models
In an industry-first move, Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) has announced that in 2020 it will start the launch of an electric range of Volvo-branded compact wheel loaders and compact excavators.
By mid-2020, Volvo CE will begin to launch a range of electric compact excavators (EC15 to EC27) and wheel loaders (L20 to L28), stopping new diesel engine-based development of these models.
With this move, Volvo CE is the first construction equipment manufacturer to commit to an electric future for its compact machine range. This follows an favorable reaction from the market after the successful unveiling of a number of concept machines in recent years, and by working closely with customers. This move is aligned with the Volvo Group’s strategic focus on electromobility in all business areas.
The first machines will be unveiled at the Bauma exhibition in April 2019, followed by a staged market-by-market introduction and ramp up in 2020.
While the company stresses that diesel combustion currently remains the most appropriate power source for its larger machines, electric propulsion and battery technology is proving particularly suited to Volvo’s smaller equipment.
With research and development investment now focused on the rapid development of its electric compact wheel loaders and excavators, Volvo CE is taking a step towards diesel-free compact equipment in the future.
Further information will follow in the coming months.
China team reports ammonia synthesis through electroreduction of nitrogen on black phosphorus nanosheets
More than 100 years after the introduction of the Haber–Bosch process, scientists continue to search for alternative ammonia production routes that are less energy-demanding. A team from the South China University of Technology in Guangzhou has now discovered that black phosphorus is an excellent catalyst for the electroreduction of nitrogen to ammonia. The catalyst can achieve a high ammonia yield of 31.37 μg h-1 mg-1cat under ambient conditions.
According to their study published in the journal Angewandte Chemie, layered black phosphorus nanosheets are a highly selective and efficient catalyst in this process.
Ammonia (NH3) is a basic raw chemical material used in modern industry and agriculture. At present, the energy-intensive Haber-Bosch process is the main artificial synthesis route for ammonia, and this process uses more than 1% of global annual energy consumption and produces carbon dioxide emissions. In contrast, electrochemical reduction of nitrogen into ammonia under ambient conditions is a potential strategy for sustainable ammonia production. However, due to the strong dipole moment of the N≡N triple bond and the vigorous hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) competing, the development of highly effective catalysts with sufficient activity and selectivity is essential.
… Here, for the first time, we focus our attention on a nonmetallic simple substance and demonstrate that orthorhombic black phosphorus in the form of few-layer nanosheets is a superior metal-free single element electrocatalyst for nitrogen reduction under ambient conditions.
—Zhang et al.
In the Haber–Bosch process, nitrogen from air is reduced with hydrogen or synthesis gas under high pressure and temperature over a transition-metal catalyst. The energy demand of this process is so high that one to two percent of the global energy supply is devoted to industrial production of ammonia.
Black phosphorus is a rising star in electronic applications because of its metallic-like appearance and unusual electronic properties. Moreover, its puckered two-dimensional sheet-like structure may provide the necessary edges and sites for adsorption and molecular activation.
With this idea in mind, researcher Haihui Wang and colleagues, prepared thin layers of bulk black phosphorus, by a facile liquid exfoliation method. The catalyst nanosheets were included in a carbon fiber electrode for electrolysis. To provide a nitrogen supply, a hydrochloride electrolyte solution was saturated with nitrogen.
On application of a voltage, the electrode readily and selectively produced ammonia from nitrogen, and the layered black phosphorus even outperformed most nonmetallic and metal-base catalysts reported at present. The extraordinary activity and selectivity of this material are explained by the structure and energetics of the phosphorus sheets.
Using theoretical calculations, the authors found that the zigzag arrangement in the phosphorus layers, in contrast to other layered or flat materials, provided ideal sites for nitrogen adsorption and the electronic structure at the edges was best suited for binding, activating, and reducing nitrogen by a low-energy pathway.
Despite the generally good stability of black phosphorus under ambient conditions, its performance declined in the long term because of oxidation. The authors said that further improvements in preventing black phosphorus degradation in the electrolyte would be beneficial.
This work opens up a novel and attractive application for black phosphorus. In electrocatalytic nitrogen reduction, the performance of black phosphorus is superior to other nonmetallic and even metallic catalysts, suggesting that this material may soon play a bigger role in electrocatalysis.
Zhang, L., Ding, L., Chen, G., Yang, X. and Wang, H. (2019), “Ammonia Synthesis Under Ambient Conditions: Selective Electroreduction of Dinitrogen to Ammonia on Black Phosphorus Nanosheets.” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. doi: 10.1002/anie.201813174
Foretellix closes $14M Series-A; automating verification and measurable safety of autonomous vehicles
Foretellix, an Israel-based start-up automating the verification and measurable safety of autonomous vehicles, has closed $14 million of series-A funding. Led by 83North, Jump Capital, and Nextgear Ventures, the investment will accelerate Foretellix’s development, customer programs and deployment of its coverage-driven verification solution. The company has now raised more than $16 million since it was founded.
Foretellix develops coverage-driven verification solutions to ensure that the autonomous vehicle behaves properly in the 100s of millions of critical driving scenarios, and are therefore safe for broad deployment.
This “GigaScale” verification flow combines verification automation, intelligence and reuse.
Foretellix also automates the extraction and analytics of the safety-related coverage metrics, representing the percentage of scenarios proven to work in a wide range of possible situations and conditions. These metrics are required by developers, consumers, suppliers, insurance companies and regulators.
This solution works with all required driving platforms, including simulators, X-in-the-loop configurations, test tracks and test vehicles.
Foretellix was founded by a very experienced team, which led a start-up to a successful IPO, using proven coverage driven methodologies, intelligent automation, and analytics of large data sets for the verification of complex semiconductor products.
Continental supplying 48V Eco-Drive for Jeep Wrangler eTorque mild-hybrid system
Continental’s liquid-cooled 48-volt Eco Drive—a belt-driven starter generator with integrated inverter—supports FCA US’ eTorque mild-hybrid technology in the new Jeep Wrangler. (Earlier post.)
Continental’s compact 48-volt Eco Drive with integrated power electronics contributes to the benefits eTorque technology offers, including better fuel economy, improved auto-start response, overall start-stop functionality and reduced noise levels.
Eco Drive provides up to 88.5 lb-ft (120 N·m) of torque delivered to the crank via the engine’s front-end accessory drive. This enables auto-starts in less than 0.5 sec.
The 31.5-lb (14.3-kg) Jeep version also helps maximize regenerative braking and offers 4.1 kW/L in power density.
Further, the technology helps deliver torque to the wheels more than twice as fast as a conventional 12-volt starter can accommodate. The liquid-cooled 48-volt Eco Drive also spins the engine faster, making eTorque’s benefits more readily apparent.
The liquid cooling of the Continental system’s Eco Drive and inverter results in power capable of delivering high performance at high ambient temperature.
Continental’s 48-volt Eco Drive is based on a modular concept. This allows Continental to scale the technology to meet the power and performance demands of multiple vehicle classes, including the compact Renault Scénic diesel, Audi A8 performance sedan, and the high-volume Jeep Wrangler SUV.
Additionally, consumers may experience the all-new eTorque technology in the 2019 Ram 1500, named North American Truck of the Year at the North American International Auto Show and a 2019 Wards 10 Best Engines winner.
Stop & Shop, Robomart to launch teleoperated driverless grocery vehicles in Boston this spring
Stop & Shop is partnering with Robomart to launch driverless grocery vehicle service in the Greater Boston area beginning in Spring 2019. The vehicles will bring a selection of Stop & Shop produce as well as meal kits and convenience items directly to consumers.
Stop & Shop customers in the Boston area can summon a Robomart vehicle with a smartphone app. Upon the Robomart vehicle’s arrival, customers head outside, unlock the vehicle’s doors, then personally select the fruits, vegetables, and other products they would like to purchase. When finished shopping, they just close the doors and send the vehicle on its way.
The vehicles’ RFID and computer vision technology automatically records what customers select to provide a checkout-free experience, and receipts are e-mailed within seconds.
For decades, consumers had the convenience of their local greengrocer and milkman coming door to door, and we believe that by leveraging driverless technology we can recreate that level of convenience and accessibility. We’re extremely excited to bring our vision to life with Stop & Shop, one of the most pioneering and forward-thinking grocery chains in the world.
—Ali Ahmed, Founder & CEO of Robomart
All Robomart vehicles are autonomous, electric and will be remotely piloted from a Robomart facility. Throughout the journey, the teleoperated vehicles will be restocked with fresh Stop & Shop goods to ensure customers are provided with the best selection for purchase.
Khronos Group exploring industry interest for new open standard for high performance embedded computing (HPEC) applications
The Khronos Group has created an Exploratory Group to gauge industry interest for a potential new open standard for high performance embedded computing (HPEC) applications. Khronos is seeking feedback from automotive, robotics, aerospace, industrial, medical and IoT developers, all target users that wish to focus on algorithm development—not communication intricacies—but need the performance and flexibility of low-level point-to-point protocols with the simplicity of high-level point-to-point methodologies.
Khronos created the Exploratory Group to assess the degree of interest in making this new standard an open, royalty-free standard under the Khronos framework. If there is enough interest, Khronos will create a Working Group and welcome any company to join in the development as a multi-vendor, open standard API.
Those interested in finding out more and providing feedback are invited to visit the Khronos Heterogeneous Communication feedback page.
The Khronos Group is an open industry consortium of more than 140 leading hardware and software companies creating advanced, royalty-free, acceleration standards for 3D graphics, Augmented and Virtual Reality, vision processing and machine learning.
Khronos standards include Vulkan, OpenGL, OpenGL ES, OpenGL SC, WebGL, SPIR-V, OpenCL, SYCL, OpenVX, NNEF, COLLADA, OpenXR and glTF. Khronos members are enabled to contribute to the development of Khronos specifications, are empowered to vote at various stages before public deployment and are able to accelerate the delivery of their cutting-edge accelerated platforms and applications through early access to specification drafts and conformance tests.
Implementers of the proposed new standard could include chip, board and system hardware manufacturers and embedded software tool and OS vendors. The goal would be to unify low-level communication into a simple API with the aim of reducing application complexity, minimizing development costs, and accelerating time-to-market.
If Khronos forms a working group to address this opportunity, any participating company will be invited to submit design contributions to be discussed and integrated by the working group members. Khronos has already received one such design proposal: the Takyon API from Abaco Systems.
Takyon unifies low-level point-to-point communication and signaling functionality with just five core functions, making it easy to learn and use. Takyon enables programmers to quickly develop high-performance, scalable, portable, and fault-tolerant applications running across complex systems.
Takyon builds on Abaco’s expertise in advanced embedded software, among which is its AXIS software development environment, the foundation for Takyon.
Current HPEC communication APIs are typically focused on a particular hardware interconnect/architecture, or a specific thread/process/processor/application locality. Some are very complex, requiring hundreds of lines of code just to handle simple concepts. Others intend to be simple, but get deceptively complex in real-world use cases. Still others mask important, underlying features which can ultimately impact latency and determinism.
There is no single standard that fits all localities and features - resulting in high development costs, ill-fated shortcuts, and confused embedded HPEC developers. We believe that this effort by Khronos has the potential to address this problem with a simple but elegant API that could become a key open standard.
—Peter Thompson, vice president, product marketing at Abaco
New BMW 7 Series offers revamped plug-in hybrid powertrain, other major changes in powertrain lineup
BMW’s new 7 Series features a number of powertrain changes, including a plug-in hybrid drive system with a new design offering an increased electric range, enhanced performance and lower consumption.
The new BMW 7 Series is also available with gasoline and diesel engines using six, eight and twelve cylinders. The eight-speed Steptronic transmission fitted as standard on all model variants has also undergone further improvement, as has the BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system that can be combined not just with the gasoline and diesel engines but with the hybrid drive as well.
All the engines fitted in the new BMW 7 Series share a number of common attributes: aluminum construction, optimized thermodynamics and the latest BMW TwinPower Turbo technology.
The technology package for the gasoline engines comprises twin-scroll turbochargers, High Precision Injection, VALVETRONIC fully variable valve timing and Double-VANOS variable camshaft control. The diesel power units, meanwhile, feature a turbocharging system with up to four turbochargers and common-rail direct injection.
To minimize particulate emissions, both the newly developed V8 unit and the V12 under the hood of the new BMW M760Li xDrive are now equipped with a gasoline particulate filter.
The system of emission control for the diesel models employs BMW BluePerformance technology including a particulate filter, an oxidation catalyst, a NOx adsorption catalyst and an SCR catalyst with AdBlue injection to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions.
Thus equipped, all model variants of the new BMW 7 Series meet the requirements of the Euro 6d-TEMP emissions standard.
Plug-in hybrid system with in-line 6. The choice of plug-in hybrid models equipped with BMW eDrive technology now comprises the BMW 745e, the BMW 745Le and the BMW 745Le xDrive. Their newly developed drive technology consists of a specially adapted six-cylinder in-line gasoline engine from the current BMW EfficientDynamics family of power units with maximum output of 210 kW/286 hp.
An electric motor with a rated output of 83 kW/113 hp and a rated torque of 265 N·m (195 lb-ft), and a new lithium-ion battery with the latest battery cell technology and increased capacity also upgrade the system.
Enhancements have also been made to the power electronics, the intelligent energy management of which ensures precisely orchestrated interaction between the two drive units, and, if the proactive driving function is activated, efficiently coordinates the electric driving phases to coincide with sections of the journey that should be covered without any emissions.
At the same time, the added dynamism from the electrical boost, which translates into even snappier response, is greater than before, as is the gain in efficiency produced by the assistance from the electric motor.
With the Driving Experience Control switch set to SPORT mode, the drive duo can unleash a combined output of 290 kW/394 hp, while the maximum combined torque for the plug-in hybrid variants in the new BMW 7 Series is up to 600 N·m (442 lb-ft).
The new plug-in hybrid drive technology enables the BMW 745e, BMW 745Le and BMW 745Le xDrive models to record times of between 5.3 and 5.1 seconds for the 0 – 100 km/h (62 mph) sprint and achieve an electric range that varies between 50 and 58 kilometres (31 – 36 miles) (based on the new WLTP test cycle and translated back into NEDC-equivalent values).
The speed threshold in hybrid-mode has also jumped to 110 km/h (68 mph), allowing the pleasure of driving in a luxury sedan with zero local emissions to be now enjoyed far beyond the city limits too. The energy required for this is stored in a latest-generation lithium-ion battery located underneath the rear seats with an increased gross capacity of 12.0 kWh.
The combined fuel consumption figures for the plug-in hybrid luxury sedans – which were also calculated based on the new WLTP test cycle then converted back into NEDC-equivalent values—come in at between 2.6 and 2.1 liters per 100 kilometres (90.4 - 112 mpg US).
The CO2 emissions produced when burning fuel average 59 – 48 grams per kilometer. The BMW 745e, BMW 745Le and BMW 745Le xDrive have a combined electric power consumption of between 16.3 and 15.0 kWh per 100 kilometers.
BloombergNEF expects 40% growth in global EV sales in 2019; 2.6M vehicles, 1.5M in China
BloombergNEF (BNEF) expects 2.6 million electric vehicles to be sold globally in 2019. This will represent around a 40% growth rate, down from the 70% growth rate in 2018. BNEF said that it expects China will continue to lead, with some 1.5 million units—around 57% of the global market.
China’s market is in transition, and the recent annual doubling of sales every year looks unlikely to hold in 2019. We expect subsidies to be cut in February, but with a phase-out period that lasts until the end of 2Q. The ‘New Energy Vehicle’ quota takes effect this year but the requirements for 2019 are relatively modest. Broader macroeconomic factors (higher interest rates and slowing consumer spending) will also impact global sales. In markets like the US and the UK, direct purchase subsidies are already starting to wind down.
—Colin McKerracher, BNEFhead of advanced transport
BNEF expects European EV sales to come in just under 500,000 units, with strong growth in the Nordics and in Germany. Sales in Italy have been slow but should start picking up in 2019, while sales in the UK will likely be flat or declining after the government eliminated support for popular plug-in hybrid models.
BNEF expects North America sales to come in around 425,000 units, up modestly from 405,000. The Tesla Model 3 surge boosted 2H 2018 sales but the momentum will be difficult to maintain unless a lower-cost model can be introduced quickly, BNEF said.
Sales in Japan and South Korea combined should be around 100,000.
The mini-forecast was part of “Transition in Energy, Transport – 10 Predictions for 2019”.
Power-To-X: Sunfire reports successful test run of co-electrolysis system of >500 hours; e-Crude demo targeted
Sunfire GmbH reports the successful start-up and test run (> 500 hours) of a high-temperature co-electrolysis system at its Dresden site, beginning in November 2018. SUNFIRE-SYNLINK—a co-electrolyzer based on solid oxide cell (SOC) technology—enables the highly efficient production (a projected ~80% efficiency on an industrial scale) of synthesis gas in a single step using water, CO2 and green electricity.
Co-electrolysis reduces H2O and CO2 simultaneously; this significantly reduces the investment and operating costs for Power-to-X projects such as e-Crude and e-fuels.
Sunfire achieved the technological breakthrough within the framework of the Kopernikus project Power-to-X (03SFK2Q0), funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), in conjunction with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).
The successfully running co-electrolysis plant (10 kilowatts DC, up to 4 Nm³/h synthesis gas) will be delivered to Karlsruhe in the next few weeks, where it will be combined with technologies from Climeworks (Direct Air Capture), INERATEC (Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis) and KIT (Hydrocracking) in a container to produce a self-sufficient facility.
The aim is to demonstrate the integrated production of e-Crude, a synthetic crude oil substitute, by the end of August 2019—the first in a 2-step process of this magnitude made possible by co-electrolysis.
Furthermore, on 1 January, Sunfire began the process of scaling-up the high-temperature co-electrolysis process to an industrial scale—initially with an input power of 150 kilowatts (DC)—as part of the “SynLink” project (03EIV031A) funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy.
This multipliable co-electrolysis module is to be used by Nordic Blue Crude, the Norwegian project partner. The first commercial plant is to be built there and will produce 10 million liters or 8,000 tonnes of the synthetic crude oil substitute e-Crude annually on the basis of 20 megawatts of input power.
Background: high temperature co-electrolysis. In previous power-to-liquids processes, two separate process steps were used to break water vapor down into its components—hydrogen and oxygen (electrolysis)—and to turn carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide (reverse water-gas-shift reaction).
With Sunfire’s co-electrolysis, hydrogen and carbon monoxide can be recovered in a single process step, significantly improving the efficiency of the overall process and lowering investment (CAPEX) and operating costs (OPEX).
In addition, the single-stage SUNFIRE-SYNLINK technology noticeably reduces the amount of space required.
The global demand for electrolysis technologies to produce green, renewable hydrogen is estimated at more than 3,000 gigawatts. Furthermore, many sectors, such as long-distance road transport, air or sea transport, require alternatives to fossil diesel and kerosene, which e-fuels can provide, thanks to their excellent transportability through existing infrastructures.
In addition to the production of fuels, synthesis gas attracts customers from a wide range of industries, such as the chemical industry, plastics production or the cosmetics sector.
Sunfire recently acquired a new lead investor and technology partner in Paul Wurth, a leading global mechanical and plant engineering company for the metals industry. The investment round, which involved former investors, yielded an additional €25 million in capital. Sunfire will use the money to implement commercial multi-megawatt electrolysis and Power-to-X projects.
Yun Zheng, Jianchen Wang, Bo Yu, Wenqiang Zhang, Jing Chen, Jinli Qiao and Jiujun Zhang (2017) “A review of high temperature co-electrolysis of H2O and CO2 to produce sustainable fuels using solid oxide electrolysis cells (SOECs): advanced materials and technology,” Chemical Society Reviews doi: 10.1039/C6CS00403B
Ford, Huayou Cobalt, IBM, LG Chem, RCS Global launch blockchain pilot to address concerns in strategic mineral supply chains; cobalt to start
Ford Motor Company, Huayou Cobalt, IBM, LG Chem and RCS Global will use blockchain technology to trace and validate ethically sourced minerals in an effort to support human rights and environmental protection while helping infuse more transparency into global mineral supply chains.
The group, which includes participants at each major stage of the supply chain from mine to end-user, will begin with a pilot focused on cobalt and explore the creation of an open, industrywide blockchain platform that could ultimately be used to trace and validate a range of minerals used in consumer products.
We remain committed to transparency across our global supply chain. By collaborating with other leading industries in this network, our intent is to use state-of-the-art technology to ensure materials produced for our vehicles will help meet our commitment to protecting human rights and the environment.
—Lisa Drake, vice president, global purchasing and powertrain operations, Ford Motor Company
Cobalt is in high demand for its use in lithium-ion batteries, which power a wide range of products such as laptops, mobile devices and electric vehicles. Morgan Stanley expects cobalt demand to multiply eightfold by 2026, especially for its use in electric vehicles and consumer devices. The typical electric car battery requires up to 20 pounds of cobalt and a standard laptop requires around one ounce of the mineral.
The blockchain pilot is already underway and seeks to demonstrate how materials in the supply chain are responsibly produced, traded and processed.
For this pilot based on a simulated sourcing scenario, Cobalt produced at Huayou’s industrial mine site in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will be traced through the supply chain as it travels from mine and smelter to LG Chem’s cathode plant and battery plant in South Korea, and finally into a Ford plant in the United States.
An immutable audit trail will be created on the blockchain, which will include corresponding data to provide evidence of the cobalt production from mine to end manufacturer.
Participants in the network will be validated against responsible sourcing standards developed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Traditionally, miners, smelters and consumer brands rely on third-party audits to establish compliance with generally accepted industry standards. Coupled with these assessments, blockchain technology offers a network of validated participants and immutable data that can be seen by all permissioned network participants in real time. Blockchain can also be used to help network participants address their compliance requirements.
While the initial focus is on large-scale miners (LSMs), an important objective of the group is to help increase transparency in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASMs) and enable these operators to sell their raw materials in the global market, while they meet their internationally ratified responsibility requirements.
The network can help enable ASM operators to partner with due diligence data providers and, ultimately, join a blockchain-based network of validated participants. The pilot will also explore the use of incentives or financial benefits for ASMs and their local communities impacted by mining.
Built on the IBM Blockchain Platform and powered by the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric, the platform is designed to be adopted across industry.
Hyperledger Fabric is a blockchain framework implementation and one of the Hyperledger projects hosted by The Linux Foundation. Intended as a foundation for developing applications or solutions with a modular architecture, Hyperledger Fabric allows components, such as consensus and membership services, to be plug-and-play. Hyperledger Fabric leverages container technology to host smart contracts called “chaincode” that comprise the application logic of the system. Hyperledger Fabric was initially contributed by Digital Asset and IBM, as a result of the first hackathon.
The IBM Blockchain Platform is built on Hyperledger Fabric’s open architecture. The Blockchain-as-a-Service platform unlocks opportunity in a hardened, security-rich, production-ready environment, including 24x7x365 IBM support.
The solution is built to allow interested parties of all sizes and roles in the supply chain easy access, including original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) across the automotive, electronics, aerospace and defense industries and their supply chain partners such as mining companies and battery manufacturers. Supply chain networks will be encouraged to join this open, industrywide network to trace and validate minerals upon successful completion of the pilot.
Work is expected to be extended beyond cobalt into other battery metals and raw materials, including minerals such as tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold, which are sometimes called conflict minerals, as well as rare earths. Focus industries for the solution include automotive, aerospace and defense, and consumer electronics. There are plans for a governance board representing members across these industries, to help further ensure the platform’s growth, functionality and commitment to democratic principles.
The pilot is expected to be completed mid-year 2019.
MineHub blockchain project. Separately, mining technology company MineHub Technologies announced a collaboration to use blockchain technology to help improve operational efficiencies, logistics and financing and reduce costs in the high-value mineral concentrates supply chain—from mine to end buyer.
Goldcorp Inc., ING Bank, Kutcho Copper Corp., Ocean Partners USA Inc. and Wheaton Precious Metals Corp. are working with MineHub to build the new mining supply chain solution on top of the IBM Blockchain Platform.
The $1.8-trillion global mining and metals market has traditionally suffered from inefficiencies due to manual, paper-based processes and a lack of transparency between supply chain participants. Blockchain technology helps address this by providing a shared ledger to create a single, real time view of transactions and data across the supply chain that can be seen by all permissioned participants. Each of the participating companies represent key areas of the supply chain from mining, streaming, trade and finance.
The first use case will be built on the MineHub platform and will manage concentrate from Goldcorp’s Penasquito Mine in Mexico throughout its path to market. When ore is mined, the mining company will upload data, including sustainability and ethical practices, allowing independent verification from regulators to end users as required.
When materials are loaded for transport, the MineHub platform can record each transaction and allow permissioned parties to view and reconcile information throughout its journey. Smart contracts for supply chain processes such as trade finance, streaming and royalty contracts will be used by companies such as Wheaton Precious Metals and other institutions who provide credit facilities such as ING bank.
The MineHub supply chain platform is built on the cloud-based IBM Blockchain Platform, powered by the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric. MineHub plans to expand the collaboration to additional members across the mining industry to encourage innovation and new applications using the technology.
First application of ZF’s AxTrax AVE electric portal axle in a fuel cell configuration; bus by ADL
British bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis Ltd. (ADL) is expanding its product line, adding a double-decker model powered by a fuel cell drive. This new model is also equipped with ZF’s AxTrax AVE electric drive axle. ZF also provides additional hardware and software solutions for optimum performance. An initial prototype is now operating at high efficiency in field testing.
ZF’s AxTrax AVE electric drive axle drives low-floor buses up to a maximum axle load of 13,000 kilograms. The electric motors integrated into the wheel heads have a total output of 250 kilowatts.
The bus, designed by ADL, is based on ADL’s Enviro400 product line. This configuration comprises a secure system that converts hydrogen into electricity, which, in turn, drives two electric wheel-hub motors in the electric portal axle.
ADL spent two years developing this hydrogen-driven double-decker bus with ZF selected as a partner from the beginning. During field testing, the prototype operated along actual bus routes in several cities throughout the United Kingdom.
In addition to the AxTrax AVE, ZF also provided the inverter, the EST 54 electronic control unit and the appropriate control software. In this complete system, the company aligned performance, efficiency and the service life of the drive while reducing test and homologation costs for ADL.
The British manufacturer has already presented the prototype of the new fuel cell double-decker to the public as well as several fleet operators.
ZF introduced the AxTrax AVE in 2012. The electric drive axle can be used in a wide array of applications as it can not only be operated in the fuel cell configuration, but also as hybrid or purely electrically driven with lithium-ion batteries.
In addition to the excellent drive performance—totaling 250 kW up to a maximum axle load of 13,000 kilograms—the compact design is also advantageous for packaging considerations.
Since neither a conventional unit nor a universally jointed shaft is necessary for transmitting power, manufacturers now have more freedom to configure the passenger compartment to their design preferences. They can add seating and standing room, for example, or provide for step-less entry and exit or a completely flat passageway.
Mcity ABC test concept to assess driverless vehicle safety
Mcity at the University of Michigan has outlined a test track-based concept for evaluating the safety of highly automated vehicles before they’re tested on public roads that could emerge as a model for a voluntary standard for safety testing.
The project comes after two highly publicized fatalities last year stoked consumer fears about the safety of driverless vehicles and slowed development of the technologies that have the potential to save lives, conserve energy and expand accessibility to transportation.
The Mcity ABC Test concept would create an independent safety assessment for highly automated vehicles. It would be a key element in a three-pronged approach to HAV testing, along with simulation and on-road evaluation. Mcity is a public-private partnership led by U-M to accelerate advanced mobility vehicles and technologies.
Highly automated vehicles must be developed in a responsible way to fully realize their promise as a useful tool that will benefit society. The Mcity ABC Test is an approach that can help rebuild public trust and accelerate the development of these potentially life-changing vehicles.
—Mcity Director Huei Peng, the Roger L. McCarthy Professor of Mechanical Engineering at U-M
The crash of an Uber Level-4 automated vehicle prototype in March 2018 in Arizona killed a woman as she was crossing a street, when the car’s sensors failed to detect her. A Level-4 vehicle can drive itself without human intervention.
Five days later, a man was killed on a California highway when the Level-2 automated Tesla car he was driving using Tesla’s “Autopilot” highway assist system failed to notice the driver’s inattention and did not turn off or disable the technology. Instead, the car crashed into a roadside barrier and caught fire. In a Level-2 vehicle, the driver is expected to pay attention at all times and take over driving when necessary.
Recent surveys by groups including JD Power found that as many as half or more of US consumers are concerned about the safety of driverless vehicles.
Mcity ABC Test. The Mcity ABC Test is a three-part procedure that includes:
Accelerated evaluation covering the driving scenarios responsible for the most common motor vehicle crashes;
Behavior competence testing to ensure the automated vehicles demonstrate they can handle the majority of driving scenarios; and
Corner cases, or test situations that push the limits of these highly advanced automated vehicles.
Accelerated evaluation concentrates on the most common risky driving situations. Behavior competence puts vehicles through a set of scenarios that correspond to major motor vehicle crash frequency.
Drawing from a variety of sources, Mcity compiled a list of 50 such scenarios, of which 35 were chosen for near-term focus, including 16 scenarios for low-speed, path-following Level-4 vehicles.
Corner-case testing focuses on situations that test the limits of automated vehicle performance and technology.
Mcity researchers are working on executing the Mcity ABC Test, beginning with three accelerated evaluation behaviors, and the 16 behavior competence scenarios for low-speed Level-4 vehicles, such as the driverless shuttles Mcity is operating on U-M’s North Campus. Mcity will pursue funding support needed to prove the Mcity ABC Test concept.
Researchers are developing the ABC test concept using the Mcity Test Facility, U-M’s controlled, real-world environment for testing connected and automated vehicles. The ABC test could be scaled for larger test facilities as well, such as the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan. U-M is a founding partner of ACM.
California ARB hosting public workshop to discuss reducing in-use emissions from HD diesel
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) staff will host a public workshop on 11 February to discuss ideas and strategies to reduce in-use emissions from heavy-duty diesel vehicles operating in the State of California. The objective of the workshop is to solicit stakeholder ideas and comments about potential strategies to ensure heavy-duty vehicles operating in California are well-maintained and have properly functioning emissions control systems.
The workshop will begin with an overview of the various strategies currently being utilized to reduce emissions from heavy-duty vehicles, and will include a discussion of concepts that could be implemented now and in the near future.
Staff will not present a draft program proposal at the workshop; instead, the majority of the workshop time will be used to allow participants to present their ideas to reduce in-use heavy-duty vehicle emissions.
Staff is particularly interested in hearing stakeholder concepts for a future heavy-duty vehicle inspection and maintenance (HD I/M) program.
The workshop will be held at the Cal/EPA Headquarters Building in Sacramento, California.
Background. To accelerate the adoption of the cleanest technologies, CARB adopted the Truck and Bus Regulation, which requires fleet owners to replace older engines with cleaner engine technology over time.
Even with these regulatory programs in place, heavy-duty diesel vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) above 14,000 pounds are still one of the largest sources of air pollution in California. 2019 estimates indicate that these vehicles contribute approximately 58% of the statewide on-road mobile source NOx emissions and about 82% of the statewide on-road mobile source particulate matter (PM2.5) emissions.
CARB’s current inspection programs include the roadside Heavy-Duty Vehicle Inspection Program (HDVIP) and the fleet Periodic Smoke Inspection Program (PSIP). These regulations require heavy-duty vehicles operating in California to be inspected for excessive smoke and tampering. In July 2018, CARB approved amendments to HDVIP and PSIP to reduce the smoke opacity limits to levels more appropriate for today’s modern engine technology.
However, HDVIP and PSIP only require control of excessive smoke emissions and not other pollutants of concern such as NOx and greenhouse gases. Consequently, CARB staff is seeking to engage in an open dialogue with interested stakeholders to identify potential strategies that would ensure that all heavy-duty in-use vehicles operating in California always meet the emissions requirements established by law and regulation, and to meet commitments outlined in CARB’s State Strategy for the State Implementation Plan.
US light-duty diesel sales climb in 2018 to 500,000 units; 3% of sales
Sales of diesel light-duty vehicles (Class 1-3) in the US in 2018 reached their highest annual level, coming in at more than 500,000 units—just over 3% of total vehicle sales—according to figures by Baum & Associates provided by the Diesel Technology Forum.
The light-duty diesel segment is led by three models: the Mercedes Sprinter, Ford Transit, and Ford F-150. The F-150 diesel is new for 2018; sales represented approximately 5% of total F-150 sales.
Source: Diesel Technology Forum.
There is a large drop-off after the three category leaders, with GM and the European-based manufacturers completing the category, Baum said. Sales of these light-duty diesels represent approximately 0.8% of total sales—up modestly from 2017.
The diesel share of new US vehicle sales in 2018 exceeded that of hybrid vehicles, which came in at almost 2% of total sales, as well as the sales of plug-in electric vehicles (plug-in hybrids and full-battery-electric vehicles combined), which also came in at around 2% of total sales.
Source: Diesel Technology Forum.
Class 2 and 3 pickups have and continue to be the largest light-duty users of diesel engines, with an overall growth rate of 12.5% over 2017. Over a three-year period (not annualized), this category has seen a very strong growth rate of 35%, with the strongest growth in 2017 and 2018.
Diesel sales in smaller vehicles showed modest growth in 2018, after a drop in both 2016 and 2017. Sales from these vehicles in 2018 increased by 9% as compared to 2017.
More American truck buyers are choosing bigger vehicles, and that is where diesel shines. 2019 will prove an important year for the use of diesel engines. More products are expected to hit showroom floors along with revamped products that have proven popular with car buyers this year.
—Alan Baum, a Michigan-based automotive industry analyst
More than 40 diesel models are available today in the United States from 10 manufacturers and brands. Offerings range from light-duty and heavy-duty pickup trucks to crossovers and sedans. New diesel options continue to be announced or introduced in the most popular vehicle models, including:
Jeep Gladiator midsize pickup
Ram (Cummins) 2500 and 3500 heavy-duty pickups
Chevrolet Silverado heavy-duty pickup
Mazda 3 with a SKYACTIV-D engine
A typical full-size diesel pickup truck owner will save about 200 gallons of fuel each year while achieving an additional driving range of 125 miles and boosting power and performance, compared to a comparable gasoline model, according to an analysis commissioned by the Diesel Technology Forum.
Westport Fuel Systems appoints former Achates Power head as new CEO
Alternative fuel engine company Westport Fuel Systems Inc. has appointed David Johnson as Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. Johnson most recently was the CEO of opposed-piston engine company Achates Power.
Nancy S. Gougarty has decided to retire as Westport’s Chief Executive Officer and is stepping down from the Board of Directors. Gougarty will support Westport Fuel Systems’ leadership team through a transition period.
Johnson will join Westport Fuel Systems having served for ten years as President and Chief Executive Officer of Achates Power. Prior to his most recent role, Johnson served in a variety of roles with some of the world’s leading automotive companies including senior roles at Navistar, Ford and General Motors. Johnson combines deep technical expertise with a decades-long career in international markets, during which time he successfully led and managed several global vehicle and engine development and commercialization programs.
We’re very pleased to appoint an entrepreneurial leader with specific experience and insights in the global OEM market to lead Westport Fuel Systems’ growth and development as a world-class global alternative fuels technology company. As a powertrain engineer and a proven executive with outstanding technical skills, product launch experience and expertise in advanced drive-train technology, David is well positioned to build on Westport Fuel Systems’ global success as we continue to execute our long-term strategy.
—Brenda Eprile, Chair of Westport Fuel Systems’ Board of Directors
Gougarty successfully led the integration of the merger of Westport Innovations Inc. and Fuel Systems Solutions, Inc. into the combined Westport Fuel Systems Inc., led the commercial launch of HPDI 2.0, and improved the company’s operations.
In addition to his role as Chief Executive Officer, Johnson will join the Westport Fuel Systems’ Board of Directors.
Earlier this month, Achates Power appointed Cummins veteran David Crompton as president and CEO. Crompton joined Achates Power after 28 years at Cummins, where he served as President of both the Engine Business and Power Systems business. (Earlier post.)
Meritor has 22 electrification programs with global OEMs through 2020
Meritor, Inc. has 22 electrification programs with global OEMs that the company expects to put at least 130 fully electric medium- and heavy-duty commercial trucks on the road through 2020.
These emission-free solutions offered under Meritor’s Blue Horizon technology brand have the potential to transform the industry by meeting the rising global demand for clean, electric-powered drivetrains that we believe will deliver a high-efficiency solution that greatly reduces the total cost of ownership for our customers. These programs position Meritor for future growth in an emerging industry segment.
—John Bennett, vice president and chief technology officer for Meritor
In the first half of 2019, a major fleet customer will begin operating the first of six medium-duty Peterbilt Model 220EV Class 6 pick-up and delivery trucks equipped with Meritor’s 14Xe electric drive systems and fully integrated subsystems from TransPower, a leader in electrification technologies for large commercial vehicles. In 2017, Meritor announced a strategic investment in TransPower. (Earlier post.)
Meritor’s eCarrier platform (earlier post) integrates an electric motor into the axle, freeing up space for batteries and other components. This flexible design is the foundation for various drivetrain configurations, including full electric, hybrid and single or tandem axles with various options based on product application for vehicle Classes 5 through 8.
Among the 130 commercial vehicles expected to be placed into service by 2020, 60 of these trucks received funding from the California Air Resources Board as part of a broader effort to reduce carbon emissions in freight facilities.
In addition to the truck applications, a prototype school bus outfitted with Meritor and TransPower electrification solutions has been exceeding expectations during testing in Escondido, California since late May.
Testing includes climbing steep grades, stop-and-go at low speeds, off-road and freeway driving as well as heavy-load hauling on rural roads.
SoCalGas and Onboard Dynamics announce second demonstration of new mobile natural gas compressor for fueling stations
Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) and Onboard Dynamics, Inc. (ObDI) announced the field demonstration of new mobile compressor technology that provides on-site backup and supplemental compression at natural gas fueling stations.
The new compressor—the GoFlo CNG80—is now being demonstrated at the Antelope Valley School Transportation Agency in Lancaster, California, where 43 natural gas school busses refuel using the fueling station at AVSTA’s fleet yard. SoCalGas and ObDI are partnering to fund the demonstration project to validate the performance of the new mobile compressor, which they expect will further improve on-site refueling for natural gas fleet customers.
The Antelope Valley School Transportation Agency installation represents the second phase of field demonstration of the new mobile compressor. In the first phase, field testing was conducted and completed at Mountain View School District (MVSD) in South El Monte, California. There, the GoFlo compressor enabled MVSD to improve on-site refueling of eight compressed natural gas (CNG) school buses, reduce vehicle fuel costs and improve driver productivity. The demonstration at MVSD provided information that led to product improvements of the commercial unit that is now running at AVSTA.
The GoFlo compressor uses natural gas instead of electricity to operate, which increases its cost-effectiveness and allows it to provide backup in the event of an existing CNG compressor failure. It is also an economical way to expand CNG refueling capabilities without relying on a connection to an external electric power source to operate.
The mobile CNG compressor helps to fuel CNG fleets of all sizes (e.g., school buses, waste haulers, box trucks, etc.) and helps to reduce operational costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
The availability of a more affordable on-site CNG refueling system is expected to increase overall adoption of natural gas—and renewable natural gas—among fleet operators. Renewable natural gas is produced from the methane generated in landfills, wastewater treatment plants, food processing and dairies. Depending on its source, it is either low-carbon or carbon-negative.
Near zero emission natural gas trucks are helping achieve California’s greenhouse gas reduction goals and clean the air around California’s transportation corridors. Because of this, California provides incentive funding to help trucking fleets transition to renewable natural gas. Close to 70% of natural gas fleets in California are fueled with renewable natural gas.