Green Car Congress - 記事一覧
Jumbo and Goodfuels partner to test drop-in Bio-Fuel Oil on offshore decommissioning project
Leading global heavy lift shipping and offshore transportation and installation contractor Jumbo, and commercial, sustainable marine biofuel company GoodFuels, are partnering to test Goodfuels’ marine Bio-Fuel Oil on an offshore decommissioning project. Bio-Fuel Oil has already undergone three years of intensive testing with marine engine manufacturers. The second-generation drop-in Bio-Fuel Oil—a replacement for low-sulfur fuel oil and/or heavy fuel oil (HFO)—is completely derived from forest residue (crude tall oil, CTO) and waste oil (used cooking oil, UCO) products. Bio-Fuel Oil is expected to deliver 80-90% well-to-propeller CO2 reduction versus fossil equivalents, and contains no SOx emissions—all without any requirement for engine modifications. Starting with an initial project, the partnership paves the way for a fossil fuel to renewables energy transition in the offshore support sector— removing infrastructure for fossil fuel production, while simultaneously accelerating the energy transition during that process. Following GoodFuels’ completion of two successful deliveries of sustainable Bio-Fuel Oil in the shipping sector—in tandem with Danish bulk carrier NORDEN A/S and French container line CMA-CGM—this offshore project, alongside Netherlands-based Jumbo, represents a new market opportunity for sustainable marine fuel. In a major signal to the offshore industry—currently transitioning from oil and gas to renewables—this project will see sustainable drop-in Bio-Fuel Oil delivered to Jumbo’s offshore vessel, Fairplayer, ahead of her departure to the North Sea, and will be supplied by GoodFuels’ logistics partner VARO Energy. GoodFuels is part of the GoodNRG Group, which is active under various labels and companies in sales, marketing, trading, R&D and production of truly sustainable fuels for the transport segments for which biofuels is one of the best or only viable long-term alternative. GoodFuels has a partnership with VARO Energy on the distribution and development of speciality blending solutions for Low Carbon Marine fuels for the ARA region. GoodFuels is part of the pyrolysis cluster at the Port of Moerdijk—an EC-funded project with 4 pilot plants, 8 feedstock options, creating 30 value chains. Resources ORNL report: “Understanding the Opportunities of Biofuels for Marine Shipping” ORNL/TM-2018/1080
Researchers develop large-scale, economical method to extract hydrogen from oil sands and oil fields
Canadian researchers have developed a large-scale economical method to extract hydrogen from oil sands (natural bitumen) and oil fields. This can be used to power hydrogen-powered vehicles, which are already marketed in some countries, as well as to generate electricity. The process can extract hydrogen from existing oil sands reservoirs, with huge existing supplies found in Canada and Venezuela. The process can also be applied to mainstream oil fields, causing them to produce hydrogen instead of oil. Proton Technologies is commercializing the process. The researchers are presenting this work at the Goldschmidt Geochemistry Conference in Barcelona this week. Goldschmidt is an annual, international conference on geochemistry and related subjects, organized by the European Association of Geochemistry and the Geochemical Society. Oil fields, even abandoned oil fields, still contain significant amounts of oil. The researchers propose injecting oxygen deep into the reservoirs. Gases, coke and heavier hydrocarbons are oxidized in place (in-situ combustion). Targeted portions of the reservoir become very warm. Where necessary, the temperatures are heightened further through radio frequency emissions. Eventually, oxidation temperatures exceed 500°C. This heat causes the nearby hydrocarbons—and any surrounding water molecules—to break apart (thermolysis).Thermolysis, gas reforming and water-gas shift have been used in commercial industrial processes to generate hydrogen for more than 100 years. In this new approach, these processes are controlled through the timing and pattern of oxygen injection and external heating. Separate wells extract the elemental hydrogen, using Proton’s patented Hygenerator. The Hygenerator is a dynamic down-hole device that uses feedback from inside the wells to locate hydrogen. A selective membrane inside the Hygenerator filters the gases, and a pump moves pure hydrogen gas up to the wellhead. The Hygenerator is an adaptation of hydrogen-selective filters used in steam-methane reformers (SMRs). More than 95% of the world’s hydrogen comes from splitting natural gas, above ground, in SMRs. For the new system to work, the membrane must be encased in a robust cartridge system that can be placed into a bendy well, and function for long periods despite high pressures and temperature. This technique can draw up huge quantities of hydrogen while leaving the carbon in the ground. When working at production level, we anticipate we will be able to use the existing infrastructure and distribution chains to produce H2 for between 10 and 50 cents per kilo. This means it potentially costs a fraction of gasoline for equivalent output.—Grant Strem, CEO of Proton Technologies This compares with current H2 production costs of around $2/kilo. Around 5% of the H2 produced then powers the oxygen production plant, so the system more than pays for itself. What comes out of the ground is hydrogen gas, so we don’t have the huge above-ground purification costs associated with oil refining: we use the ground as our reaction vessel. Just taking Alberta as an example, we have the potential to supply Canada’s entire electricity requirement for 330 years (Canada uses around 2.5% of the world’s electricity—around the same amount as Germany, and more than France or the UK). Our initial aim is to scale up the production from Canadian oil sands, but in fact, we anticipate that most of the interest in this process will come from outside Canada, as the economics and the environmental implications make people look very hard at whether they want to continue conventional oil production. The only product of this process is hydrogen, meaning that it the technology is effectively pollution and emission free. All the other gases remain in the ground because they cannot go through the hydrogen filter and up to the surface.—Grant Strem The technology was developed by Ian Gates and Jacky Wang as the result of an agreement between the University of Calgary and Proton Technologies Inc., which now holds the patent.
UL issues world’s first certification for repurposed EV batteries to Nissan/Sumitomo JV
UL announced that 4R Energy Corporation, a joint venture of Nissan Motors and Sumitomo Corporation focusing on the effective reuse of EV batteries for energy storage systems, is the first organization worldwide to be certified to UL 1974, the Standard for Evaluation for Repurposing Batteries. Outlining how to sort and grade battery packs, modules and cells that were originally made for electric vehicles (EV) and other applications, UL 1974 helps identify a battery’s state-of-health and introduces ratings to determine the viability for their continued use. Through this process, performance-validated “second-life” batteries can be utilized for energy storage systems to provide a safe, reliable, clean energy source. Repurposed EV battery safety and reliability have always been top priorities for our company since we were established in 2010. With UL 1974, our production process has now been certified by one of the world’s leading independent, third-party testing and certification organizations. We are very excited about this milestone, as it helps build customer trust concerning the viability of second life batteries, and will contribute to the further growth of energy storage systems.—Eiji Makino, president of 4R Energy As the EV market continues to grow, there is an increased emphasis on repurposing batteries used in EVs. Concurrent with this is an escalating demand globally for efficient renewable energy resources. Innovative energy storage solutions are expected to become a key component of the electricity grid, boosting reliability and helping to integrate renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar. Anticipating the deployment of second life automotive batteries for energy storage systems, UL initiated a standard development process to address the safety and reliability of repurposing batteries. In October 2018, UL 1974 was published as a bi-national Standard of the United States and Canada.
Empa team develops electrohydraulically actuated cam-less valve train; up to 20% fuel savings at low load
Researchers at Empa have developed an electrohydraulically actuated cam-less valve train that enables completely free adjustment of stroke and timing, while at the same time being robust and cost-effective. The new technology saves up to 20% fuel in typical passenger car low load operating conditions. The FlexWork valve train was mounted on a serial production engine and has been running successfully in test bench operation for several months. Sectional drawing of the FlexWork valve drive. Image: Empa. The valve train is the “respiratory organ” of combustion engines: it manages the aspiration of fresh air and the discharge of exhaust gases (gas exchange). Today, only mechanically driven camshafts are used in series production for this purpose, often equipped with an additional mechanism, some of which are quite complex. This allows the modification of a valve movement pattern given by the camshaft, which is not possible without an increase in friction. At the same time, flexibility is somewhat limited. What is needed—among other things for adaptation to changing fuel properties—are fast valve movements even at low speeds, stroke adaptations and cylinder-selective widely variable valve timing. Patrik Soltic and his team at Empa’s Automotive Powertrain Technologies laboratory, together with hydraulics specialist Wolfgang Schneider, invented and developed an electrohydraulic valve train that is significantly more flexible than today’s series production technology. The valves are actuated hydraulically and controlled electrically via a solenoid coil. As soon as a control current flows, a specially designed hydraulic valve opens, allowing hydraulic fluid to open the gas exchange valve to the desired extent in milliseconds counter to a spring. When the current is switched off, the gas exchange valve is closed again by the spring force and feeds a large part of the hydraulic energy required for opening back into the hydraulic system. The basic principle of the valve train—for both intake and exhaust side—is an asymmetric hydraulic pendulum, which can be described as a mass-spring-system. Hence, the duration for the opening of the gas exchange valves TOpen, that is time from zero lift to final lift, depends on the stiffness k of the gas exchange valve springs and the mass MSystem of all moving components. … The peculiarity of the FlexWork system is that at high engine speeds the valve lift profiles are similar to cam-driven profiles; at low engine speeds, however, opening and closing gradients are very steep.—Zsiga et al. The system achieves a significantly lower energy requirement over a wide operating range compared to camshaft-driven systems. Together with an optimized gas exchange, the fuel consumption of the test spark-ignition engine is about 20% lower than with conventional valve control using a throttle in combination with camshafts in the low-load range typical for passenger cars. By selecting the operating parameters, the opening and closing times as well as the valve lift for each cylinder can be chosen completely unrestricted. This means that each engine operating condition can be varied from cycle to cycle, for example by intelligent load control, by selecting the residual gas quantity remaining in the cylinder (exhaust gas recirculation), or by deactivating unneeded cylinders without the driver noticing. This makes the engine highly adaptable to new renewable fuels: oxygen-containing fuels such as methanol or ethanol, for example, allow more residual gas to remain in the cylinder. Natural gas, biogas and syngas generated from wind and solar power offer increased anti-knock properties, and the valve train can react flexibly to this as well. In addition, alternative combustion concepts can also be implemented comparatively easily, for example homogeneous self-ignition: a fuel-air mixture is ignited at the right moment without ignition sparks by setting the correct conditions towards the end of compression. The mixture is combusted almost without pollution. Another speciality of the system set up at Empa is the choice of hydraulic fluid: instead of using oil as usual, a water-glycol mixture—i.e. engine cooling water—can be used. Due to its physical properties, this medium is very suitable for fast-switching hydraulic systems, as it is very stiff and therefore creates fewer hydraulic losses. This makes the cylinder head completely oil-free, which can allow a cheaper engine oil with extended change intervals to be used for the rest of the engine. As part of the FlexWork project funded by the SFOE, the new valve train was put into operation in a passenger car engine powered by natural gas and derived from a VW 1.4l TSI engine. The required components were manufactured by Empa’s own workshop. The control system for the test engine was developed by the Empa researchers themselves. The valve train has been running on an Empa engine test bench since October 2018 and has already survived many millions of cycles in fired engine operation flawlessly. The FlexWork valve control needs only low-cost components. No expensive, very fast switching valves and no complex sensors are required. Empa is in discussions with engine manufacturers for the transfer of this technology, which is suitable not only for combustion engines but also for compressors. Resources Zsiga, N., Omanovic, A., Soltic, P. et al. (2019) “Functionality and Potential of a New Electrohydraulic Valve Train” MTZ Worldwide 80:18 doi: 10.1007/s38313-019-0086-0
API: total US petroleum demand topped 20.8 mb/d in July, highest since 2005; on-road fuel demand down
Total US petroleum demand averaged 20.8 million barrels per day (mb/d) in July 2019, which represented a 0.9% year-over-year increase and the highest demand for the month since 2005, according to the latest Monthly Statistical Report released by the American Petroleum Institute (API). This was a decrease of 0.9% from June but an increase of 0.9% compared with July 2018—and the highest demand for the month of July since 2005. Year-to-date through July, total petroleum demand averaged 20.4 mb/d, its strongest level since 2007. The increase in demand came as the US continued to sustain world-leading production, which continues to meet virtually all global oil demand growth. Consumer gasoline demand, measured by total motor gasoline deliveries, was 9.6 mb/d in July—a decrease of 1.4% from June and 0.4% compared with July 2018, even as gasoline prices were 3.6% below those of July 2018. Year-to-date through July, gasoline demand fell by 0.4% y/y while regional consumption appeared to vary. Over the same period, demand for reformulated gasoline, which is consumed primarily in urban areas, decreased by 4.2% y/y to 3.0 mb/d. By contrast, conventional gasoline is used more in rural areas and increased 1.6% y/y to 6.3 mb/d. In July, distillate deliveries of 3.9 mb/d fell by 6.2% from a record level in June but also were down by 1.7% compared with July 2018. Cumulatively through July, distillate deliveries were virtually unchanged from the same period one year ago, despite lower diesel fuel prices. About 93.0% of distillate demand in July was for ultra-low sulfur distillate (ULSD). ULSD deliveries decreased by 1.4% y/y in July. The remaining 3.0% was high-sulfur distillate fuel (HSD), which is a heating fuel in the residential and commercial sectors and a marine fuel when blended to upgrade heavy fuel oil. In July, HSD deliveries of 99 thousand barrels per day (kb/d) decreased 14.7% compared with July 2018. Other Highlights from the July 2019 Monthly Statistical Report include: Sustained world-leading crude oil production at a record pace of 12.0 mb/d year-to-date. Jet fuel demand for the month of July reached a new record of 1.8 mb/d. Refining and petrochemical demand for liquid feedstocks, naphtha, and gasoil (“other oils”) was 5.3 mb/d in July, record demand for the month of July. This represented an increase of 2.8% from June and 5.0% above July 2018. With the strength in consumer demand, domestic refineries processed crude oil at their highest utilization rates so far in 2019 (17.6 mb/d of throughput, utilizing 93.9% of capacity) and compensated for lower international demand for US petroleum exports. Consequently, domestic West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices averaged $57.36 per barrel in July, which was an increase of 4.9% ($2.70 per barrel) from June. However, WTI prices remained down 19.2% ($13.62 per barrel) compared with July 2018 ($70.98 per barrel), and US petroleum inventories grew to within 4.1% of the top of the 5-year range.
Syzygy raises $5.8M in Series A to develop photocatalytic platform for clean chemical and fuel manufacturing
Syzygy Plasmonics, a technology company developing the world’s highest performance photocatalyst, raised $5.8 million in Series A funding. The financing was co-led by The Engine and by The GOOSE Society of Texas. Previous investor Evok Innovations was also a major participant in the round. Other participants include angel investors from the Creative Destruction Lab program and the Houston area. Syzygy is advancing a new photocatalytic chemical reactor that could significantly reduce the cost and carbon emissions in the production process for a wide range of major chemicals such as fuel, fertilizer, and plastic. Licensed from Rice University, the “antenna-reactor” plasmonic photocatalyst has been published in leading academic journals such as Science, Nature, and PNAS. The Antenna-Reactor is the combination of a larger light-harvesting plasmonic nanoparticle (the ‘Antenna’), and smaller traditional catalyst nanoparticles (the ‘Reactor’). The development of the reactor incorporates expertise from chemical engineering, optics, materials science, theoretical physics, and nanophotonics. Antenna-Reactor photocatalyst. Source; Syzygy. The catalyst is a platform technology and it has been demonstrated on many different chemical reactions. Syzygy’s first go-to market is focused on a distributed hydrogen production system for small-scale hydrogen consumers. Examples of these consumers include manufacturers of semiconductors, LEDs, float glass, food oil, metal, and users of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles. Based upon two decades of research from professors Naomi Halas and Peter Nordlander at Rice University, the photocatalysts are orders of magnitude more active, stable, and efficient than previous photocatalysts, the company says. The Series A funding comes on the heels of other significant developments for Syzygy. Earlier this year, Syzygy received grants from the Department of Energy for the development of a reactor to create hydrogen from ammonia and from the National Science Foundation SBIR Program for the development of a reactor that processes carbon dioxide.
Mercedes-Benz introducing A- and B-Class plug-in hybrid models
Mercedes‑Benz Cars is introducing plug-in hybrids under the EQ Power label in the A- and B-Class. These new models, equipped with third-generation hybrid drive, include the A 250 e (combined fuel consumption 1.5-1.4 l/100 km (156.7-167.9 mpg US), combined CO2 emissions 34-33 g/km, combined electrical consumption 15.0-14.8 kWh/100 km); A 250 e Saloon (combined fuel consumption 1.4 l/100 km, combined CO2 emissions 33-32 g/km, combined electrical consumption 14.8 -14.7 kWh/100 km); and B 250 e (combined fuel consumption 1.6-1.4 l/100 km (146.9-167.9 mpg US), combined CO2 emissions 36-32 g/km, combined electrical consumption 15.4-14.7 kWh/100 km). The A 250 e and A 250 e Saloon can be ordered now in Europe at prices from €36,943.55 and €37,300.55. Sale of the B 250 e starts a few weeks later. Market launch of the models will take place this year. The company aims to extend its plug-in offering to more than 20 model variants by 2020. Highlights of the new models include: Electric operating ranges of 70-75 km (43.5-46.6 miles)(NEDC) Electric output 75 kW System output 160 kW System torque 450 N·m Top speed 140 km/h (electric)/235 km/h (total; A-Class Compact Saloon) Acceleration 0-100 km/h in 6.6 seconds (A-Class Compact Saloon)Hardly any restrictions on the load compartment. The vehicles belonging to Mercedes-Benz’s compact car family feature transversely mounted engines. A compact hybrid traction head has been developed for the 8F-DCT dual clutch transmission which follows the same technical principles as the corresponding component on the vehicles with a longitudinally installed engine. It uses a permanently excited synchronous machine as an internal rotor. The stator is permanently integrated in the traction head housing, while the low-loss wet clutch is incorporated in the electric machine's rotor. On-demand stator and rotor cooling allow use of the electric motor's peak and continuous output without any problems. For the first time on a Mercedes-Benz vehicle, the combustion engine is started by the electric motor—the compact hybrids do not have a separate 12-volt starter. The electric machine achieves 75 kW. Together with the 1.33-liter four-cylinder engine this adds up to a system output of 160 kW (218 hp) and a system torque of 450 N·m. A lithium-ion high-voltage battery with a total capacity of approximately 15.6 kWh is used as an electric energy storage unit. It can be charged at an external electric energy source. The A 250 e and B 250 e can be charged with alternating or direct current. A corresponding vehicle socket is located in the right-hand side wall of the vehicles. This means that the compact plug-in hybrids can be charged at a 7.4 kW Wallbox with alternating current (AC) within 1 h 45 min from 10-100 percent SoC (Status of Charge). For direct-current charging (DC) the battery can be charged from 10 - 80 percent SoC in around 25 minutes. The batteries are supplied by the wholly owned Daimler subsidiary Deutsche ACCUMOTIVE. The high-voltage battery is water-cooled and weighs approximately 150 kg. An innovative exhaust system enables ingenious packaging: rather than extending to the end of the vehicle, the exhaust ends in a centrally positioned outlet under the vehicle floor, with the rear silencer housed in the transmission tunnel. Integrating the fuel tank into the axle installation space creates room beneath the rear seats for the high-voltage battery. This results in only minimal reduction in trunk capacity for the A 250 e and B 250 e compared to the sister models without hybrid engines. Because the compact vehicles use third-generation plug-in technology, all of their functions are also available. These include in particular the intelligent, route-based operating strategy, taking factors such as navigation data, speed regulations and route into account. The operating strategy takes into account the entire planned route and prioritises the electric driving mode for the most sensible route sections in each case. With the launch of MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) the previous plug-in operating modes of all EQ Power models have been converted to drive programs. That means that in every Mercedes-Benz plug-in hybrid the new drive programs “Electric” and “Battery Level” are available. This is the case from the outset for the compact models. Maximum e-performance can be experienced in “Electric”. The combustion engine is only engaged if the driver uses kickdown on the accelerator pedal. In the “Electric” program the recuperation strength can also be selected via paddles behind the steering wheel. The paddles on the steering wheel enable the selection of five different recuperation levels (DAUTO, D+, D, D- and D--). Comfort, ECO and Sport modes are also available. According to the given requirements, the driver is thus able to give priority to electric driving, place the emphasis on driving dynamics in combined drive mode or give preference to combustion mode in order to save electric range, for example. A key comfort feature is pre-entry climate control before the vehicle is started, because the A 250 e and B 250 e have an electric refrigerant compressor. The pre-entry climate control can also be activated conveniently by smartphone. The trailer load of the compact hybrids is 1600 kg (3,527 lbs) (braked). The MBUX infotainment system (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) assists the driver in finding charging stations. The MBUX system understands natural speech, allowing the driver to start a search simply by saying “Hey Mercedes, find charging stations nearby”. Via Mercedes me Charge, drivers of a plug-in hybrid model can optionally obtain access to one of the world's largest charging networks, with more than 300 different operators in Europe (municipalities, car parks, motorways, shopping centres, etc.). With navigation, Mercedes-Benz customers can find these stations easily and can gain convenient access to the charging stations via the Mercedes me Charge card, the Mercedes me App or directly from the car. No separate contracts are necessary for this: apart from simple authentication, customers benefit from an integrated payment function with simple billing after they have registered their payment method once. Each charging procedure is booked automatically. The individual charging processes are clearly listed in a monthly invoice. By the end of 2019 Mercedes-Benz will have more than ten plug-in hybrids in the range from the compact car to the flagship Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The new plug-in hybrids of the S-, E- and C-Class with electric ranges of up to 50 km in accordance with NEDC were unveiled last year. In the C- and E-Class, Mercedes-Benz is the only manufacturer to combine the diesel engine with plug-in technology, offering this set-up in the Saloon and Estate versions of these two model series. The update of the GLC with EQ Power is already in the starting blocks. Also equipped with the third-generation hybrid drivetrain, it provides the point of entry to the SUV segment. The next member of the EQ Power family will be the GLE; with a planned range of around 100 km (62 miles), it points the way to an even more powerful electric driving experience. A-Class plug-in hybrid.
Study suggests future climate changes to worsen air quality for >85% of China’s population; ~20k+ additional deaths each year
A study by a team of researchers from China, the US and Germany suggests that future climate change may worsen air quality for more than 85% of China’s population, leading to an additional 20,000 deaths each year. An open access paper on their work is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The team used a combination of climate, air quality, and epidemiological models to assess future air pollution deaths in a changing climate under Representative Concentration Pathway 4.5 (RCP 4.5). (The RCP 4.5 scenario is a stabilization scenario—the radiative forcing level stabilizes at 4.5 W/m2 before 2100 without overshoot by employment of a range of technologies and strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.) We find that, assuming pollution emissions and population are held constant at current levels, climate change would adversely affect future air quality for >85% of China’s population (∼55% of land area) by the middle of the century, and would increase by 3% and 4% the population-weighted average concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone, respectively. As a result, we estimate an additional 12,100 and 8,900 Chinese (95% confidence interval: 10,300 to 13,800 and 2,300 to 14,700, respectively) will die per year from PM2.5 and ozone exposure, respectively. The important underlying climate mechanisms are changes in extreme conditions such as atmospheric stagnation and heat waves (contributing 39% and 6%, respectively, to the increase in mortality). Additionally, greater vulnerability of China’s aging population will further increase the estimated deaths from PM2.5 and ozone in 2050 by factors of 1 and 3, respectively. Our results indicate that climate change and more intense extremes are likely to increase the risk of severe pollution events in China. Managing air quality in China in a changing climate will thus become more challenging.—Hong et al. Projected multiyear mean changes in air quality due to climate change and the associated health impacts in China. Projected changes in mean annual PM2.5 concentrations (A) and the ozone season average of daily 1-h maximum ozone (B) over East Asia related to climate change under RCP4.5 are shown from current (2006 to 2010) to future (2046 to 2050) years. The estimated changes in annual mortality in China due to the climate-related changes in PM2.5 (C) and ozone (D) exposure are shown. The dots in A and B denote areas where changes are statistically significant at the 90% level. Hong et al. Air pollution is already the cause of more than 1 million premature deaths per year in China, according to the World Health Organization. For Chinese policy makers working to improve current air quality and protect public health, our finding is a daunting conclusion, and one that underscores the need to tackle the challenges of both climate change mitigation and air quality at the same time.—Hong et al. Resources Chaopeng Hong, Qiang Zhang, Yang Zhang, Steven J. Davis, Dan Tong, Yixuan Zheng, Zhu Liu, Dabo Guan, Kebin He, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber (2019) “Impacts of climate change on future air quality and human health in China” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences doi: 10.1073/pnas.1812881116
Microplastics in Arctic snow suggest widespread air pollution
Wind plays a role in carrying microplastics (MPs, shreds of plastic less than five millimeters long) to both the snowy streets of European cities and remote areas of the Arctic Ocean. The high concentrations found in snow samples from disparate regions suggest microplastics—which may contain varnish, rubber, or chemicals used in synthetic fabrics—cause significant air pollution. Previous studies have shown that microplastics may contribute to lung cancer risk, highlighting an urgent need to further assess the health risks of inhaling them. To better understand how microplastics travel so far, which has been a question, researchers from the Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung In Germany used an imaging technique to analyze snow samples collected between 2015 and 2017 from floating ice in the Fram Strait, a passage between Greenland and Svalbard to the Arctic Ocean. They visited five ice floes by ship-based helicopters or dinghies during three expeditions. For comparison, the researchers investigated samples from the remote Swiss Alps and the City of Bremen in northwest Germany. They observed that while concentrations of microplastics in Arctic snow were significantly lower than the concentrations in European snow, the levels of this pollutant in the far North were still substantial. The highest proportion of MPs in the total natural and synthetic particle load was found in snow from Ice Floe 1 (88%), followed by Bavaria 2 (67%) and Ice Floe 9 (37%). There was no significant difference in the proportion of MP particles from European and Arctic snow (Mann-Whitney U test: W = 170, P = 0.59). The composition varied considerably with 19 different polymer types found in total ranging between 2 (Ice Floe 4) and 12 types (Bavaria 2) per sample. The number of polymers per sample was significantly higher in European (mean, 8.63 ± 0.80) compared with Arctic (mean, 5.14 ± 0.79) samples (Mann-Whitney U test: W = 123, P = 0.013). Acrylates/polyurethanes/varnish/lacquer (hereafter varnish) occurred most frequently (17 samples), followed by nitrile rubber (16 samples), polyethylene (PE), polyamide, and rubber type 3 (13; ethylene-propylene-diene rubber). The polymer composition of samples from Europe and the Arctic was significantly different [permutational multivariate analysis of variance (PERMANOVA): pseudo-F = 2.43, P = 0.006]. The dissimilarity in the polymer composition from European and Arctic samples was 67% and caused primarily by much higher abundances of polyamide, varnish, rubber type 3, nitrile rubber, ethylene-vinyl-acetate, and PE in European samples. By contrast, polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polycarbonate, polylactic acid, and polyimide occurred exclusively in Arctic snow. —Bergmann et al. Most of the particles were in the smallest measurable size range of less than 11 micrometers; such particles are more likely to be picked up by atmospheric transport, the authors say. Because most studies currently focus on particles larger than 200 or 300 micrometers, measuring smaller particles remains important, in order to realistically assess microplastics' environmental toll. The high amounts of microplastics in snow, as reported here, suggest that atmospheric transport and deposition could represent a significant pathway for these materials to places far afield, the authors say. Resources Melanie Bergmann, Sophia Mützel, Sebastian Primpke, Mine B. Tekman, Jürg Trachsel, Gunnar Gerdts (2019) “White and wonderful? Microplastics prevail in snow from the Alps to the Arctic” Science Advances doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aax1157
Tier IV raises $9M from Quanta Computer to develop reference model for ECUs for autonomous driving
Tier IV, Inc. has raised about $9 million from Quanta Computer, Inc. in a Series A extension round following the previous $100+ million Series A funding. This latest funding engages Quanta Computer and Tier IV to develop a new reference model of electronic control units (ECUs) for autonomous driving. The current state of the art in autonomous driving requires low-power and high-performance ECUs with functional safety features. The strategic collaboration of Quanta Computer and Tier IV will discover a desired specification for those ECUs as a reference model based on the best practice integration of Autoware, a full-stack open-source software platform for autonomous driving. Quanta Computer has already developed a prototype of Autoware-integrated ECUs and conducted a field test using a real vehicle in cooperation with Tier IV. This core offering of Autoware-integrated ECUs will support key initiatives in production of multiple levels of autonomous driving. Quanta Computer is a Fortune Global 500 Companies and the world’s leading provider for notebook computers and other technology products. Founded in 1988, Quanta Computer is headquartered in Taiwan with major operation facilities set up in Asia, Canada, North America, South America, and Europe. Quanta Group currently employs over 90,000 employees worldwide with consolidated revenues amounting to US$34 billion for fiscal year 2018. Tier IV is a Japan-based start-up Japan leading the development of the first open-source software for autonomous driving (Autoware); Tier IV has applied it for the proof-of-concept of last-mile driverless mobility and logistics.
Scandlines installing Norsepower’s rotor sail solution on board hybrid ferry
Ferry operator Scandlines signed an agreement with Norsepower Oy Ltd, leading clean technology and engineering company pioneering modern wind propulsion technology, to install Norsepower’s Rotor Sail Solution on board the M/V Copenhagen, a hybrid passenger ferry. Illustration of Scandlines hybrid ferry M/V Copenhagen with Rotor Sail. Operating between Rostock in Germany and Gedser in Denmark, the M/V Copenhagen belongs to the world’s largest fleet of hybrid ferries, which combines diesel and battery power. Since 2013, Scandlines has invested more than €300 million in building and retrofitting ferries from conventional diesel-driven to hybrid ferries. With the addition of Norsepower’s technology, the vessel will further reduce its emissions. The Norsepower Rotor Sail Solution is a modernized version of the Flettner rotor (earlier post)—a spinning cylinder that uses the Magnus effect—a commonly observed effect in which a spinning ball or cylinder in this case curves away from its principal path to harness wind power to thrust a ship. The Magnus effect observes that a revolving body moving relatively to a surrounding fluid—in this case, air—is subjected not only to drag, but also to lift. As the speed of the cylinder—spinning at right angles to the flow—increases, the pressure decreases on the side of the cylinder where the natural flow and the spin-induce flow combine. The decrease in pressure generates lift, and the lift increases as the surface velocity increases (per Bernoulli’s theorem). The thrust induced by the Magnus effect can be utilized in ship propulsion by placing a cylinder on the open deck of the vessel and by rotating it around its vertical axis. A variable electric drive system, which is powered by the ship's low voltage network, is used for rotation of the Rotor Sail. The Norsepower Rotor Sail is the first data-verified and commercially operational auxiliary wind propulsion technology for the global maritime industry. When wind conditions are favorable, it enables the electric propulsion thrusters and center propel to be throttled back, reducing emissions, while providing the power needed to maintain speed and voyage time. Because it generates supplementary thrust from wind, the solution is compatible with all other emissions saving technologies. The route between Gedser to the north and Rostock to the south is almost perpendicular to the prevailing wind from west giving Scandlines favorable conditions for using Rotor Sails on the ferry crossing. Preparations for the retrofit will take place in November 2019 with the installation scheduled for Q2 2020. M/V Copenhagen is set to be retrofitted with one large-sized Norsepower Rotor Sail unit that is 30m in height and 5m in diameter. By installing a Rotor Sail, we can reduce CO2 emissions on the Rostock-Gedser route by four to five per cent.—Scandlines CEO Søren Poulsgaard Jensen
DOE researchers develop energy-efficient, cost-effective process to extract rare earth elements from scrapped magnets
Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and colleagues have developed a process to extract rare earth elements from the scrapped magnets of used hard drives and other sources. They have patented and scaled-up the process in lab demonstrations and are working with ORNL’s licensee Momentum Technologies to scale the process further to produce commercial batches of rare earth oxides. In 2017, Momentum Technologies licensed ORNL’s 3D-printed magnet technology and plans to produce the first 3D-printed magnet made from recycled materials. We have developed an energy-efficient, cost-effective, environmentally friendly process to recover high-value critical materials. It’s an improvement over traditional processes, which require facilities with a large footprint, high capital and operating costs and a large amount of waste generated.—co-inventor Ramesh Bhave, who leads the membrane technologies team in ORNL’s Chemical Sciences Division Through the patented process, magnets are dissolved in nitric acid, and the solution is continuously fed through a module supporting polymer membranes. The membranes contain porous hollow fibers with an extractant that creates a selective barrier and lets only rare earth elements pass through. The rare-earth-rich solution collected on the other side is further processed to yield rare earth oxides at purities exceeding 99.5%. Typically, 70% of a permanent magnet is iron, which is not a rare earth element. We are essentially able to eliminate iron completely and recover only rare earths.—Ramesh Bhave Extracting desirable elements without co-extracting undesirable ones means less waste is created that will need downstream treatment and disposal. Supporters of the work include DOE’s Critical Materials Institute (CMI) for separations research and DOE’s Office of Technology Transitions (OTT) for process scale-up. ORNL is a founding team member of CMI, a DOE Energy Innovation Hub led by DOE’s Ames Laboratory and managed by the Advanced Manufacturing Office. Bhave’s “mining” of an acidic solution with selective membranes joins other promising CMI technologies for recovering rare earths, including a simple process that crushes and treats magnets and an acid-free alternative. No commercialized process currently recycles pure rare earth elements from electronic-waste magnets. That’s a huge missed opportunity considering 2.2 billion personal computers, tablets and mobile phones are expected to ship worldwide in 2019, according to Gartner. Bhave’s project, which began in 2013, is a team effort. John Klaehn and Eric Peterson of DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory collaborated in an early phase of the research focused on chemistry, and Ananth Iyer, a professor at Purdue University, later assessed the technical and economic feasibility of scale-up. At ORNL, former postdoctoral fellows Daejin Kim and Vishwanath Deshmane studied separations process development and scale-up, respectively. Bhave’s current ORNL team, comprising Dale Adcock, Pranathi Gangavarapu, Syed Islam, Larry Powell and Priyesh Wagh, focuses on scaling up the process and working with industry partners who will commercialize the technology. To ensure rare earths could be recovered across a wide spectrum of feedstocks, researchers subjected magnets of varying composition—from sources including hard drives, magnetic resonance imaging machines, cell phones and hybrid cars—to the process. Most rare earth elements are lanthanides, elements with atomic numbers between 57 and 71 in the periodic table. ORNL’s tremendous expertise in lanthanide chemistry gave us a huge jump start. We started looking at lanthanide chemistries and ways by which lanthanides are selectively extracted.—Ramesh Bhave Over two years, the researchers tailored membrane chemistry to optimize recovery of rare earths. Now, their process recovers more than 97% of the rare earth elements. To date Bhave’s recycling project has resulted in a patent and two publications documenting recovery of three rare earth elements—neodymium, praseodymium and dysprosium—as a mixture of oxides. The second phase of separations began in July 2018 with an effort to separate dysprosium from neodymium and praseodymium. A mixture of the three oxides sells for $50 a kilogram. If dysprosium could be separated from the mixture, its oxide could be sold for five times as much. The program’s second phase will also explore if ORNL’s underlying process for separating rare earths can be developed for separating other in-demand elements from lithium ion batteries. The expected high growth of electric vehicles is going to require a tremendous amount of lithium and cobalt.—Ramesh Bhave Industrial efforts needed to deploy the ORNL process into the marketplace, funded over two years by DOE’s OTT Technology Commercialization Fund, began in February 2019. The goal is to recover hundreds of kilograms of rare earth oxides each month and validate, verify and certify that manufacturers could use the recycled materials to make magnets equivalent to those made with virgin materials. DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, part of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, funded this research through the CMI, which was established to diversify supply, develop substitutes, improve reuse and recycling and conduct crosscutting research of critical materials. ORNL has provided strategic direction for these areas since CMI began in 2013. This includes providing leaders for focus areas and projects that led to new innovations in aluminum-cerium alloys and magnet recycling. Resources US Patent Nº 9,968,887 “Membrane assisted solvent extraction for rare earth element recovery” Daejin Kim, Lawrence Powell, Lætitia H. Delmau, Eric S. Peterson, Jim Herchenroeder & Ramesh R. Bhave (2016) “A supported liquid membrane system for the selective recovery of rare earth elements from neodymium-based permanent magnets,” Separation Science and Technology, 51:10, 1716-1726, doi: 10.1080/01496395.2016.1171782 Daejin Kim, Lawrence E. Powell, Lætitia H. Delmau, Eric S. Peterson, Jim Herchenroeder, and Ramesh R. Bhave (2015) “Selective Extraction of Rare Earth Elements from Permanent Magnet Scraps with Membrane Solvent Extraction” Environmental Science & Technology 49 (16), 9452-9459 doi: 10.1021/acs.est.5b01306
Startup licenses ORNL technology for converting organic waste to hydrogen
Electro-Active Technologies has exclusively licensed two biorefinery technologies invented and patented by the startup’s co-founders while working at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The technologies work as a system that converts organic waste into renewable hydrogen gas for use as a biofuel. The system combines biology and electrochemistry to degrade organic waste—such as plant biomass or food waste—to produce hydrogen. During the microbial electrolysis process, a diverse microbial community first breaks down organic material. There are usually thousands of microbes that are required to convert a complex organic mixture from biomass into electrons. We developed an enrichment process to create this [microbial] consortium to efficiently extract electrons from organic materials.—Alex Lewis, CEO An electrolysis method designed by co-founders Abhijeet Borole and Alex Lewis then combines the protons and electrons into hydrogen molecules. Although they originally developed both processes to address the problems of liquid waste formed during biofuel production, Electro-Active Technologies will focus on fighting food waste. We waste about 40% of food that is produced in the world today, which generates methane in landfills. This is also considerable in context of how much energy and effort is put into the food industry. We can deliver a zero-emission fuel that reduces transportation emissions, while also using food waste to make the hydrogen—Abhijeet Borole The duo selected food waste as a microbial feedstock after interviewing 80 customers across waste-to-hydrogen industries while participating in DOE’s Energy I-Corps, a program that helps accelerate commercialization efforts at DOE laboratories. Because customers often must pay to dispose of food waste, the food waste-based feedstock presents economic advantages over using biomass, which must be purchased. The company is creating prototypes for modular waste conversion systems that customers can place onsite. Founded in 2017, Electro-Active Technologies is working to move industries and communities towards closed-loop operations that save money and improve sustainability. The startup was selected to participate in San Francisco’s IndieBio Accelerator program in February and was recently accepted into the H2 Refuel Accelerator, which is sponsored by Shell, Toyota and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. Abhijeet Borole spent more than 20 years at ORNL, where he led research on microbial fuel cells and electrolysis cells for the development of bioelectrochemical systems for waste conversion. He is now a research professor at the University of Tennessee, while also working with the startup. Alex Lewis researched under the mentorship of Borole as a doctoral candidate in Energy Science and Engineering through the University of Tennessee’s Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education. As the CEO of Electro-Active Technologies, he was recently selected as a fellow in ORNL’s third Innovation Crossroads cohort with support from the Tennessee Valley Authority. The initial research that enabled this technology development was supported by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Bioenergy Technologies Office. The technology was jointly patented by ORNL and the University of Tennessee Research Foundation, a non-profit affiliate of the UT system that promotes the commercialization of UT intellectual property.
DOE awarding $59M to 43 projects to accelerate advanced vehicle technologies research
The US Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding $59 million to 43 projects for new and innovative advanced vehicle technologies research. Funded through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, these projects include solid-state batteries (15 projects) and power-dense electric motors (5 projects); co-optimized engine and fuel technologies (3 projects); materials for more efficient powertrains (2 projects); and alternative fuels and new energy efficient mobility systems (11 projects). Annually, vehicles transport 11 billion tons of freight—more than $35 billion worth of goods each day—and move people more than 3 trillion vehicle-miles. The average US household spends nearly one-fifth of its total family expenditures on transportation, making it the most expensive spending category after housing. Projects selected will accelerate the development of lithium-metal solid state batteries (materials, tools, and modeling); novel materials and designs for advanced electric motors; and combine new powertrain materials with new combustion regimes to improve fuel economy significantly. The projects are:
Colorado Air Quality Control Commission adopts zero-emission vehicle standard
The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission adopted a zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) standard for Colorado early today in an 8-1 decision. The new zero-emission standard adopts California ZEV requirements, with automakers to sell more than 5% zero-emission vehicles by 2023 and more than 6% zero-emission vehicles by 2025. Eleven states now have a ZEV standard. Certification for ZEV emission standards of the new 2023 and subsequent model year passenger cars, and light-duty trucks will be made pursuant to the California code. The standard is based on a matrix of credits given for each electric vehicle sold, depending on the vehicle’s zero-emission range. The new requirement does not mandate consumers to purchase electric vehicles, but experts say it will result in manufacturers selling a wider range of models in Colorado, including SUVs and light trucks. The zero-emission standard does not compel anyone to buy an electric vehicle. It only requires manufacturers to increase ZEV sales from 2.6% to 6.23%. It’s a modest proposal in the face of a critical threat. —Garry Kaufman, director of the Air Pollution Control Division at the department The commission invited public comment at various hours of the day and evening, and also invited remote testimony by telephone to make it easier for those who could not travel to the Front Range. The commission’s decision came after a robust public comment period, as well as significant written and oral testimony from parties providing information on all aspects of the standard.
UPS invests in autonomous trucking company TuSimple, tests self-driving tractor trailers
UPS’ venture capital arm, UPS Ventures, has made a minority investment in autonomous driving company TuSimple (earlier post). Together, both companies are testing self-driving tractor trailers on a route in Arizona to determine whether the vehicles can improve service and efficiency in the UPS network. This is an extension of the ongoing commercial relationship between UPS and TuSimple in which UPS has purchased transportation services from TuSimple. The work with autonomous driving company TuSimple began with the goal of helping UPS better understand the requirements for Level 4 Autonomous trucking in its network. L4 Autonomous means the vehicle’s onboard computer is in complete control at all times, eliminating manual intervention. Currently, however, laws regulating L4 Autonomous driving require a driver in the vehicle at all times to take over operation if needed. Throughout the ongoing tests, UPS has been providing truckloads of goods for TuSimple to carry on a North American Freight Forwarding route between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. The company initiated self-driving service in May, 2019, with a driver and engineer in the vehicle. TuSimple and UPS monitor distance and time the trucks travel autonomously, safety data and transport time. UPS is committed to developing and deploying technologies that enable us to operate our global logistics network more efficiently. While fully autonomous, driverless vehicles still have development and regulatory work ahead, we are excited by the advances in braking and other technologies that companies like TuSimple are mastering. All of these technologies offer significant safety and other benefits that will be realized long before the full vision of autonomous vehicles is brought to fruition—and UPS will be there, as a leader implementing these new technologies in our fleet.—Scott Price, UPS Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer Founded in 2015, TuSimple’s mission is to bring the first self-driving truck to market, to increase safety, decrease transportation costs and reduce carbon emissions. TuSimple develops technology that will allow shipping companies to operate self-driving class 8 tractor-trailers. UPS contracts with third-party trucking companies during its peak shipping season. TuSimple believes it could cut average purchased transportation costs by 30%. UPS’s tests with TuSimple are part of an advanced technology evaluation for vehicles in the UPS Global Smart Logistics Network. UPS is investing in Internet of Things (IoT) technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics to increase fuel efficiency and improve customer service. One way UPS explores new technologies is via its internal venture capital group UPS Ventures, which was established in 1997 as the UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund (SEF). In 2018, the SEF refined its objective and took the new name UPS Ventures. The group now seeks specific capabilities that UPS can integrate into its network immediately. UPS Ventures takes a minority stake in technology startups and actively partners with these companies to achieve technology goals for the UPS Smart Logistics Network.
EFG Companies launches MAP Electric Vehicle Protection for EV customers; 11 years, 150k miles
EFG Companies, the innovator behind the award-winning Hyundai Assurance program, has launched the new Motorist Assistance Plan (MAP) Electric Vehicle Protection. This new exclusionary vehicle service contract is designed to meet the unique needs of electric vehicle owners and help dealers diversify their revenue streams through both the F&I office and the service drive. MAP Electric Vehicle Protection provides coverage for all assemblies and parts, the manufacturer-installed battery, and electric vehicle motor(s), except for a specific list of excluded parts. It also provides roadside assistance, rental reimbursement, and trip interruption benefits. There is continuous growth opportunity in the electric vehicle market and dealerships need to be equipped to not only sell and service those vehicles, but also provide valuable consumer protection.—John Pappanastos, President and CEO of EFG Companies According to 2018 research from J.P. Morgan and Edison Electric Institute: 1.2 million battery electric vehicles are estimated to be sold in North America in 2025. North American battery electric vehicle sales volume is estimated to range between 1.4 and 6 million vehicles by 2030. As electric vehicles gain market share, dealers are concerned with profit potential per unit and service drive retention on vehicles with thousands of fewer parts than traditional combustion engine vehicles. MAP Electric Vehicle Protection addresses those concerns with coverage that goes beyond most traditional vehicle service contracts (VSCs), and even manufacturer warranties. Most electric vehicle manufacturers provide coverage for an EV battery up to eight years or 100,000 miles. MAP Electric Vehicle Protection provides coverage for up to 11 years, and 150,000 miles, providing customers an extra three years of protection. Additionally, most VSCs on the market are designed for traditional, combustion engines. While they may include some electric vehicle components, they often cover up to 2,000 parts that aren’t installed on electric vehicles, and fail to cover the most expensive parts of an electric vehicle to replace: the battery and motor. Rather than providing a one-size-fits-most vehicle service contract, dealers selling MAP Electric Vehicle Protection are better positioned to differentiate themselves in the electric-vehicle market with a program tailor-made for their electric-vehicle customers. The market-differentiation, built-in loyalty, and service drive revenue provides dealership owners with a critical return on investment.—Eric Fifield, Chief Sales Officer of EFG Companies Although electric vehicle owners spend little on maintenance, the vehicles are more complex, making it nearly impossible for the do-it-yourself consumer or independent service store to safely make repairs without extensive training. The MAP Electric Vehicle program covers the specific components of an electric vehicle, including the manufacturers’ battery and electric motor(s) for current–to-five-year-old vehicles. As electric and hybrid vehicles gain market share, the impact to dealership service drives will be significant. Going forward, service drive technicians will spend more time working with batteries, power units, and electrically-operated engine components in addition to traditional repairs made to internal combustion engines. The good news is, the revenue per repair is higher for electric vehicles, as is the opportunity for customer retention.—Paul Roberts, Director of Service Engagement at EFG Companies
World’s largest electric ferry completes maiden voyage; 4.3MWh Leclanché battery system
The world’s largest all-electric ferry, named E-ferry Ellen, made its first commercial trip on 15 August, connecting the ports of Søby and Fynshav, on the islands of Aerø and Als, in southern Denmark. Capable of carrying approximately 30 vehicles and 200 passengers, is powered by a 4.3MWh battery system provided by Leclanché SA. E-ferry Ellen, a single-ended, drive-through Ro-Ro passenger ferry with one continuous main deck for trailers and cars, is expected to be fully operational within a few weeks. The E-ferry is part of the Danish Natura project, which aims to provide environmentally friendly transport for local residents. This project was initiated in 2015 and was funded by the European Union through the Horizon 2020 and Innovation Program. We are very proud to provide specifically designed unique lithium-ion battery system to this ferry, the precursor to a new era in the commercial marine sector. With its 4.3MWh capacity, the E-ferry represents a new milestone in commercial marine propulsion. Over one year, it will prevent the release of 2000 tonnes of CO2, 42 tonnes of NOx, 2.5 tonnes of particulates and 1.4 tonnes of SO2 into the atmosphere. This project demonstrates that today we can replace fossil fuel thermal drives with clean energy, and thus contribute to the fight against global warming and pollution for the well-being of our communities.—Anil Srivastava, CEO of Leclanché The battery system supplied by Leclanché uses high-energy G-NMC lithium-ion cells with unique safety features, including a bi-cellular laminated design and ceramic separators. Leclanché specifically designs and engineers a Class Type Approved and Certified Marine Rack Systems (MRS) including Fire prevention and extinguishing systems. The project has received the DNV-GL Type Approval Certificate and the DNV-GL Product Certificate. The Swiss company develops and manufactures its own graphite/NMC (nickel-manganese cobalt lithium oxide) and LTO (titanate lithium oxide) cells. The parallel and redundant battery and powertrain systems make the E-ferry a safe and reliable vessel.
University of Kentucky chemist receives NSF grant to study atmospheric reactions of pollution
University of Kentucky Chemistry Professor Marcelo Guzman has received a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for research, education and outreach efforts in the field of environmental and atmospheric chemistry. The $461,000-project, titled “Heterogeneous Aging Mechanisms of Combustion and Biomass Burning Emissions,” will focus on how gases, such as ozone, react with pollutants emitted from power plants and forest fires. My work with environmental chemistry focuses on the interaction of gases with organic compounds present in low water activity environments such as the atmospheric aerosol, clouds and fog. Both types of emissions cause tiny particles to be suspended in air. These particles play a major role in visibility and air quality. This new project will investigate oxidation reactions occurring on the surface of particles because chemical reactions on the surface can further increase or decrease visibility and air quality.—Prof. Guzman Guzman and his students will study how these pollutants are transformed on surfaces by oxidizing atmospheric gases. Severe haze events occur in many places in the world facilitated by the interaction between anthropogenic emissions and atmospheric processes with a direct impact on human health. In this work, we aim to identify previously unknown harmful chemicals that should be removed from air by investigating at the molecular level the evolution of surface reactions. This knowledge will not only be a great asset for further reduction of air pollution levels but also for saving lives of people that suffer from cardiovascular diseases.—Prof. Guzman In addition, the grant will support interdisciplinary training in atmospheric chemistry, environmental science and engineering for graduate and undergraduate students at UK, including research assistantships for four chemistry graduate students. The project will also contribute to the education of high school students in Fayette County interested in careers in science and engineering. The project is co-funded by NSF’s Atmospheric Chemistry and Environmental Chemical Science Programs.
Cal Energy Commission awards $3.75M to early-stage clean energy projects; 9 battery projects
The California Energy Commission awarded $3.75 million to 25 early-stage, innovative projects as part of a portfolio of research investments intended to help achieve the state’s climate and clean energy goals. Among the projects are nine battery-related efforts. The Energy Commission’s Electric Program Investment Charge program, which drives clean energy innovation and entrepreneurship, funds the California Sustainable Energy Entrepreneur Development (CalSEED)Initiative. Since 2017, CalSEED has awarded $12.4 million in EPIC funding to 75 projects statewide to help California entrepreneurs bring early-stage clean energy technologies to market. Each awardee receives up to $150,000 in initial funding with up to $450,000 available in follow-on funding. In addition to funding, CalSEED provides access to technical expertise, mentoring, and business development training. The battery-related projects are: Coreshell Technologies: Thin-film battery electrode coating technology for lower costs and doubled battery life. NanoDian: Low-cost, safer, cobalt-free, nanostructured lithium-ion battery cathode material. EnZinc: Safe, high performance rechargeable zinc battery. ReJoule Incorporated: Impedance-based battery health management for large format lithium- ion battery packs. Nrgtek: Energy storage with sodium iron flow batteries. EndLis Energy: Low-cost, environmentally-sustainable, lithium carbon-based rechargeable batteries. Noon Energy: Rechargeable carbon-oxygen flow battery. DAE Technologies: Low-cost lithium carbon fluoride battery. RePurpose Energy: Lithium-ion battery fire suppression system that protects surrounding battery cells.
Solaris top electric bus OEM in Europe in terms of contracts in 2019
Solaris has claimed the lead spot in Europe in terms of contracts for electric buses in 2019. In the first months of 2019, Solaris secured three large orders for the supply of electric buses to Berlin (BVG); Milan (ATM); and Warsaw (MZA). A total of up to 470 vehicles will roll off the assembly line to these three metropolises alone. In addition, the producer has contracted 90 more electric buses that are to make its way to other European cities. Solaris accounts for a total of 25% electric buses for which European carriers have called tenders in 2019. The firm has thus taken the lead in Europe in terms of contracts landed for electric buses. The European fleet currently comprises approximately 3,500 electric buses, while barely five years ago the total number was 240. At the end of 2018, the European Parliament set itself the goal to ensure that in 2025, 50% of all new city buses are electric, whereas in 2030 that share is supposed to climb to 75%. Solaris offers operators interested in transitioning to zero-emission transport a fully bespoke electric bus. Depending on the climate, the route and transport load of a line, or even the topography, electric Urbino buses may require a different specification. Solaris offers various options with regard to vehicle length, equipment, battery type, as well as charging modes and the necessary infrastructure. Buses can be fitted with asynchronous central motors or two motors integrated into the electric axle. Two battery types are available to customers: Solaris High Energy and Solaris High Power. In the autumn the company will present a new generation of batteries—the Solaris High Energy Plus, with its maximum capacity nearly doubled. Solaris e-buses can recharge in two ways: fast charging, taking a few up to a dozen or so minutes via a pantograph, or slow charging, via a regular plug-in. About 65% of the clients of Solaris-brand electric buses has decided on pantograph charging—the charging solution promoted by Solaris. On the bus market however, proportions are divided slightly differently, with each mode claiming about half the number, though plug-in charged buses have a slight advantage.
Waterloo team integrates blockchain into EV charging infrastructure to improve trust
Researchers at the University of Waterloo have integrated the use of blockchain into energy systems, a development that could result in expanded charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. In a study that outlines the new blockchain-oriented charging system, the researchers found that there is a lack of trust among charging service providers, property owners and owners of electric vehicles (EVs). With an open blockchain platform, all parties would have access to the data and can see if it has been tampered with. Using a blockchain-oriented charging system will, therefore, allow EV owners to see if they are being overcharged while property owners will know if they are being underpaid. Energy services are increasingly being provided by entities that do not have well-established trust relationships with their customers and partners. In this context, blockchains are a promising approach for replacing a central trusted party, for example, making it possible to implement direct peer-to-peer energy trading.—Christian Gorenflo, a PhD candidate in Waterloo’s David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science. In undertaking the study, Gorenflo, his supervisor, professor Srinivasan Keshav of the Cheriton School of Computer Science, and Lukasz Golab, professor of Management Science, collaborated with an EV-charging service provider. The provider works with property owners to install EV supply equipment that is used by EV owners for a fee. The revenue stream from these charging stations is then shared between the charging service provider and each property owner. The EV supply equipment is operated by the charging service provider, so the property owners must trust the provider to compensate them fairly for the electricity used. From the case study, the researchers were able to identify three steps necessary for the incorporation of blockchain technology into an energy system. The first is to identify the involved parties and their trust relations. If the level of trust in a relation is insufficient to achieve the application's goal or if it restricts an action necessary to reach that goal, this should be recorded as a trust issue. Secondly, design a minimal blockchain system, including smart contracts, that resolves the trust issues identified in the first step. If parts of a legacy system need to be replaced, the new system should closely mimic existing interfaces so that dependencies can continue to work with minimal modifications. Finally, with the trust-mitigating blockchain in place, the rest of the system can be migrated iteratively over time. This allows the business model to eventually grow from a legacy/blockchain hybrid into a truly decentralized solution. Mitigating trust issues in EV charging could result in people who have charging stations and even those who just have an outdoor outlet being much more willing to team up with an EV charging service provider resulting in much better coverage of charging stations. In the end, we could even have a system where there is machine-to-machine communication rather than people-to-machine. If an autonomous vehicle needs power, it could detect that and drive to the nearest charging station and communicate on a platform with that charging station for the power.—Christian Gorenflo The study, Mitigating Trust Issues in Electric Vehicle Charging using a Blockchain, authored by Waterloo's Faculty of Mathematics researchers Gorenflo, Keshav and Golab from the Faculty of Engineering was published recently in the Proceedings of the Tenth ACM International Conference on Future Energy Systems.
Study associates long-term exposure to air pollution with increasing emphysema
Long-term exposure to ambient air pollutants, especially O3 (ozone), is significantly associated with increasing emphysema, according to a new study led by the University of Washington, Columbia University and the University at Buffalo. While previous studies have shown a clear connection of air pollutants with some heart and lung diseases, the new research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) demonstrates an association between long-term exposure to all major air pollutants with an increase in emphysema seen on lung scans. Emphysema is a condition in which destruction of lung tissue leads to wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath, and increases the risk of death. We were surprised to see how strong air pollution’s impact was on the progression of emphysema on lung scans, in the same league as the effects of cigarette smoking, which is by far the best-known cause of emphysema.—Dr. Joel Kaufman, senior co-author The researchers found that if the ambient ozone level was 3 parts per billion higher where you live compared to another location over 10 years, that was associated with an increase in emphysema roughly the equivalent of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for 29 years. The study determined that ozone levels in some major US cities are increasing by that amount, due in part to climate change. The annual averages of ozone levels in study areas were between about 10 and 25 ppb. Rates of chronic lung disease in this country are going up and increasingly it is recognized that this disease occurs in nonsmokers. We really need to understand what’s causing chronic lung disease, and it appears that air pollution exposures that are common and hard to avoid might be a major contributor.—Dr. Kaufman The cohort study included participants from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) Air and Lung Studies conducted in 6 metropolitan regions of the United States, which included 6,814 adults aged 45 to 84 years recruited between July 2000 and August 2002, and an additional 257 participants recruited from February 2005 to May 2007, with follow-up through November 2018. To our knowledge, this is the first longitudinal study to assess the association between long-term exposure to air pollutants and progression of percent emphysema in a large, community-based, multi-ethnic cohort.—first author Meng Wang The authors developed novel and accurate exposure assessment methods for air pollution levels at the homes of study participants, collecting detailed measurement of exposures over years in these metropolitan regions, and measurements at the homes of many of the participants. This work in the MESA Air study was led at the University of Washington. While most of the airborne pollutants are in decline because of successful efforts to reduce them, ozone has been increasing, the study found. Ground-level ozone is mostly produced when ultraviolet light reacts with pollutants from fossil fuels. This is a big study with state-of-the-art analysis of more than 15,000 CT scans repeated on thousands of people over as long as 18 years. These findings matter since ground-level ozone levels are rising, and the amount of emphysema on CT scans predicts hospitalization from and deaths due to chronic lung disease.—Dr. R. Graham Barr, a senior author Emphysema was measured from CT scans that identify holes in the small air sacs of the participants’ lungs, and lung function tests, which measure the speed and amount of air breathed in and out. The MESA Air study was funded by the US Environmental Protection Agency. MESA and MESA Lung Study were funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The work was also supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Resources Wang M, Aaron CP, Madrigano J, et al. (2019) “Association Between Long-term Exposure to Ambient Air Pollution and Change in Quantitatively Assessed Emphysema and Lung Function.” JAMA 322(6):546–556 doi: 10.1001/jama.2019.10255
ZeroAvia unveils hydrogen fuel cell powertrain for aviation
In the latest effort to make aviation sustainable and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ZeroAvia announced advancements in developing a hydrogen-fueled electric powertrain. The solution aims to deliver the same performance as a conventional aircraft engine, and much lower operating costs. ZeroAvia plans to start supplying its platform to commercial operators and aircraft manufacturers in 2022, initially targeting up to 500-mile regional flights in 10 to 20-seat fixed-wing aircraft. ZeroAvia prototype shown powering a 6-seat Piper M-Class aircraft, already in flight tests from February 2019. Using hydrogen produced from local renewable energy is the most practical way to enable zero-emission aircraft of commercially meaningful size on traditional 300 to 500-mile regional missions. It will also be more economical than conventional turbine engines, or even the battery-based systems, on the total cost basis. We calculate the total costs of operating a ZeroAvia aircraft to be close to half of what it costs to fly a conventional turbine aircraft, due to lower fuel input costs, higher powertrain efficiency, and reduced maintenance costs.—Val Miftakhov, ZeroAvia Founder and CEO ZeroAvia was founded by serial cleantech entrepreneur Val Miftakhov, who is also an avid airplane and helicopter pilot. He previously founded and was the CEO of eMotorWerks, a smart grid electric vehicle charging company acquired in 2017. The core leadership team at ZeroAvia includes alumni from Tesla, BMW, NVIDIA, Zee Aero, Air Liquide, and SystemIQ, as well as other founding members of eMotorWerks. The company is already flight-testing its powertrain prototype in a Piper M-Class airframe. The Federal Aviation Administration issued an Experimental R&D Certificate to ZeroAvia’s Piper M-Class R&D platform earlier this year. At a 2-ton takeoff weight and with six seats in a business-class arrangement, it is currently the world’s largest zero-emission aircraft flying without any fossil fuel support, according to publicly available information. The aircraft has completed a variety of test flights, which validated key components and their integration into a complete powertrain system. These tests confirm the company’s fuel economy and maximum power delivery targets. ZeroAvia is initially targeting 500-mile flights to serve the short-haul and commuter air travel markets, which make up nearly half the commercial flights worldwide. Powered by ZeroAvia powertrains, smaller zero-emission aircraft could achieve similar per-seat economics as today’s large regional jets, allowing economical use of smaller local airports for point-to-point travel with virtually no security lines or delays, and a much more pleasant overall flying experience. In addition to passenger transport, the ZeroAvia powertrain could have applications across other use cases including cargo, air taxi, agriculture, as well as across the aircraft types, including manned and unmanned fixed-wing, rotorcraft, and more. Starting in 2022, the ZeroAvia powertrain will offer operators a sustainable option for new aircraft made by established manufacturers where customers already purchase their aircraft. ZeroAvia will lease the drivetrain to customers and provide fuel and maintenance as part of its power-by-the-hour model, in which customers pay only for the hours that they use the drivetrain. This model emulates engine leasing options already popular in the aviation market.
MultiSchIBZ consortium developing SOFC APU for marine use
A consortium led by thyssenkrupp Marine Systems GmbH is developing a solid-oxide fuel cell system as an alternative power generation on ships. This will improve the efficiency of the plants and prevent emissions even when fossil fuels are used—both in berth operations in ports and inland waterways and on the high seas. A further advantage is the almost noiseless operation which makes them fit more easily into the environment. “MultiSchIBZ” will develop two prototypes of fuel cell systems suitable for practical use to technical maturity. The system is based on SOFC fuel cells which can be operated with low-sulfur diesel fuel or liquefied natural gas (LNG) as an energy source. Schematic of the integration of the fuel cell system on a yacht. A fuel gas generator converts the fossil fuel into a hydrogen-rich gas for operating the fuel cells. Compared with conventional propulsion systems using marine diesel as fuel, this is expected to reduce emissions by 99% for NOx and particulate matter and by more than 25% for carbon dioxide. For the development of the technical components, the results and plants from two predecessor projects are being used: SchIBZ and SchIBZ2. The aim is to optimize the existing components, which have already been tested in the laboratory, to further develop them for operation with LNG and to scale them up for the construction and operation of pilot plants with higher outputs. Major technical challenges include the implementation on real ships and the derivation of uniform technical standards for all system variants and performance classes. In addition, more powerful systems must be prepared for planning in the future. OWI Oel-Wärme-Institut gGmbH and TEC4FUELS GmbH are also involved as project partners in the system development. The OWI contributes its know-how in the conversion of liquid energy sources and is responsible for the further development of the fuel gas generator, hot gas recirculation and the thermal start-up concept of the overall system. TEC4FUELS is a service provider in the fields of testing and engineering responsible for the development of an online sensor system and a forced test method for the respective operating fluids as well as material investigations that take into account the interactions with the fuel-carrying components. After the development phase, a demonstration phase is planned in the project, in which several fuel cell APUs will be tested on ships in real operation. The goals of the project are: Improving the efficiency of fuel cell systems to more than 50%; Proof of unrestricted functionality of the entire system in continuous use; Preparation for pilot applications by customers; Building a production chain for commercial systems; and Creation and alignment of legal bases for the application of technology in ships. The testing of the fuel cell system in this project is initially aimed at passenger ships (yachts, ferries, cruise ships) and a later performance class of 100 - 400 kW. Project partners are: thyssenkrupp Marine Systems GmbH, Hamburg (Project Management) Oel-Wärme-Institut gGmbH, Herzogenrath Center for Fuel Cell Technology ZBT GmbH, Duisburg sunfire GmbH, Dresden Hülsenbusch Apparatebau GmbH & Co. KG, Kempen Rosswag GmbH, Pfinztal TEC4FUELS GmbH, Herzogenrath DNV GL SE, Hamburg Leibniz University, Institute of Thermodynamics, Hannover Leibniz University, Institute for Electrical Energy Systems, Hannover This project is divided into two phases: Phase I, Design and Development, 06.2018 - 05.2020 Phase II, demonstration phase, 06.2020 - 12.2022
Rheinmetall Automotive receives order for fuel-cell electric cathode valves from German OEM
Rheinmetall is systematically expanding its automotive product portfolio in the direction of new driveline systems. In addition to products for electric vehicles, current development efforts include components for alternative powertrains, such as the fuel cell. Within this context, Rheinmetall Automotive is developing a recirculation fan for hydrogen not yet consumed within the fuel cell stacks; special coolant pumps for 400V and 800V; and electric valves. Through its subsidiary Pierburg, Rheinmetall Automotive has now won an order from a well-known German vehicle manufacturer. Pierburg is supplying the electric cathode valves that will in future be used in fuel-cell vehicles built by this premium manufacturer. Pierburg electric cathode valve for fuel cells This innovative generation of electric flap systems was developed at the Pierburg site in Berlin and will be used to control the fresh and exhaust air mass flows as well as for the extremely tight shut-off of the fuel cell stacks. Production of the vehicles is scheduled to start in 2022. In this project, Pierburg is able to benefit from its many years of experience as a developer and manufacturer of throttle and control valves, especially since its first fuel-cell cathode valves were developed several years ago. In view of the meanwhile broad capacity range of fuel-cell stacks and the resulting air mass requirements, cathode valves with a diameter of up to 57 millimeters were developed in addition to a very compact and light all-plastic valve with a weight of only 300 grams and a bore diameter of 25 millimeters. The cathode valves can thus provide air volumes of up to 750 kg/hour and absolute charging pressures of up to 400 kPa. The materials specially selected and combined for this application guarantee the necessary resistance to hydrogen as well as high-purity water. The new cathode valve contains an electric-motor drive with plenty of reserve power. On the water-enriched exhaust-air side of the cathode, it offers the necessary operational reliability so that no functional impairments can occur even under frost conditions. For use as a stack isolation valve, a number of features have been developed especially with regard to micro leakage, including the use of a high-stability elastomer for such sealing purposes.
First two Freightliner eCascadia electric trucks headed to customers
Daimler Trucks North America LLC (DTNA) has built the first two Class 8 battery electric Freightliner eCascadias for customers at its research and development center in Portland. The trucks are part of Freightliner’s Electric Innovation Fleet and built to test the integration of battery electric trucks in to large-scale fleet operations. The eCascadia is built on the proven foundation of the Freightliner Cascadia, the best-selling Class 8 heavy-duty truck on the market. The initial customer shipments are the first heavy-duty additions to the 30-vehicle Freightliner Innovation Fleet. Real-world use of the Innovation Fleet and continuing feedback from the members of the Freightliner Electric Vehicle Council will inform the final production versions of both the eCascadia and the medium-duty Freightliner eM2 in a process of co-creation. Co-creation is the central tenet of DTNA’s approach to electrifying the future of commercial vehicles and a key enabler to the widespread adoption of battery electric trucks. The Electric Vehicle Council brings together 38 Freightliner customers to identify and address all potential hurdles to large-scale deployment of commercial battery electric vehicles. Issues at the forefront of the discussion include charging infrastructure, partnerships with other parties in the e-mobility value chain, vehicle specifications and vehicle use case. Penske Truck Leasing of Reading, Pennsylvania and NFI of Camden, New Jersey are both members of the Freightliner Electric Vehicle Council and will be the first companies to employ the eCascadia in their commercial operations. The eCascadias are destined for the Southern California operations of both companies and will arrive later this month. Additional deliveries of the Freightliner Electric Innovation Fleet will continue throughout 2019. The Freightliner Innovation Fleet is supported by a partnership between DTNA and the South Coast Air Quality Management District (South Coast AQMD) which focuses on improving air quality in the South Coast Basin and partially funded the Innovation Fleet with a nearly $16-milliongrant. The first of the medium-duty electric Freightliner eM2s began service earlier this year with Penske Truck Leasing and are operated within the South Coast AQMD. The Freightliner eCascadia is a Class 8 tractor designed for local and regional distribution and drayage. Both the eCascadia and the medium-duty eM2 are currently planned to enter series production in late 2021. The Freightliner eCascadia and eM2 are part of Daimler Trucks’ global electrified truck initiative, joining the company’s Thomas Built Buses all-electric Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley school bus, the FUSO eCanter, and the Mercedes-Benz eActros and eCitaro.
PKM Katowice orders five Solaris Urbino 12 electric city buses; 100th electric contract for Solaris
Transport operator Przedsiębiorstwo Komunikacji Miejskiej (PKM) in Katowice, Poland has ordered five Solaris Urbino 12 electric electrobuses. This contract marks the 100th one for the supply of battery vehicles from Solaris. At the beginning of the year, Solaris supplied five articulated Urbino 18 electric to the PKM operator. Earlier, two Urbino 8.9 LE electric blood collection buses ordered by the Regional Blood Donation and Blood Treatment Center arrived in Katowice. According to the terms of the latest contract, the Solaris Urbino 12 electric will be delivered to the customer within 350 days from the date of its signing, and the total value of the contract exceeded PLN 15 million (US$3.8 million). The electric buses for Katowice will be driven by a centrally mounted 160 kW traction motor. A set of Solaris High Energy batteries with a total capacity of 250 kWh will be responsible for storing energy needed to drive the vehicles. Charging of the batteries will take place via a plug-in connector and an inverted pantograph. The buses will provide a journey for at least 80 passengers at one time, 26 of them seated. The equipment of Urbino 12 electric ordered by PKM Katowice will include, among others: efficient air conditioning, an extensive passenger information system and CCTV including passenger compartment cameras and reversing camera. A separate camera was placed in the driver's cabin. The equipment will be complemented by a set of ŚKUP devices (Silesian Public Service Card), allowing, among others a purchase of a ticket in a vehicle. Solaris is currently carrying out another order placed by PKM Katowice, which includes the delivery of 25 Solaris Urbino 12 city buses powered by diesel engines. After the completion of that order, the number of Solaris vehicles included in the PKM fleet will exceed 150—more than half of the entire stock. To date, since the delivery of its first electric bus to a customer from the Austrian Klagenfurt in 2013, Solaris has delivered or acquired orders for more than 700 vehicles from the Urbino electric family. They can be found on the streets of 17 European countries, in dozens of cities.
BASF and Toray Advanced Composites sign supply agreement to bring CFRT tape to the automotive industry
Toray Advanced Composites and BASF signed a manufacturing and supply agreement focused on the production of continuous fiber reinforced thermoplastic (CFRT) tapes for the automotive and industrial markets. Toray Advanced Composites will produce high quality and affordable CFRT tapes using Ultramid engineering thermoplastics developed and produced by BASF. The fiber manufacturer will reinforce BASF’s Ultramid PA6 (Polyamide) resins with either glass fiber or with carbon fiber. The supply agreement enhances manufacturing capacity providing wider commercial availability of CFRT materials, which will enable the adoption of advanced materials for lightweight, structural components in a wide range of industrial markets. With these CFRT materials, automotive manufacturers can design and rapidly produce optimized components at a lower cost, while using the latest fabrication methods such as automated stamp forming and overmolding. Toray Advanced Composites’ CFRT materials are compatible with a wide range of BASF’s Ultramid compounds, enabling more efficient, multifunctional parts to be produced in fewer steps and with less labor compared to more traditional methods. BASF’s Ultramid products include unique and innovative materials for optimal structural application development.
2019 Audi e-tron SUV is the first BEV to earn 2019 IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating
The 2019 Audi e-tron SUV is the first pure battery-electric vehicle to earn the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) 2019 Top Safety Pick+ rating, the highest rating awarded by the nonprofit organization. In developing the e-tron, engineers designed a battery pack with performance, longevity and safety in mind. The battery pack is housed in a frame with an internal honeycomb structure separating battery cell modules specifically to help dissipate energy. The 95 kWh battery pack is also sandwiched between protective covers on both its top and bottom, with coolant running underneath the battery pack to help maintain optimal thermal efficiency. Through IIHS’s evaluations, the e-tron body and structure exceled in safety performance, earning the top “Good” rating in six areas of crashworthiness performance: small front overlap collision evaluations on both the driver and passenger sides; moderate front overlap; side impact; roof strength; and head restraints and seat performance. The e-tron also earned a “Good” rating with its standard Matrix Design LED headlights and “Superior” with standard automatic emergency braking as part of Audi pre sense front. Using a front-mounted camera, the e-tron can help initiate braking at speeds of up to 52 mph for detected pedestrians and bicyclists and can bring a vehicle to a full stop when traveling at speeds under 25 mph. Additionally, the e-tron comes with standard Audi pre sense basic, which can help prepare the vehicle for impact by partially closing the side windows and sunroof and pre-tensioning the front safety belts. The e-tron went on sale last spring nationwide and joins the 2019 Audi A3, A4, A6 and Audi Q8 as recipients of 2019 IIHS Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ awards when equipped with specific headlights and/or optional equipment. The 2019 IIHS “Top Safety Pick+” is based on “Good” ratings in the moderate overlap front, driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, side, roof strength, head restraint and headlight tests; a vehicle must also earn no less than an “Advanced” rating for front-crash prevention. The 2019 IIHS “Top Safety Pick” designation is based on “Good” ratings in the moderate overlap front, driver-side small overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests. A vehicle must also earn no less than an “Acceptable” rating in the passenger-side small overlap front, no less than an “Acceptable” rating for headlights and no less than an “advanced”rating for front-crash prevention.