The Race for EVs
|Christoph Hammerschmidt ||July 28th 2016|
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So far, electric driving used to be matter of passenger vehicles and sports cars; trucks and buses stuck to their traditional diesel powertrains, despite all their drawbacks of noise and harmful emissions. This is no longer true: Daimler, not only a manufacturer of coveted luxury cars but also one of the world’s largest players in the market for commercial vehicles, has introduced a relatively large truck with an all-electric powertrain, and the company signalizes that the time is right to bring electric trucks to the global markets. “After 120 years of diesel-driven trucks, electric mobility has arrived at this market”, said Wolfgang Bernhard, general Manager of Daimler’s trucks and buses business unit.
Hitherto, electric trucks could not compete against conventional ones in terms of cost, performance and driving range. “Ten years ago, the battery alone made up one third of the weight of the entire vehicle”, Bernhard said. Now, the technology is advanced enough to match and surpass diesel-driven trucks, albeit only in certain model roles.
The Race for E-Bikes
|Nick Flaherty ||July 14th 2016|
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Increasing urbanization and a desire to move away from cars for motorized transportation are creating more opportunities for alternative mobility devices such as e-bikes which will be the highest selling electric vehicle globally with nearly 35 million units sold this year. Navigant predicts the market will grow from $15.7 bn this year to $24.3 billion by 2025.
“Rising levels of population density and traffic congestion are driving interest in different modes of transportation,” says Ryan Citron, research analyst at Navigant Research. “E-bikes are uniquely positioned to be a primary benefactor of this trend since they are low in cost relative to cars, do not require licenses to operate, and can take advantage of existing bicycling infrastructure.”
The Race for EVs
|Larry Greenemeier||July 8th 2016|
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How much do we really know about what so-called self-driving vehicles can and cannot do? The fatal traffic accident involving a Tesla Motors car that crashed while using its Autopilot feature offers a stark reminder that such drivers are in uncharted territory—and of the steep cost of that uncertainty.
The sensor systems that enable Tesla’s hands-free driving are the result of decades of advances in computer vision and machine learning. Yet the failure of Autopilot—built into 70,000 Tesla vehicles worldwide since October 2014—to help avoid the May 7 collision that killed the car’s sole occupant demonstrates how far the technology has to go before fully autonomous vehicles can truly arrive.
The Race for EVs
|John Voelcker||March 27th 2016|
Green Car Reports
The Race for Natural Gas
|Emmanuel Karagiannis||March 19th 2016|
Middle East Quarterly
The Eastern Mediterranean is changing fast with its estimated 122 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas reserves (the equivalent of 21 billion barrels of oil) already having an impact on regional patterns of amity and enmity. With Israel and Cyprus well underway to becoming gas exporters, the problematic Israeli-Lebanese and Cypriot-Turkish relationships have been further strained. At the same time, energy cooperation has been the driving force behind the nascent Greek-Cypriot-Israeli partnership, manifested in rapidly growing defense and economic cooperation. Clearly, the development of energy resources and their transportation will have far-reaching geopolitical implications for the Eastern Mediterranean and its nations. Read more ..
The Race for Driverless Cars
|Christoph Hammerschmidt||March 14th 2016|
A 360 degree surround sensing system today creates a virtual image of a car's environment, enabling the electronic systems to keep the vehicle in the selected lane and to hit the brake if an obstacle emerges. Now Honda has added a predictive element - their Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control (i-ACC) system can tell if a fellow car driver has the intention to cut in.
Has Honda the proverbial crystal ball? No - the i-ACC uses camera and radar to sense the position of other vehicles on the road. The system runs an algorithm that can determine the likelihood of vehicles in adjacent lanes cutting-in. For this purpose it evaluates the relation between the vehicles in the surroundings and how they change. According to Honda, the predictable time horizon is about 2 seconds. And of course the outcome of the computation is not a 100% sure prediction, it is more like a guess, albeit a rather good one.
The system has been devised by European and Japanese developers and is based on real-world research of typical European driving styles. It will make its debut this year on the new European CR-V, building upon the traditional Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) system.
Traditional ACC systems keep a preselected longitudinal velocity, which is only reduced for maintaining a safe distance to a car in front. However, if a vehicle cuts in from a neighboring lane, the traditional ACC system reacts later thus requiring stronger braking. Read more ..
The Race for Alt Fuel
|Landon Hall||February 6th 2016|
Fuel Freedom Center
The goal of cutting petroleum consumption in half by 2030 is within reach for the three Pacific coast states — California, Oregon and Washington — but such a plan would rely heavily on expanding the use of alternative fuels, according to a new report commissioned by the Union of Concerned Scientists.
With California leading the way, the states can achieve an 18 percent reduction--from about 22 billion gallons of gasoline in 2015, to 18 billion gallons by 2030--simply by following "policies and measures in place."
The rest of the heavy lifting must come through a combination of solutions: Using more alternative fuels (20 percent of the total reductions); making vehicles more efficient and adding more electrification (7 percent); and improving the range of transportation choices, along with better land-use planning (2 percent). Read more ..
The Race for EVs
|Paul Buckley||January 24th 2016|
Nissan has given a vote of confidence in European manufacturing by awarding production of future generation electric vehicle (EV) batteries to the company’s manufacturing facility in Sunderland, UK.
The £26.5 million investment will help safeguard 300 highly-skilled jobs in manufacturing, maintenance and engineering at Nissan’s advanced lithium-ion battery plant in Sunderland, the largest of its type in Europe. The Sunderland facility is one of three Nissan battery production sites globally and will provide battery modules for the all-electric Nissan LEAF and e-NV200 electric van, which is manufactured at Nissan’s facility in Barcelona, Spain.
Already the global leaders in electric vehicles with more than 200,000 Nissan LEAF models on the road worldwide covering a total of two billion electric miles. In 2015 Nissan sold 43,651 LEAFs worldwide with 15,630 of that number being sold in Europe. Read more ..
The Race for Wearable Energy
|Jean-Pierre Joosting||December 21st 2015|
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, OH) have developed flexible wire-shaped microsupercapacitors that can be woven into clothing, creating a tailored power source for wearable electronics.
By their design or by connecting the capacitors in series or parallel, the devices can be tailored to match the charge storage and delivery needs of electronics donned. While there's been progress in development of those electronics - body cameras, smart glasses, sensors that monitor health, activity trackers and more - one challenge remaining is providing less obtrusive and cumbersome power sources.
"The area of clothing is fixed, so to generate the power density needed in a small area, we grew radially-aligned titanium oxide nanotubes on a titanium wire used as the main electrode," says Liming Dai, the Kent Hale Smith Professor of Macromolecular Science and Engineering. "By increasing the surface area of the electrode, you increase the capacitance."
The microsupercapacitor was based on earlier research on carbon-based supercapacitors. A capacitor is cousin to the battery, but offers the advantage of charging and releasing energy much faster.
In this new supercapacitor, the modified titanium wire is coated with a solid electrolyte made of polyvinyl alcohol and phosphoric acid. The wire is then wrapped with either yarn or a sheet made of aligned carbon nanotubes, which serves as the second electrode. The titanium oxide nanotubes, which are semiconducting, separate the two active portions of the electrodes, preventing a short circuit. Read more ..
The Race for More Oil
|Viva Sarah Press||December 13th 2015|
Oil spills are a fact of life, along with their negative environmental impacts. Large ships, ports, rigs and even cruise ships are always at risk of accidentally creating the next major oil catastrophe.
HARBO Technologies is an Israeli company with an innovative cleanup product that could save companies billions of dollars and save our environment, too.
The company has created a lightweight, easily deployed floating barrier â€“ known as a containment boom â€” that can prevent disastrous consequences of marine oil spills within minutes of leak detection.
â€œOil spills today still turn into major disasters because there are no immediate containment systems onsite. There is nothing onsite to keep oil from spreading. So when the oil spill response team arrives on the scene, itâ€™s always too late,â€ cofounder Haim Greenberg tells ISRAEL21c. â€œWe have a disruptive concept of immediate response because there is none today.â€ Read more ..
The Race for Solar
|Paul Buckley||December 3rd 2015|
Florida State University (FSU) researchers claim they are a step closer to making solar cells more effective at trapping and using light. In a paper published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Kenneth Hanson and his team have introduced a new strategy for generating more efficient solar cells. The team is composed of post-doctoral researcher Tanmay Banerjee and graduate students Sean Hill and Tristan Dilbeck.
Using the FSU process in an optimized solar cell the researchers claim they can increase the maximum efficiency from 33 percent to more than 45 percent.
â€œWeâ€™re looking not only for new materials but also new light harvesting processes to make solar cells better,â€ explained Hanson. Though solar cells have grown in popularity, they are still not widely used by the general public as an energy source due to their high cost and low efficiency. A typical solar cell, at maximum, converts less than 33 percent of light into electricity, so researchers have been working to find ways to surpass this limit and make cells more efficient. Read more ..
The Race for Solar
|Rich Pell||August 19th 2015|
Google has announced its latest project - Project Sunroof - which is designed to make it easier for people to install solar panels in their homes. Using Google's mapping and computing resources, Project Sunroof offers users personalized roof analyses to help them calculate the best solar plan based on their individual roofs and locations. Once supplied with a user's address, the site provides user-specific data on the amount of usable sunlight that hits the roof per year, which parts of the house receive the most sunlight, the amount of space available on the home for solar panels, and the amount of money that could be saved by switching to solar.
The site takes into account the following data when computing its results: Read more ..
The Race for Natural Gas
|Yael Factor||July 28th 2015|
Members of the gas outline hearing committee met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today, only two days before the Prime Minister plans to bring the outline to the government's approval and they told him that changes are needed in the outline. Committee members who ended the public hearing that lasted three weeks asked to launch a new round of talks with the gas companies.
Committee members explained that they think the outline should move forward, but with changes in the price issue and in the issue of reservoir development. The most significant change the committee members demand is the price. The price that was set in the outline they think is too high and the monitoring mechanism is "too soft." They suggested two possible solutions: either lower the gas price or toughen the monitoring mechanism, so that the price will not rise dramatically in the coming years.
The committee members were also concerned by the Israeli dependency on a single gas pipe â€“ the Tamar gas field pipe. As an answer for this problem, the committee suggested imposing more sanctions on the private companies if those do not develop the Leviathan gas field. An additional possibility that was raised after the hearing was to give more incentives to smaller companies so that they buy and develop the Tanin and the Karish gas fields. Netanyahu will meet the committee members again tonight. Meetings with the companiesâ€™ representatives may take place as early as tomorrow in order to promote the changes and bring them to the governmentsâ€™ approval. Read more ..
|Justin McCurry||June 21st 2015|
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The operator of Japanâ€™s ruined Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was aware of the need to improve the facilityâ€™s defences against tsunami more than two years before the March 2011 disaster but failed to take action, according to an internal company document.
The revelation casts doubt on claims by Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) that it had done everything possible to protect the plant, which suffered a triple meltdown after being struck by a towering tsunami.
The nuclear accident, the worldâ€™s worst since Chernobyl 25 years earlier, caused massive radiation leaks and forced the evacuation of more than 150,000 people, most of whom have yet to return to their homes.
The Race for EVs
|Paul Buckley||June 9th 2015|
GM has unveiled a concept version of the Bolt at this week's Detroit automotive show. The Chevy Bolt features a battery manufactured by South Koreaâ€™s LG Chem Ltd. and is targeting the company's rival EV maker, Tesla Motors' Model 3, which is a $35,000 electric car also scheduled to debut in 2017. The Bolt will be capable of driving four times farther than a Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid on a single charge.
â€œThe Bolt EV concept is a game-changing electric vehicle designed for attainability, not exclusivity,â€ said General Motors CEO Mary Barra. â€œChevrolet believes electrification is a pillar of future transportation and needs to be affordable for a wider segment of customers.â€
Bolt drivers will be able to select operating modes designed around preferred driving styles such as daily commuting and spirited weekend cruising, for uncompromising electric driving. The modes adjust accelerator pedal mapping, vehicle ride height and suspension tuning. The Bolt EV concept is also designed to support DC fast charging. Read more ..
The Race for Biogas
|Abigail Klein Leichman ||May 21st 2015|
When UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited the sukkah of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin during the Jewish harvest holiday last October, he was treated to a demo of a machine the government has given to Bedouin families to convert organic waste into clean biogas for cooking, heating and lighting, as well as organic liquid crop fertilizer.
"He got very excited and told us, 'Millions of women and children die each year due to indoor smoke from open fires. This is just the thing they need. The UN should be purchasing these units!' recalls Ami Amir of HomeBioGas, which develops and manufactures a new class of anaerobic biodigesters to convert organic waste to clean renewable energy. He asked us to be in touch with the UNâ€™s Food and Agriculture Organization to see where and when our systems could be deployed.â€ Read more ..
Energy and Security
In 2014, the Atlantic Council, a Washington D.C. based think-tank, hosted a panel discussion, â€œPetrocaribe, Central America, and the Caribbean: Who Will Subsidize the Future?â€ regarding the Venezuelan-backed energy initiative and the corresponding potential for the United States to regain some of its reduced influence in the region. The event was in conjunction with the Atlantic Councilâ€™s recent report, â€œUncertain Energy: The Caribbeanâ€™s Gamble with Venezuela.â€ Speakers included David Goldwyn, who co-authored the report; Jorge PiÃ±Ã³n, Director of the Center of International Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Texas at Austin; and Jed Bailey, who authored a pre-feasibility study that considered transitioning the region to liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Petrocaribe provides Venezuelan oil and oil products at preferential financing terms to 17 member states across the Caribbean and Central America. While the program has not experienced major problems since it was first created in 2005, its future is uncertain as Venezuela grapples with its own economic challenges, including high inflation and commodity shortages. The discussion centered largely on possible scenarios for the future and Washingtonâ€™s potential role should Petrocaribe weaken. Read more ..
The Race for Batteries
Engineers at the University of Maryland have created a battery that is made entirely out of one material and claims to be capable of both moving electricity and storing it.
â€œTo my knowledge, there has never been any similar work reported,â€ explained Dr. Kang Xu of the Army Research Laboratory, a researcher only peripherally related to the study. â€œIt could lead to revolutionary progress in area of solid state batteries.â€
Most batteries have at either end a layer of material for the electrodes which can help move ions through the electrolyte. Chunsheng Wang, a professor in the University of Marylandâ€™s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and his team have made a single material that incorporates the properties of both the electrodes and electrolyte.
â€œOur battery is 600 microns thick, about the size of a dime, whereas conventional solid state batteries are thin films - forty times thinner. This means that more energy can be stored in our battery,â€ said Fudong Han, the first author of the paper and a graduate student in Wangâ€™s group. Read more ..
The Race for EVs
|Christoph Hammerschmidt||April 27th 2015|
Though the sales figures of electric vehicles fall short of vendorâ€™s expectations, the number of available models will continue to climb, Predicts market researcher Frost & Sullivan. Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV) are rapidly gaining market share over battery electric vehicles â€“ driving range continues to be the decisive factor for customers.
Currently, 70 % of all available electric vehicles are battery-electric vehicles (BEVs); 25% are PHEVs. Frost & Sullivan Automotive and Transportation analyst Prajot Sathe believes that within the next three to four years the share of PHEVs will grow which translates into a faster market growth for this category compared to BEVs. The reason Sathe sees a higher demand for vehicles with high driving range. As an example, the analyst quotes BMWâ€™s i3 which is available as a pure BEV and with an optional range extender. The latter achieves clearly higher sales figures, the release suggests. Read more ..
The Race for Batteries
|Paul Buckley||April 22nd 2015|
Researchers the University of Wisconsinâ€“Madison and Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed a novel X-ray imaging technique to study the electrochemical reactions in lithium-ion rechargeable batteries containing iron fluoride which can store three times the energy of existing batteries.
â€œIron fluoride has the potential to triple the amount of energy a conventional lithium-ion battery can store,â€ explained Song Jin, a UWâ€“Madison professor of chemistry and Wisconsin Energy Institute affiliate. â€œHowever, we have yet to tap its true potential.â€
Graduate student Linsen Li worked with Jin and other collaborators to perform experiments with a state-of-the-art transmission X-ray microscope at the National Synchrotron Light Source at Brookhaven. The researchers collected chemical maps from actual coin cell batteries filled with iron fluoride during battery cycling to determine how well they perform. Read more ..
The Race for Batteries
|Jean-Pierre Joosting||April 13th 2015|
Market research predicts that solid state thin film battery markets at $9 million in 2014 are forecast to reach $1.3 billion by 2021. Rapid growth toward the end of the forecast period is anticipated as technology improves the cost structure of the manufacturing. Solid state thin film batteries are ideal for powering energy harvesting applications. According the study, "Solid state electronics brings the same advantages to batteries as it has brought to all other industry segments it touches. Printed circuit board manufacturers are finding that they can achieve a rapid return on investment from substantially decreasing the energy costs associated with using storage by wave soldering the storage onto the boards during the manufacturing process."
The quality of energy storage is better with solid state thin film batteries. Data for thin film batteries using very thin substrates illustrate the longer cycle life that can be achieved. Applications include power bridging, permanent power, and wireless sensor networks. Read more ..
The Race for Natural Gas
|David Biello||April 12th 2015|
Gas likes to escape. That's bad news for the atmosphere when the gas in question is methane, the primary component in natural gas that is a much stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. But burning natural gas results in half the greenhouse gas pollution than coal, making it appealing as fuel in an era of combating climate change.
Thanks to a bonanza of natural gas liberated from deep shales by new techniques, the U.S. is burning more and more of the fuelâ€”and considering using more natural gas in more places, such as fuel for trucking. But if the amount of methane escaping is too high, such widespread use might prove a disaster for climate change. And that's why a group of scientists set out to better estimate how much methane is escaping in the U.S. To do that, they surveyed more than 200 sets of field measurements and scientific papers from the past 20 years to learn whether increasing use of natural gas could prove a climate boon or bane. Read more ..
The Edge of Solar
|Paul Buckley||April 8th 2015|
Heliatek GmbH is claiming a new record in the efficiency of transparent solar cells. The latest development allows transparency levels up to 40% with an efficiency of more than 7%. The company already holds the world record of 12% cell efficiency for opaque (non-transparent) organic solar cells.
The latest generation of organic solar cells with a 40% light transparency have reached an efficiency record of 7.2%. The measurement follows standard testing conditions using a white background. Heliatek has succeeded in generating an optimal energy conversion for transparent HeliaFilm. Currently, its opaque cells achieve 12% efficiency. The 7.2% cells mirror the same efficiency, since the partial transparency allows the usage of 60% of the light for the energy harvesting. Depending on the application, the balance between light let through and electricity generated can be adjusted. The production of transparent HeliaFilm is possible with the introduction of transparent conductive layers at the front- and back-side of the solar cells. Read more ..
The Edge of Solar
|Paul Buckley||April 1st 2015|
China's Trina Solar has collaborated the Australian National University's (ANU) Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems on the joint development of a new high efficiency solar cell which has achieved an efficiency of 24.4%.
Independently tested by Germanyâ€™s Fraunhofer CalLab the laboratory scale Interdigitated Back Contact (IBC) solar cell is now one of the most efficient solar cells ever tested.
Trina Solar funded the two-year research project, which involved contributions from Australian consultancy PV Lighthouse, and the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS).
The Chinese company is now developing a commercial version of the IBC cell, as well as an IBC PV module. In testing, Trina Solarâ€™s commercial IBC cell has already achieved efficiency greater than 22% at laboratory scale. The company hopes to match the 24.4% level soon, ready in time for industrialized mass production. Read more ..
|Paul Buckley||March 13th 2015|
Boeing Co has declared that high-density packages of lithium batteries pose fire risks and should not be carried on passenger planes until safer methods for carrying them are developed. Boeing adds another voice to the growing clamour to stop bulk shipments of lithium-ion batteries on passenger aircraft. This week Reuters quoted a Boeing statement as saying that the risk is "continually increasing (and) requires action to be taken".
Boeing is part of an industry group including other plane makers such as Bombardier Inc and Airbus Group NV , that found current firefighting systems on airliners cannot "suppress or extinguish a fire involving significant quantities of lithium batteries" thereby posing an "unacceptable risk" for the industry. Read more ..
The Race for Fusion
|David Biello||February 15th 2015|
The power of the sun has edged a little closer to Earth. Under x-ray assault, the rapid implosion of a plastic shell onto icy isotopes of hydrogen has produced fusion and, for the first time, 170 micrograms of this superheated fusion fuel released more energy than it absorbed. Experimental shots of the 192 lasers at the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California have reproduced such fusion
at least four times since September 2013. The advance offers hope that someday in the far future scientists might reliably replicate the power source of the sun and stars.
"This is closer than anyone's gotten before, and it's really unique to get out of the fuel as much energy as put in," says Livermore physicist Omar Hurricane, lead author of the paper. "We got more fusion energy out of the DT fuel than we put in to the DT fuel." Read more ..
The Race for Batteries
|Paul Buckley||February 13th 2015|
Tesla Motors Inc., is planning to use the company's lithium-ion battery technology to position itself as a frontrunner in the emerging energy-storage market. Tesla's Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said: â€œWe are going to unveil the Tesla home battery, the consumer battery that would be for use in peopleâ€™s houses or businesses fairly soonâ€. Musk said the product unveiling would occur within the next month or two.
â€œWe have the design done, and it should start going into production in about six months or so,â€ explained Musk. Residential energy-storage units are already being offered by SolarCity Corp., a solar-power company which also lists Musk as its chairman and biggest shareholder. Teslaâ€™s factory in Fremont, California, USA, also makes larger stationary storage systems for businesses and utility clients. Read more ..
The Race for BioFuels
|Jim Erickson||February 9th 2015|
Nearly all of the studies used to promote biofuels as climate-friendly alternatives to petroleum fuels are flawed and need to be redone, according to a University of Michigan researcher who reviewed more than 100 papers published over more than two decades.
Once the erroneous methodology is corrected, the results will likely show that policies used to promote biofuelsâ€”such as the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard and California's Low-Carbon Fuel Standardâ€”actually make matters worse when it comes to limiting net emissions of climate-warming carbon dioxide gas.
The main problem with existing studies is that they fail to correctly account for the carbon dioxide absorbed from the atmosphere when corn, soybeans and sugarcane are grown to make biofuels, said John DeCicco, a research professor at U-M's Energy Institute. Read more ..
The Race for Batteries
|Nicole Casal Moore||February 1st 2015|
New battery technology from the University of Michigan should be able to prevent the kind of fires that grounded Boeing 787 Dreamliners in 2013.
The innovation is an advanced barrier between the electrodes in a lithium-ion battery.
Made with nanofibers extracted from Kevlar, the tough material in bulletproof vests, the barrier stifles the growth of metal tendrils that can become unwanted pathways for electrical current.
A U-M team of researchers also founded Ann Arbor-based Elegus Technologies to bring this research from the lab to market. Mass production is expected to begin in the fourth quarter 2016. Read more ..
|Christoph Hammerschmidt||January 30th 2015|
Researchers of the JÃ¼lich research centre are developing a new type of fuel cells. Running on diesel fuel, it will be robust enough to serve as auxiliary power supply in large trucks. The research also represents a new type of collaboration between German and Austrian entities. With a power consumption of several kilowatts, large trucks consume as much electric energy as a multi-flat house. To supply HVAC, refrigeration plant, auxiliary heating or the driver's coffee machine the vehicles often let their engines idle on motorway stations or over night. Electric generators based on fuel cell, so called Auxiliary Power Units (APUs) could help saving energy and avoid noise and harmful exhaust fumes.
High-temperature fuel cells with solid electrolyte (Solid Oxide Fuel Cell or SOFC) could be commercially interesting, since they do not need platinum. By means of a reformer interposed between fuel tank and fuel cell, SOFCs can turn usual diesel fuel into electricity. Full-ceramics cell types are already quite mature, but they suffer from a critical drawback - their brittleness prevents their usage vehicles; they simply do not survive vibrations and shocks in their location in the vehicle floor for a very long time. Read more ..
The Race for Batteries
|Paul Buckley||January 29th 2015|
University of Michigan researchers have used nanofibers extracted from Kevlar to develop a barrier between the electrodes in a lithium-ion battery that is capable of preventing the type of fires linked with the grounding of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
Kevlar, which is the material commonly used in bulletproof vests, was used to create the barrier that stifles the growth of metal tendrils that can become unwanted pathways for electrical current and a potential source of runaway fires in lithium-ion batteries.
The University of Michigan team of researchers also founded Ann Arbor-based Elegus Technologies to bring the research work from the lab to market. Mass production is expected to begin in the fourth quarter 2016. Read more ..
The Race for EVs
|Paul Buckley||January 14th 2015|
Chemistry Professor Linda Nazar and her research team at the Faculty of Science at the University of Waterloo claim to have discovered a material that maintains a rechargeable sulphur cathode which overcomes a hurdle to building a lithium-sulphur (Li-S) battery. The proposed lithium-sulphur battery technology, which is reported in recent issue of Nature Communications, can theoretically power an electric car three times further than current lithium-ion batteries for the same weight â€“ at much lower cost.
â€œThis is a major step forward and brings the lithium-sulphur battery one step closer to reality,â€ said Nazar, who also holds the Canada Research Chair in Solid State
Energy Materials. Read more ..
The Race for EVs
|Christoph Hammerschmidt||January 7th 2015|
In a move aiming at boosting acceptance of the fuel-cell technology for electric vehicles, carmaker Toyota has announced to release more than 5.600 patents related to this technology and allow interested parties to use them without charge.
Hydrogen-based fuel cells can serve as energy source for electrically driven vehicles. Like battery-driven cars, these vehicles are not emitting any exhaust gases locally; instead of CO2 and other gases all they emit is H2O - pure water. But unlike their battery-driven counterparts, fuel cell vehicles offer driving ranges comparable to conventional cars with gasoline engines. Many OEMs including Daimler and GM are investing heavily into fuel cell development and have plans to bring the technology to series maturity. Read more ..
|Nan Broadbent||January 6th 2015|
A new study links the March 2014 earthquakes in Poland Township, Ohio to hydraulic fracturing that activated a previously unknown fault. The induced seismic sequence included a rare felt earthquake of magnitude 3.0, according to research published online by the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (BSSA).
In March 2014, a series of five recorded earthquakes, ranging from magnitude 2.1 to 3.0, occurred within one kilometer (0.6 miles) of a group of oil and gas wells operated by Hilcorp Energy, which was conducting active hydraulic fracturing operations at the time. Due to the proximity of a magnitude 3.0 event near a well, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) halted operations at the Hilcorp well on March 10, 2014. Read more ..
The Race for Batteries
|Paul Buckley||January 2nd 2015|
Japan's civil aviation authority (JCAB) has called for Boeing to redesign the lithium ion batteries aboard the company's 787 aircraft. The JCAB advised Boeing to adopt proposed design changes and â€œimplement them as soon as possibleâ€. The JCABs call for a second battery redesign goes beyond the recommendations from two previous investigations about the 2013 battery incidents by the Japan Transportation Safety Board (JTSB) and the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The JCABs latest report calls for more action from Boeing.
Lithium ion batteries used on board 787s have been shown to be responsible for three reported cell venting events since January 2013.
The JCAB is calling for the battery redesign despite finding that two of the three protective layers from a May 2013 battery redesign worked as intended, and the safety of the aircraft was never at risk during the incident on 14 January 2014. Read more ..
The Race for LEDs
|Scott Elder||January 1st 2015|
I've had it with LED lamps. The world has been told that LEDs are the future, in part because they are economically the right form of long-term lighting, and there are environmental benefits as a great aside. Well, maybe the environmental argument is true, but the economical one is not.
My wife has converted a substantial amount of our home lighting, as well as our holiday decoration lighting, to LED bulbs. Despite all this investment, I have yet to experience the primary benefit of long life. This made me sit down recently and ask myself why.
As it turns out, the answer is quite simple. The lifetime is not a function of the LED, but rather the total circuit solution.
Figure 1 shows the schematic for an incandescent light bulb. As I once read in a college textbook, the analysis of this circuit is left to the reader.
Contrast the Figure 1 schematic with the Figure 2 schematic that shows an offline LED lamp schematic minus the LEDs. As I'll show soon, there is no need to analyze the Figure 2 circuit operation. Read more ..
The Race for Nuclear
|Julia Harte||December 18th 2014|
Center for Public Integrity
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When nuclear engineer Donna Busche was fired in February from her job managing safety at the Hanford nuclear site in Washington state, she complained that it was a reprisal for her repeated warnings that the government and its contractors were ignoring serious safety risks there.
Energy Department inspector general Gregory Friedman took the allegations seriously enough to open an investigation after the department asked him to in March. But on Monday, his office announced in an exceptionally brief report that it had been blocked from conducting its work by the refusal of primary Hanford contractor Bechtel National Inc., as well as Bechtel subcontractor and Busche’s employer, URS Energy and Construction Inc., to turn over 4,540 documents.
Those documents included emails that referenced Ms. Busche during the period just before her firing, according to Tara Porter, a spokeswoman for the inspector general.
|Gal Luft||December 13th 2014|
Journal of Energy Security
The recent slump in oil prices has sent gasoline prices below $3 a gallon, leading many Americans to believe that our energy predicament is a vestige of the past. Decades of anxiety over our dependency on Middle Eastern oil with all its economic and geopolitical trappings are giving way to a new era of complacency in our energy discourse. This growing exuberance might diminish public appetite for the newly elected Congress and the Obama Administration to pursue energy policies aimed at breaking oil's stronghold over our transportation sector. After all, if it ain't broke, why fix it? But such a euphoric mindset could lead to painful consequences down the road.
In the life of every commodity there are periods of ups and downs. Oil is no different. Just like a combination of circumstances – a stronger dollar, increased supply from the U.S. and Libya, and tapering demand in the developed world - have brought about the recent price drop, a different set of drivers can lead to the exact opposite outcome. A cut in OPEC production, trouble in one or more major oil exporting countries, or a slowdown in North American production due to lower prices could reverse the recent trend, sending oil prices back to the three digit level. Predicting future prices is a loser's game but even optimists would concur that any one of these three scenarios has a good chance of materializing in the foreseeable future. Read more ..
The Race for Solar
|Ry Crozier||December 8th 2014|
Solar researchers at Australia's New South Wales University have converted over 40% of the sunlight hitting a solar system into electricity, the highest efficiency ever reported.
The record efficiency was achieved in outdoor tests in Sydney, before being independently confirmed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) at their outdoor test facility in the United States.
The work was funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and supported by the Australia-US Institute for Advanced Photovoltaics (AUSIAPV).
"This is the highest efficiency ever reported for sunlight conversion into electricity," UNSW Scientia Professor and Director of the Advanced Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP) Professor Martin Green said. Read more ..
|Sarah Reed||December 4th 2014|
Taking inspiration from nature, researchers in the United Kingdom have created a versatile model to predict how stalagmite-like structures form in nuclear processing plants – as well as how lime scale builds up in kettles.
“It’s a wonderful example of how complex mathematical models can have everyday applications,” said Dr Duncan Borman, from the School of Civil Engineering at the University of Leeds, a co-author of the study.
The main aim of the research, which is published in print today in the journal Computers & Chemical Engineering, is to reduce the number of potentially harmful manual inspections of nuclear waste containers.
“We were approached by the National Nuclear Laboratory and Sellafield Ltd to solve the problem of predicting the shapes that precipitates from nuclear process solutions can form in containment chambers,” said Dr Borman.
Study co-author Professor Daniel Lesnic from the School of Mathematics at the University of Leeds, added: “Our first thought was to find a suitable analogy in nature. At first we looked at how lava flows from a volcano to the ocean, but the formation of stalagmites in caves mimics the process much more closely.
“Geologists have well-established models for the formation of stalagmites. So we are taking models from one field of science and applying them to a completely different discipline.” Read more ..
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