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The North Korean Threat

Trump Surprises Progressives and North Korea with Coal Sales to China

April 13th 2017

Coal Train

Rather than accepting their cargo of essential coking coal, China sent away a flotilla of 12 North Korean freighters to their home ports, according to an exclusive Reuters report. China has relatively few natural resources for such a large population and landmass, and relies on coal for its power plants and steel-making facilities. In the meantime, China placed a huge order for American coal from American producers. 
Reuters cited as its source for the news to be at the Dandong Chengtai Trade Co., which is the biggest buyer of North Korea's coal. According to Dandong Chengtai, there were 600,000 tons of North Korean coal waiting at several ports, while there are now 2 million tons of coal stranded at Chinese ports that must be returned to North Korea.
On February 26, China publicly committed itself to punishing North Korea for furthering its ambitions of producing nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Nearly half of North Korea’s source of foreign trade comes from coal sold to China. Targeting by China of coal will produce a dramatic economic impact. In February, China declared that it was banning North Korean imports for the rest of this year.
China is North Korea's largest source of trade and aid and targeting coal imports are meant to produce a dramatic economic result.
China will increase the amount of coal it buys from U.S. producers, marking a significant change. Between late 2014 and 2016, no coking coal from the U.S. was exported to China. But in February, coal shipments from the U.S. to China amounted to more than 400,000 tons.

The Race for Nuclear

Westinghouse bankruptcy Puts $8.3B in Federal Loan Guarantees for Vogtle Plant at Risk

April 4th 2017

nuke tower

The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing of Toshiba’s Westinghouse unit is raising concerns among many stakeholders. Not the least of them are Trump administration officials worried about the fate of federal loan guarantees extended for the construction of the Vogtle plant in Georgia.

If Westinghouse halts construction on the nuclear power project, it could jeopardize the completion of the entire plant, triggering repayment of the $8.3 billion loan from Southern.

A Department of Energy spokesperson said the agency is "keenly interested" in Westinghouse's bankruptcy proceedings and that the administration expects all companies to "honor their commitments" to finish the project.  Read more ..

The Trump Era

Will Trump’s Border Wall Be a Self-Sufficient Solar-Paneled Energy Producer?

March 22nd 2017

Solar panels


The Race for Natural Gas

Israel and Lebanon on Gas Tender Collision Course

March 21st 2017

Med Natural Gas

Israel has asked the US and the UN to pressure Lebanon to change the oil and gas exploration tenders being planned by the latter in five maritime blocks. Three of these blocks are within Israel's marine border and overlap the 800 sq.km. of marine territory disputed by the two countries. At the same time, the Ministry of Justice is promoting a marine areas bill that has been proposed for years, which among other things determines Israel's marine territory, including the disputed area.

After many years of preparations and postponements, the Lebanese government published six weeks ago a call to oil and gas exploration companies to submit their candidacy for the preliminary stage of the new tender. The filing deadline for the preliminary stage is the end of March. If it goes ahead, it will be the first such tender for Lebanon. Read more ..

The Race for EVs

Recharge EVs from Under the Roadway

March 16th 2017

Traffic Jam

As more and more electric vehicles hit urban streets across the world, better battery-recharging solutions are desperately needed to improve range, keep costs low and boost user confidence.

Oren Ezer (CEO) and Hanan Rumbak (CTO) cofounded ElectRoad in 2013 to develop their unique twist on the concept of underground electric coils that recharge vehicles as they travel on the road.

In a few months, ElectRoad’s dynamic wireless electrification system is beginning a pilot project in Tel Aviv involving a short public bus route.

“The idea of electrifying vehicles from the road is trendy right now and you can see several companies trying to do a similar concept to us, but our technology is totally different, from the coils under the asphalt to the transfer of energy to the bus,” Ezer tells ISRAEL21c. Read more ..

The Race for Solar

Molecular 'Leaf' Harvests Sunlight Without Solar Cells

March 13th 2017


An international team of scientists have engineered a molecule that uses light or electricity to convert the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide that could replace solar cells.

The team, led by Liang-shi Li at Indiana University (Bloomington, IN) with researchers from Nanchang University and the University of Science and Technology of China, used a nanographene-rhenium complex connected via an organic compound known as bipyridine to trigger a highly efficient reaction that converts carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide.

"If you can create an efficient enough molecule for this reaction, it will produce energy that is free and storable in the form of fuels," said Li, associate professor in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Chemistry.


The Race for EVs

Bosch Takes Big Leap towards Electromobility

March 9th 2017

Toyota Prius PHEV

In anticipation of the electromobility breakthrough, automotive supplier Robert Bosch GmbH has announced to reorganize its powertrain activities. Expecting production of almost 20 million hybrid and electric cars in 2025, Bosch has launched a business unit dedicated to electromobility – and to combine it along with existing combustion engine activities in the new Powertrain Solutions business field which will be launched 2018.

The idea is offering all technologies related to any type of powertrain through one central entity. To prevent the impression of disruption, the company assures that it will continue to further develop conventional powertrain technology, because even in 2025, internal combustion engines will be mainstream; Bosch expects combined production of diesel and gasoline engines in the area of 85 million units. Read more ..

The Race for EVs

Suppliers Battle to Supply Largest Battery Power Stations

February 7th 2017

Electric car Israel

AltaGas and AES are battling for the title of the largest battery power station in the US with systems launching this week.

AltaGas has opened its 20MW Pomona Energy Storage Facility at the site of its existing Pomona generation facility in the East Los Angeles Basin of Southern California, while AES is opening a 30MW system at Escondido in San Diego.

AES will deploy its Advancion 4 storage system to provide 30MW of power for four continuous hours and serve as a 75 MW of flexible resource to the grid, and the company claims this will be the largest system in the US. Altagas claims to provide 80MWh from its 20MW of storage, also claiming the crown. Read more ..

The Race for EVs

E-trucks with Overhead Power Lines on Autobahn

January 26th 2017

Volvo truck

The idea of overhead power lines for electric vehicles is not new – after all, in the railway industry it is rather common. For electric trucks, it also has been considered for a while. Now the German government plans to test the technology on public highways.

The project, to be managed by innovation agency VDI/VDE Innovation + Technik, aims to test the technology in a real-world environment with real traffic. Starting point of the considerations around this technology is the question how the growing roadbound freight transport can be coped with without unreasonable impact to the environment. The German federal government estimates that by 2030 the railway system can transport only about 20% of the additional goods that need to be carted. Which in turn allows the conclusion that the lions’s share of these goods will be transported on roads. Electrified trucks could be a solution that meets both the requirement for mass transport capability and environmental friendliness, at least as the electric energy used is generated by renewable sources.


The Race for Flying Cars

Airbus Develops Flying Car, Prototype Is Coming Soon

January 19th 2017

Broken Road

As recently as past week, Volvo futurologist Aric Dromi predicted that before mankind will see completely autonomous vehicles driving around in cities, they will see flying cars. Now someone no less than the CEO of the Airbus Group banged on the same drum.

At the DLD digital technology conference in Munich, Airbus Chief Executive Office Tom Enders said the company is in the process of developing flying cars – and a prototype will be available before the end of the year. The self-piloted flying car could be seen as a way of avoiding gridlock on city roads, Enders said according to media releases.


The Race for EVs

Tesla Gigafactory Starts Vattery Production

January 9th 2017

Better Place EV charging

Tesla (Palo Alto, CA) and Panasonic (Kadoma, Osaka Prefecture, Japan) have started production of lithium ion battery cells at Tesla's 'Gigafactory' in Nevada.

The factory started production of cylindrical 2170 cells that will be used for battery packs in Tesla's Powerpack and Powerwall home energy storage systems (above). Cells for the Model 3 electric vehicles will follow in Q2 of 2017.

The cells are jointly developed by the two companies and are 21mm in diameter and 70mm high, giving the 2170 designation, with a capacity of 5175mAh. This is wider and longer than the previous cells that have been used in Tesla systems from third party suppliers. 


The Race for Smart Rail

Being Smart About Smart Rail

January 5th 2017

New-Train S. Korea

Between the drive towards smart cities, new high speed rail links and increased rail travel across the UK, the pressure is on to make sure our railways can keep up. Progress is not without its challenges, and as the world struggles to balance being more connected there is a real risk that power quality could be affected.

Did you know that Milton Keynes is well on its way to becoming a fully functional smart city? The MK:Smart initiative is partly funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and led by The Open University, and it aims to develop innovative solutions to support economic growth in Milton Keynes.

One such solution, targeted at supporting transport links within the city, is MotionMap. This tool uses information gathered by a sensor network around the city to feed updates about congestion and car park occupancy to a mobile app. Any smart city will inherently be reliant on smart systems like this, which in turn rely on data and energy transfer.


The Race for Alternative Fuels

Recapping My Decade of Using and Experimenting With Alternative Fuels

December 19th 2016

Sugar Cane

I first learned about the potential of alternative engine fuels in the late 1970's while doing some unrelated marketing research in the giant New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue. I came across a book that described turning corn and other farm crops into ethanol and methanol.

For a guy who grew up primarily in Brooklyn and Queens, farming was as alien to me as the dark side of the moon. Nevertheless, the story was riveting because it presented economic possibilities that made my head spin: replacing foreign petroleum oil fuels with domestically produced fuels from crops...WOW!

With the 1970's oil crisis still very much on my mind (and on the minds of most Americans), it was a thrilling discovery. But as I was busy trying to build an advertising agency the last thing I could focus on was where to build silos in NYC to house all the harvested crops needed to produce biofuels. Read more ..

The Race for Hydrogen

Germany Plans Hydrogen Drives

December 15th 2016

Honda Clarity with refueler

While battery electric vehicles in the past months take center stage in the media, the hydrogen fuel cell technology is far from being dead. The German government plans to set up a multi-million funding program to foster this alternative to batteries.

Within the two years to come, the Germans plan to invest € 250 million into research programs around the hydrogen fuel cell technology with the goal of increasing their competitiveness. Another focus is on establishing a hydrogen filling station network. “With electromobility as well as with automated and connected driving, we are facing the largest revolution of mobility since the invention of the automobile,” said Alexander Dobrindt, minister of transport in an interview with daily paper “Die Welt”.


The Race for Solar

Large-area Organic Solar Cells see Record Efficiencies

December 8th 2016

Solar Array

Researchers at the University of Surrey (Guildford, UK) have analyzed how low-cost materials combine to achieve a record power conversion efficiency of 6.7% for large-area organic solar cells. Such cells are flexible, lightweight, and environmentally-friendly and have the capacity to be printed in different colors and shapes allowing commercial applications such as integration into building façades etc.

The research is part of a four-year European Commission FP7 programme called SMARTONICS that is aimed at developing large-scale pilot lines for the fabrication and printing of organic polymer solar cells. Led by the University of Surrey's Advanced Technology Institute (ATI), the four year project includes Oxford University in the UK, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece), and University of Stuttgart in Germany and finishes this month.

The research looks at the dependencies between the chemical and physical properties of the photoactive layer's building blocks within organic solar cells to determine the efficiency of these solar cells.


The Race for Cold Fusion

Do Cold Fusion Experiments Create Energy When None Should Exist?

November 30th 2016

superconducting fibers

Howard J. Wilk is a long-term unemployed synthetic organic chemist living in Philadelphia. Like many pharmaceutical researchers, he has suffered through the drug industry’s R&D downsizing in recent years and now is underemployed in a nonscience job. With extra time on his hands, Wilk has been tracking the progress of a New Jersey-based company called Brilliant Light Power (BLP).

The company is one of several that are developing processes that collectively fall into the category of new energy technologies. This movement is largely a reincarnation of cold fusion, the short-lived, quickly dismissed phenomenon from the late 1980s of achieving nuclear fusion in a simple benchtop electrolysis device.

In 1991, BLP’s founder, Randell L. Mills, announced at a press conference in Lancaster, Pa., that he had devised a theory in which the electron in hydrogen could transition from its normal ground energy state to previously unknown lower and more stable states, liberating copious amount of energy in the process. Mills named this curious new type of shrunken hydrogen the hydrino, and he has been at work ever since to develop a commercial device to harness its power and make it available to the world.


The Race for Batteries

Recycling EV Batteries for Home Storage Probably 'Nonsensical,'

November 28th 2016

Lead batteries dump

The economics of reusing batteries from plug-in vehicles for home energy storage don’t make sense, says a new report from Lux Research.

Up to 65 GWh of second-life batteries are poised to enter the market by 2035 with the retirement of the first generation of plug-in vehicles, but reusing them for home storage is not economic says the report, “Reuse or Recycle: The Billion-dollar Battery Question,” from the Lux Research Energy Storage Intelligence service.

Reuse of batteries from electric vehicles will deliver questionable returns on account of reduced performance, limiting them to application with less frequent and shallower depth of discharge cycles. For example, an oversized 11.2 kWh residential system from second-life batteries will cost just over $4,600, compared with nearly $6,000 for a new 7 kWh system. The reduced efficiency and cycle life make residential units and other daily cycling applications a poor fit compared to some others.


The Race for Hi-Speed Rail

California Hits the Brakes on High-Speed Rail Fiasco

November 24th 2016

Shinkansen bullet train

California's high-speed rail project increasingly looks like an expensive social science experiment to test just how long interest groups can keep money flowing to a doomed endeavor before elected officials finally decide to cancel it. What combination of sweet-sounding scenarios, streamlined mockups, ever-changing and mind-numbing technical detail, and audacious spin will keep the dream alive?

Sold to the public in 2008 as a visionary plan to whisk riders along at 220 miles an hour, making the trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles in a little over two and a half hours, the project promised to attract most of the necessary billions from private investors, to operate without ongoing subsidies and to charge fares low enough to make it competitive with cheap flights. With those assurances, 53.7 percent of voters said yes to a $9.95 billion bond referendum to get the project started. But the assurances were at best wishful thinking, at worst an elaborate con. Read more ..

The Race for Batteries

Scrap Metal Batteries Promise Energy Storage Innovation

November 7th 2016


A team at Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN) has created the world's first steel-brass battery - made from junkyard metal scraps - that can store energy at levels comparable to lead-acid batteries while charging and discharging at rates comparable to ultra-fast charging supercapacitors.

The key is anodization, a common chemical treatment used to give aluminum a durable and decorative finish. When easily available waste scraps of steel and brass are anodized using a common household chemical and residential electrical current, the researchers found that the metal surfaces are restructured into nanometer-sized networks of metal oxide that can store and release energy when reacting with a water-based liquid electrolyte.

The team determined that these nanometer domains explain the fast charging behaviour as well as the battery's stability. They tested it for 5,000 consecutive charging cycles - the equivalent of over 13 years of daily charging and discharging - and found that it retained more than 90 percent of its capacity.


The Race for EVs

Water Fuels Israeli Aluminum Battery EVs

November 3rd 2016

Electric car Israel

Israeli tech start-up Phinergy has produced a car that runs on metal, air and water. The technology significantly increases the driving range of current electric vehicles and should be in high demand when it hits the marketplace. 


Phinergy is a leading developer of breakthrough, zero emission, high energy density systems based on metal air energy technologies, mainly Aluminum-Air and Zinc-Air. Unlike conventional batteries that carry oxygen, these batteries freely breathe oxygen from the ambient air to release the energy contained in metals.

In the video,anyone can see the car in action, driving over 300 km. in one drive. Just refill the water and you’re good for another few hundred km. Read more ..

The Race for Solar

Panasonic Boost from Tesla Solar Roof and Powerwall

November 1st 2016

Sunrise or Sunset

Tesla, which is in the process of taking over Solar Cityin a $2.2bn deal, is using heterogeneous photovoltaic cells from Panasonic and adding its own tempered glass cover (below) to make the cells more rugged and attractive as roof tiles. The cells combine crystalline and amorphous silicon and provide an efficiency of 19%. The additional glass layer reduces the efficiency of the cell by only 2%, says Tesla.

The tiles include an option of a heater to clear snow so that the cells can still be used in winter and will be paired with the second generation of Tesla’s Powerpack. This uses lithium ion battery cells developed and manufactured by Panasonic. The Powerpack 2 combines two of Panasonic’s 14kWh battery packs with an integrated inverter designed and built by Tesla at its battery gigafactory in Nevada, US. Read more ..

The Race for EVs

Daimler the Latest to Establish Global Battery Production

October 26th 2016


In preparation its strategic shift towards electromobility, carmaker Daimler AG plans to invest 1 billion euros to quadruple its battery production capacity. Construction works for a second production facility at the company’s Kamenz campus have started.

The battery factory will be operated by Daimler subsidiary Deutsche Accumotive GmbH. The battery factory in Kamenz will cost about 500 million euros. Besides expanding the production capacity in Kamenz (Saxony), Daimler also plans to assign the role of a global battery competence center to that campus.


The Race for Energy Conservation

Vampire Power and the Saving Energy Little and Often

October 19th 2016

LED bulb

Jim Bird of Texas Instruments points out that "standby" may be a convenience in home electronics but it is also an energy drain. More needs to be done in saving energy on a global basis but small but ubiquitous changes can have a great impact.

Much time is spent discussing the need for more efficient use of limited energy resources, and with good reason. Energy demand continues to grow and the number of loads is predicted to climb exponentially as Internet of Things (IoT) deployment becomes real. In 2014, the International Energy Agency (IEA) published an enlightening (and somewhat sobering) document titled More Data, Less Power.

It’s a 170-page fact-laden discussion of global IT energy usage with recommendations for managing the predicted growth of worldwide power consumption over the next few decades. The list of contributors is impressive, including the U.S. Department of Energy, tier-one telecom manufacturers, big data, big network and everyone in-between.


The Race for EVs

High-current EV Charging at 400 Amps Gets Closer

October 17th 2016

Better Place

When Audi and Porsche recently put up to discussion their ideas of high-performance electric vehicles, they made clear that the charging infrastructure will be the main bottleneck – after all their vehicles engulf some 350 kW at the charging station. Now the first components for high-performance charging are falling in place.

Independently of one another, connector manufacturer ITT Cannon and cable systems provider Leoni introduced elements of a charging infrastructure capable of reducing the charging time to a few minutes. Leoni showcased the concept design of a charging station capable of charging an 85 kWh battery (like the one used in the Tesla S) within 15 minutes. Within three to five minutes, the battery can be charged for a range of some 100 kilometers. During charging, 400 amps at 1000 volts are carried over the cable. Since conventional cables, dimensioned for lower currents, would overheat during the process, Leoni enables the current-carrying parts to be cooled actively. The company however declined to specify the coolant.


The Race for Solar

Lower Cost Solar Cells - Just Add Water

October 15th 2016

solar power plant

Researchers at Japan's Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University's (OIST) Energy Materials and Surface Sciences Unit have discovered a method of making perovskite films with larger grain sizes that can result in lowering manufacturing costs of solar cells.

Earlier studies had concluded that exposing perovskite films to ambient air was detrimental because moisture reacted with perovskite, which degraded over time. As a result it was believed the material had to be prepared using a heat treatment called annealing in a water-free environment.

OIST researchers set out to investigate the effects of moisture on perovskite formation during 45 minutes of annealing, at temperatures between 105 and 125 degrees centigrade. The researchers grew a type of perovskite that has been shown to work better for solar cells.  Then, they compared the perovskite film's formation in a nitrogen atmosphere with its formation in humid air and found that the films actually receive a growth improvement resulting in larger grain sizes than usual in the presence of moisture. The film grows slowly, so larger grains can form.


The Race for Wearable Energy

Photovoltaics and Energy Storage Threads For Smart Fabrics

October 10th 2016

US Marines post battle Iraq

Weaving two types of specially designed fibres with cotton yarn and conductive copper-coated threads, a team of researchers from China and Singapore has devised a smart fabric that can both harvest energy from light and store it as a supercapacitor would do.

As its main threads (used as flying shuttle), the textile combines fibre-shaped photo-anodes interlaced with counter electrodes (CEs) for the energy harvesting functionality, with TiN nanowire-based fibre supercapacitors (FSCs) for the energy storage part.

Published in the ACS Nano journal, the paper "Tailorable and Wearable Textile Devices for Solar Energy Harvesting and Simultaneous Storage" details the fabrication process of both types of specialty threads as commercially viable for production in any length.


The Race for Autonomous Cars

Autonomous Auto Security Research Ramps up

September 30th 2016

Dashboard for electric car

Karamba Security has released Autonomous Security for connected and autonomous vehicles, a solution that empowers electronic control units (ECUs) to protect themselves from hackers and which the company claims would have blocked the recent Tesla-type hacks.

Autonomous Security is an extension to the company’s Carwall ECU security platform, enabling automotive technology providers to achieve the goals set out in the U.S. Department of Transportation's guidelines for the safe deployment of autonomous cars. Cyberattacks can only infiltrate a car by compromising the externally-connected ECUs controlling infotainment, navigation and OBDII telematics dongles, for example. Karamba Security’s Autonomous Security technology allows any car’s ECU to protect itself from this threat by automatically locking it down to the ECU's factory settings.


The Race for Energy Efficiency

Car-mounted Sensors Can Automate Street Light Maintenance

September 27th 2016

Downtown LA Neighborhood

Researchers from the MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering hope to lower the cost of monitoring and maintenance for street lighting by automatically sensing and mapping all street lights at night.

They devised a set of cameras and sensors to be mounted on top of city-owned vehicles, such as police cars, night buses or garbage trucks which regularly cruise the city's streets. Tagging it with GPS data, the sensor pack uses digital cameras and sophisticated software to distinguish between streetlights and other sources of illumination, and even to estimate the height of each lamp. Other sensors measure the exact level of illumination to determine if lights are failing, or if there are dark areas between lights which would indicate a possible lamp outage or a need for an additional light pole.


The Race for EVs

Samsung Builds 'Gigafactory' in Hungary

September 5th 2016


The 330,000sq m plant in Goed, north of Budapest, Hungary, is the third for Samsung SDI alongside plants in Ulsan, Korea and Xian, China. Starting commercial production in the second half of 2018, the €320m ($358m) investment in the plant will achieve an annual capacity of batteries for 50,000 pure electric vehicles. The two other plants currently support production for 90,000 vehicles.

The plant was orignially built in 2001 to manufacture cathode ray tubes (CRTs) and remodeled it for PDP production several years later. 

The investment comes in response to demand from European car makers with production in Central and eastern Europe, significantly reducing logistic costs. It will also allow Samsung to sharpen its competitive edge in automotive battery industry by establishing integrated production system ranging from battery cells to packs, working with SDI Battery Systems, Austria, which it acquired last year to be the production base of battery packs. Read more ..

The Race for Solar

Solar Energy Conversion Breakthrough Using New Class Of Materials

August 11th 2016

Sunrise or Sunset

Ferroelectric materials are pushing solar cells above a theoretical limit for conversion efficiency while only using ultraviolet light.

The team of researchers from Drexel University, the Shubnikov Institute of Crystallography of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the University of Pennsylvania and the US Naval Research Laboratory are using barium titanate crystals to convert sunlight into electric power much more efficiently than the theoretical Shockley-Queisser limit predicts for a bandgap material that absorbs almost no light in the visible spectrum. This could also be a boost for the development of transparent solar cells.

The energy collection mechanism relies on collecting “hot” electrons, those that carry additional energy in a photovoltaic material when excited by sunlight, before they lose their energy. This bulk photovoltaic effect could open up new cell design techniques.


The Race for EVs

Daimler Pursues All-Electric Truck

July 28th 2016

Traffic Jam

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

Battery Technology Drives E-Bike Boom

July 14th 2016


Improvements in lithium ion battery technology are driving a boom in electric bicycle shipments around the world says a new report from market researchers Navigant Research.

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

Deadly Tesla Crash Exposes Confusion over Automated Driving

July 8th 2016

Broken Road

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

EVs Increase But Gas Engines Are Here for Quite a While

March 27th 2016

Electric car Israel

Increasingly stiff limits on carbon emission and minimum fuel economy in most of the world's car markets mean that more plug-in electric cars must be sold. With battery costs steadily falling and the pricetag rising for the new technologies that make cars more efficient, some now envision a world in which all new vehicles have dispensed with combustion engines. It's a lovely vision, but it won't happen for decades, if ever.

Instead, gasoline engines will endure for many more decades, in smaller and far more efficient forms.

They'll often be paired with various types of electrification, from 48-volt enhanced start-stop systems to full plug-in hybrid powertrains.

That's the message offered by two executives from the major global parts supplier Continental, in an interesting piece by Drew Winter in Ward's Auto.


The Race for Natural Gas

Shifting Eastern Mediterranean Alliances

March 19th 2016


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.[1] 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

Driver Assistance Becomes Predictive

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

Report Shows How West Coast Can Cut Gasoline Use By Half

February 6th 2016

Oil well

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

Nisssan Launches Multi-Billion Pound Lithium Ion Enterprise

January 24th 2016

Electric car Israel

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

Quest for Energy Source in Clothing Adavances with Woven Microsupercapacitors

December 21st 2015

being cool

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.


The Race for More Oil

A Slick Solution to Spilled Oil on Our Seas

December 13th 2015

Oil well

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 – known as a containment boom — that can prevent disastrous consequences of marine oil spills within minutes of leak detection.

“Oil 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, it’s always too late,” cofounder Haim Greenberg tells ISRAEL21c. “We have a disruptive concept of immediate response because there is none today.” Read more ..

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