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March 08 2011

China to beat US to electric vehicle rollout

According to a new report by Accenture,  could actually be ahead of the US when it comes to the rollout of electric vehicles and deploying disruptive new transport technologies.

However, when it comes to creating new innovations across several platforms, including advanced combustion engines, electric and advanced  that can be integrated into the existing infrastructure the US is thought to have the edge.

The authors state that China should win the race in terms of supporting alternative energy and allocation of funds to research and deployment, meaning it should reach its targets faster. However, the US is more likely to generate a breakthrough solution despite being slower in development.

China’s competitive advantage comes from its domestic supplies of lithium and current battery production capabilities. The rise of new fuel technologies should also allow both countries to enjoy greater energy independence with the reduction in the US potentially reaching 22billion gallons per year by 2030. This would reduce crude oil imports by one billion barrels per year; while China, which imports over half of its petrol demand, could reduce crude oil imports by 676million barrels by 2020.

The increase in new fuels will however, have a negative impact on the US refining industry with the blending of biofuels expected to replace more than 30 per cent of US petrol and diesel demand by 2030 compared to 2010. However, in China there should be no losers because car ownership is expected to triple between now and 2020 creating growth across the biofuel, electric vehicle and oil industries.


February 15, 2011:

News from th automotive industry.

Toyota to reveal iQ electric car

Toyota is to give its iQ-based EV prototype its first European unveiling at the Geneva Motor Show next month.

Based on the current model of its tiny city car, the EV prototype is designed to showcase the car maker’s vision for short-range, urban-friendly, zero emission transport.

Toyota iQ EV

The vehicle successfully integrates an all-electric powertrain into the existing iQ package. A newly developed, flat and compact lithium-ion battery has been fitted beneath the vehicle floor, and slots in without compromising loadspace or passenger accommodation. It provides enough charge to give the car a range of up to 65 miles, Toyota expects.

The new EV prototype is being put through testing on European roads this year, with a potential market introduction through a leasing programme in 2012. The Japanese car maker has already announced plans to bring the car to market in the USA and is also considering its viability in other regions.

The EV prototype will be featured on the Toyota stand at the Geneva Motor Show alongside three models making their world-first appearance: Yaris HSD, Prius+ and FT-86 Concept II.

The 81st Geneva Motor Show opens to the world’s press on March, 1 (when we will bring you all the news and highlights), while a public show begins March 3 and runs until March 13, 2011.

Toyota develops battery with high discharge capacity

The highly skilled team at the Advanced Battery Lab of Toyota Central Research and Development Laboratories has developed a new advanced gas-utilising battery with a discharge capacity nearly three times that of a non-aqueous li-air battery.

Using a mixture of O2 and CO2, the new battery has to be a primary battery because of its difficult electrochemical decomposition in the cathode. However, its high discharge capacity offers the potential for an alternative energy source with the use of a CO2-rich gas and this could be extended to non-lithium systems.

The theory behind the concept was published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Chemical Communications and suggests that because of its potential very high energy density, li-air chemistry is a promising candidate to meet the demands of future vehicles.

The oxygen reduction at the cathode in particular is the most important process in the battery. It is well known that O2 can be captured by CO2 and the reaction has been applied to CO2 sensors and molten-carbonate fuel cells. This series of reactions was noted to slow down the precipitation speed of the discharged products.

The unique point of the battery is thought to be the rapid consumption of the superoxide anion radical by CO2 as well as the slow filling property of the Li2CO3 in the cathode.


See Also

US DOE: Plug-in electric vehicle target achievable

Is it realistic for the US to meet President Obama’s target of placing one million plug-in electric vehicles on the road by 2015? According to the US Department of Energy, the goal is in sight.

In its report entitled One Million Electric Vehicles by 2015, it outlines that the goal is ambitious but also achievable based on the steps already taken as part of the Recovery Act and the proposed additional policy initiatives such as improving existing consumer tax credits, strong support for research and development and programmes to help cities prepare for increased demand for electric vehicles.

The report outlines that conventional hybrid electric vehicles have been on sale in the US for more than 10 years and in 2010 new vehicle hybrid sales were approximately 2.5 per cent. To reach the one million vehicle target, plug-in electric vehicles will need to average just under 1.7 per cent of sales through 2015.

Production capacity should be sufficient to achieve the target with auto manufacturers including Chrysler, BYD, Coda, Honda, Mitsubishi, Toyota, Volvo, Volkswagen and Hyundai all having announced or expected to introduce electric vehicles over the time period.

However, the main stumbling block to achieving the goal is to further drive innovation, reduce costs and spur consumer demand. Currently the strategy from the Obama administration includes making electric vehicles more affordable with a rebate up to $7,500; advancing innovative technologies through new research and development investments; and rewarding communities that invest in electric vehicle infrastructure.

Hybrids to recoup energy as air

A new method of recuperating energy could lead to the production of cheaper hybrids, according to scientists at a Swedish university.

Air hybrids-or pneumatic hybrids-store braking energy as compressed air, which can be used to then provide extra power to the engine when the car is started and save fuel by avoiding idle operation when the vehicle is at a standstill.

Not currently in commercial production, air hybrids could quickly be market ready, Per Tunestål, a researcher in Combustion Engines at Lund University in Sweden says.

“The technology is fully realistic. I was recently contacted by a vehicle manufacturer in India which wanted to start making air hybrids”, he says.

The technology is particularly attractive for jerky and slow driving, for example for buses in urban traffic.

“My simulations show that buses in cities could reduce their fuel consumption by 60 per cent”, says Sasa Trajkovic, a doctoral student in Combustion Engines at Lund University who recently defended a thesis on the subject.

Sasa Trajkovic also calculated that 48 per cent of the brake energy, which is compressed and saved in a small air tank connected to the engine, could be reused later. This means that the degree of reuse for air hybrids could match that of today’s electric hybrids. The engine does not require any expensive materials and is therefore cheap to manufacture. What is more, it takes up much less space than an electric hybrid engine. The method works with petrol, natural gas and diesel.

For the research the Lund researchers worked with the Swedish company Cargine, which supplies valve control systems.

The idea of air hybrids was initially hit upon by Ford in the 1990s, but the American car company quickly shelved the plans because it lacked the necessary technology to move forward with the project. Today, research on air hybrids is conducted at ETH in Switzerland, Orléans in France and Lund University in Sweden.

The researchers in Lund hope that the next step will be to convert their research results from a single cylinder to a complete, multi-cylinder engine. They would thus be able to move the concept one step closer to a real vehicle.

BMW aims to make power systems breakthrough

It could be out with copper and in with aluminium if BMW has its way.

Scientists from the Technische Universitat Munchen (TUM) are teaming with engineers from BMW in an effort to replace copper with aluminium as a conductor in on-board power systems.

Copper is heavy and expensive when compared to aluminium and with electric power becoming increasingly important, a switch to a cheaper option is preferred.

If aluminium is to be used however, then a number of technological issues must be addressed. For example, when temperatures are high aluminium often displays a distinct creep behaviour and conventional conductors could not be used as they would become loose over time. Even using aluminium based elements in cables and copper-based elements in connection areas would also cause issues because of the high electrochemical potential between a copper contact and an aluminium cable.

To counter these difficulties the aluminium based LEIKO concept was invented. It includes a sheet metal cage that enhances the mechanical stability of the plug and means there will be long-term support of the contact pressure spring. In addition, the researchers have come up with a special wedge-based geometry for the aluminium contacts so the aluminium creep now leads to the two contacts snuggling closer and closer over time to only enhance the electrical connection.

The addition of on-board cables arises because aluminium has a lower electrical conductivity. However, this may be addressed because aluminium is very pliable and the standard values for copper cable processing could still be applied.

Now researchers are looking into the ageing process in an effort to determine the suitability of the concept by 2012 – initial results indicate that material substitution will boost weight, cost and emissions.

Sol Mates: Bike Path Makes Clean Energy From Flat Surfaces

Posted: 12 Feb 2011 10:00 AM PST

[ By Delana in Art & DesignEnergy & FuelTechnology & Gadgets. ] 

Solar power could be the ticket to clean, renewable energy for future generations, but getting a solar energy infrastructure up and running is no small task. The TNO Research Institute, in cooperation with the Province of North Holland, Imtech and the Ooms Avenhorn Group, has come up with a novel way to collect solar power while encouraging commuters to use emissions-free transportation: they are building a solar cycle path.

The bike path is scheduled to be constructed in the town of Krommenie, which is near Amsterdam. It is called SolaRoad, and it will combine the best aspects of earth-friendly transportation and eco-friendly energy. The modular bike path will be made of concrete blocks measuring 1.5 X 2.5 meters and topped with crystal silicon solar cells. Atop the solar cells is a layer of clear protective glass that will let the sun shine through.

SolaRoad is still in development currently, and many criteria need to be met before such a project can be successfully rolled out for the public. The path would have to be sturdy enough to deal with constant traffic, yet effective as a solar collector. The prototype path being built in Krommenie should be completed in 2012 and will teach the project’s coordinators about the needs and challenges associated with the undertaking.

(all images via: TNO)

Once successfully installed, SolaRoads can be used to power street lights, traffic lights and even homes. They can produce up to 50 kWh per square meter per year, so the more bike paths constructed, the more clean energy will be available to a city. It’s a winning prospect for everyone involved, so the hope is that the prototype in Krommenie will be just the beginning of a whole system of solar energy-producing roads, bike paths and other flat surfaces.

File under Re; Cycling   🙂 I used to work near Krommenie.  Jijn fietzers zat daar!


About pfiddle

Fiddle teacher - mostly Irish trad. Fiddle, mandolin and concertina. Eco-warrior, won E.U. Green Flower Award for Eco Accommodation. Also Irish (Gold) GHA. Green Hospitality Award. Mad keen on self-build - especially straw-bale and cob. 55 with a full head of (slightly) graying hair. No tattoos or piercings. Fond of animals - but legally so. Fond of food - I eat nothing else. Vegetarian by choice, Irish by the grace of birth, Munster by force of (rugby) arms.

One response »

  1. The Legend Returns, Electrified – VW Bus Concept in Geneva
    by Christine Lepisto, Berlin on 03. 2.11

    Image: VW Bulli

    If the duration of the useful life of a product contributes significantly to a reduced ecological footprint, then the VW Bus is the model of sustainability. If the hours of joy accumulated by the people that spent time in a vehicle is a measure of value, then the VW Bus is a pearl of great price. But at some point the antiquated, fuel-guzzling, smoke-belching technology overtakes the environmental benefits of keeping that original VW Bus running. So it is with anticipation and great expectations that we await the serialization of Volkswagen’s 2011 Geneva Auto Show concept car: a VW Bus reminiscent of the olden days but outfitted with promising modern technology.

    The famous Transporter 1 (T1) has been dubbed the world’s first van. Historians attribute the design to Dutch importer Ben Pon, who in 1947 sketched the idea for a boxed-in vehicle with front wheel drive and a rear engine after being inspired by a vehicle that VW workers had built for transport needs at the factory. The Bus went into production in 1950 and already by 1951 the iconic 23-window Samba bus was rolling off production lines. Since then, the van known as the “Microbus” to Americans, as “Bulli” to Germans, has entered millions of hearts, and will forever be associated with the Hippies although it carried an awful lot of ordinary families on vacations that linger in the memory years later.

    But this time around, the “hippies” are lined up against combustion engines, even against the concept of personal transportation. How will the legendary bus make its mark on a new generation of people who are fighting a philosophical battle every bit as game-changing as that of the “flower children?”

    The new VW Bus will have an electric engine option. The study envisions an 85kW (115 horsepower) engine, with lithium-ion batteries covering a 200km range. The retro bus will reach a top speed of 140 km/h (87 mph) with 0-100 in a modest 11.5 seconds. But could the new VW Bus take the greening of personal transport to even higher levels?

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Microbus of the 21st Century goes down in history as the icon of a whole new model for personal transport? Can you imagine car-free masses reserving their electric bus at an agency like Zipcar for the occasions when they must step away from the public transportation infrastructure and venture on holiday to remote wilderness to commune with nature? Now, that would be electrifying.

    Experts rate the chances of this concept car going into production extremely high, and if the Volkswagen webcam (click on concept car) is any indication, Volkswagen’s four current people-carriers (Caddy, Touran, Sharan and Multivan) cannot stand in the way of the re-introduction of the retro freedom machine.


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