Archive for May 29th, 2010

Figuring land use into renewable-energy equation
Academics study land requirements for different energy sources and find that they vary greatly, but the biggest challenge is siting power plants and new transmission lines.
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EnerFuel Coupling High-Temperature PEM Fuel Cell With On-board Reformer for Range Extender System for Electric Vehicles

Enerfuel4

EnerFuel is developing a HT PEM cell/on-board reformer system that enables the use of conventional fuels in the fuel cell range extender. Source: EnerFuel. Click to enlarge.

EnerFuel, a subsidiary of Li-ion manufacturer EnerDel’s parent Ener 1, is developing a range extender system for electric vehicles that consists of a high-temperature (HT) PEM fuel cell combined with an on-board reformer. The use of the reformer in conjunction with the high-temperature 3-5 kW fuel cell would enable the use of conventional hydrocarbon fuels to recharge the batteries in the EV.

In 2008, EnerFuel developed a prototype to demonstrate the advantages of a fuel cell EV range extender. (Earlier post.) The test vehicle, equipped with a 35 kWh lithium ion battery pack, was outfitted with a 3 kW fuel cell range extender fueled by compressed hydrogen (5,000 psi tank, 20 kWhe equivalent). The range extender increased average vehicle range by more than 50% from the battery only base case, EnerFuel said.

The overall weight of that fuel cell system was 160 lbs (73 kg). The weight of a lithium-ion battery pack with similar energy content would have been double that of the fuel cell system.

Enerfuel3

HT-PEM cells have much lower susceptibility to CO poisoning than LT-PEM cells. Source: EnerFuel. Click to enlarge.

The use of an on-board reformer eliminates the need for a hydrogen refueling infrastructure, EnerFuel notes. While the incorporation of a reformer with a fuel cell has been tried in the past, EnerFuel’s effort differs in the use of the higher-temperature operating range (120 °C to 180 °C, vs. low-temperature 60 °C to 80°C PEM fuel cells). Furthermore, the fuel cell system operates at discrete power conditions with minimal transients, and the system is smaller than previously attempted onboard reformation systems.

The HT-PEM fuel cell has much lower susceptibility to CO poisoning than LT-PEM cells; this enables simplified and low-cost integration with reformers. The deep hybridization with batteries also reduces the requirement for immediate fuel cell start-up, which allows EnerFuel to use HT-PEM fuel cells.

EnerFuel has designed HT-PEM fuel cell systems with minimal balance of plant. For example, reactant humidification has been eliminated, an air cooled design eliminates the need for a coolant loop and radiator, and low pressure operation reduces the need for compressor-expander systems.

Balance of plant elimination is critical to the cost and reliability of the fuel cell. While the cost of the fuel cell stack drops almost linearly as its nominal power output drops, the balance of plant of plant costs do not scale down in the same manner. The EnerFuel HT-PEM fuel cell system thus can have a cost advantage over more complex systems in this application, the company says.

To the user, suggests Dr. Daniel Betts at EnerFuel, perhaps the most important difference between a fuel cell and an ICE range extender such as that used in the Chevrolet Volt is that the fuel cell can charge the vehicle battery while parked. Further, fuel cell system efficiency increase at partial loads, whereas ICE efficiency decreases at partial loads. Depending on the state of charge of the vehicle battery or the rate of charging that is required by the user, the efficiency of charging could be many times higher than that of ICE and on occasions higher than the grid efficiency, EnerFuel says.

The EV user would find a reduced dependence on a charging infrastructure. In essence the fuel cell can act as a high efficiency, zero pollution portable-charger for the vehicle.

More complex battery-fuel cell interactions can also occur, Betts says. For example, the heat generated by the fuel cell while running or during its startup phase can be used to warm up lithium ion batteries in cold environments. The fuel cell can also help support battery and vehicle air conditioning loads.

To keep the cost, size and weight of the fuel cell low, EnerFuel is developing lower power fuel cell systems than those traditionally place in vehicles. While the typical fuel cell vehicle uses a fuel cell system that provides 60 kW to 100 kW, EnerFuel is developing 3 kW and 5 kW systems.

As an example, EnerFuel uses a vehicle with a 200 Wh/mi average driving energy consumption (equivalent to a 25 to 33 mile per gallon gasoline ICE vehicle). To travel 100 miles throughout the day, the vehicle would require a 20 kWh battery pack. If a 5 kW fuel cell system were added and allowed to charge the vehicle batteries without limit throughout an 8 hour day, it would be able to add 40 kWh of energy to the vehicle. The daily range of the vehicle would be 200 miles from the fuel cell and 100 miles from the battery.

Because people seldom engage in such a long daily driving cycles, this opens up the possibility of eliminating a portion of the vehicle batteries, EnerFuel suggests. In this way, the overall cost and weight of the vehicle power plant can be reduced.

(A hat-tip to David!)


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Gordon Murray Announces Specs and Performance Target for Electric T.27 City Car

Zytek25

The three major elements of the third-generation Zytek EV powertrain are the inverter and powertrain related electronics (top), the transmission (middle) and the air-cooled motor (right). This is the configuration that will power the T.27 electric city car concept. Click to enlarge.

Gordon Murray Design has announced the specification and performance targets for the T.27 City Car, a pure electric drive vehicle designed to fully optimize packaging, weight and performance. (Earlier post.) The T.27 is being developed by a consortium led by Gordon Murray, with Zytek Automotive Limited. Technical support will be provided by Michelin Plc and Continental Corporation and sub-contractors will include MIRA Limited, Vocis Driveline Controls, VCA UK, and ENAX.

The T.27 is powered by a third-generation Zytek powertrain with a 25 kW motor (earlier post) and a 12 kWh Li-ion battery pack. Top speed for the vehicle is 105 km/h (65 mph), with acceleration from 0-100 km/h of less than 15 seconds. The vehicle has a range of 80-100 miles. Weight, including battery, is 680 kg (1,500 lbs).

T273

Powertrain packaging for the T.27. Click to enlarge.

Zytek worked closely with transmission specialist Vocis to develop a compact and light-weight transmission for the new EV powertrain.

Projected emissions, using a UK energy mix, are 48 g/km CO2 for the combined cycle and 28 g/km CO2 for the urban cycle alone, with zero emissions at the point of use. Full lifecycle CO2 damage will be 42% less than the average UK car, the partners said.

The T.27 vehicle concept closely follows the layout and geometry of Gordon Murray Design’s innovative T.25 city car, an MPV with 6 possible internal layouts.

The efficiency in cost, weight and performance comes in part from the ‘clean sheet of paper’ approach, part from the full integration of the powertrain and also from the low energy manufacturing system developed by Gordon Murray Design called iStream.

iStream reduces the capital investment required to produce the vehicle and also the energy required for manufacture plus the flexibility of the iStream process would also allow the gasoline-powered T.25 and the T.27 to be manufactured at the same plant.

The 16 month program started in November 2009 with a running prototype scheduled for completion in April 2011 and is supported with a 50% investment from the UK Technology Strategy Board.

The next phase in the program will include a push to secure partners and funding for UK manufacture. A UK partner or consortium to produce the city cars in the UK would keep the technology at home and could create 6,000 jobs, according to the company.


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$3M Award Supports Production of New Multi-tasking Fuzzy Fiber Nanomaterial; Energy Applications

A $3 million Ohio Third Frontier award to the University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI) will fund the scale-up and production of a new nanomaterial that will allow composites to multitask—enabling a wind turbine tower that can store energy to release on a calm day or a military vehicle whose armor can serve as a battery, powering some of the vehicle’s electrical components.

Nicknamed “fuzzy fiber” by its inventor at UDRI, Nano Adaptive Hybrid Fabric (NAHF-XTM) is the first tailored nanomaterial capable of being produced in sizes and quantities large enough to make them affordable and viable for large-scale commercial use. When incorporated into resins, fuzzy fibers enable composites to be tailored for electrical and thermal conductivity, chemical and biological sensing, energy storage and conversion, thermal management and other properties.

This is going to disrupt the way we think about materials. From now on, instead of thinking “mono,” we will think “multi”—multiscale, multifunctional, multitasking. By manufacturing structural material that can serve multiple functions, fewer parts are needed for any given application, which means reduced cost, lighter weight and greater efficiency.

—NAHF-XTM inventor Khalid Lafdi, Group Leader for Carbon Materials at UDRI

Aside from serving simply as structural material, composites made with fuzzy fiber can work as batteries, sensors, heaters, supercapacitors, structural health monitors and other systems whose operations are normally performed by additional components, Lafdi says.

Everybody is growing carbon nanotubes on substrates. We’re the only people who are producing them on a large-scale and continuous process, and not just in batches. This means we can produce the material at a low cost, and it also means we can produce pieces big enough to cover an aircraft.

—Khalid Lafdi

Lafdi and his team have been producing 500 feet of 12-inch-wide fabric per day at a pilot plant in UDRI’s Shroyer Park Center. The Third Frontier award, announced 26 May in Columbus, will be matched by UDRI and Ohio collaborators Goodrich, Owens Corning and Renegade Materials to fund the creation and equipment of a full-scale production facility for the hybrid fabric. The new facility, to be located within Dayton’s Aerospace Hub, will be equipped to produce 60-inch-wide fabric. Goodrich expects to apply the technology in the marketplace first in commercial aerospace applications.

The NAHF-XTM technology was pioneered and perfected over seven years with funding from the Air Force, Army, aerospace industry and Third Frontier, said Brian Rice, Division Head for Multi-Scale Composites and Polymers at UDRI. After successfully controlling growth of carbon nanotubes on individual carbon fibers, researchers accomplished the same on a type of carbon-fiber yarn and eventually on engineered textiles. The breakthrough was in overcoming issues of uniformity and precisely controlling growth of the nanotubes.

Various industries have been replacing metals with composites in structures and components because of their lighter weight and durability. But in doing so, electrical and thermal conductivity inherent to metals is lost. By growing nanotubes on carbon fibers used in composites in a very specific manner, those properties are built back in—and the composites also can be tailored for specialized mechanical properties.

—Brian Rice

Rice said the hybrid fabric production facility will serve as a cornerstone for Ohio’s Aerospace Hub in Dayton by helping to attract and connect new and existing businesses related to aerospace, sensing technologies and advanced materials. One targeted application will be unmanned aerial vehicles weighing less than 150 pounds.

We’d like to begin making “smart” structural materials for UAVs that also serve as the plane’s communication, power and sensor systems. Not having to add a battery or external sensors means less weight on the plane.

—Brian Rice


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Harris AutoTECHCAST Study Finds US Vehicle Owners Currently Would Choose Lower-cost, Higher Fuel Economy Gasoline-Engined Vehicles Over Higher-Priced Alt Fuel Engines or Electric Vehicles

According to Harris Interactive’s 2010 AutoTECHCAST study, conducted between 6-26 April 2010, there is currently greater demand among US vehicle owners for technologies that deliver improved fuel economy of existing gasoline-driven engines at a lower initial cost, rather than for higher-priced alternative-fueled engines.

One in five Americans indicate they would be extremely or very likely to purchase a start/stop system (21%) or an ECO drive assistant (19%). Both of these systems provide an estimated 10% gain in fuel economy. Barely one in six owners say they are extremely or very likely to purchase flexible fuel engines (16%) or a clean diesel engine (14%). Even less interest exists for purchasing electrified vehicle technologies.

Only one out of 25 vehicle owners are extremely or very likely to consider purchasing fuel cell engines (4%), hybrid-electric engines (4%), plug-in hybrids (4%) and pure electric engines (2%).

A relative bright spot is a 10% level of consideration of compressed natural gas engines.

Consideration for clean diesel engines has been consistent over the past several years of the study, while that of flexible fuel engines has decreased. With the current push of clean diesel by European automakers, we anticipate this will start to increase while consideration for flexible fuel will continue to decrease, especially as other alternative fueled engines continue to come to market.

—David Duganne, Sr. Research Director of Harris Interactive Automotive and Transportation Research

The interest in technology-driven approaches using traditional gas engines is growing. ECO drive assistant doubled its level of consideration from the 2009 study (19% in 2010, up from 11% in 2009).

While price is certainly a factor for adoption of these newer engine technologies, other barriers also exist, Harris says. The price of the fuel (where applicable), the lack of an infrastructure for refueling or recharging, concerns about service and repair of the vehicles and in the case of the electric vehicles, how long the charge will last in respect to one’s daily commute are all detrimental to consumer acceptance.

“How likely would you be to purchase this technology if it added [INSERT PRICE] to the total cost of your vehicle?”
 

Clean Diesel Engine

Compressed Natural Gas Engine

ECO Drive Assistant

Flexible Fuel Vehicle

Fuel Cell

Hybrid Electric

Plug-In Hybrid

Pure Electric

Start/Stop System

Price

$1,000

$1,000

$250

$250

$5,000

$3,500

$4,000

$4,000

$500

Base

997

981

984

986

986

998

978

983

995

 

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

TOP 2 BOX (NET)

14

10

19

16

4

4

4

2

21

Extremely Likely

4

4

8

5

2

1

2

1

10

Very Likely

10

6

11

11

2

3

3

2

10

Likely

15

12

14

18

5

13

6

5

12

BOTTOM 2 Box (NET)

70

78

67

67

91

83

91

93

67

Somewhat Likely

25

25

29

27

23

29

21

18

27

Not At All Likely

45

53

38

40

68

54

70

75

40

Although there are some significant entry barriers, we believe that as consumers become more familiar with alternative fuel approaches, and gasoline costs rise, demand will grow. To raise mass market appeal automakers and government agencies must educate consumers on the benefits they offer, while reducing infrastructure issues. Education must not only address what is being done, but connect with the emotional elements of the concerns. At some point technologies that nip away at enhanced fuel economy aren’t going to provide automakers with the gains needed to keep up with industry requirements.

—David Pulaski, Vice President of Harris Interactive Automotive and Transportation Research

The new Harris Interactive 2010 AutoTECHCAST study, an annual survey of adult vehicle owners in the United States includes “start/stop system”; “ECO drive assistant”; “clean diesel engine”; “flexible fuel vehicle”; “compressed natural gas engine”; “fuel cell engine”; “plug-in hybrid engine”; “pure electric engine” as well as 61 other unique technologies spanning across several categories that include: Entertainment, Exterior Comfort & Convenience; Glass; Intelligent Sensing; Interior Comfort & Convenience; Lighting; Powertrain & Alternative Fuels; Ride & Handling; Safety; and Telematics.

The study also finds that there is increasing consideration for voice activated technologies that allow drivers to interact with their audio, navigation or telematics systems while helping them stay focused on the road. Additionally, technologies that provide the ability to customize a vehicle, such as the instrument panel or interior lighting color, have lower levels of consideration and exhibit more niche than mass market appeal.

The AutoTECHCAST study was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive among 12,225 US adults ages 18 and over and who own or lease a vehicle, have a valid driver’s license, have at least one household vehicle, own a listed North American model 2005 or newer, and are at least 50% involved in the decision to buy their next household vehicle.

Results were weighted as needed for age, gender, education, region and income and to properly represent US vehicle segment owners. Propensity score weighting also was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.


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Relinquishment Can Be Fun! Redefining the Pursuit of Happiness to Create a Greener World
thanksgiving feast holiday meal photo
Eating like this every day wouldn’t be very good for the environment — and it wouldn’t be much of a treat either. Photo by Jennifer Hattam.

Before I moved to Istanbul, I always thought of eating seasonally as a great idea in theory, but kind of a chore in practice. How were you supposed to remember if it was OK to eat asparagus in October or oranges in April? What if you really, really wanted to cook <a href…=”href…” Read the full story on TreeHugger
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Florida May Be ‘Out Of The Loop’ – Bad For Texas And Louisiana Shorelines
warm core eddy formation gulf
Warm core eddy formation in the Gulf of Mexico. Image credit:Texas A&M. Dept of Oceanography, Quarterdeck Online TAMU.edu

As reported in the Miami Herald, physical oceanographers are tracking a notable change in the Gulf ‘loop current.’ “…over the last two weeks, a counter-current on the outside of the loop began pushing east and may force the current into a circular pattern oceanographers call a “warm core eddy.”” The new eddy – currently 100 miles wes…
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Phillippe Cousteau Joins Bill Maher to Talk Deepwater Disaster (VIDEO)
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Philippe dipping his hand into oil on a Louisiana beach. All photos and video courtesy of Philippe Cousteau.

Phillippe Cousteau, grandson of French explorer, filmmaker, and ecologist Jacques-Yves Cousteau, appeared on “Real Time with Bill Maher” on Friday to explain what we are doing to our oceans and how the BP oil spill will affect the Gulf area. Cousteau called comments by some that the ocean is so big that it can easily absorb oil spills like this “bullsh*t.” Video is <a href=”http://videos.mediaite.com/video/Bill-…
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BP abandons ‘top kill’, to try new strategy

The Discoverer Enterprise drillship sits above the disaster site on Saturday. BP's strategies for trying to stop the Gulf spill are being deployed from the ship.BP said Saturday that its “top kill” bid to plug the worst oil spill in U.S. history wasn’t working and that it would try another approach next.

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BP fails to plug oil well with ‘top kill’ method
Next option is to try to capture the oil from the well rather than plug it. The best option for stopping the flow remains drilling a relief well, which is expected to take months.
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Disease kills 12,000 rare antelopes

Disease kills 12,000 rare antelopes
Disease has killed about 15 percent of the saiga antelope population in Kazakhstan over the past week in the biggest threat to the endangered species since poachers decimated their numbers in the 1990s.

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Hawaii to make eating shark fins illegal

Archie Chik, head chef at Kirin Restaurant in Honolulu, holds a bowl of shark fin soup and a plate with a shark's fin on Wednesday.The $48-a-plate shark fin has been a favorite dish to celebrate 80th birthdays and fete out of town VIPs since Vienna Hou’s Chinese restaurant opened 25 years ago.

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How Awesome Bike Parking Facility Could Replace Downtown Parking Lot
scheel.jpgImages: Annie Scheel, BIKE & Delaware Valley Green Building Council

Here’s a great example of forward-thinking urban planning: a downtown, all-in-one bicycle parking facility that prioritizes human-powered transportation. The competition entry BIKE for the Delaware Valley Green Building Council by architect Annie Scheel recently won first place – and for good reason. It’s a proposal would not only reduce urban congestion and pollution in downtown Philadelphia, but also would includ… Read the full story on TreeHugger
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Harnessing The Wind’s Vibrations For Electricity
vibro2.jpgPhotos: Cornell University Vibro-Research Group (From left: Jamie Pelletier, Albert Dodson, Rona Banai, Zach Gould, Marco Zhang, mechanical engineering professor Frank Moon and Jared Valentin.)

As a renewable energy resource, wind has lots going for it – but one major downside is the cost to set up the wind turbines themselves, not to mention the problematic visual impact and the noise pollution it generates (often likened to a small jet engine, especially for those living close by). However, undergraduate students from Cornell University’s Vibro-Wind Research Group are working on a space-saving prototype that will harness win… Read the full story on TreeHugger
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