Semi-solid battery start-up 24M raises $22M
It has been quiet around the A123 spin-off 24M that had promised to deliver cheaper, semi-solid batteries by doing away with inactive materials in the electrodes. Now the company has received a 22 million dollar funding push and will build a small commercial plant beginning next year.
Solar powered aircraft to stay airborne for months
Boeing spin-off Aurora Flight Sciences launches an autonomous lightweight airplane called Odysseus. Thanks to advanced solar cells that deliver 250 watts, the solar plane can fly “practically indefinitely” at high altitudes and will take off for the first time in spring 2019.
Audi, Ballard Power System, TDK Automotive, MIT.
Audi starts factory-backed Formula E programme: Audi will step up its commitment in the Formula E team Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport and wants to integrate the racing series into a factory-backed programme from the 2017/18 season. The goal is to join technical development alongside Schaeffler step by step.
greencarcongress.com, electricautosport.com, audi-mediacenter.com
Fuel cells for China: Ballard Power Systems has signed a declaration of intent with engine manufacturer Zhongshan Broad-Ocean Motor, both partner of and stakeholder in the former. The goal is the production of fuel cells to be used in buses and other utility vehicles in selected areas in China.
TDK partners with Toshiba: The two companies have formed a joint venture called TDK Automotive Technologies Corporation in order to jointly develop, produce and sell inverters for electric and hybrid vehicles, as both are bracing for a globally growing market for alternative drivetrains.
New lithium battery insight: Researchers at MIT have analysed lithium dendrite formation from lithium anodes in batteries, fighting that there are two mechanisms – ‘mossy’ deposits that grow from the roots and are easy to control, and ‘dendritic’ projections that grow from the tips. The new insight also shows limitations on rates and capacity.
MIT, Borgward, BrakeForceOne, Mate.
Range anxiety irrational: 87 percent of cars currently on the road could be replaced with electric cars available today. This is the result of a study by MIT and the Santa Fe Institute that analysed driving patterns and even factored in ambient temperature and fuel economy. It based the analysis on a modestly priced Nissan Leaf that would be charged over night.
washingtonpost.com, theguardian.com, electriccarsreport.com
Borgward buys expertise: The revived brand has hired Dr. Tilo Schweers as Chief Developer for Alternative Drive Systems. He studied at RWTH Aachen and worked for Daimler previously. Florian Herbold is to work alongside him as Chief Engineer for Transmission Development and Integration.
ABS for e-bikes: Initially developed for a Volkswagen e-bike, BrakeForceOne launches its ABS for pedelecs at the Eurobike. The system is based on a algorithm and sensors, which detect if one of the wheels is locked or lifted up. It then assures safe deceleration.
E-bike mate: Danish start-up Mate.bike is about to launch its crowdfunding campaign for its folding pedelec. Three versions are based on different battery sizes and the cheapest model would start at 599 dollars. In the U.S., the 250 W motor will be allowed to hit 20 mph but is restricted to 25 kph in Europe.
treehugger.com, facebook.com (video)
China, POLICE, EPA, MIT.
China opens battery market: The government announced that foreign battery makers and suppliers for other EV and PHEV components will no longer need to form joint ventures with Chinese companies. That will at first only be the case for the provinces of Fujian, Guangdong, Shanghai and Tianjin, but the government will keep a close eye on the development and possible extend or scrap the measure.
Prolonging EVs’ operating life: The three-year research project POLICE (Prolonged Life Cycle for Electric Vehicles) is looking at how electric cars can become more competitive, focusing on multiplying the vehicles’ operating lifespan. The RWTH Aachen, StreetScooter, Dekra and DLR are part of the team. The German Federal Ministry of Economy is funding the project with 1.5m euros.
EPA criticises airplane emissions: The U.S. environmental agency has taken a closer look at emissions above the clouds. While regulatory limits have yet to be established, airplane manufactures are being asked to reduce their engines’ emissions.
MIT makes progress: MIT researchers have found a new approach to engineering lithium-air batteries, keeping oxygen inside using nanoscale particles that hold both Li and O instead of pulling oxygen from the air. That reduces energy loss. Scientists say their prototype was able to hold twice as much energy a Li-ion battery of the same size.
engadget.com , mit.edu
Plastic Omnium, Solar Voyager, MIT, H2 alliance.
Lighter tanks for hybrids: Plastic Omnium presented a new tank for plug-in hybrids that weights 40 percent less than current metal tanks. It will first be used for hybrids from Hyundai from late 2016 and three other manufacturers from 2018.
Another solar-powered journey: U.S. engineers have developed a ship that is solely powered by the sun and can drive without a crew. The Solar Voyager is set to cross the Atlantic from Massachusetts to Portugal; a journey that will take about four months. As reported yesterday, the Solar Impulse 2 is getting ready for that same leg of its journey.
All eyes on the driver: The MIT will pay Tesla owners living in or near Boston up to 1,000 dollars if they fit their EVs with cameras to keep an eye on the driver’s behaviour. The research project aims to further develop safety features and could expand to other cities at a later date.
H2 alliance: Plug Power and HyGear are partnering to supply the former’s customer’s with the latter’s Hy.GEN technology. The small scale, on-site fuel cell system will be offered as an option under Plug Power’s GenFuel platform.
MIT, Gigafactory, BAIC, Toyota.
Autonomous MIT trike trial: The Persuasive Electric Vehicle was launched in Taiwan, swiftly following the previous concept. The tricycle weighs only 40 kilos and is said to roam for 40 km on one charge. In a first round of testing, 50 pieces at 6,000 dollars each will be distributed to Hamburg, Singapore, Taipei, and two cities in the U.S.
Second Gigafactory? Tesla might erect a battery factory in South Africa, Timeslive reports, as the EV maker appoints South African Evan Rice as business development manager in the country. The tip of Africa would lend itself for Tesla Powerwalls, as energy distribution is often scarce.
Second BAIC R&D: Detroit saw the opening of a second U.S. testing centre built by the Chinese automotive corporation. The new R&D centre will serve BAIC in gathering information on the overseas market, building brand value, and obtaining EV technology. The firm recently opened its first research facility in Silicon Valley and expects synergies.
Star-studded future: Toyota presents a research vehicle with satellite communications function by Kymeta at NAIAS in Detroit. The concept is based on the fuel cell Mirai. Kymeta’s flat antenna uses software and liquid crystal technologies instead of mechanical components.
Nissan, eVADER, Tesla, LG Chem, Panasonic, MIT, Samsung.
EVs to attract attention: Nissan has teamed up with ten other consortium members in the European Commission-led project eVADER to create an alert system for EVs, which produces audible cues to alert pedestrians and other road users to the presence of an electric vehicle, whilst having as little impact as possible on ambient noise levels. The research and results collated from this project could be utilised to shape future EU legislation on EV pedestrian alert sounds.
Tesla kicks off Autopilot testing: The carmaker has begun uploading the latest version of its Autopilot software to a select group of its Model S electric cars with the drivers acting as beta testers, according to a report from IEEE Spectrum. If all goes well, Tesla could roll out the technology later this year.
EV battery market: LG Chem could overtake EV battery leader Panasonic in 2020, if it can accelerate sales of plug-in hybrids with German manufacturers and win over Nissan, according to Lux Research. The analysts expect that the market will reach a volume of 30 billion dollars by the end of the decade.
EV battery research: Researchers at MIT and Samsung consider solid-state electrolytes to be the crucial element for significantly better EV batteries. The scientists say that solid electrolytes allow for higher power density, work well in cold weather and are not flammable.
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Most clicked Link on Tuesday was our short circuit about a baby stroller that brakes and keeps distance automatically.
Audi, MIT & Lomonossow University Moscow, Lithium-sulphur.
Audi Q7 e-tron unplugged: Audi’s head of development Ulrich Hackenberg confirmed to Car and Driver that the upcoming Audi SUV will be available with an optional inductive charging system. The initial charging capacity of 3.6 kW could at a later date be increased to 7.2 kW. The Audi Q7 e-tron will be available starting early 2016.
U.S.-Russian battery research: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is working together with the Russian state-owned Lomonossow University in Moscow on the development of higher capacity batteries such as lithium-ion and multivalent ion batteries as well as rechargeable metal-air batteries.
Lithium-sulphur 1: A team of researchers in South Korea and Italy has demonstrated a highly reliable lithium-sulfur battery showing cycle performance comparable to that of commercially available lithium-ion batteries while offering more than double the energy density.
Lithium-sulphur 2: Scientists at Beihang University in China meanwhile synthesised cathode materials for Li-sulphur batteries that consist of vertically aligned sulphur-graphene nanowalls on electrically conductive substrates, delivering high capacity and rate performance.
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Most clicked link on Monday was Google working on improved battery technologies, which could also be used in its own EVs in the future.
Mercedes G-Code, MIT, China Racing & Omni Gear, SunStar.
New Mercedes concept: The carmaker unveiled its G-Code concept, a futuristic SUV coupe featuring a turbocharged combustion engine that runs on hydrogen and an electric motor that drives the rear axle. The body has received a “multi-voltaic” paint that works as a solar cell producing electric energy while under sunlight and it also regenerates electrostatic energy when wind is drawn over the body’s surface.
MIT develops “game changing” battery: The Li-ion battery will be made available in 2016 by SolidEnergy and is said to be able to triple the range of electric cars. The key is an ultra-thin metal anode with higher energy density than the graphite and silicon anodes in current batteries.
Formula E alliance: China Racing announced its cooperation with Omni Gear to build an electric gearbox and, in due course, a powertrain, with the aim of bringing these to Formula E and the EV market. Starting next season, teams will be allowed to provide their own drivetrains for the first time.
Plans for SunStar unveiled: The solar plane was designed by Solar Flight as an atmospheric satellite, which operates and performs many of the functions as a satellite would do in space, but does it in the atmosphere. Uplink and downlink speeds are said to be far better than a satellite, due to the shorter distance. For take-off, the SunStar will be powered by three electric motors, which turn off once it reaches an operational altitude.
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Most clicked link on Monday was the futuristic two seater electric boat Quadrofoil, that will be available in 2015 at 15.000 euros.
Researchers from MIT have developed a robot cheetah as they are looking into how animals efficiently move forward. As they are making good progress with this wild machine cat, the developers even play with the idea that four legs might one day replace four wheels.
MIT, Fraunhofer IAO, Brammo, Fuel cells.
Sensible cooperation: Fraunhofer IAO is collaborating with MIT’s SENSEable City Lab. A new research centre in Stuttgart called Ambient Mobility Lab will develop “future-ready mobility concepts” like autonomous driving, carsharing, and new drivetrains. The state of Baden-Württemberg is funding the project with 2.65 million euros.
To electrify them all: E-motorcycle manufacturer Brammo and drivetrain specialist Team Industries plan to jointly offer solutions to electrify a range of vehicles like buses, boats, motorbikes, quads and others. All but cars basically, as they strive to tap the potential of rather new markets.
Deepening fuel cell understanding: Researchers at Stanford, SLAC, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Sandia National Labs, analysed the hydrogen-oxygen reaction in a fuel cell and documented the process using a synchrotron. They expect their observation of the transfer of oxygen ions in the catalysts to lead to more efficient fuel cells.
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Most clicked link on Thursday was the video of Robb Holland, who learned to love Tesla on the Nürburgring.
Phinergy/Alcoa, MIT, Africar, Audi.
1,600 kilometres all-electric range, promised Phinergy and Alcoa with their aluminium-air battery (we reported). Now, both companies announced they will demonstrate the technology ahead of the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Montreal, Canada. The key to the aluminum air’s high energy density is its construction. But technology is still at test phase.
No more platinum? Researchers at MIT found a way to replace platinum catalysts used in fuel cells with less expensive catalysts. Apparently, they can now produce so-called metal-terminated transition-metal carbides (TMCs), which exhibit catalytic activities similar to platinum group metals (PGMs). To tackle impurities, the MIT team developed a “removable ceramic coating method.”
Electric car for Africa: Students of Munich’s Technical University are developing an electric vehicle with an extra-large loading area, designed to meet demands of Africa’s rural areas. If everything goes to plan, the ‘Africar’ could enter production within the next two or three years.
merkur-online.de (in German)
Audi ready for Le Mans: The German carmaker successfully completed 248 laps with its R18 e-tron on the Le Mans course ahead of the race. The racer survived 2,405 miles faultlessly and all eight drivers got a chance to get acquainted with the vehicle. Albuquerque and Bonanomi finished within 3m 23.799s and came in third in the overall test rating, just behind Toyota.
Roland Berger, ElectroForce, MIT.
Roland Berger dampens fuel cell hopes: A new study by the german consulting firm suggests that a mass market breakthrough for fuel cells is not to be expected in the near future. However, until 2025 the firm predicts production costs to lower considerably by up to 80% with cost per unit going down to about 1,000 euros (1,370 dollars). The big question will remain the price of platinum.
New e-motorcycles: ElectroForce Motors is based in Shanghai where it wants to fill a niche in the market for electric two-wheelers. Their models called Mu and Tau are both offered for less than 5,000 dollars. They come with a power of either 8 or 11 kW and a range between 115 and 150 kilometres.
Stability through disorder: A new study by Researchers at MIT suggests, that Li-ion battery cathodes made of disordered lithium compounds can outperform perfectly ordered ones. A combination of computer modeling and lab experiments showed, that certain kinds of disorder and the use of an excess amount of lithium can boost cathode performance.