Drift to the future
An engineering team from Stanford University has taken the iconic DeLorean, made famous in the 1985 film Back to the Future, and electrified it. More than just an electric car with an iconic exterior, this vehicle’s autonomous driving system enables it to “flawlessly drift through a racecourse.”
VW testing procedures for cheaper fuel cell production
A new procedure, developed by Volkswagen in cooperation with the US American university at Stanford, is set to significantly reduce costs for the production of fuel cells. Particularly, the amount of platinum required has been reduced, resulting in a significant cost reduction.
Autonomous fleets: VW teams up with Aurora
Volkswagen enters into a strategic partnership with Aurora, an U.S. start-up founded by Google’s long-time car guru Chris Urmson and former Tesla manager Sterling Anderson. Both partners seek to bring autonomous EVs to cities as Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) fleets.
DriveNow welcomed its one millionth client since its launch in 2011. The JV of BMW and Sixt states that it’s BMW and MINI models are used up to 23 times per day by customers across all DriveNow cities.
Stanford University, Electric GT, Acciona, Lion E-Mobility.
Fire control: Researchers at Stanford University have developed a “smart” sheet of tiny fibres containing flame retardant, said to help prevent Li-ion batteries from going up in flames. Each fibre consists of a plastic shell that will melt when the battery heats up and therefore release the flame retardant.
Tesla hits the track: The new electric racing series Electric GT now unveiled the second version of its Tesla racer, which is based on the Model S P100D. The GT variant is said to be around 500 kg lighter than the original and can go from 0 to 100 kph in just 2.1 seconds (or from 0 to 60 mph in 2 seconds).
Final destination: For the third time, company Acciona took part in the Dakar Rally in an electric car. But this is the first time, the team actually made it across the finish line. It completed the 9,000-km journey as the first of “18,000 vehicles in the history of the Dakar Rally to complete the event without consuming a drop of fuel or emitting a single molecule of CO2.”
Lion E-Mobility announced that its German subsidiary Lion Smart received approval for a public grant of more than 300,000 euros from the Bavarian government. The money will be allocated as part of the electric aviation research project BatSys (Battery systems for hybrid-electric aviation drivetrains). Lion Smart will focus on BMS design and a BMS demonstrator for safe energy storage for aviation.
Apple, nuTonomy, Toyota, Stanford University.
Apple batteries: Apple’s recent job listings, combined with a patent on solid-state batteries, hint that the company is ready to tackle sub-par batteries. Listings imply a focus on the use of ceramic as an electrolyte, and plans to improve on current lithium-ion batteries.
Self-driving taxis: MIT spin-out nuTonomy is developing driverless electric taxis for the densely populated Singapore. By cutting out the need to pay drivers, they should prove cheaper than Uber or conventional taxis. nuTonomy cars passed their first driving test last week, and are now seeking approval for on-road testing.
Mirai’s 100,000 km test: Toyota’s hydrogen-powered Mirai has driven around Germany for 16 hours a day for 107 days, completing 100,ooo km. Testing on city streets and rural roads, no mechanical breakdowns were reported and the fuel cell is said to have operated reliably at 100%. Drivers identified the car’s three-minute refuelling time as a major advantage.
Lithium batteries: A team at Stanford University has found a way to address two of the toughest issues for lithium-metal anode batteries. By encapsulating lithium inside a porous host scaffold, a material is created that can deliver around 2,000 mAH7g as stable anodes for Li-metal batteries. This may finally lead to real commercial solutions in the future.
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Most clicked link on Monday was hoover manufacturer Dyson’s plan to build an electric car.
EMBATT, BMW, Stanford University.
1,000 km battery: As part of the EMBATT project, Thyssenkrupp, IAV GmbH and Fraunhofer IKTS hope to develop EV batteries that are fully integrated into the EV chassis and enable a range of 1,000 km. Funding comes from the German state of Saxony. The partners will start developing concepts for lithium-batteries with energy density of 450 Wh/l, as well as production technologies.
ikts.fraunhofer.de (in German), techsite.io
Energy Management by BMW: Working with Viessmann Group, BMW embarks on a joint venture. Digital Energy Solutions will help small and medium enterprises to optimise energy use. That includes electric mobility, as BMW looks into EV batteries as stationery storage solution.
press.bmwgroup.com (in German)
Secure shut down: Stanford researchers have developed a battery that automatically shuts down before its overheats. They achieved this by using a protective polymer that stops conducting electricity at high temperatures and immediately comes back on once the battery is cool enough.
eandt.theiet.org, valuewalk.com, mirrordaily.com
The future is electric.
Back to the future I: Meet MARTY, who has not come back to us from the 80’ies but is a rather recent member of our society. The brainchild of Stanford University and Renovo Motors is an electric DeLorean, that also drives and drifts autonomously. So what about time travel?
youtube.com via wired.com, cnet.com, recode.net
Back to the future II: Toyota is taking its very own take on the future as it literally suggests the Mirai FCV as the car of choice if Marty McFly and the professor would arrive from the future today. Actually, they did get the movie stars to attend a special edition of Fueled by…
youtube.com via insideevs.com
Back to the future III: Toyota proves to be a big fan of the cult movie (or maybe an avid follower of recent Tesla developments) as it equips the Mirai with gullwing doors. So far, the winged fuel cell vehicle remains a visionary single piece.
Stanford University, ORNL, Solarbike, Virginia Institute of Technology.
Extra fast-charging aluminum battery: Researchers from Stanford University have developed an aluminium-ion battery which the team claims to be safe, fast-charging and yet stable for more than 7,500 cycles without any loss of capacity, while being comparatively cheap. The Al-ion power pack is comprised of an aluminum anode, a graphite cathode and an ionic liquid electrolyte.
electric-vehiclenews.com, greencarcongress.com (with video)
Battery simulation: A team at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory introduced its Virtual Integrated Battery Environment (VIBE). VIBE has been developed with funding from the DoE and enables battery makers to test their battery designs under various simulated scenarios.
Solarbike: This new speed pedelec prototype from Denmark rejoices its battery through solar panels covering both wheels. With the battery charged, the Solarbike’s central motor pedal-assists its driver at a top speed of 30 mph. Only after 43 miles the bike needs a sunbath.
engadget.com (with video)
H2 from biomass: A Virginia Tech team demonstrated the complete conversion of glucose and xylose from pretreated plant biomass to to H2 and CO2 based on an in vitro synthetic enzymatic pathway. The method could make production of H2 from biomass right at hydrogen-fueling stations feasible.
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Most clicked link on Tuesday was the redesigned 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander revealed at the New York Auto Show.
New Flyer, Stanford University, Honda, Electric plane.
Battery-electric fuel cell bus: New Flyer will begin the development of an 18-metre bus featuring batteries, a fuel cell and hydrogen storage. It is based on New Flyer’s Xcelsior platform, while the systems are supplied by Ballard and Siemens. The bus will go to Connecticut Transit.
Smart battery: Stanford University researchers have developed a Li-ion battery that gives warning before overheating. The “smart separator,” a copper layer on one side of the polymer separator, makes it possible to measure the voltage difference between the anode and the separator.
stanford.edu via scinexx.de
Electric snow mower: Honda will begin selling its electric snow thrower ‘Yukios e’ by mid-November. This mini snow plough is operated by pushing, piling snow up on the side.
Chinese e-plane: The RX1E is a light and small electric plane that sits two. It recently took off at the Shenyang Faku International Flight Convention in Liaoning, China, where it is also manufactured. Charging for a 40 minute flight at a max. height of 3,000 metres takes just 1.5 hours.
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Most clicked link on Tuesday was our report from the Ecosummit conference in London on the five electric transport start-ups to watch out for.
Nissan, PowerHydrant, Stanford University, University of Glasgow.
Nissan to cut battery production? Nissan insiders revealed plans to gradually quit in-house battery manufacturing in the U.S. and the UK while reducing production in Japan, Reuters reports. Instead, Nissan wishes to follow Renault’s example, which sources its EV power packs cheaper from Korean LG Chem. Nissan officially denied these plans.
uk.reuters.com, electric-vehiclenews.com, green.autoblog.com (Nissan statement)
Autonomous charging: At this week’s EV Tech Expo, PowerHydrant will present its system of the same name that can plug in EVs without the driver’s assistance. A robot arm basically serves up to four electric vehicles, delivering what the company calls a “park and forget” experience.
Either way: A new study led by Stanford University found that fast-charging might not be as damaging for Li-ion batteries as previously thought. On the other hand, the benefits of slow charging and sensitive draining might have been overestimated too, the researchers conclude.
H2 production accelerated: Chemists from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, say they found a new method for hydrogen production that is supposed to be 30 times faster than current proton exchange membrane electrolysers. Their key is a so-called recyclable redox mediator.
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Most clicked Link on Monday was FIA’s Youtube video with the highlights of the first ever Formula E race in Beijing.
Qualcomm, Volvo, Ford, Stanford University.
Formula wireless: The Formula E safety car, the BMW i8, will be equipped with Qualcomm’s inductive charging system (we reported). The system will transmit with a power of 20 kilowatts at a efficiency of 92% if the charging pads are not further apart than 150 mm. Starting next year, the Formula E race cars will also be charged inductively.
motortorque.com, elektroniknet.de (in German)
Three-cylinders to bridge the gap: Volvo confirmed it will introduce three-cylinder engines to better meet future emission regulations. In combination with hybrid drives, they will be help Volvo to postpone the need for mass-electrification of its vehicles for another decade.
Ford recalls C-Max Hybrids and some Focus of the 2014 model year, due to incomplete ball bearings in the steering gear. In total, 616 vehicles are affected, 32 of which were delivered to dealers but not yet to customers. For the C-Max Hybrid its already the third recall this year.
Low-voltage electrolyser: Scientists at Stanford University developed a device which produces hydrogen by water electrolysis, using an ordinary 1.5-volt AAA battery. No precious material like platinum or iridium is necessary, according to the researchers. Because the device only runs for a couple of days, the next goal is to improve its durability.
Mazda, Stanford University, Volvo, BYD.
Mazda with diesel hybrids? Apparently, Mazda is planning to launch diesel hybrids in its domestic as well as European markets, the Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun reports. So far the carmaker only has the Mazda 3 with Toyota’s hybrid technology on offer and has been experimenting with rotary engine hybrids.
Improved separator: Researchers from Stanford University’s Cui Group were able to increase the capacity and cycling stability of lithium-sulphur (Li-S) batteries. Their idea was to apply a thin coating on the separator to prevent the inactive sulphur-related species layer from forming.
T-easer Volvo XC90: The Swedes new SUV will come with striking t-shaped LED daytime lights that took inspiration from Thor’s hammer, says Volvo. The XC90 will be Volvo’s first model built on the Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform, which maximises freedom for development. On Augusts 27th, the new SUV will officially be presented in Stockholm.
Manganese cathodes: Apparently BYD plans to produce new high-energy batteries for the use in its electric vehicles as early as next year. To achieve better energy density, the Chinese battery maker will add manganese to its lithium iron phosphate cathode material. This could mean a 10 to 15% increase of range.
metal.com via greencarcongress.com
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Most clicked link on Wednesday was the video of the kite-driven Volkswagen E-Up, putting a new meaning to EV sailing mode.
Stanford University, University of Tokyo, China BAK Battery, Tesla.
Quadrupled capacity: Researchers from Stanford University are reporting considerate progress on finding a stable lithium metal anode. If finished, it could be used in Li-sulphur or Li-air batteries and the scientists believe this would lead to EVs with 300-mile range for about 25,000 dollars.
Seven times higher energy density is the promise Japanese researchers at the University of Tokyo are working towards. Through adding cobalt, they reached a oxidation-reduction reaction that sets off peroxide. The researchers expect an energy density of 2,570 Wh/kg if the idea is applied in real batteries at some point.
More better batteries from China: China BAK Battery and the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics of Chinese Academy of Sciences have agreed to work together on batteries for electric vehicles. The collaboration entails R&D of new battery materials, testing and manufacturing technologies as well as the training of graduates.
Tesla drive problem? More and more Model S drivers are coming forward online, reporting problems with the electric motor of their cars. Edmunds says, the drive of its Tesla has had to be exchanged three times already during their long-term test. In the Tesla Motors forum, 87 Model S drivers said their motor had to renewed at least once.
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Most clicked link on Monday was the presentation of Polaris GEM’s new line-up of their all-electric vehicles for 2015.
McKinsey, NREL, DoE, IIT, Stanford University, Opel.
EVs made in Germany: McKinsey’s latest Electric Vehicle Index (EVI) saw Germany overtaking Japan and becoming the second largest EV manufacturer behind leading USA. The consultants had a word of warning for the German carmakers though, to not concentrate their efforts on plug-in hybrids as the uptake of all-electric cars is much stronger, particularly in North America.
motor-traffic.de (In German), mckinsey.de (In German)
Fuel cell buses in Canada: Researchers from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have issued a full report on their two-year trial of fuel cell electric buses (FCEB) in Whistler, Canada (we reported). The 20 FCEB ran for 22 hours a day, thus reeling off three million kilometres.
Refillable battery: Researchers from Argonne National Laboratory and the Illinois Institute of Technology have developed liquid electrodes. The new batteries, which in theory will be able to store five times more energy, could be recharged conventionally and refuelled like gasoline.
Pomegranate-like anode design: Researchers at Stanford University and the Department of Energy believe a new design inspired by pomegranates could open up the use of silicon or other volume changing materials as anodes for lithium batteries.
Opel range extender: The German arm of GM’s Vauxhall brand will present a new three-cylinder engine at the Geneva Motor Show. While it will primarily be used to power the small Adam model, it could soon become a lighter and more economical range extender for the Opel Ampera and GM Volt.