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Dim traffic sensors dull how “smart” freeways are

November 25, 2013 8:46 am | by Justin Pritchard, Associated Press | News | Comments

Buried under thousands of miles of pavement in California are 27,000 traffic sensors that are supposed to help troubleshoot both daily commutes and long-term maintenance needs on some of the nation's most heavily used and congested roadways. About 9,000 of them do not work, despite their critical role in an "intelligent transportation" system designed to do things like detect the congestion that quickly builds after an accident.

Toyota vows fuel cell model by 2015 in green push

November 20, 2013 3:58 am | by YURI KAGEYAMA - AP Business Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Toyota is promising a mass-produced fuel cell car by 2015 in the latest ambitious push to go green by an industry long skeptical about the super-clean technology that runs on hydrogen. Satoshi Ogiso, the Toyota Motor Corp. executive in charge of fuel cells, said the vehicle is not just for leasing to officials and celebrities but will be an everyday car for ordinary consumers, widely available at dealers.

An unconventional car

November 19, 2013 9:06 am | by Marlene Cimons, National Science Foundation | News | Comments

A city car under development at Ohio State Univ. has no engine, no transmission and no differential. It weighs half as much as a conventional car and is powered by battery-power motors in each of its four wheels. But it needs help from a computer to stay stable and operating smoothly, which is why the research team is designing sophisticated algorithms for the vehicle's onboard computer.

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Penguin-inspired propulsion system

November 14, 2013 1:10 pm | News | Comments

Back in 1991, Nature published a picture from the IMAX movie Antarctica, pointing out that emperor penguins can accelerate from 0 to 7 m/s in less than a second. That got the attention of Flavio Noca, now an aerodynamics professor in Switzerland, who will present a new spherical joint mechanism inspired by penguin propulsion at the next American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting in Pittsburgh.

New approach advances wireless power transfer for vehicles

November 14, 2013 10:41 am | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. have developed new technology and techniques for transmitting power wirelessly from a stationary source to a mobile receiver—moving engineers closer to their goal of creating highway “stations” that can recharge electric vehicles wirelessly as the vehicles drive by.

Prairies vanish in the U.S. push for green energy

November 13, 2013 11:15 am | by Chet Brokaw and Jack Gillum, Associated Press | News | Comments

Across the Dakotas and Nebraska, more than 1 million acres of the Great Plains are giving way to cornfields as farmers transform the wild expanse that once served as the backdrop for American pioneers. This expansion of the Corn Belt is fueled in part by America's green energy policy, which requires oil companies to blend billions of gallons of corn ethanol into their gasoline.

Combination of three propulsion technologies brings maritime fuel savings

November 11, 2013 10:04 am | News | Comments

A new maritime propulsion technology called the RudderPod, which steers independently of the main propulsion unit, could save up to half a million euros in fuel costs, according to the TRIPOD research project collaborators in Europe who plan to retrofit the new system to a ship for testing. The project aims to improve propeller efficiency as well by integrating RudderPod with new types of propellers.

PNNL receives $1.1 million to boost transportation technologies

October 18, 2013 9:59 am | News | Comments

Inflate your tires. Accelerate slowly. Change the oil. Invest $1.1 million in advanced vehicle research at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). Four ways to boost your mileage. While the first three methods boost fuel efficiency one vehicle at a time, the laboratory research by PNNL scientists could benefit millions vehicles and their owners, as well as move the nation toward greater energy efficiency and independence.

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Ford, Univ. of Michigan open new battery lab

October 14, 2013 8:06 am | by Dee-Ann Durbin, Associated Press | News | Comments

Ford Motor Co. and the Univ. of Michigan are opening a new battery research and manufacturing laboratory that they hope will speed the development of batteries for electric and hybrid cars. The center, on the university's campus in Ann Arbor, will bring together battery makers, car companies and researchers who will test new batteries for prototype vehicles.

Automakers on pace to continue meeting fuel economy standards

October 8, 2013 8:37 am | News | Comments

If recent trends continue, auto companies should be able to meet new federal fuel economy standards over the next 12 years, say Univ. of Michigan researchers. A year after the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced the final standard governing new-vehicle Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) for model years 2017-2025, CAFE performance has exceeded anticipated levels for 2012 and 2013.

Tesla says car fire began in battery after crash

October 3, 2013 12:04 pm | by Mike Baker and Tom Krisher, Associated Press | News | Comments

A fire that destroyed a Tesla electric car near Seattle began in the vehicle's battery pack, officials said Wednesday, creating challenges for firefighters who tried to put out the flames. The driver says he struck debris, smelled burning and the vehicle was disabled.  The liquid-cooled 85 kW-hr battery in the Tesla Model S is mounted below the passenger compartment floor and uses lithium-ion chemistry.

New steering tech for heavy equipment saves fuel, ups efficiency

September 24, 2013 7:42 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Purdue Univ. have shown how to reduce fuel consumption while improving the efficiency of hydraulic steering systems in heavy construction equipment. The new approach incorporates several innovations: It eliminates valves now needed to direct the flow of hydraulic fluid in steering systems and uses advanced algorithms and models to precisely control hydraulic pumps.

Fuel-efficient cars, planes cheaper with magnesium drawn from ocean

September 20, 2013 8:20 am | News | Comments

A lightweight metal that reduces fuel use in cars and planes could be extracted from the ocean through a unique process being developed at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The process could ultimately make fuel-efficient transportation more affordable and expand the American magnesium market.

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How new diesel engines emit little nitrous oxide

September 11, 2013 7:27 am | News | Comments

The newest catalytic converters in diesel engines blast away a pollutant from combustion with the help of ammonia. Common in European cars, the engines exhaust harmless nitrogen and water. How they do this hasn't been entirely clear. Now, new research shows that the catalyst attacks its target pollutant in an unusual way, providing insight into how to make the best catalytic converters.

Refrigerated trucks to keep their cool thanks to fuel cell technology

August 23, 2013 12:59 pm | News | Comments

Grocery merchants in Texas, California and New York will soon have ice cream, frozen foods and fresh produce delivered by tractor trailers whose refrigeration units are powered by fuel cells. The fuel cells will do the work normally done by a small diesel engine, which keeps the cargo at the proper temperature while the trucks are making deliveries.

Musk's "Hyperloop" transport idea has sci-fi feel

August 14, 2013 11:45 am | by Justin Pritchard, Associated Press | News | Comments

Elon Musk says the transportation concept he unveiled on Monday could be a reality within a decade. Though busy with his various entrepreneurial endeavors, including Tesla Motors and SpaceX, Musk says he would return in a few year to pursue the hyperloop project, which would bring Los Angeles and San Francisco within a 30-minute commute and could cost $6 billion to construct.

Low-temperature combustion enables cleaner, more efficient engines

August 14, 2013 8:45 am | News | Comments

As demand climbs for more fuel-efficient vehicles, knowledge compiled over several years about diesel engines and a new strategy known as “low-temperature combustion” (LTC) might soon lead auto manufacturers and consumers to broader use of cleaner diesel engines in the U.S.

Ford to offer natural gas F-150 for 2014

July 31, 2013 12:02 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Ford soon will offer a natural gas version of its F-150 pickup truck, the most popular vehicle in America. The company is the first Detroit automaker with that option in a light-duty pickup truck. Ford, General Motors and Chrysler already have natural gas-powered heavy-duty trucks.

Alternative-fuel cars are no carbon cure-all

June 12, 2013 8:31 am | News | Comments

Making cars more fuel-efficient is great for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but rather than promoting sales of electric and other alternative-fuel vehicles, policymakers should turn their focus to cutting emissions in other energy sectors—from oil wells and power plants to farms and forests affected by biofuels production—says a Univ. of Michigan researcher.

Sandia, SRI International sign pact to advance hydrogen gas research

May 30, 2013 7:50 am | News | Comments

Sandia National Laboratories and SRI International will join forces to explore, test and evaluate a broad range of hydrogen and natural gas fuel systems and components for transportation applications under a new agreement. The five-year memorandum of understanding is the first agreement in Sandia’s new Center for Infrastructure Research and Innovation, an alternative fuel research and innovation facility.

Oil drilling technology leaps, clean energy lags

May 2, 2013 1:52 pm | by JONATHAN FAHEY - AP Energy Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Technology created an energy revolution over the past decade—just not the one we expected. By now, cars were supposed to be running on fuel made from plant waste or algae—or powered by hydrogen or cheap batteries that burned nothing at all. Electricity would be generated with solar panels and wind turbines. When the sun didn't shine or the wind didn't blow, power would flow out of batteries the size of tractor-trailers.

Study reveals potential for deep cuts to petroleum use, emissions

March 19, 2013 4:16 pm | News | Comments

The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory this week announced the release of the Transportation Energy Futures study, an assessment of avenues to reach deep cuts in petroleum use and greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector. The project suggests opportunities for 80% reductions by 2050

Obama wants research to wean vehicles off oil

March 15, 2013 6:01 am | by MATTHEW DALY - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

President Barack Obama is pushing Congress to authorize more federally funded research into clean energy technologies that can wean automobiles off oil. Obama proposed the idea of an energy security trust last month in his State of the Union address, but he was putting a price tag on the idea during a trip Friday to the Argonne National Laboratory outside Chicago—$2 billion over 10 years.

Agreement will lead to grid-friendly electric vehicle charging

March 7, 2013 3:16 pm | News | Comments

A technology that will allow widespread adoption of plug-in electric vehicles without negatively impacting the electrical grid is the subject of a commercial license agreement between Battelle and AeroVironment, Inc., of Monrovia, Calif. The technology may also ultimately result in lower costs for plug-in electric vehicle owners.

Ford, Daimler, Nissan to research hydrogen cars

January 28, 2013 10:39 am | by TOM KRISHER - AP Auto Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Ford is joining with Daimler and Renault-Nissan to speed development of cars that run on hydrogen, with hopes of bringing a vehicle to market in as little as four years. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles generate electricity after a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen is stored in special high-pressure tanks, and the only emissions are water vapor and heat.

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