How’s this for innovative: A Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory-led team hopes to engineer a new enzyme that efficiently converts methane to liquid transportation fuel. Methane is the main component of natural gas and biogas from wastewater treatments and landfills. Another source is stranded natural gas, which is currently flared or vented at remote oil fields, and which represents an enormous unused energy resource.
It's known that electric vehicles could travel longer distances before needing to charge and more renewable energy could be saved for a rainy day if lithium-sulfur batteries can just overcome a few technical hurdles. Now, a novel design for a critical part of the battery has been shown to significantly extend the technology's lifespan, bringing it closer to commercial use.
According to a new study by Univ. of California, Berkeley researchers, population-dense cities contribute less greenhouse-gas emissions per person than other areas of the country, but these cities’ extensive suburbs essentially wipe out the climate benefits. Suburbs account for about 50% of all household emissions in the United States.
A connected vehicle network, with vehicles exchanging information with the highway infrastructure and other vehicles using wireless communications, could improve traffic safety, mobility and environmental impacts. Southwest Research Institute, which has considerable expertise in intelligent vehicle development, is now serving as an official Connected Vehicle Affiliated Test Bed for this technology.
Splitting water into its components, two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen, is an important first step in achieving carbon-neutral fuels to power our transportation infrastructure. Now, North Carolina State Univ. researchers and colleagues from the Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have shown that a specialized coating technique can make certain water-splitting devices more stable and more efficient.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.