WardsAuto – “Hydrogen technology developing faster than market demand”

In an article by Penton-owned Auto-industry news and data service WardsAuto, Executive Director of the EU PPI Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative; Bert De Colvenaer is quoted as saying “there is no market for this technology”.

It’s an interesting statement to make at a time when three major manufacturers (Hyundai, Mercedes and Toyota) have announced they will be launching fuel cell vehicles in 2 years time.

Clearly there is not going to be a market for a technology which is still prohibitively expensive, and requires a refuelling infrastructure that doesn’t yet exist, but I think the point that Bert De Colvenaer is making, is that 2015 is the earliest that the market may exist, and as such there is likely to be a blend of technologies before any one dominates, if indeed any one technology does become dominant.

The EU are investing €1.4bn in to the technology through the Public/Private initiative, with a view to making the technology cheaper and to support and generate a demand and a market for the technology – they recognise that Hydrogen has a part to play in the move to cleaner vehicles and a reduction in emissions and pollutants.

While the likes of Hyundai, Mercedes and (more…)

Hyundai fuel cell ix35 – on the farm

Hyundai fuel cell ix35 – on the farm

Hyundai are one of a number of manufacturers who have chosen to favour the fuel cell route to low emissions motoring, and their Hydrogen powered ix35 is being trialled in Europe by the EU Commission backed ‘Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking’ group, who use the vehicle to demonstrate the benefits of hydrogen fuel cell technology to EU policy makers, by driving them around Brussels.

Hyundai claim that the ix35 is “the world’s first production model Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicle”, Honda’s FCX-Clarity was actually there first, but none the less; the ix35 is an impressive vehicle and like Toyota and Mercedes, they plan to launch a full scale production model in 2015.

Leading up to that launch Hyundai are busily promoting the benefits of Hydrogen to consumers as well as the Policy makers of Brussels – with battery EVs already available to the public, charge networks growing, and the fact that Hydrogen Vehicles will only be useful if drivers can buy Hydrogen: there is a great deal of work to be done to lobby and encourage the infrastructure investment to happen for fuel cell vehciles as well as Battery EVs: the role out of hydrogen filling stations is now (more…)

Body-panel batteries from Volvo: Carbon fibres, nano structured batteries & super capacitors

Body-panel batteries from Volvo: Carbon fibres, nano structured batteries & super capacitors

Volvo Car Group has developed a concept for lightweight structural energy storage components that could improve the energy usage of future electrified vehicles.

The material, consisting of carbon fibres, nano structured batteries and super capacitors, offers lighter energy storage that requires less space in the car, cost effective structure options and is eco-friendly.

The EU-funded research project, including nine other major participants, identified a feasible solution to the heavy weight, large size and high costs associated with the batteries seen in hybrids and electric cars today, whilst maintaining the efficient capacity of power and performance. The research project took place over 3.5 years and is now realised in the form of car panels within a Volvo S80 experimental car.

The breakthrough

The answer was found in the combination of carbon fibres and a polymer resin, creating a very advanced nanomaterial, and structural super capacitors. The reinforced carbon fibres sandwich the new battery and are moulded and formed to fit around the car’s frame, such as the door panels, the boot lid and wheel bowl, substantially saving on space. The carbon fibre laminate is first layered, shaped and then cured in an oven to set and (more…)

USA: University of Michigan open battery lab with funding from Ford
Academic organisations

USA: University of Michigan open battery lab with funding from Ford

A unique $8 million battery lab at the University of Michigan will enable industry and university researchers to collaborate on developing cheaper and longer lasting energy-storage devices in the heart of the U.S. auto industry.

Initial support for the lab includes $5 million from the Michigan Economic Development Corp., $2.1 million from Ford Motor Co. and roughly $900,000 from the College of Engineering. It will be housed at the U-M Energy Institute within the newly renovated Phoenix Memorial Laboratory — a project completed with $18 million in U-M funding.

From left, U-M Energy Institute Director Mark Barteau, Regent Katherine White, President Mary Sue Coleman, Vice President for Research Stephen Forrest, and Ed Krause, global manager of external alliances at Ford Motor Co, cut the ceremonial ribbon to reopen the Phoenix Memorial Laboratory on Monday. (Photo by Jospeh Xu, College of Engineering)

“This kind of collaboration is essential to addressing complex challenges like sustainable energy and efficient transportation. I want to thank our campus leaders, MEDC and Ford for having such a singular focus on developing solutions to such challenging energy issues,” said President Mary Sue Coleman, who announced the lab at the dedication celebrating the renovation of the Phoenix Memorial Laboratory.

The (more…)

Recyclers must be able to identify battery chemistry through labelling

Recyclers must be able to identify battery chemistry through labelling

“Recyclers must be able to identify battery chemistry through labelling,” as reported by Recycling International from the fifth joint annual workshop on lithium-ion recycling, hosted by the United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC) and the Vehicle Recycling Partnership (VRP).

“Although primary design considerations for e-mobility batteries are robustness, reliability, safety and cost, it is of great importance to understand all aspects of design that ‘will likely pose particular challenges’ to the recycling industry when batteries inevitably enter the waste stream, the USABC and VRP contended. This would ease operations for vehicle and metal recyclers as well as battery dismantlers.”

According to Recycling International, Japan is hailed as a forerunner of battery labelling progress: the Battery Association of Japan enforced a colour-based labelling standard for small rechargeable batteries earlier this year which distinguishes lead-acid (grey), lithium-ion (blue), nickel-cadmium (green) and nickel-metal hydride (orange) batteries. The recent SAE Recommended Practice adhered to this colour scheme, and ‘added additional chemistry-specific information’ for the lithium-ion family of batteries because of ‘cathode choice variations’, it was noted.

Meanwhile, a possible long-term option is the use of colour-coded plastic housings to ‘add visual differentiation’ to Li-ion batteries. Ideally, the colour scheme would be (more…)

Tesla stock recovers after a Jefferies analyst visits the factory & takes a test drive

Tesla stock recovers after a Jefferies analyst visits the factory & takes a test drive

Keeping jittery investors happy is clearly a priority for Tesla after the Model S fire last week, and Elon Musk knows a thing or two about managing investors… well respected Jefferies analyst Elaine Kwei took a tour of the factory, test drove a model S and spoke to investors, after which she voiced her support loud and clear:

“Based on our discussions with investors and opinions expressed by current/prospective owners, it appears the Model S is still considered safer than conventional vehicles, in contrast to media headlines questioning electric-vehicle safety. Risk of a vehicle fire is still far lower in a Tesla”

“…demand remains strong for the Model S and is confident the stock price will quickly rebound from last week´s decline. The company´s track record of innovation and ground-breaking products give us confidence in the execution of future vehicles”

She also boosted her price target on the company’s stock to $210.

Both Elaine Kwei and Elon Musk are mirroring their message on the safety of the car, and referenced “the incredible safety of the company’s vehicles”.

On the Tesla blog, Elon has this to say about the saftey of the Model S vs ICE cars…

“Had a conventional gasoline car encountered the (more…)