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A LowCVP exhibition at the LCV2015 Event will showcase some outputs of a project to assess the economic and technical prospects for smaller - L-Category - vehicles in the UK and the potential for their growth to 2020. Under the banner 'Bigger Thinking on Smaller Vehicles' the exhibtion will feature futuristic designs of two, three and smaller four-wheel vehicles produced by students of industrial design at Coventry University, one of the project partners.
^Volkswagen Group’s Czech brand ŠKODA will introduce its most efficient Superb model yet at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show. The ŠKODA Superb GreenLine features a 1.6 TDI 120PS engine delivering 63.6 mpg US (3.7:/100 km) and emitting 96 g/km of CO2 (Hatch) and 97g/km for the Estate.
As with all other Superb models, the GreenLine is equipped with start-stop ignition and brake energy recovery as standard. In addition, both Superb GreenLine models feature longer gear ratios, SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) and 16-inch reduced rolling resistance tires.
the Superb utilizes two exhaust gas treatment units: an oxidation catalytic converter and a diesel particulate filter. Nitrogen oxide emissions are reduced through the Superb GreenLine’s SCR system, using the reducing agent AdBlue.
To further improve efficiency, the Superb GreenLine has been engineered with a unique aerodynamic package. The chassis sits 15mm lower than the standard Superb, while both the Hatchback and Estate models incorporate tailgate and roof spoilers to efficiently channel air around the rear of the car. As a result of these subtle additions and revisions, both models have lower drag coefficients than the standard models (0.263 Hatch, 0.275 Estate).
ŠKODA delivered 627,100 (605,300) vehicles from January to July, a rise of 3.6%
Researchers in China have developed a self-supporting high-performance silicon anode for Li-ion batteries (LIBs) consisting of silicon-nanoparticle-impregnated assemblies of templated carbon-bridged oriented graphene.
The binder-free anodes demonstrate exceptional lithium storage performances, simultaneously attaining high gravimetric capacity (1390 mAh g–1 at 2 A g–1 with respect to the total electrode weight); high volumetric capacity (1807 mAh cm–3—more than three times that of graphite anodes); remarkable rate capability (900 mAh g–1 at 8 A g–1); excellent cyclic stability (0.025% decay per cycle over 200 cycles); and competing areal capacity (as high as 4 and 6 mAh cm–2 at 15 and 3 mA cm–2, respectively) that approaches the level of commercial lithium-ion batteries. A paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Nano Letters.
… Si anodes suffer from rapid decay of capacity upon cycling; this can be attributed to the structural degradation, loss of electrical contact, and the unstable solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) on the silicon surface caused by the dramatic volume change of Si (∼300%) during lithiation-delithiation cycling. To address these issues, one popular and effective tactic is to couple nanostructured silicon with a second phase (e.g., carbon). The core of this strategy is fundamentally to create effective and robust three-dimensional transport networks for both electrons and lithium ions. As the exciting materials formulations and electrode prototypes developed based upon elaborately designed carbonaceous matrices have contributed to significant improvements in some properties of silicon anodes at low mass loadings, it remains an unmet goal to harness the potential of silicon in LIB anodes, specifically in terms of gravimetric capacity, volumetric capacity, areal capacity, rate capability, and cyclic stability at the same time.
Graphene, a single-layer carbon sheet with a hexagonal packed lattice structure, has been touted to be a remarkable carbonaceous structural platform to afford the exertion of various functional nanostructured materials, on account of its unique two-dimensional structure, excellent electronic conductivity, superior mechanical flexibility, good chemical stability, and high theoretical surface area. To date, numerous novel approaches have been explored to utilize graphene to address the challenges of silicon anodes and, thus, to improve their lithium storage capabilities. Most of them are based on the hybridization of graphene sheets and nano-structured silicon of different dimensionalities at the materials unit scale. However, the thus-resulted hybrids always require additional components (e.g., binders and conductive additives) that are required in constructing a conventional electrode. The substantial need of such extra substances not only adversely affects the designated electrochemical properties of the hybrids but also unfavorably dilutes the electrode performance including both volumetric capacity and gravimetric capacity, as the total weight and volume of the electrode must be counted from a practical viewpoint.
… it is highly desirable to exploit new material/electrode design principles to combine graphene and silicon, so as to overcome the above-mentioned challenges of silicon anodes. We believe that the similar circumstances hold as well for building the systems of graphene and other electrode materials encountering large volume changes. In this report, we propose a novel material/electrode design formula, and develop an engineered self-supporting electrode configuration where, graphene sheets (G) are oriented and bridged by silicon nanoparticle-templated carbon (TC) hinges, thus forming silicon-nanoparticle-impregnated assemblies of templated carbon-bridged oriented graphene (denoted as TCG-Si).—Zhou et al.
The templated carbon-bridged oriented graphene assemblies (TCG) form a robust bicontinuous network to facilitate the electron and lithium ion transport throughout the electrode even at high areal mass loadings; the TCG assemblies also enable a substantially high tap density of impregnated silicon (1.3 g cm–3).
We note that a Si anode with this combined level of performance has rarely been described. This study expands the potential of graphene in improving silicon anode performances and will propagate new and viable battery material/electrode design formulas and opportunities for energy storage systems with high-energy and high-power characteristics.—Zhou et al.
Min Zhou, Xianglong Li, Bin Wang, Yunbo Zhang, Jing Ning, Zhichang Xiao, Xinghao Zhang, Yanhong Chang, and Linjie Zhi (2015) “High-Performance Silicon Battery Anodes Enabled by Engineering Graphene Assemblies” Nano Letters doi: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.5b02697
In the most comprehensive analysis of electricity reliability trends in the United States, researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and Stanford University have found that, while, on average, the frequency of power outages has not changed in recent years, the total number of minutes customers are without power each year has been increasing over time.
The researchers pinpointed what utilities and their regulators refer to as “major events,” or events generally related to severe weather, as the principal driver for this trend. The finding suggests that increasingly severe weather events are linked to a 5-10% increase in the total number of minutes customers are without power each year, said Berkeley Lab Research Scientist and Stanford PhD candidate, Peter Larsen, the lead author of the report.
The researchers analyzed reports for a large cross-section of utilities representing nearly 70% of US electricity customers spanning 13 years from 2000 to 2012.
Although a 2013 White House report noted that major power outages and severe weather events are increasing, this study is the first of its kind to use econometric analysis techniques to statistically correlate these events with electricity reliability. Most studies of reliability have relied on information that reflects only the largest power outages. Yet, over the course of any given year, the largest events typically account for no more than 10% of all power outages. This study, by relying on information for all power outages, both large and small, conclusively identifies a trend that is linked directly to these larger events.
We find statistically significant correlations between the average number of power interruptions experienced annually by a customer and a number of explanatory variables including wind speed, precipitation, lightning strikes, and the number of customers per line mile. We also find statistically significant correlations between the average total duration of power interruptions experienced annually by a customer and wind speed, precipitation, cooling degree‐days, the percentage share of underground transmission and distribution lines. In addition, we find a statistically significant trend in the duration of power interruptions over time—especially when major events are included. This finding suggests that increased severity of major events over time has been the principal contributor to the observed trend.—“Assessing Changes in the Reliability of the US Electric Power System”
One surprise was that the study did not find a consistent link between reliability and utility transmission and distribution (T&D) expenditures.
This work was funded by the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, National Electricity Delivery Division of the US Department of Energy. Other co-authors were Kristina H. LaCommare of Berkeley Lab and James L. Sweeney of Stanford.
Clear guidance is needed more than public assurances to make the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) be indeed a vehicle for energy efficiency. Counter to public statements, the current set-up does not promise to be effective.
by Anna Roggenbuck, cross-posted from the Bankwatch blog.
In a press release today, the European Commission expressed great optimism on how the recently agreed European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) will support the Energy Union’s goals to deliver secure, sustainable, competitive and affordable energy to citizens and businesses. Miguel Arias Cañete, Climate Action and Energy Commissioner emphasised the need to boost energy efficiency investments in Europe. He expects the EFSI will transform Europe to the world’s most energy-efficient economy.
Serious doubts however loom behind the Commission’s self-praise about whether the EFSI would be able to deliver this expected transformation. In contrast to the general commitments to prioritise energy efficiency, the earmarking of EFSi Money for energy efficiency measures was rejected during the legislative process – by the Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker’s very own party. Without this earmarking the fund is guided by EU policy objectives as interpreted by the EIB and incorporated in the bank’s policies and procedures against which all EIB projects are being assessed.
An important harbinger of what this might mean in practice is the EIB’s draft Climate Strategy (pdf), published last week. In its current form the strategy, which will be guiding the EFSI climate impacts, does not emphasise energy efficiency more than the bank’s current energy lending policy. Under this current energy policy, energy efficiency investments are below 3% of the overall EIB portfolio across all sectors.
The EIB is unlikely to make a sudden U-turn without clear policy guidance. Also the current rush with getting EFSI spending rolling will not help with directing funds to usually small scale projects that need bundling up.
The initial phase of the EFSI does not suggest a major breakthrough either – at least for central and eastern European countries. Not a single project for the modernisation of the energy sector and for decreasing the energy intensity of the economy was proposed for lower income regions of the EU. Instead, the Dubrovnik Airport in Croatia was proposed for an EU guarantee, which would lock public money in yet another high-carbon infrastructure project.
As much as the strong vocal commitments are welcome, they must be backed with more concrete plans on how to make energy efficiency really come first – before other, carbon-intensive EFSI investments.
Image by Quinn Dombrowski – CC BY-SA 2.0
A new report produced by INRIX and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) shows that traffic congestion in the US has returned to pre-recession levels. Washington, D.C. tops the list of gridlock-plagued cities, with 82 hours of delay per commuter, followed by Los Angeles (80 hours), San Francisco (78 hours), New York (74 hours), and San Jose (67 hours).
According to the 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard, travel delays due to traffic congestion caused drivers to waste more than 3 billion gallons of fuel and kept travelers stuck in their cars for nearly 7 billion extra hours—42 hours per rush-hour commuter. The total nationwide price tag: $160 billion, or $960 per commuter. Other top-level findings include:
Trucks account for $28 billion (17%) of that total cost, much more than their 7% of traffic.
From 2013 to 2014, 95 of America’s 100 largest metro areas saw increased traffic congestion, from 2012 to 2013 only 61 cities experienced increases.
In order to reliably arrive on time for important freeway trips, travelers had to allow 48 minutes to make a trip that takes 20 minutes in light traffic.
Drivers on America’s Top 10 worst roads waste on average 84 hours or 3.5 days a year on average in gridlock—twice the national average. Of these roads, six are in Los Angeles, two are in New York and the remaining two are in Chicago. Nine other cities have roads ranked among the 50 worst.
Scorecard findings also illustrate how traffic congestion isn’t just a big-city issue. Cities of all sizes are experiencing the challenges seen before the start of the recession—increased traffic congestion resulting from growing urban populations and lower fuel prices are outpacing the nation’s ability to build infrastructure.
Of America’s Top 10 Worst Traffic cities, 7 of them experienced population growth outpacing the national average of 0.7% last year, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Houston and Riverside, CA.
Additionally, some of the worst traffic cities also experienced some of the largest decreases in fuel prices (-4.1% nationally) including Riverside, Houston, Los Angeles, San Jose, Boston and Chicago. The result, the average travel delay per commuter nationwide is more than twice what it was in 1982. For cities of less than 500,000 people, the problem is four times worse than in 1982.
Our growing traffic problem is too massive for any one entity to handle—state and local agencies can’t do it alone. Businesses can give their employees more flexibility in where, when and how they work, individual workers can adjust their commuting patterns, and we can have better thinking when it comes to long-term land use planning. This problem calls for a classic ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach.—Tim Lomax, a report co-author and Regents Fellow at TTI
Recent data from the US Department of Transportation shows that Americans have driven more than 3 trillion miles in the last 12 months. That’s a new record, surpassing the 2007 peak just before the global financial crisis. Report authors say the US needs more roadway and transit investment to meet the demands of population growth and economic expansion, but added capacity alone can’t solve congestion problems. Solutions must involve a mix of strategies, combining new construction, better operations, and more transportation options as well as flexible work schedules.
Connectedness, big data and automation will have an immense impact over the next decade on how we travel and how governments efficiently manage the flow of people and commerce across our transportation networks. This report is a great example of how data and analytics are evolving to provide transportation agencies with the insight needed to not only make our existing transportation systems work smarter but more quickly pinpoint where investment can have a lasting impact.—Jim Bak, co-author and a director at INRIX
The report predicts urban roadway congestion will continue to get worse without more assertive approaches on the project, program, and policy fronts. By 2020, with a continued good economy:
Findings in the Urban Mobility Scorecard are drawn from traffic speed data collected by INRIX on 1.3 million miles of urban streets and highways, along with highway performance data from the Federal Highway Administration. The vast amount of information, INRIX and TTI say, makes it possible to examine problems in greater detail than before, and to identify the effect of solutions at specific locations.
No-drone zones, software to block flights into sensitive areas and registration rules are among proposals from European regulators and aviation experts to ensure growing numbers of drones don't case dangerous run-ins with passenger aircraft.