Posted on 31 January 2013.
Audi announces plans for fuel production facility
Acclaimed automaker Audi has announced that it will be building a new fuel production facility in Germany. The facility will make use of surplus energy produced by the country’s renewable power sources, such as wind and solar energy. This surplus energy will be used to produce methane gas from water and carbon dioxide. The venture is expected to help remove a significant amount of carbon emissions from the environment while also producing a gas that can be used as an efficient fuel.
Technology from SolarFuel to be used in new facility
The fuel production facility being built by Audi will make use of technology developed by SolarFuel, an energy company based in Stuttgart, Germany. When fully operation, the facility will be able to produce enough methane gas to fuel approximately 1,500 natural gas vehicles. Audi has plans to release such vehicles to the commercial market this year. These vehicles are expected to be a suitable alternative to the hydrogen-powered vehicles that have become popular in the auto industry.
Methanation powered through surplus energy
Audi will be making use of various technologies for this venture. The automaker will put electrolysis to use, wherein water is split into its base components of oxygen and hydrogen. Through the process of methanation, the hydrogen produced through electrolysis is combined with carbon to produce methane. Such a multi-stage process would typically be considered inefficient, but Audi is making use of surplus energy generated from renewable sources, thus mitigating the environmental and energy impact of the facility.
Natural gas vehicles coming this year
Audi is one of the companies within the auto industry that has been developing more environmentally friendly vehicles. The automaker has ambitious plans concerning the use of natural gas. This year, Audi will be launching its natural gas vehicles, which will come out well ahead of hydrogen-powered vehicles. Consumers have shown modest interest in natural gas vehicles, but Audi believes that it can win a great deal of support from environmentally conscious drivers that have been looking for an alternative to traditional vehicles.
Posted in Alternative Energy, Business, Environmental, Featured News, Industry, International
Posted on 22 September 2012.
New lithium-ion battery design could make electric vehicles more appealing
Researchers from South Korea’s Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) have developed a new lithium-ion battery that can be charged up to 120 faster than conventional models. The fast-charging battery could have a wide variety of applications, but researchers believe that it holds significant promise for electric vehicles. Researchers claim that the new lithium-ion battery can be used to build a battery pack for electric vehicles. This could enable these vehicles to be recharged in less than a minute.
Long charge times a major concern for electric vehicles
Clean transportation is growing in popularity around the world. With electric vehicles gaining more attention, the demand for more efficient technologies used in these vehicles is growing. Electric vehicles have long been considered the pinnacle of clean transportation, but are often subject to criticism because of their long charge times. Typically, an electric vehicle must stay plugged in for several hours before it is fully charged. A fast-charging lithium-ion battery could change all that and make these vehicles much more convenient.
Straightforward method makes lithium-ion battery more efficient
Researchers have taken the cathode material of a conventional lithium-ion battery and immersed it in a graphite solution. This material is then carbonized, allowing the graphite to form a dense network of conductive traces that run throughout the material. The cathode is then returned to a lithium-ion battery, which turns it into a fast-charging model. The process is relatively simple and straightforward and researchers believe that affordable lithium0ion batteries can be produced in such a manner.
Fast-charging battery may be able to make electric vehicles more appealing to consumers
A fast-charging lithium-ion battery may be just what the world of clean transportation needs to find widespread favor amongst consumers. Drivers have, thus far, shown interest in adopting alternative energy vehicles, but have shown concern for the time it takes to charge a conventional electric vehicle. By cutting down on the charging time of electric vehicles, drivers are more likely to show interest in them and purchase cars that make use of such technology.
Posted in Alternative Energy, Featured News, International, Research, Science, Transportation
Posted on 17 February 2012.
Fuel cell technology may be a big hit with tech-savvy environmentalists, but the idea of hydrogen-powered transportation – or any other kind of alternatively-powered transportation – does not have much appeal for the general public. Ernst & Young, a financial services company, polled leaders within the marketing and auto industries and found that the general consensus is that the current market is in dire need of an “iCar.” The concept is simple enough: The auto industry must produce a product that will mimic the success of Apple’s famous mobile devices.
Apple is not in the business of making vehicles, but the company’s success in business can translate into other industries. Electric vehicles are somewhat
trendy at present, popular in environmentalist and technology communities. As such, these vehicles are not appealing to more mainstream communities and consumers. According to Ernst & Young, automakers have to find a way to make green vehicles desirable. The only way this may be possible is by adding a sleuth of features that break the mold established by conventional vehicles.
More automakers are adopting augmented reality technology as a way to provide new features to consumers. Such a feature has been well received by consumers at a number of conventions around the world and can be easily worked into new vehicles coming from manufacturers. Without such features, the market is not likely to respond well to alternative energy vehicles as a whole.
Posted in Alternative Energy, Featured News, Hydrogen Fuel Cell, Transportation, United States
Posted on 25 January 2012.
The British Empire may be on its way back to India as the country begins to purchase more electric vehicles built in the UK. While the return of Britain will not be political in any way, the business relations between the two countries are likely to form a stronger bond than either have held for several years. Tata Steel, a multi-national steel-making company based in London, has been working on a new energy system that its subsidiary, Tata Motors, the largest automaker in India, will be using for a new generation of sustainable energy vehicles. The system is a hybrid of solar and hydrogen power.
Tata Motors has been working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to utilize a new material that mimics photosynthesis in nature. The material creates an electric charge by absorbing energy from sunlight, whether artificial or natural. This charge is then fed into one of Tata’s hydrogen fuel cells to power chemical conversions of water into hydrogen gas and oxygen. The gas is to be used to fuel new hydrogen-powered vehicles that will be entering the Indian market within the next couple years.
India is quickly becoming a hotbed for alternative energy. Automakers have begun targeting the country, whose population exceeds 1 billion, hoping that consumers will show interest in alternative energy vehicles. The government has thrown some support behind sustainable transportation, especially as its massive population is beginning to put major strain on the nation’s ability to procure enough fuel to power daily life.
Posted in Alternative Energy, Featured News, International, Solar Energy, Transportation, United States
Posted on 20 January 2012.
The Electrification Leadership Council, an organization seeking to establish an electric infrastructure for the U.S. transportation industry, is embarking on a new project. The organization is looking to see how well current electric vehicles can assimilate to the nation’s energy grid. The project will aim to collect and distribute data concerning how well the current electrical grid can handle the demand put on it by electric vehicles. This information will serve useful to state governments looking to modernize their energy infrastructure.
The Council is looking to install several large electric charging stations in city centers all over the country. Establishing an electric infrastructure for the transportation industry is no mean feat. No singular company can succeed in this endeavor alone, which is why the Council is looking to collaborate with several different businesses and small communities. Through collaboration, the Council hopes to establish more than just infrastructure. It also hopes to establish a better understanding of alternative energy as a whole.
Part of the project’s aim is to increase awareness of alternative energy amongst the general public. By raising awareness, consumers may
grow more accepting of alternative energy and look for ways to get involved in the project. With more electric vehicles entering the market, this could signal a major shift for the economy of the country as more consumers purchase alternative energy vehicles. The sites at which the new charging stations will be built will be announced later this year.
Posted in Alternative Energy, Featured News, Transportation, United States
Posted on 09 January 2012.
German automaker Volkswagen has begun testing an electric version of their popular VW Caddy vehicle. The car is powered by a powerful lithium-ion battery, which will propel the vehicle around the city of Hannover. While most other automakers are opting to utilize hydrogen for their electric vehicles, Volkswagen has decided to use batteries as a way to test the feasibility of electric mobility. If the test is successful, the automaker may begin developing alternative energy vehicles en masse.
Volkswagen’s electric Caddy can travel more than 75mph and can haul loads of over 1,200 pounds. The automaker claims that the vehicle can travel some 68 miles without having to recharge, which is no small feat for an electric vehicle that has 140 cubic feet of storage space. There are currently no plans to commercialize this vehicle, however, and it will be used by Volkswagen officials to determine the viability of battery power for transportation.
Like its competitors, Volkswagen has shown interest in hydrogen fuel, but has done little in the way of adopting the alternative energy. Earlier in the year, Volkswagen announced that it would be building one hydrogen-powered vehicle, but that vehicle may not be prepared for the commercial market until 2017, well behind the offerings of competitors. The automaker may change its tune after a hydrogen fuel infrastructure becomes a tangible reality, but such a goal is still several years away from being accomplished.
Posted in Featured News, International, Transportation
Posted on 30 December 2011.
The California Air Resources Board has proposed new regulations to the state Legislature. The regulations would affect how many electric vehicles are able to hit the roads in 2025. The board’s regulations dictate that no less than one in seven new vehicles being sold in California must be hybrid or purely alternative energy vehicles. The state expects to see more than 1.4 million electric vehicles on the road in the next 14 years. By 2050, 87% of the vehicles in the state will be powered by hydrogen, if the board’s regulations are approved.
As part of the new regulations, California would begin building an expansive hydrogen fuel network. Legislators have, in the past, been cautious to pass laws that would expand the state’s hydrogen energy infrastructure, but the concept has overwhelming support from the auto industry, which is the primary proponent for hydrogen fuel in the world currently. Automakers have repeatedly expressed want to contribute to the infrastructure, some going so far as to build their own hydrogen fuel stations in some parts of the state.
The California Legislature is particularly friendly toward alternative energy, but the California Air Resources Board’s proposed regulations are both aggressive and ambitious. The cost of building an appropriate infrastructure would cost the state billions. Hydrogen fuel cells, which are used to power vehicles, are also notoriously expensive, which puts them out of reach for the majority of consumers in the state. Once these two problems are addressed, California may be more receptive of the staunch regulations.
Posted in Alternative Energy, Featured News, Political, Transportation, United States
Posted on 03 November 2011.
A new report from Pike Research, a market research firm specializing in alternative energy, shows that more than 1.2 million alternative energy vehicles will be sold by 2020. The massive number is attributed major efforts coming from the auto industry to push hydrogen fuel. Automakers are currently the leading advocates for hydrogen, championing an energy revolution that seeks to take transportation away from oil. While automakers are expected to continue building cars that run on fossil-fuels in the coming years, a growing number of companies are shifting their focus so that it remains almost exclusively on hydrogen.
Most major car manufacturers have plans to release hydrogen-powered cars into the commercial market between 2013 and 2014. The success of this endeavor has garnered a seemingly insurmountable level of skepticism from consumers and industry analysts as the infrastructure needed to power hydrogen transportation is severely lacking. Automakers like Toyota, Honda and Daimler, however, have been working on that problem in recent years by building a number of hydrogen fueling stations in the U.S. and Europe they call the “hydrogen highway.”
Pike’s report shows that consumers are growing more accepting of the prospect of hydrogen-powered transportation as they are being exposed to the technology more. Fuel cells are often criticized for their expensive components, but automakers are working to show that their fuel cells are viable for the commercial market in terms of price and quality. These efforts are translating into promising gains for the alternative fuel industry as a whole.
Posted in Alternative Energy, Featured News, Transportation