Nissan recently began operations of its new advanced-battery plant in Tennessee that will supply the energy-storage devices for the Nissan Leafs to be produced at an adjoining vehicle-assembly plant. Regular North American production of the Leaf is to start at the automaker's Smyrna plant early in 2013. To date, the Leaf and its lithium-ion battery pack currently are made in Japan only. The first batteries produced in Smyrna for the 2013 Leaf have completed the required aging process and are ready to receive their first charge, the company said in a recent announcement. The plant is fully integrated, with raw battery cell materials coming in one end and finished battery packs going out the other (see accompanying image). Nissan has not yet released specifications for the 2013 Leaf and its battery pack. The Leaf will be assembled alongside the Nissan Altima and Maxima.
The City of Raleigh is the first municipality nationwide to join a special program to test wireless electric vehicle charging technology. It joins six other participants to date in the second phase of Evatran's so-called Apollo Program launching early in 2013 to further demonstrate the company's technology, which it brands Plugless Power. Its second-generation "production-intent" model will be used in this phase, with three of the 20-30 total units to be installed in Raleigh municipal parking lots. Evatran will retrofit two Nissan Leafs and one Chevrolet Volt in the city's fleet for use with the charging system. Five prototype wireless charging units were used in the first phase of the Apollo Program, which involved six partners (among them Google and Hertz, which are also participating in the second phase). In a separate matter, the company said it will begin distributing its Plugless Power units in the spring; they will be the first wireless charging units available to individual Leaf and Volt owners.
Two prototype wireless charging stations are located at Evatran's technology center in Morrisville, NC.
Two heavyweights in the automotive and aerospace industries are joining minds on lighter materials. BMW and Boeing on Dec. 12 announced they would do joint research on carbon-fiber recycling and share knowledge about the material and its manufacture. As part of the collaboration agreement, the two companies will also share carbon-fiber manufacturing process simulations and ideas for manufacturing automation. BMW in 2013 plans to introduce two models from its new i brand (i3 battery-electric and i8 plug-in hybrid) featuring bodies made of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic. Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner aircraft is made up of 50% carbon fiber. The collaboration is the first ever between the two companies.
The U.S. Department of Energy on Nov. 30 announced it will establish a major advanced-battery research center on the campus of Argonne National Laboratory outside Chicago. The Batteries and Energy Storage Hub, also called the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR). Establishment of the Hub is tied to the award of DOE funding of up to $120 million for a research team led by Argonne and consisting of additional national labs, universities, and private companies, the latter consisting of Dow Chemical Co., Applied Materials Inc., Johnson Controls Inc., and Clean Energy Trust. JCESR will integrate independent research being done by the participating entities into a coordinated effort. It is the fourth Hub established by the DOE since 2010 (the others address nuclear energy, building efficiency, and fuels derived from sunlight), and like the others it is modeled on the "strong scientific management characteristics of the Manhattan Project" and similarly renowned enterprises. Research will apply to multiple industries, not just automotive.
Argonne scientist Ira Bloom examines a metallographic sample using an optical microscope to determine its microstructure in the laboratory's Battery Post-Test Facility. This information helps researchers learn what chemical and physical changes have occurred during the aging of battery materials.
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR) awarded a contract to GS Yuasa Lithium Power Inc. (GYLP) to provide lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery cells to be used on the International Space Station (ISS). PWR will integrate GS Yuasa Li-ion cells into batteries that will replace the nickel-hydrogen (Ni-H2) batteries that currently power the ISS Electrical Power System (EPS) during its eclipse mode. This battery replacement effort is part of an initiative to extend the operation and utilization of the ISS. GS Yuasa will supply its LSE134 Li-ion cell that has completed qualification testing for the ISS program. The LSE134 (134-A·h nameplate capacity) cell is a member of GS Yuasa's Generation III family of Li-ion cells for space and is ideally suited to the electrical, size, and mass requirements of this mission. It approximately triples the available energy storage on both a per mass and a per volume basis relative to the existing Ni-H2 battery and is capable of powering critical ISS systems well beyond the required 10-year service life.
BAE Systems has awarded Saft $1.3 million in new funding to continue development of a lithium-ion (Li-ion) energy storage system (ESS) for the U.S. Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) program. The new funding for the GCV project is an addition to the initial 2010 contract. Saft, which is designing and building ultrahigh-power cells for the vehicle’s hybrid-electric drive system, has already completed the demo battery system including hardware and software. Comprised of ultrahigh-power, high-voltage VL 5U cells, the Li-ion ESS supports the GCV’s electric drive system when the vehicle is not running on gasoline, such as during silent watch missions. Saft joins Northrop Grumman, MTU, QinetiQ, and L-3 Communications on the BAE Systems’ GCV team, one of two industry teams working on the technology development phase of the program. The 24-month technology development phase is aimed at completing preliminary design reviews to build prototype systems prior to the engineering and manufacturing phase. Saft believes it will likely be the battery supplier when production begins in 2019, if the BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman team is selected as the Army’s design and manufacturing partner.
BAE Systems' solution for the U.S. Army’s GCV program—a nine-man Infantry Carrier (plus three crew members) that can protect against threats, move in urban and off-road terrain, and accommodate emerging technologies such as lightweight armor composites and electronics—includes a hybrid-electric drive system.
San Francisco Bay Area-based startup Motiv Power Systems has been chosen to supply its scalable electric Powertrain Control System (ePCS) to the City of Chicago for 20 all-electric garbage trucks, under an exclusive five-year, $13.4 million contract. The City of Chicago operates 600 garbage trucks in total. The ePCS uses off-the-shelf batteries and motors that can be configured to power medium-duty to Class 8 heavy-duty EV trucks, weighing from 15,000 to 52,000 lb (6800 to 23,500 kg). This design approach can cut operating costs by 50% over an eight-year period, according to Motiv. The company, which was founded in 2009, has been validating its ePCS since March 2012 with an all-electric pilot bus. Funded by a grant from the California Energy Commission, the 20-passenger bus contains five battery packs (125 kW·h) providing a range of more than 120 mi (193 km) on a single charge. The Motiv EV refuse trucks planned for Chicago will use the same ePCS system as the pilot bus, but with a larger motor and 10 battery packs, and will also employ an electric motor to drive the hydraulics system. Motiv will work with partner Detroit Chassis to install the ePCS onto a standard refuse chassis; Loadmaster will provide the truck bodies. Weighing 52,000 lb (23,500 kg), the EV refuse trucks will reportedly have a range of more than 60 mi (97 km), with a total energy storage of 200 kW·h. (Go to www.sae.org/mags/sohe/11486 to read about another recent electrified refuse truck project.)
Weighing 52,000 lb, the Motiv-powered electric refuse trucks in Chicago will have a range of more than 60 mi (97 km), with a total energy storage of 200 kW·h.
Volvo Car Corp. says it has successfully integrated production of what it claims is the world's first diesel plug-in hybrid into the assembly line with conventional models at its Torsland Plant in Gothenburg, Sweden. The company claims it is the first to accomplish such an integration. "The integration in the standard production flow gives the plug-in hybrid buyer the possibility to choose, in principle, all options available for the standard V60," said Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research and Development at Volvo Car Corp. The assembly line was rebuilt to accommodate production of the plug-in, which features 300 more parts than the conventional car models. After the first batch of 1000 MY2013 V60 Plug-ins are built, the plant will ramp up to as many as 6000 MY2014 units, according to the company.
Sofia Nordgren and Apichat Khongkamnoed install the high-voltage cables (orange) and the cooling system for the V60 Plug-in's battery pack at Volvo's Torsland Plant in Gothenburg, Sweden.
SAE International announced Nov. 14 that it will implement a personnel certification program that enables engineers, product development technicians, and associated personnel to earn a certificate of competency or certification in the area of vehicle electrification (VE). Through a process that engaged a group of auto industry subject-matter experts, a VE body of knowledge was developed and segmented into three distinct levels to meet the needs of specific personnel. Exam questions were generated to align with the body of knowledge to address each of the three levels. The VE Fundamentals and Safety Certificate of Competency is designed for individuals who require training and validation of knowledge in general electrified vehicle architectures, basic electricity and electronics, and critical safety precautions and procedures. Job roles include manufacturing personnel, procurement, sales, management, and engineering undergraduate students. This credential requires completing an online training course and passing an online exam. The VE Professional Certification level, due to launch in February 2013, is designed for individuals to validate mastery of knowledge in general VE safety and all major VE systems. Job roles include engineers, technicians, and other technical personnel assigned to electrified vehicle platforms but not involved with direct design of VE systems. Passing an online exam results in certification that remains in force for three years. The VE Engineer/Scientist Certification level will launch in March 2013 and is for individuals to validate mastery of knowledge in the science and design of all major VE systems. Job roles include engineers and R&D scientists engaged in focused research or product design of VE systems such as battery packs, motors, power electronics, and systems integration. Passing an online exam also results in certification that remains in force for three years.
KLD Energy Technologies, Inc., an Austin, TX-based developer of electric propulsion and generation systems, has teamed up with Cenntro Group Ltd., a developer of diesel and liquid-propane powertrains for agricultural, transportation, and construction equipment, to jointly develop four-wheel electric vehicles (EVs) that will incorporate KLD’s EV drive system technologies. The companies plan to initially focus on the U.S., Europe, and China, with the launch of the Utility Electric Vehicle, an on- and off-highway work and maintenance vehicle; the low-speed Neighborhood Electric Vehicle; and the Intra-city Logistic Vehicle, a compact delivery vehicle. Cenntro Group owns a number of operations in China and the U.S., including Zenith Power Products, LLC and Xinchang Cenntro Machinery Co., Ltd., and is a major shareholder of Sinomachinery Group Ltd. In related news, KLD and Samsung SDI also recently entered into a cooperative relationship to jointly develop battery systems that will incorporate Samsung SDI’s lithium-ion battery cells and KLD’s EV drive technologies.