Concept of the Day: TUD InEco

October 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

Pic: TUD/Eckold

Pic: TUD/Eckold

Technical University Dresden’s Institute of Lightweight Engineering and Polymer Technology has built a road-worthy demonstrator concept: a 900kg four-seater EV for urban commuting, said to be a sporty drive yet simple and cost-conscious. Developed in partnership with Leuchtbau-Zentrum Sachsen GmbH and ThyssenKrupp AG, the InEco project vehicle is claimed to highlight holistic thinking on electromobility – including lightweight materials, integrated construction techniques and a reduction in the number of components used.  It features carbonfibre-reinforced plastic-steel hybrid composites, sandwich construction and a battery/air conditioning system integrated into its central tunnel for a low centre of gravity and crash safety.  More details here; gallery of pics at Gizmag.

  • A network of 74 rapid-chargers is being installed across the length of the UK: backed by the European Commission, with partners including Nissan, Renault, Zero Carbon Futures and researchers at Newcastle University, the RCN will cover over 1,100km of major routes and link five airports and five key seaports and cities – including Stranraer, Liverpool, Holyhead, Felixstowe, Kingston-upon-Hull and Belfast. The chargers will be compatible with 44kW DC CCS, 44 kW DC Chademo or 43 kW AC systems and will be in action by the end of 2014. “Strategic information from users, including charging behaviour and changes in mobility patterns” will be collected with a view to informing the roll-out of further facilities.
  • The USA’s Union of Concerned Scientists reckons the country can halve its oil use by 2020 if fuel efficiency of cars and trucks is improved, if EVs are adopted, if better biofuels are developed and if “smarter, more diverse transportation systems” are built – and has launched a campaign called Half the Oil.
  • Global sales of vehicle-to-grid (V2G)-networked EVs for the ancillary services sector (i.e. commercial fleets) will grow over 64% between 2013-2022, according to Navigant Research. More opportunities will arise as the grid becomes more energy-efficient and as energy storage technology (for intermittently-generated wind and solar electricity) improves; the fastest-growing region for V2G will be Asia-Pacific. Handy rundown at Green Car Congress.
  • Few of us have 4G phones and mobile devices as yet – but 5G is already under development. Researchers at Chalmers University, Sweden, are looking at the installation of small ‘base stations’ for data transmission in cars, homes, trucks, buses and trains in its Metis project. More here.
  • Sounds a bit like a conspiracy theory, but New York’s Washington Park Square is to gain a pair of Hevo-developed wireless EV chargers – induction plates not dissimilar to those on a cooker – which look like manhole covers, reports (ha!) Wired. They’re for a trial using two NYU Smart Fortwo eds.

Concept of the Day: Hyundai Fuel Cell Farm

October 21, 2013 § Leave a comment

hyundai fuel cell farmOK, it’s a gimmick, but Hyundai’s Fuel Cell Farm is quite a charming concept. It’s a contained aquaponics ecosystem – plants growing in water, fed by waste from fish, using waste water from the ix35’s tailpipe – and is on display at the mo at the Design Museum, London. More here. But where does the hydrogen come from? Two refuelling stations in London, a third on the way, but the fuel itself still has to be synthesized from somewhere.

And in other recent green cars/transportation news:

  • An on-demand, personally-tailored bus service – accessed using smartphone apps – is being trialled in Helsinki.  The Kutsuplus service chargers users in its nine-seat minibuses by the mile, clustering together people who want to travel in the same direction. More details on the story from Treehugger.
  • The system is the solution for sustainable urban transportation, and it’s about access (incl. financial) rather than the transport itself, according to a big new report from UN Habitat, “Planning and Design for Sustainable Urban Mobility”. Worth a read…
  • Minimising the need for ‘forced car ownership’ would address growing social and environmental concerns, says a report from Sustrans discussing ‘transport poverty’.
  • The home/car hybrid: Denso and Nagoya University have developed in-vehicle energy management technology to co-ordinate domestic electricity usage and generation (from solar panels) with EV and PHEV charging and energy storage in the car’s batteries. More here.
  • A large-scale trial is to start in Stuttgart of tech to integrate EV/PHEV optimisation, energy demand/supply, traffic/fleet management and the energy and transport sectors on a single platform. The iZeus project is based at KIT, Karlsruhe, and includes 30 Mercedes-Benz Vito E-Cell vans plus 90 private cars – Smart Fortwo ed, Opel Ampera and Toyota Prius.
  • Over 8000 i3s have been ordered in advance of the European launch next month, and an upping of production is under consideration, says BMW.
  • By 2070, passenger road transport could be almost oil-free. Says who? Shell, outlining two possible scenarios (depending on level of governmental intervention), in a new report discussing transitions and resilience, tipping biomass as an easier/more viable fuel option than hydrogen or 100% renewable electricity.
  • Reality sets in for autonomous car developers? Useful rundown of the challenges – including the possible lack of capacity even with 4G to cope with all the data – here.
  • Volvo is exploring energy storage in car body panels and structural elements, possibly to supplement or even replace batteries; more here.
  • A solar-powered EV-share (on-demand short-term rental scheme) called SUNMOOV has just launched in Lyon; more here. Let’s hope it’s less incendiary (literally) than the Paris Autolib’ has been lately…
  • Discussion on greening the freight sector at Guardian Sust Biz; UPS sees oil as remaining dominant for a long while yet, and diesel best option for road freight, but is liking natural gas, according to latest quotes.
  • Nissan is rolling out its New Mobility Concept (aka Renault Twizy) on trial car-share fleets in Japan: first up is a 30-vehicle fleet in Yokohama, with 100 cars in 70 locations within the year. More here.
  • Interesting blog post at PE (iMechE): connected cars tech is evolving more quickly, but with a different focus, in emerging/developing markets, according to senior engineer at Tech Mahindra.

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