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« Blue Bird to begin production of CNG-fueled Type C Vision school bus in 2016; ROUSH fuel system | Main | National oil companies hold top spots in Energy Intelligence’s ranking of top oil firms » The US Department of Energy has announced the 2016 Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Phase I Release 2 Topics, covering eight DOE research program organizations. Among the many topics listed are magnetocaloric materials development for hydrogen delivery; two hydrogen technology transfer opportunities (TTO); EV traction batteries and power electronics; new combustion engine technologies; and the co-utilization of CO and methane in biogas to produce higher hydrocarbon fuels. DOE plans to issue the full Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) on 30 November 2015. Hydrogen. The first hydrogen TTO is focused on durable, high activity electrocatalyst with low platinum content and low cost for polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell applications. Conventional polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell technology requires high content of platinum electrocatalyst, which raises manufacturing costs. Researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed an electrocatalyst design that significantly decreases the platinum content of the cathode by an order of magnitude while maintaining cathode performance. The selected project will meet the critical need for core-shell electrocatalyst manufacturing processes for PEM fuel cell membrane electrode assembly (MEA) components and develop a plan to scale-up production of the core-shell nanocatalysts, incorporate those catalysts into MEAs, and test the performance and durability of the MEAs under realistic fuel cell operating conditions. The second TTO is focused on safety sensors for hydrogen infrastructure applications. The selected project will use a unique class of electrochemical sensors created at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to develop low cost electronics packaging that is manufacturable at high volume and will integrate the LANL sensor into a commercial package that can meet the codes and standards for being deployed at a hydrogen fueling station. The Magnetocaloric Materials Development project will develop novel magnetocaloric materials that optimize material properties for cooling and liquefaction of hydrogen. Magnetocaloric materials have great potential to lower the energy consumption and carbon footprint of technologies used in building cooling, refrigeration, and gas liquefaction. Electric drive vehicle batteries. DOE will seek projects to develop electrochemical energy storage technologies which support commercialization of micro-, mild-, and full-HEVs, PHEVs, and EVs. Some specific improvements of interest include, but are not limited to, new low-cost materials; high voltage and high temperature non-carbonate electrolytes; improvements in manufacturing processes, speed, or yield; novel SEI stabilization techniques for silicon anodes; improved cell/pack design minimizing inactive material; significant improvement in specific energy (Wh/kg) or energy density (Wh/L); and improved safety. Phase I feasibility studies must be evaluated in full cells (not half cells) greater than 200mAh in size while Phase II technologies should be demonstrated in full cells greater than 2Ah. DOE will reject applications as non-responsive if the proposed technology is high cost; requires substantial infrastructure investments or industry standardization to be commercially viable; and/or cannot accept high power recharge pulses from regenerative breaking or has other characteristics that prohibit market penetration. SiC MOSFETs for electric drive vehicle power electronics. With large area (> 150 mm, or 6") Silicon Carbide (SiC) epitaxial wafer availability from a large number of qualified suppliers, the SiC device industry is approaching the state of the cost- competitive silicon (Si) power device industry, where the cost of fabrication is the primary driver for device cost, and their high device yield allows for a low overall cost of devices. Devices crucial for vehicle inverters which can take advantage of these SiC epitaxial wafers, SiC switches with either built-in free-wheeling Schottky diodes (lower cost) or in conjunction with Schottky diodes, offer significantly smaller on-state resistance as compared to current Si switches and enable very high power density, modular inverters for use in electric drive vehicles. The extremely high speed of SiC switches also allows for increased efficiencies and reduced passive device requirements for power inverter applications. This topic seeks to address this barrier through demonstrating the successful production of > 100A, > 600V rated switches with either built-in Schottky diodes (lower cost) or used with external Schottky diodes suitable for use in electric drive vehicle traction motor inverters. Specifically, devices produced should show automotive application readiness through passing qualification specifications or standards and high yields. Where possible, applicants should show a relationship to, and demonstrate an understanding of, automotive application requirements and environments. Examples include surface and/or substrate treatments and processing, and compatibility with existing power module packaging and processing. Proposals should also describe the cost of manufacturing SiC switches compared to competing Si switches, including details such as costs and availability of commercial SiC substrates, epi-layers, and additional equipment needed. These costs should be linked to a commercially viable business model for large scale manufacturing and should approach cost parity with Si switches on a cost per amp basis. Variable compression ratio or variable stroke internal combustion engine with real- time controllability. DOE is seeking a commercially viable control system design, including hardware and software, to enable the dynamic control of the compression ratio and/or piston stroke of operating internal combustion engines in passenger vehicles. Applications for variable compression ratio control should propose the development of systems that: Applications for variable stroke control should propose the development of systems that: Alternative crank mechanisms for internal combustion engines leading to improved energy efficiency. Reciprocating internal combustion (e.g. gasoline or diesel) engines for automotive applications use slider/crank mechanisms to create torque on an engine’s output shaft from forces applied to pistons as a result of the pressure created by the combustion of fuel. While direct mechanical losses of traditional slider/crank mechanisms are small, there is another indirect loss as a consequence of slider/crank use. Early in an engine’s power stroke, cylinder temperatures—and therefore convective and radiative heat losses—all peak. The engine’s rate of performing work is still very low reducing energy efficiency. The net effect may be that slider/crank mechanisms indirectly lead to preventable energy losses and reduced energy efficiency. DOE is seeking projects for the development or demonstration of a functioning prototype of a mass-produced, commercially available reciprocating engine, modified with an alternative mechanical mechanism linking the piston to the engine’s output shaft. Reporting must include fuel consumption test results over the entire engine map of the prototype compared with a second, unmodified, otherwise identical engine. All fuel consumption testing must be conducted according to engine industry norms. Statistically valid fuel economy improvements (95% confidence level) of at least 4.0% are desired. Reduction of PGM loading in automotive emission control systems. Modern automotive emission control catalyst systems utilize monolithic flow-through supports coated with high surface area inorganic oxides and, typically, platinum group metals (PGMs). These metals—palladium, platinum and rhodium—are suspended in the washcoat, a refractory oxide layer bonded to a ceramic or metal support surface. The North American market has the most stringent emissions regulations for the passenger car sector. The tightening of emissions standards has placed an ever-greater burden on catalyst performance and compliance has come in part through higher PGM content with associated higher costs and market volatility risks. DOE is seeking strategies for reducing PGM loading in automotive catalyst systems through new techniques for dispersing the PGMs in the washcoat or through complete or partial substitution of PGMs with other, lower cost catalytic materials. Applications may include oxidation catalysts and three-way catalysts for gasoline engines, NO adsorbers for lean-burn gasoline engines, as well as oxidation catalysts, urea selective catalytic reduction and NO adsorbers for diesel engines. The prototype catalyst thrifting strategy developed under this subtopic must be capable of reducing PGM loading by 50% in the proposed automotive emission control system application with conversion performance and durability comparable to current production catalyst systems. (For reference, the average loading for three-way catalysts is 1.1 grams PGM per liter of engine displacement). Co-utilization of CO and CH to produce biofuel and bioproduct precursors. Biogas is primarily comprised of methane and carbon dioxide. DOE seeks projects to convert the combination of biogenic CO and CH4 into higher hydrocarbons (C and above, or C and above with at least one double bond). Proposals that produce syngas, ethanol, or methanol as a final product will be considered non-responsive, although all of those substances are acceptable as process intermediates. Options include, but are not limited to: Evaluation criteria will include the conversion efficiency of biogenic carbon, total energy balance of the proposed processes, and cost-effectiveness in terms of DOE’s BETO’s 2017 and 2022 strategic targets. While biogas from wet organic waste streams is the primary target of this subtopic, proposals that utilize CO streams from other sources may be within scope, provided that they utilize non-photosynthetic biological conversion mechanisms. While the primary goal of this solicitation is to further the development of drop-in biofuels from wet organic waste streams, proposals that include biochemical precursors as part of the overall value proposition are welcomed.


News Article | May 23, 2014
Site: www.cnet.com

A startup called Looksery is hoping to cash in on people's desires to look more attractive or more entertaining in smartphone video communications, CNET has learned. The company has developed software that figures out the location of features such as eyebrows, chins, pupils, and noses. The software can then alter a video to clear away pimples, make a face skinnier, add special effects like a fang-filled monster mouth, or change a person's facial appearance altogether into an avatar such as an anime teddy bear. It all happens in real time so you can see the effect applied as the video plays. The company declined to comment for this story. But details of what the company plans are apparent on a recently updated website and a Looksery demo video on YouTube. And Looksery plans to offer an iPhone app beta soon, a source familiar with the company's plans said. It'll let people pick effects, record videos, then send them to contacts or post them online. Later, the company hopes to expand to Android and offer ways to plug into other video communication tools such as Skype. Seeing what you'd look like with fluorescent green eyes or a sharklike maw is good fun. But beautifying or otherwise altering yourself in a video lays wide open an existing can of worms: can digital imagery really be trusted? How much alteration is appropriate for an online dating profile photo or video or a remote job interview? The company has offices in Ukraine and Silicon Valley, and CEO Victor Shaburov already has one success under his belt -- the app store company Handster that browser maker Opera Software bought in 2011 and that now serves more than 100 million users monthly. The Looksery app will be free, but the company is expected to charge $1 or $2 for effects that can be added to the software. The company has several programmers employees on staff and plans to raise more money through the Kickstarter crowdfunding site, the source said.


Black R.,Energy Intelligence
Nature Climate Change | Year: 2015

IPCC assessments present an unparalleled opportunity for climate science to speak directly to power. Re-thinking the summaries written for policymakers would enable scientists to communicate far more effectively with political leaders and the public. © 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved. Source


Patent
Energy Intelligence | Date: 2011-10-14

An intelligent LED lamp group control device using an existing wall switch for controlling a group of LED lamps includes an AC power converter, an interface for intelligent control using an interface circuit for upgrading the existing wall switch for scene group control. The device further includes a night lamp control input port, an emergency operation switch, an external set control box connector, a wall switch input unit, a control configuration set interface, a power failure battery input port and a night lamp and RS-485 serial port. The device enables one single controller to achieve control of and provide power supply to multiple LED lamps, and uses a communication control interface for converting the power supply originally provided to the LED lamps into a logic control signal so that the wiring layout and location of the original lighting control wall switch can be used.


Patent
Energy Intelligence | Date: 2011-08-10

Certain embodiments of the invention may include control systems and methods for monitoring environmental variables, performance variables and conditioning electrical power in energy-recapture sources of mechanical energy, which would otherwise be dissipated, as exemplified by farms for energy-harvesting to provide available electrical energy. Said farms may include one or more energy-recapture sources. One method for controlling may include measuring individual source energy output of one or more energy-recapture sources and measuring conditions of one or more energy-recapture sources via a controller that facilitates communication with one or more energy-recapture sources.

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