Former Tesla executives to produce battery "with significantly lower carbon footprint"

September 28, 2017 by  
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Tesla is attempting to shake up the car and energy industries with their battery -producing Gigafactory – and two past employees hope to bring the revolution to Europe. Former Tesla executives Peter Carlsson and Paolo Cerruti aim to build Europe’s biggest lithium-ion battery factory with startup Northvolt in Sweden . Carlsson said, “We will produce a battery with significantly lower carbon footprint than the current supply chains.” The $4.5 billion Northvolt factory in Sweden will pump out batteries for electric cars , ships, trucks, and snowmobiles. They’ll source materials like nickel and graphite from Swedish deposits, and cobalt from a Finland refiner. They’ll power the factory with renewable energy from Sweden’s hydropower dams. They’ll reuse waste heat and recycle old batteries. Northvolt just this week announced a “wide-ranging supply and technology partnership” with company ABB . Related: Tesla executives start mysterious new recycling company Northvolt batteries will have an almost zero carbon footprint, according to Carlsson. He said, “Right now the flow of batteries to Europe would mainly come from Asia. If you take the [ coal -powered] energy grids of China or Japan, both of their carbon footprints are pretty high. When you accumulate that into a battery pack for a vehicle, that’s a significant footprint.” Northvolt will be able to differentiate themselves using hydropower. They’ll also create their own anode and cathode chemical mixes rather than purchasing them from Asian or European manufacturers. Is Northvolt making a run for Tesla’s business? According to Wired, Carlsson said he’s not competing with old boss Elon Musk . He said, “Tesla is a very challenging culture, but it’s also a very rewarding culture. There’s one thing that nobody can take away from Elon; he has always put his mission above everyone else. Hopefully we can spread that kind of culture also within Northvolt.” The 32 gigawatt hour plant could begin production in 2020. + Northvolt Via Wired Images via Northvolt

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The world’s first mobile, solar-powered recycling plant just popped up in the middle of London

September 28, 2017 by  
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The mobile recycling factory of the future just landed in the 19th century courtyard of the historic Somerset House in Central London. Trashpresso is a giant solar-powered recycling plant that transforms discarded plastic bottles into architectural tiles. The machine is the brainchild of Pentatonic , a furniture and design company based in Berlin and London committed to using only post-consumer waste in their products – from chairs made from “felted” plastic to glassware made from smartphone screens. Trashpresso is the world’s first off-grid, industrial grade recycling solution designed to be mobile and functional in isolated locations where traditional recycling plants aren’t a feasible option. “Our non-negotiable commitment to the consumer is that we make our products using single materials. That means no toxic additives and no hybridized materials which are prohibitive of recyclability,” explains co-founder Johann Bodecker. Trashpresso made its global debut this week at the Design Frontiers exhibition during the London Design Festival . Visitors to Design Frontiers were invited to contribute their trash and watch the Trashpresso process from start to finish – from the sorting of plastic bottles to the compression of shredded PET into solid hexagonal tiles. Enormous black spheres made of recycled plastic were also installed in the courtyard, lending an imposing presence to the Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court. Throughout the week, the black spheres were gradually covered in the architectural tiles created by Trashpresso, with the public taking part in the installation. Large spheres made of metal mesh contained more plastic bottles, calling attention to the ongoing problem of tons of plastic a year entering our oceans. Starbucks UK recently announced a partnership with Pentatonic to turn their coffee shop waste into furniture, with their Starbucks Bean Chair reinterpreted with upcycled textiles and a frame made from plastic bottles and plastic cups. The Trashpresso machine debuting at Design Frontiers boasts upgraded engineering designed for global transportation. An earlier version of Trashpresso was previewed in Shanghai for World Earth Day by Pentatonic collaborator and investor Miniwiz , which is based in Taiwan and specializes in upcycling. Trashpresso was the featured installation at Design Frontiers, a new exhibition featuring more than 30 designers showcasing projects and products pushing the frontiers of innovation and material use. + Pentatonic + Design Frontiers + London Design Festival Coverage

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US and Russia are teaming up to build a lunar spaceport

September 28, 2017 by  
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The space agencies of Russia and the United States just signed a joint statement to develop projects to further explore outer space. One could be the Deep Space Gateway , a lunar spaceport that could act as a launching point for missions to the Moon and Mars . NASA and Roscosmos signed the statement Wednesday at the 68th International Astronautical Congress in Australia. According to Roscosmos’ press release, the two agencies agreed to use the International Space Station as a base for more space exploration. They also agreed to cooperate on a moon program by building the Deep Space Gateway, creating international technical standards, and carrying out scientific missions on and orbiting the moon. Related: Lockheed to turn shuttle-era module into a space habitat for NASA Why the focus on the moon? One reason, according to a March statement from NASA , is that astronauts can gain experience in a deep space environment near the moon, but can return to Earth quickly if necessary. They can also conduct robotic missions on the moon surface. NASA acting administrator Robert Lightfoot said, “NASA is pleased to see growing international interest in moving into cislunar space as the next step for advancing human space exploration. Statements such as this one signed with Roscosmos show the gateway concept as an enabler to the kind of exploration architecture that is affordable and sustainable.” NASA has already been working on the gateway concept with industry partners. For example, Lockheed Martin is building a habitation , repurposing a historic piece of flight hardware to do so. Roscosmos will also start working with industry partners on gateway concepts studies. Roscosmos said other space powers are also thinking about getting in on the moon project. The main work on the lunar station should commence in the mid-2020’s. Via Roscosmos , NASA , and The Telegraph Images via NASA and Boeing

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Cadillac unveils their new CT6 Plug-in Hybrid – a large, green luxury sedan

May 3, 2017 by  
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Cadillac is pushing a new green car strategy they hope will make a bigger impact than their ELR plug-in hybrid – a low-performing vehicle in terms of sales success. Rather than produce a standalone plug-in hybrid , like the ELR, Cadillac will release plug-in hybrid versions of its regular lineup, starting with the new 2017 CT6 Plug-in Hybrid. The 2017 CT6 plug-in hybrid is just now reaching showrooms, giving Cadillac a rival to other luxury sedan plug-ins, like the Mercedes-Benz S 550e, BMW 740e and Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid. The CT6 plug-in hybrid can travel up to 31 miles in electric mode, which is better than the embarrassing 12 mile EV range that the S550e manages to squeeze out of its battery. If you open the hood, you won’t see a V6 or large V8 engine, like many Cadillac loyalists are used to. Instead, the CT6 plug-in hybrid is powered by a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine and two-motor electric variable transmission. A large lithium-ion battery powers the electric part of the system from behind the backseat and takes up to 4.5 hours to fully recharge on a 240-volt outlet. Related: Honda steps up with new green car strategy In total, the system generates 335 horsepower and 432 lb-ft. of torque, which puts it directly in the middle of the CT6 lineup, with only the twin-turbocharged 3.0L V6 beating it. The CT6 plug-in hybrid can reach 60 mph in 5.2 seconds and has a 62 combined MPGe rating. Plus the 31-mile driving range is longer than almost every other plug-in hybrid on the market, with the exception of the Chevy Volt and BMW i3, but neither of those models are as luxurious or comfortable. On the road the CT6 tries to find the perfect balance between performance and efficiency. You can select between three driving modes: Tour, Sport and Hold. Tour is the standard setting, but if you want a more exciting driving experience, there’s the Sport mode with its more aggressive pedal mapping and steering response. The Hold mode allows the driver to save the EV range for later use, maybe in a city center, for example. There are also four selectable battery regen modes to recuperate as much energy as you want. The strongest setting almost allows for one pedal driving, which is something that makes the i3 so great to drive in traffic. What’s it like to drive the CT6 Plug-in Hybrid? Driving around Los Angeles in the CT6 Plug-in Hybrid, it’s easy to forget you’re driving an electrified Cadillac. The instantaneous torque makes acceleration a breeze and the 31-mile EV range is enough for short errands around town. With a 0-60 mph time of only 5.2 seconds, the CT6 Plug-in Hybrid can speed past many sports cars. Although it is fast, it’s still not a true sports sedan. If you’re looking for a sportier driving experience, you’ll probably want to check out the Panamera instead, but if you’re in the market for a large, luxurious sedan, without the fuel economy penalty, the CT6 Plug-in Hybrid is hard to beat. Pricing for the 2017 Cadillac CT6 Plug-in hybrid starts at $75,095. It only comes in one trim with standard features like, a head-up display, panoramic sunroof, rear seat infotainment system and the Enhanced Vision package. Images @Inhabitat and Cadillac + Cadillac

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Cadillac unveils their new CT6 Plug-in Hybrid – a large, green luxury sedan

Groundbreaking new seawater battery could replace expensive lithium batteries

December 9, 2016 by  
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Open your smartphone and you’ll probably find a lithium-ion battery inside. They’re rechargeable, which is great – but they’re difficult to dispose of, and the price of lithium is soaring. Nine scientists from Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) in South Korea developed a groundbreaking alternative: a new battery made from abundant and readily available seawater. Lithium-ion batteries – found in devices like iPhones and Tesla’s Powerwall – can help us end our fossil fuel dependence. But concerns over how lithium is mined and rising expenses mean we haven’t created the perfect battery yet. UNIST researchers turned to seawater for a superior solution. Related: Scientists develop new way to generate electricity via seawater Their device is technically a sodium-air, or sodium oxygen, battery. While sodium-air batteries are more cost-effective than lithium-ion batteries, they’re not quite ready for commercial distribution. Part of the goal of the researchers’ work was to address some of the challenges that stand in the way of commercialization – and they may have found an answer in seawater. It turns out seawater serves as an excellent catholyte – a cathode and electrolyte combined together. In a paper published in the ACS journal Applied Materials & Interfaces , the researchers state: “A constant flow of seawater into and out of the battery provides the sodium ions and water responsible for producing a charge.” Their seawater battery can be compared against lithium-ion batteries by measuring discharge voltage. The seawater battery had an average discharge voltage of around 2.7 volts, according to ACS, while the same statistic for a lithium ion battery is 3.6 to four volts. That means the scientists still have work to do, but their device might just bring us closer to a world where we don’t need to depend on lithium for energy storage. ACS’s journal Applied Materials & Interfaces published the scientists’ study online in November. Via American Chemical Society Images via Pexels and American Chemical Society

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BMW, Daimler, Ford, and VW are planning an electric vehicle superhighway in Europe

November 30, 2016 by  
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Four major automakers recently announced they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to create the highest-powered charging network in Europe. While electric cars like the new Chevy Bolt are curing some of the range anxiety issues that plagued earlier EVs, there’s still one other issue – charging times. Today it takes about 30 minutes to almost fully charge some electric cars, but BMW , Daimler, Ford and Volkswagen have announced a new partnership that will dramatically cut down that time. The goal for the charging network is to quickly build a sizable number of stations in order to enable long-range travel for electric vehicles, which will make them even more desirable. The idea of a charging network isn’t entirely new, since Tesla and Chargepoint have built similar networks in the U.S., but the big news is how much power these chargers will pack. Related: VW’s new electric car goes further and costs less than the Tesla 3 or Chevy Bolt Today’s DC Fast Chargers max out at 50 kW of power, which can charge an electric car’s battery up to 80 percent in as little as 20 minutes. The new chargers that will comprise this new partnership will pack up to seven times more power at 350 kW, which will significantly drop the amount of time it takes to recharge an electric car to around 10 minutes. The first chargers will arrive in 2017, with an initial target of about 400 charging sites in Europe. By 2020, the plan is to have thousands of high-powered charging points in operation. The announcement doesn’t include any networks outside Europe, like in the U.S., but this summer the White House announced that the Department of Energy is researching the feasibility of 350 kW fast chargers. + Daimler All images © Volkswagen and Daimler

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Jaguar’s new I-Pace electric SUV is ready to take on the Tesla Model X

November 15, 2016 by  
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Jaguar is taking aim at the Tesla Model X by unveiling the I-Pace – an all-electric concept car that previews an SUV set to launch in 2018. The I-Pace features a 90 kWh battery, a driving range of around 220 miles, and it generates 394 horsepower and 516 foot-pounds of torque from two electric motors . Jaguar also says the I-Pace will be able to reach 60 mph faster than most sports cars at around four seconds. Jaguar debuted the I-Pace this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show and according to the automaker, the concept is not far off from the production version. Since the I-Pace doesn’t use a conventional engine, designers were able to maximize space for passengers and their stuff. Thanks to its cab-forward design, the I-Pace will have more interior room than many larger SUVs. Once inside, you’re greeted with a large center-mounted 12-inch touchscreen and an additional 5.5-inch touchscreen. The traditional instrument cluster has been replaced by another 12-inch screen with a color head-up display. Related: Jaguar Unveils 850 Horsepower C-X75 Plug-in Hybrid Supercar “This is an uncompromised electric vehicle designed from a clean sheet of paper: we’ve developed a new architecture and selected only the best technology available,” stated Wolfgang Ziebart. + Jaguar All photos @ Jaguar

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Jaguar’s new I-Pace electric SUV is ready to take on the Tesla Model X

2017 Countryman crossover is the first MINI plug-in hybrid

October 26, 2016 by  
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It’s been six years since the last electrified MINI, the MINI E was made available. Although BMW has confirmed plans to introduce a new fully-electric MINI in the next few years, if you’ve been hoping that MINI would introduce a plug-in model sooner, your prayers have been answered. MINI has unveiled the all-new 2017 Countryman crossover, which marks the introduction of the automaker’s first plug-in hybrid . The new Countryman is now the biggest MINI to date, but at the same time it is also the greenest model in MINI’s current lineup. Standard versions can be equipped with efficient three- and four-cylinder engines, but even more noteworthy is the new plug-in hybrid version. The Countryman plug-in hybrid is powered by a 1.5L three-cylinder mated to an electric motor for a total combined output of 221 horsepower, which is more than either of the standard gasoline powered versions. The 7.6-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery gives the Countryman plug-in hybrid an electric driving range of 24 miles at speeds up to 77 mph. Related: MINI Unveils Three of the World’s Tiniest Luxury Campers “The addition of the plug-in hybrid option is a major milestone for the brand and we look forward to bringing this exciting new vehicle into one of the top performing market segments,” said Thomas Felbermair, Vice President MINI of the Americas. MINI hasn’t announced the pricing for the Countryman plug-in hybrid , but when it arrives next summer it will be called the Cooper S E Countryman ALL4. + MINI All images @ MINI

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Groundbreaking self-destructing battery dissolves in water when its job is done

August 12, 2016 by  
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When it comes to the environment, batteries are a big problem. Even rechargeable batteries eventually reach the end of their lifespan, and all too often wind up in landfills rather than designated recycling facilities. In an effort to turn wasted batteries into a thing of the past, one team of researchers has developed a new type of energy storage device that self-destructs when it’s no longer needed. Researchers at Iowa State University have created a battery that dissolves in water . Ideal for electronic devices with special uses (think: military communications), the battery is designed to self-destruct when triggered by light, heat, or liquid. The class of device where such a battery would be particularly useful is known as “transient” devices, and they range from military secret-keepers to medical life-savers to environmental condition-sensors. In all cases, a dissolving battery could potentially be used so the device would simply wash away after it had served its purpose. Related: New biocompatible electronic devices would dissolve in the body after use The latest development was created in the Iowa State lab run by Reza Montazami, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and an associate of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory . He has been working on transient device technology for years. Now, his team has developed a working lithium-based battery capable of delivering 2.5 volts, which can run a desktop calculator for 15 minutes or so. The battery can self-destruct in water, taking just 30 minutes to dissolve upon submersion. This achievement is the next logical stage of evolution for transient devices, according to Montazami. “Any device without a transient power source isn’t really transient,” he said. “This is a battery with all the working components. It’s much more complex than our previous work with transient electronics.” The team’s study was recently published in the Journal of Polymer Science, Part B: Polymer Physics. Via Treehugger Images via Iowa State University and Shutterstock

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MIT’s breakthrough self-shading windows change from clear to dark in an instant

August 12, 2016 by  
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Three MIT chemists just gave us a glimpse into the future of smart windows . Their groundbreaking “self-shading” window can quickly change from clear to dark – and then stay that way without using any electricity . The windows could help everyone from homeowners looking to save on heating and cooling costs to pilots trying to get a clearer view out the cockpit window. The MIT researchers’ work was published this week in the journal Chem . In the paper, the chemists detail their innovative use of electrochromic materials to bypass issues involved with creating self-shading windows. For example, transition lenses in eyeglasses are able to change from clear to dark, but the process is relatively slow. Related: MIT researchers discover silk holds the key to vastly improved filtration This isn’t the first time electrochromic materials have been used – they can be found in Boeing 787 windows that darken over time with the flip of a switch. But those Boeing windows still take a few minutes to change. The positive ions that help with the color change move slowly, delaying the darkening process. To solve that issue, the MIT chemists used materials known as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), which conduct ions and electrons quickly. Again, the use of MOFs isn’t new, but the MIT team is the ” first to harness them for their electrical and optical properties ” so their windows darken quickly. Further, it’s easier to create windows that can tint blue or green, but the MIT’s windows are nearly black. Once the windows turn dark with the help of a little electricity, they stay dark without using any power until a switch is flipped to clear them up again. Paper co-author Mircea Dinc? said , “It’s the combination of these two, of a relatively fast switching time and a nearly black color, that has really got people excited…These could lead to pretty significant energy savings.” Via MIT News Images via Wikimedia Commons and Khalid Abdulaziz Kaabi and Dennis Sheberla/MIT

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