Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Volvo invests in a new laboratory in Shanghai

Volvo Electric Site to provide model for sustainable construction in China

To design and to manufacture in-house electric motors for the next car generation, Volvo Cars has inaugurated in Shanghai, in China, a new laboratory precisely dedicated to electric propulsion systems. This structure, in operation since last month, joins the unit that constantly develops electric motors in Gothenburg, Sweden, and modern laboratories for batteries in China and Sweden.

«Through in-house design and development processes, we will be able to perfect our electric motors, reaching higher and higher qualitative levels. Constantly ameliorating the overall performance levels of propulsion systems in terms of energy efficiency and comfort, we create an electric drive experience that exclusively identifies Volvo brand» – stated Henrik Green, Chief Technology Officer of Volvo Cars.

The laboratory activity will focus on the development of electric motors for applications in purely electric and hybrid cars based on the modular architecture for SPA 2 vehicles. The future of the brand is well outlined: the target is rising to 50% the share of fully electric models out of the total of global sales by 2025, with the remaining part constituted by hybrid models.

Good news about fast recharge

State-of-the-art columns for fast recharge, developed by Nidec ASI are ready. Some days ago, the Italian company delivered the University Federico II in Naples the first Ultra Fast Charger column for electric cars that minimizes the impact on the electric net, a test aimed at assessing the technology validity for the widespread diffusion on the territory under various conditions, also in compatibility with photovoltaic systems.

The Ultra Fast Charger is entrusted with the task of simplifying and speeding up the electrification process of infrastructures and of decreasing operational costs to recharge electric vehicles: the presence of 160 kWh internal batteries allows not drawing directly from the network, so avoiding power peaks and consequent blackouts. Despite an energy requirement of just 50 kW, it allows supplying the vehicle with 320 kW power, achieving 80% of the capacity in less than 15 minutes.

Electric Motors Efficiency needs better copper

A new manufacturing process yields highest conductivity copper composites at bulk scale. This is a discovery of researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL): they have increased the conductivity of copper wire by about five percent. Higher conductivity means that less copper is needed for the same efficiency, which can reduce the weight and volume of various components that are expected to power our future electric vehicles.

The laboratory teamed with General Motors to test out the souped-up copper wire for use in vehicle motor components. As part of a cost-shared research project, the team validated the increased conductivity and found that it also has higher ductility-the ability to stretch farther before it breaks. In other physical properties, it behaved just like regular copper so it can be welded and subjected to other mechanical stresses with no degradation of performance. This means that no specialized manufacturing methods are necessary to assemble motors-only the new advanced PNNL copper composite.

The technology can apply to any industry that uses copper to move electrical energy, including power transmission, electronics, wireless chargers, electric motors, generators, under-sea cables, and batteries.

General Motors Research and Development engineers verified the higher conductivity copper wire can be welded, brazed, and formed in exactly the same way as conventional copper wire. This indicates seamless integration with existing motor manufacturing processes.

«To further lightweight motors, advances in materials is the new paradigm – said Darrell Herling of PNNL’s Energy Processes and Materials Division. Higher conductivity copper could be a disruptive approach to lightweighting and/or increasing efficiency for any electric motor or wireless vehicle charging sytem».

Fast photovoltaic recharge for electric vehicles

Produktion der SMA EV Charger. Foto: Heiko Meyer

SMA, one of the top players in the field of system technologies for photovoltaic, has developed and made available the EV Charger platform, a solution to recharge electric vehicles by exploiting the photovoltaic current generated through solar energy. The system is directly integrated into the renewable energy plant, simplifying installation and maintenance processes.

SMA EV Charger allows recharging quickly, safely and conveniently thanks to its different functions, constantly aimed at the highest possible exploitation of the available solar energy. Through the combination of photovoltaic and net current, SMA EV Charger can operate at 7.4 kW, then with almost double speed compared to standard wallboxes and even ten-time faster than a typical domestic socket. Moreover, the protection against power outages safeguards the domestic connection from overloads.

The recharge process with SMA EV Charger can be planned with the app SMA Energy Sunny Home Manager 2.0, which programmes the recharge in the domestic energy management, taking other loads into account smartly, allowing the cost reduction and assuring the vehicle availability at the wished start time.

«The electric mobility becomes a really smart choice only with the solar energy. For this reason–Nick Morbach, Executive Vice President of the Home & Business Solutions unit of SMA, stated- we have developed SMA EV Charger. This device allows drivers of electric cars to carry out the recharge always comfortably and safely, exploiting the convenient photovoltaic current, with zero climatic impact, as much as possible. All SMA devices, provided by the same supplier, dialogue one another and therefore have a single reference partner for whatever question about extensions, warranties or service.


ABB excellence plant is starting up

They have started the construction works of the new plant at San Giovanni Valdarno, Arezzo, operational since the end of 2021. The structure will act as global excellence centre and manufacturing site for the entire range of recharge systems for direct current (DC) electric vehicles by ABB, from those for domestic use to those for installation in public areas and for urban public transport. A further growth for ABB in the electric mobility ambit, which uses household technologies. The factory will be in fact characterized by the integration of digital solutions by ABB AbilityTM that will allow complete visibility and the optimization of the production of each single product, making warehouse automated management systems interconnected with factory departments.

R&D activities will be carried out in a dedicated space, taking up 3,200 square metres, for development and prototyping. They will focus on the implementation of innovative solutions, new software and management instruments of the product lifecycle to integrate fully R&D activities with manufacturing activities, both in-house and with external electronic production services.

Meanwhile, the integration of renewable energy sources, like solar panels on the roof, an optimized heating and conditioning system and the introduction of a fleet of electric vehicles for workers, logistics, sales and service teams will contribute in reducing the environmental impact of the structure.


Investment for a low environmental impact battery plant in Poland

Global top player in sustainable technologies Johnson Matthey (JM), announced that its new battery materials facility in Konin, Poland, has received a combined €135 million investment from two leading development banks, in yet another boost for the commercialisation of eLNO and the electric car industry. eLNO is the portfolio of ultra-high energy density next generation cathode battery materials. These are expected to improve the performance of lithium ion batteries and help promote electric vehicle usage on a larger scale.
The production capacity in Konin will be 10,000 tonnes of eLNO per year, enough for around 100,000 fully electric vehicles. In addition, the site, which will start production in 2022, has the potential to expand tenfold through further investment. Construction of the plant began this year.
Johnson Matthey aims to create a low environmental impact battery supply chain, using renewable energy and sourcing raw materials – lithium, cobalt, nickel – from “ethical” mines.
«Construction of the new plant in Konin – said Christian Günther, Chief Executive, Battery Materials at Johnson Matthey – is a significant milestone in the commercialisation of our eLNO battery cathode materials. Supported by this funding, we plan to have eLNO in production on auto platforms by 2024, enabling the shift to electric vehicles and a cleaner, healthier world for us all».

Only electric forklift trucks in Sofidel Group factories from now onwards

With a record acceleration, a maximum travel speed of 21 km/h and further improved lifting speed and height, the new electric RX 60 25/35 forklift trucks by STILL combine the agility, the acceleration, the dynamism and the prompt braking of electric forklift trucks with the high-performances that in the past only diesel or LPG forklift trucks could assure. Due to these characteristics, RX 60 25/35 are suitable for applications in various sectors, like logistic, food & beverage and mechanical industry, offering notable use versatility: from loading and unloading operations of lorries to the horizontal transport of load units, from the stacking in shelves with maximum height of 7390 mm to commissioning and good preparation operations.
As perfectly knows Sofidel Group, world top player in the production of tissue paper for hygienic and domestic use, which has decided replacing all thermal forklift trucks in operation in its production sites and warehouses with electric forklift trucks.
Today, in Italy Sofidel can rely on a fleet composed by over 160 STILL forklift trucks– prevailingly electric frontal RX 20 and RX 60 – which are used for all activities, from the handling of raw materials to the finished product stocking in warehouse and the loading on lorries. To meet the specific requirements of the paper industry, most forklift trucks are provided with special equipment, like the grippers studied to handle cellulose bales or paper rolls. Moreover, 2 of them have been recently equipped with innovative traceability systems aimed at assuring the highest safety of the work environment and at optimizing the allocation of pallets and the courses travelled by means. Equipped with detection antenna and forefront Tag RFID reading systems, they have become an essential component of the IREAD4.0 system implemented by Sofidel for the monitoring and the automatic management of goods and forklifts trucks.

Electric boats: a “Tesla” in the waves

Among the companies that are trying to bring the electric motor in the world of boats, there is the Seattle start-up Zin Boats, which aims at producing electric boats and at ranking on the market to propose “the Tesla of the sea”, so demonstrating that electric boats can be a valid alternative to those powered by fuel. For this reason, the product conceived by the company is called Z2R, a 20-foot speedboat powered by BMW batteries, with 160-kilometre autonomy.
Z2R weighs around half of a standard boat of the same size. Weight is a fundamental matter: to move a boat, more power is necessary than the one needed for a car, a limit that hindered the previous electric experiments, carried out on boats in the Sixties.
The current lower cost of lithium-ion batteries is giving the opportunity of experimenting in this issue. Those used by Z2R, with a cost of about 250,000 dollars, are BMW-branded, able to power a Torqeedo motor that reaches speeds of 30 nodes. The autonomy is 160 kilometres, not exceeding 15 nodes.

Electric cruise motors under testing for NASA’s first all-electric X-plane

X57-Maxwell-CGI (Credits: NASA)
X57-Maxwell-CGI (Credits: NASA)

An important step forward for the X-57 Maxwell, NASA’s first all-electric X-plane.
Several rounds of tests, high power, and endurance testing are undertaken at Empirical Systems Aerospace, or ESAero, of San Luis Obispo – California, to verify that the electric cruise motors are ready before they are installed in the X-57 vehicle itself.
X-57, modified from a Tecnam P2006T airplane, is currently in its first of three configurations as an all-electric aircraft, called Modification II, or Mod II.
Only at last phase 12 smaller high-lift motors along the wing’s leading edge will be ready to be activated during takeoff and landing.
All three mods of X-57 will utilize the same cruise motors and these verification and validation steps are to reduce risks and increase the safety and reliability of the components on the vehicle.
The results from cruise motor functionality acceptance and qualification tests will help in the effort to set airworthiness standards for electric aircraft.

Business platforms and electric motors manufacturing processes

Pixel Y GammeXYT
Pixel Y GammeXYT

What, in the middle of the alert state of the first months of the current 2020, proved to be useful to the health sector – open shared innovation, the contribution of “brains” distributed in several continents, the development of the additive manufacturing and the fast shift from ideation to creation – is and will be precious elsewhere, too.
For instance, in the ambit of R&D concerning electric motors.
As witnessed by the case of the small producer of French electric cars, XYT, which has become part of 3DExperience Lab network of Dassault Systèmes to benefit from functions in cloud modality.
According to the data highlighting that the average motorist travels in Europe on distances largely under 100 kilometres daily, the goal was proving that interesting market shares still exist for EV, in short-range mobility, too.

Pixel Y, the modular vehicle

The idea, based on a concept structure called Pixel Y, was giving birth to a modular vehicle whose 580 parts (against the around 10,000 of a standard car) can be assembled several times at will and according to the requirements «with a normal toolbox».
Tested for the mileage of one million kilometres overall and optimized for urban deliveries, the model was the founder of a family extended to Pixel X, dedicated to logistics, and about to include Pixel T seven-seat shuttle, too.
«XYT», Dassault Systèmes informed, «has become part of 3DExperience Lab to have access to the 3DExperience platform in cloud to accelerate its mission. The company is ready to collaborate with local and global talents in all fields: from design to engineering, from supplies to customizations. Our software solutions allow the company to carry out configurations and customizations dynamically and quickly, starting from the typical modular architecture of XYT».
The partnership with the network of Labs provides for the unified access to Mobility Development Kits by XYT and the respective open innovation contents, besides the management of a fabric of workshops (they have planned 1,000) and relative operations of work planning, delivery and assembling.

The rhythm of batteries

Wherever there is an electric car, we need a smart, fast and green recharge system. SparkCharge, established in 2014, has added portability features to these characteristics.
Its compact batteries, for whose development it is establishing partnerships energy providers, assure an additional autonomy of one mile per each minute of connection to the network to electric vehicles. In other words, in just ten-twenty minutes the driver of an EV broken down can recover, with all probability, the sufficient energy to return home, at least, safely. To guarantee the compatibility of the accumulator with the broadest possible number of vehicles, the company has exploited the 3DExperience platform and, especially in design phase, on Solidworks. Catia 3D has been used mainly in the passage phase to rapid prototyping while Netvibes Intelligence allows aggregating contents from various online sources, socials included, to orient future industrial developments according to users’ comments.