Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category


The original technology was demonstrated in an Atlantic crossing that took place in 1926, but Norsepower says it has created various new improvements for which several patents have been granted.

Last year (reports New Atlas) we detailed how Norsepower had rediscovered an engineering innovation, which sees large cylinders installed atop big ships to harness wind for propulsion.

Now a passenger ship has been treated to the Rotor Sail Solution and has set sail on wind-assisted trips between Finland and Sweden.

The M/S Viking Grace – which has 880 cabins and can accommodate 2,800 passengers and around 500 cars – went into service in 2013, when it was reported to be the first ship of its size to be fueled by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

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Sweden installs section of electrified road

Posted: April 13, 2018 by oldbrew in innovation, News, Travel
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Slot cars [image credit: Thomas Mielke @ Wikipedia]


Forget solar panels on the road surface – this is a different idea. Power is picked up by vehicles on the move, similar to slot cars. The report says: ‘They have also taken measures to ensure the rail is functional during inclement weather.’ Trialling in Sweden should put that to the test.

A team making up the eRoadArlanda project has announced that they have electrified a section of road near Stockholm, which will be tested by a battery-powered test truck.

The team is part of an initiative set up by the Swedish government’s Transport Administration to meet its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, reports TechXplore.

The Swedish government has been funding projects aimed at developing a fossil-free road transport system for many years. In this new effort, the focus was on implementing a road technology that could be used by currently available vehicles. The result is what some have called a human-sized slot car system.

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Hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai [image credit: Nikkei Asian Review]


Climate targets are invoked to justify the cost and effort. Hydrogen cars are far more expensive than fuel-burners.

Zero emission vehicles to be used by taxi firms and police, says the DoT announcement.

Police cars and taxis will be among nearly 200 new hydrogen powered vehicles switching to zero emission miles, thanks to a multi-million pound government boost.

The zero emission vehicles are part of a project that has won £8.8 million in funding from the Department for Transport to improve access to hydrogen refuelling stations up and down the country and increase the number of hydrogen cars on our roads from this summer.

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VVT engine [image credit: motortrend.com]


This type of technology may not be quite as new as suggested in the report. Various manufacturers have tried it in one form or another.

Technology developed at the University of Waterloo reliably and affordably increases the efficiency of internal combustion engines by more than 10 per cent, says TechXplore.

The product of a decade of research, this patented system for opening and closing valves could significantly reduce fuel consumption in everything from ocean-going ships to compact cars.

“This method has the potential to bring the well-established benefits of a fully variable valve system out of the lab and into production engines because cost and complexity aren’t issues,” said Amir Khajepour, a professor of mechanical and mechatronics engineering at Waterloo.

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Battery builders get the cobalt blues

Posted: March 12, 2018 by oldbrew in Travel
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Chinese electric car [image credit: scmp.com]


One battery expert said: ‘I’ve had multiple Chinese carmakers in my office really worried [about cobalt supply]. They wish they’d thought about this two years ago.’ They find themselves bidding against the likes of wealthy companies like Apple and Samsung for supplies.

Demand for battery metals surges on the back of a global appetite for electric vehicles, reports ChemistryWorld.

At the beginning of 2017, $32,500 (£26,300) would buy you one tonne of cobalt. Today you’d have to fork out $81,000. Since 2016, cobalt’s price has spiked enormously, and it’s all because of batteries.

Cobalt is an essential component of the lithium ion batteries that power our phones and laptops, and which are expected to be a key part of the world’s energy mix. ‘In 2017, we saw demand from the battery sector at 102 GWh, but we expect that to increase to 709 gigawatt hours by 2026,’ says Caspar Rawles, market analyst at Benchmark Minerals Intelligence.

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Giant berg mission thwarted by sea-ice

Posted: March 3, 2018 by oldbrew in News, sea ice, Travel
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Credit: coolantarctica.com


Not the first time something like this has happened, and probably not the last.

The UK-led expedition to the waters around the world’s biggest iceberg is forced to turn around, reports BBC News.
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Scientists have had to abandon their plan to investigate the waters around the world’s biggest iceberg.

The team, led by the British Antarctic Survey, was thwarted in its attempts to reach the massive block known as A-68 by thick sea-ice in the Weddell Sea.

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The writing is on the wall for German diesel car makers after this ruling. If bans or other rules are imposed on diesels in German cities, sales are bound to take another hit – on top of the recent VW ‘dieselgate’ fiasco.

Germany’s top administrative court has ruled that it is legal for cities to ban diesel cars, reports DW.com.

The government opposes the bans, but is under pressure from the EU to do more to combat air pollution.

Germany’s Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig ruled on Tuesday that cities may be permitted to put driving bans in place for diesel vehicles.

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Some Fiat-Chrysler models


Negative publicity and tighter air quality rules look to be strangling the production of diesel-engined private cars, whereas hefty subsidies are on offer for electric vehicles.

Collapse in demand and rising costs lie behind decision, says The Week.

The car-maker Fiat Chrysler has announced it will stop producing diesel passenger vehicles by 2022, as costs spiral and demand falters.

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Image credit: meobserver.org


The VW diesel scandal has led to media-fuelled paranoia about diesel engines in general, so any result is possible from this court hearing. Diesel vehicles could be banned from central Stuttgart, where Mercedes-Benz makes thousands of them every week and is a key employer.

One of Germany’s top courts will decide Thursday whether some diesel vehicles can be banned from parts of cities like Stuttgart and Duesseldorf to reduce air pollution, a possible landmark judgement for the “car nation”, reports Phys.org.

Eyes have turned to the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig after years of failure by federal, state and local governments to slash harmful emissions.

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Mazda’s newest engine technology


Mazda seems confident its spark controlled compression ignition solution – a sort of cross between petrol and diesel engine technology, but running on petrol – can rival electric vehicles in overall CO2 output and hopes to put it on sale.

We get it says TechXplore. Car-makers say they are on board for a next chapter in the electrification of cars and they have teams dedicated to developing cars toward that end.

Well-known brands are looking at alternative-fuel solutions such as hybrid or all-electric. It seems as if the internal combustion engine will be on its way out.

But wait.

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Image credit: easyevcharge.uk


Even a relatively small number of EVs charging at once in a local area could put the local transformer under serious strain, as Phys.org reports.

An influx of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) charging without coordination could prove challenging to the nation’s electric grid, according to research conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Matteo Muratori, a transportation and energy systems engineer at NREL and author of the new Nature Energy paper, “Impact of Uncoordinated Plug-in Electric Vehicle Charging on Residential Power Demand,” created a computer simulation to explore the effects of in-home charging on the grid.

“Realizing the full benefits of vehicle electrification will necessitate a systems-level approach that treats vehicles, buildings, and the grid as an integrated network,” said Johney Green Jr., NREL’s associate lab director for Mechanical and Thermal Engineering Sciences.

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We don’t normally do press releases at the Talkshop, but this one might be interesting if we can work out what it really means. The fact that they refer to grid stability implies it’s an issue in Germany at least.

Automobile, home and power supply combined to form an intelligent energy network: In a pilot project the Audi Smart Energy Network for the first time interacts with the power grid.

This marks a major advance for grid stability, claims Audi’s press release.

As part of a research project, Audi is running a pilot project with households in the Ingolstadt area and the Zurich region in conjunction with other partners.

This involves combining various sizes of photovoltaic systems with stationary storage batteries. The control software by the Zurich start-up company Ampard distributes the solar power intelligently based on the current or plannable demand from car, household and heating system.

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Hyperloop: Future or fantasy?

Posted: January 20, 2018 by oldbrew in innovation, Travel


Hype or hope? BBC reporter Rory Cellan-Jones visits Virgin Hyperloop One’s test track near Las Vegas.

So, here’s the plan – we’re going to load you into a pod, and then shoot you at 700 mph (1,123 km/h) through a vacuum, taking you to your destination in minutes rather than hours.

That is the rather unlikely pitch of Hyperloop One.

But the remarkable thing that struck me on a recent trip to the project’s test site in Nevada was that nobody thought it was, well, remarkable.

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Image credit: BBC


Looks like UK councils have better things to do than worry about providing charging points for a few electric car owners. There are no council-run filling stations after all.

Just five councils across England have taken advantage of a government backed scheme for funding electric car charge points, ministers have revealed.

Jesse Norman and Claire Perry, respectively ministers for transport and climate change, have written to local authorities urging them to take advantage of the On-Street Residential Charge point Scheme, which was launched in 2016, reports Utility Week.

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Electric bike crackdown in New York

Posted: December 26, 2017 by oldbrew in Legal, News, Travel
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Electric delivery bike [credit: electricbike.com]


Pollution-free pizza deliveries are too racy for NYC it seems.

Cheap, electric bicycles have made life a lot easier for New York City’s legions of restaurant delivery workers, but the party may be over in the New Year, says Phys.org.

City officials are promising a crackdown on e-bikes, which may be loved by environmentalists and the largely poor, immigrant workforce that relies on them, but are loathed by many drivers and pedestrians who think they are a menace.

Under city law, the bikes are legal to own and sell, but riding them on the street can lead to a fine of up to $500.

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Guangzhou, China


If there were prizes for irony, this would have to be a contender. Does the coal generate its electricity?

China, already the world’s biggest electric-vehicle market, is now using battery power to fuel cargo shipping as well, reports Quartz Media.

A Chinese company has built a 2,000 metric-ton (2,204 tons) all-electric cargo ship, which was launched from the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou in mid-November, according to state-run newspaper People’s Daily.

The 70-meter long (229 feet) and 14-meter wide (45 feet) ship is equipped with over 1,000 lithium batteries, with a total capacity of 2,400 kilowatt-hours.

By comparison, Tesla’s Model X is equipped with a 100-kWh battery that allows it to drive nearly 570 kilometers (350 miles).

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Getting any response from 13 billion miles away is quite a feat.
But what will the aliens make of Chuck Berry?

Engineers experience “joy and incredulity” as a successful test extends the life of the farthest human-made object from Earth, reports Sky News.

NASA has been able to extend the life of one of its space probes travelling 13 billion miles from Earth by firing up dormant thrusters not used for 37 years.

Voyager 1 was launched in September 1977 and is the only human-made object in interstellar space – the environment between the stars.

But after four decades of exploration which have taken in fly-bys of Jupiter and Saturn, engineers found that the primary thrusters which orient the space probe had severely degraded.

So, in an attempt to keep Voyager 1 operable, NASA tested four thrusters on the back side of the spacecraft which have not been used 1980.

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Tesla electric truck [image credit: Tesla]


Maybe they could put some solar panels on its roof and only recharge in daylight and/or when it’s windy.

Tesla’s recently unveiled electric truck will require the equivalent power used by up to 4,000 homes to recharge, says Energy Live News.

That’s according to new analysis by an energy consultancy, which calculated it based on the range and charge time for the megacharger.

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A fine day in Antarctica [image credit: BBC]


We’re told: ‘Environmental champion, who was first person to walk to both poles, uses Antarctic trek as green wake-up call.’ But who really needs to be woken up? The polar night means Antarctica is a dead zone for solar power for six months of every year, highlighting the fact that part-time sources of electricity can never be relied upon.

“Thirty years ago, I was the first person in history perhaps stupid enough to walk to the North and South Poles,” renowned British explorer Robert Swan, 61, tells IBTimes UK.

“I had no intention ever in my life of ever walking anywhere cold again – this was definite.”

But that is exactly what he is going to do.

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This must cast doubt on some of the more alarmist claims about numbers of deaths attributable at least partly to emissions from vehicle engines, diesels in particular. It seems recent improvements in technology weren’t fully accounted for.

A team of researchers at the University of York in the U.K. has found that the proportion of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in nitrogen oxides in European traffic emissions is smaller than has been thought, reports Phy.org.

In their paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience, the group describes analyzing data from roadside monitors over the course of many years and what they found by doing so.

Drew Gentner and Fulizi Xiong with Yale University offer a News and Views perspective on the work done by the team in the same journal issue and suggest that the team’s findings could have implications for air pollution standards organizations in many more places than just Europe.

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