The Ford Focus Electric is the industry’s first car to feature 100 percent sustainable clean technologies in interior materials, including seat fabrics with Unifi’s REPREVE®-branded fiber made from recycled plastic bottles. Ford, through the use of REPREVE, plans to divert about 2 million post-consumer plastic bottles for use in the new Focus Electric and other new vehicles for this model year. The Focus Electric contains REPREVE-based fabrics that are made from the equivalent of about 22 recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles in each car.
The REPREVE seat fabric is a polyester fiber made from a hybrid blend of recycled materials, including post-industrial fiber waste and post-consumer waste such as the plastic water bottles made of PET. Using REPREVE also reduces energy consumption by offsetting the need to use newly refined crude oil for production. The technology meets all Ford design and comfort requirements.
Currently, Ford vehicles are approximately 85 percent recyclable at end of life. Ford’s goal is to have its vehicles be 100 percent recyclable. In 2009, Ford mandated that fabric suppliers use a minimum of 25 percent recycled content for all 2009 and beyond model year vehicles. Since then, 37 different fabrics meeting the requirements have been developed and incorporated into Ford vehicles.
Examples include soy foam seat cushions and head restraints, wheat straw-filled plastic, castor oil foam in instrument panels, recycled resins for underbody systems, recycled yarns on seat covers, and naturalfiber plastic for interior components.
Learn more here .
Wireless Charging System for Electric Vehicles
Delphi is developing a wireless charging system that will automatically transfer power to a vehicle. The system was developed in cooperation with WiTricity Corp., a wireless energy transfer technology provider. It will enable an electric vehicle’s battery to be recharged without the hassle of cords or connections. This hands-free charging technology is based on highly resonant magnetic coupling, which transfers electric power over short distances without physical contact, allowing for safer and more convenient charging options for electric vehicles.
The high-efficiency wireless energy transfer technology will require no plugs or charging cords. Instead, a magnetic field from a source resonator on the ground is aligned with a capture resonator mounted underneath a vehicle. The source of the power can be located on a garage floor or embedded in a paved parking spot. The energy receiver will be located under the vehicle.
The wireless charging system is comprised of a vehicle-mounted capture resonator and interface electronics fitted to the bottom of the vehicle, vehicle power and signal distribution systems, stationary source resonator pad mounted on the ground, and the stationary charging controller.
Compared to inductive systems, this highly resonant magnetic coupling technology will efficiently transfer power over significantly larger distances. The system can fully charge an electric vehicle at a rate comparable to most residential plug-in chargers, which can be as fast as four hours.
Learn more here .
Scientists Synthesize Bacteria Into Biofuels
A breakthrough with the bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli) could make it cheaper to produce fuel from switchgrass, an advanced biofuel with the potential to replace gasoline on a gallon-for-gallon basis. Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have engineered the first strains of the bacteria to digest switchgrass biomass and synthesize its sugars into all three types of transportation fuels -- gasoline, diesel, and jet fuels.
Unlike corn grain used to produce ethanol, which contains simple sugars, switchgrass biomass contains complex sugars, cellulose, and hemicellulose, bound in lignin. These complex sugars are not only difficult to extract from the switchgrass, but have to be converted or hydrolyzed into simple sugars before they can be synthesized into fuels.
JBEI researchers have demonstrated that engineered E.coli strains can both digest switchgrass and synthesize its sugars. They first pre-treat the biomass with an ionic liquid (molten salt) to dissolve it, then use the E.coli to both digest the dissolved biomass and produce hydrocarbons that have the properties of petrochemical fuels.
While this is not the first demonstration of E. coli producing gasoline and diesel from sugars, it is the first demonstration of E. coli producing all three forms of transportation fuels. Switch-grass can be used not only to produce fuels with a larger energy content than ethanol, but also has other favorable characteristics that make it a highly desirable plant for biofuel production. This non-food crop is a perennial grass that is both salt- and drought-tolerant, can flourish on marginal cropland, does not compete with food crops, and requires little fertilization.
Learn more here .
Next Generation of Crash Test Dummies
Crash test dummies continue to be the accepted standard test device in the auto industry for evaluating the severity of an impact to vehicle occupants and pedestrians in a car crash. But while traditional dummies can measure the force and acceleration that is applied to a body during a crash, they cannot simulate the tissue injuries that result from these impacts.
Toyota Motor Corporation and Toyota Central R&D Labs partnered to develop THUMS (Total HUman Model for Safety), an experimental virtual model of the human body that includes not just the exterior shape, but also internal structures like organs, bone, ligaments, tendons, and muscle. This approach to crash testing simulates the in juries sustained in actual car crashes. As a result, the model is able to detect and predict the most common injuries reported in accident data analysis.
Toyota Motor Corp. began developing THUMS in 1997 with a goal of improving the quality of data gathered from crash testing. THUMS has two million distinct parts, including bones, ligaments, tendons, and the muscular systems. Toyota is using THUMS data to help develop advanced safety technologies for airbags, seatbelt systems, and vehicle body structures. THUMS currently includes a model for an adult male of average body size, and Toyota is working to create a female model and extend the system to different body sizes.
Ford also has been working to develop the first digital human child model for virtual crash testing. The work on Ford’s adult human body model took 11 years to complete. Digital models are used in research, not in vehicle development, so they don’t take the place of crash dummies, which measure the effect of forces on the body. Instead, they are used as a way to understand how to further improve restraint system effectiveness through better understanding of injury mechanisms.
The digital model is constructed component-by-component – brain, skull, neck, ribcage, upper and lower extremities, etc. – with extensive research included on each part. After gathering such data through medical scans and anatomical texts, the researchers build a model section-by-section, creating regions of the body. The brain in Ford’s adult human digital model was constructed as a separate component, detailed down to the brain stem, the gray matter, and the fluid between the layers.
The components are then joined into a virtual human body, which is extensively validated. Then, using mathematical and analytical tools combined with available data on the properties of human tissues from the medical and engineering literature, researchers are able to determine the effects of a crash – and the pressure of a restraint system – on the body.
Ford has been using conventional crash test dummies for the past 70 years to help enhance occupant protection in its vehicles. Ford uses specially developed dummies for side-impact crashes. The WorldSID and EuroSID 2 models contain more than 220 different sensors to record crash injuries and impact forces.
Acoustic Mirror “Sees” Sound
When Ford engineers were looking at ways to reduce noise in the Ford Escape, they focused on an elliptical acoustic mirror to reduce wind noise and deliver a quieter interior. The mirror resembles a satellite dish with a microphone. The mirror measures noises on the surface of the vehicle and in the airflow. The mirror identifies “hot spots” where noise penetrates the interior of the vehicle, allowing drivers to listen to music or conversation inside the car instead of external noises.
The engineering team was able to make changes to the Escape shape – specifically, the mirrors and A-pillar -- while in the early clay model phase to test theories and validate expected results. Work was done in the Ford Aeroacoustic Wind Tunnel in Germany. Wind noise performance has been optimized through more than 160 hours of engineering. In a typical eight-hour block, more than 20 configurations can be tested, including glass, mirror sealing, and door sealing.
The science behind acoustic mirrors dates back almost 100 years -- the technology was a precursor to radar.
Learn more here .