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Chevrolet Leads Expertise in Electrification

June 25, 2015 in Autonomous Driving, Bolt, Detroit, Electric Vehicles, Electrification, EV News, GM, Manufacturing, Michigan, North America, Volt

DETROIT – Chevrolet is bringing electric vehicles to the masses. The brand is committed to providing technology solutions that simplify customers’ lives and make driving fun.

Early development versions of the Chevrolet Bolt EV undergo testing at GM's Milford (Mich.) Proving Ground. Photo courtesy of GM, Steve Fecht Chevrolet Leads Expertise in Electrification

Early development versions of the Chevrolet Bolt EV undergo testing at GM’s Milford (Mich.) Proving Ground.
Photo courtesy of GM, Steve Fecht
Chevrolet Leads Expertise in Electrification

Chevrolet has made a significant commitment to electrification for consumers around the world, as witnessed by the introduction of the 2016 Volt, Malibu Hybrid, FNR Concept and production commitment to the Bolt EV.

“Chevrolet’s advanced EV technology is designed to simplify the lives of our consumers,” said Alan Batey, president of General Motors North America. “With four new vehicles introduced since January, Chevrolet continues to prove its commitment.”

2015 Commitment to Electrification:

2016 Volt

The 2016 Volt, introduced at the North American International Auto Show, provides consumers 50 miles of EV range and a total driving range of over 400 miles, thanks to an all-new, second-generation Voltec extended range electric propulsion system. Volt owners can expect to drive over 1,000 miles between fill-ups. The all-new 2016 Volt will go on sale this fall.

Bolt EV

Building on Chevy’s expertise gained from the Volt, the Bolt EV, the game-changing, next-generation all-electric vehicle, is designed to offer more than a GM-estimated 200 miles of range at a target price of around $30,000.

2016 Malibu Hybrid

Employing technology from the 2016 Volt propulsion system, the Malibu Hybrid offers an estimated combined fuel economy rating of 47 mpg – unsurpassed in its segment. The 2016 Malibu Hybrid goes on sale in the spring of 2016.

Chevrolet–FNR Concept

The Chevrolet-FNR concept debuted at the 2015 Shanghai Motor Show and received the Best Leading Technology Award.

The Chevrolet-FNR is a self-driving EV concept designed to meet the transportation needs of the future. It integrates the right blend of technology and can sense driver biometrics, switch between autonomous and manual driving and even suggest alternative driving routes if time permits.

This article (6-24-15) is an EV News Report repost, credit: GM.

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Used Chevrolet Volt Batteries Help Power New IT Building

June 17, 2015 in Battery, Detroit, Electric Vehicles, Energy Management, EV News, GM, Green Building, Large Energy Storage, Michigan, North America, Renewables, Solar, Volt, Wind

MILFORD, Mich. – What happens to the batteries that power Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric cars when their useful life is done? Five of them are helping keep the lights on at the new General Motors Enterprise Data Center at its Milford Proving Ground.

Used Chevrolet Volt batteries are helping keep the lights on at the new General Motors Enterprise Data Center at its Milford Proving Ground in Milford, Michigan. Five Volt batteries work with an adjacent solar array and two wind turbines to help supply power to the data center’s administrative offices. Photo courtesy of John F. Martin for General Motors Used Chevrolet Volt Batteries Help Power New IT Building

Used Chevrolet Volt batteries are helping keep the lights on at the new General Motors Enterprise Data Center at its Milford Proving Ground in Milford, Michigan. Five Volt batteries work with an adjacent solar array and two wind turbines to help supply power to the data center’s administrative offices.
Photo courtesy of John F. Martin for General Motors
Used Chevrolet Volt Batteries Help Power New IT Building

Repurposed scrap Volt battery covers already star in a variety of applications, from bat houses to nesting boxes for endangered duck species. Now, as Chevrolet closes on the second-generation Volt for 2016, it’s time to begin tapping the energy left in batteries from first-generation models.

Because the Volt typically draws its power from a band of energy in the battery pack, there is a lot of leftover juice for stationary use. A new solar array and two wind turbines feed the administration building’s circuit breaker panel, where the five Volt batteries work in parallel to supply power to the building, delivering net-zero energy use on an annual basis.

“Even after the battery has reached the end of its useful life in a Chevrolet Volt, up to 80 percent of its storage capacity remains,” said Pablo Valencia, senior manager, Battery Life Cycle Management. “This secondary use application extends its life, while delivering waste reduction and economic benefits on an industrial scale.”

The batteries also can provide back-up power to the building for four hours in the event of an outage and stores it when it’s unneeded. Excess energy is sent back to the grid that supplies the Milford campus.

The 74-kilowatt ground-mount solar array coupled with the two 2kW wind turbines generate enough power to provide all of the energy needs for the office building and lighting for the adjacent parking lot. Together, these renewable sources generate approximately 100 Mwh of energy annually, roughly equivalent to the energy used by 12 average households.

The secondary application is being used as a living lab to understand how the battery redistributes energy at this scale. And the company is working with partners to validate and test systems for other commercial and non-commercial uses.

“This system is ideal for commercial use because a business can derive full functionality from an existing battery while reducing upfront costs through this reuse,” Valencia said.

The reuse of Volt batteries also helped the data center administration building attain LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

This article (6-16-15) is an EV News Report repost, credit: GM.

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Out with Heavy Metal

May 11, 2015 in Aluminum, Detroit, DOE, Electric Vehicles, EV News, Fuel Savings, GM, Manufacturing, Michigan, Range Anxiety, Research, Washington, Washington DC

New, high-volume joining process expands use of aluminum in autos

PNNL researcher Yuri Hovanski inspects the quality of the friction stir welding join after the test sheet of aluminum is stamped. PNNL’s new process enables the use of FSW to create all-aluminum auto parts without rivets and fasteners that increase cost and weight. Photo courtesy of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Out with Heavy Metal

PNNL researcher Yuri Hovanski inspects the quality of the friction stir welding join after the test sheet of aluminum is stamped. PNNL’s new process enables the use of FSW to create all-aluminum auto parts without rivets and fasteners that increase cost and weight.
Photo courtesy of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Out with Heavy Metal

RICHLAND, Wash. – Researchers have demonstrated a new process for the expanded use of lightweight aluminum in cars and trucks at the speed, scale, quality and consistency required by the auto industry.

The process reduces production time and costs while yielding strong and lightweight parts, for example delivering a car door that is 62 percent lighter and 25 percent cheaper than that produced with today’s manufacturing methods.

In partnership with General Motors, Alcoa and TWB Company LLC, researchers from the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have transformed a joining technique called friction stir welding, or FSW. The technique now can be used to join aluminum sheets of varying thicknesses, which is key to producing auto parts that are light yet retain strength where it’s most needed. The PNNL-developed process also is ten times faster than current FSW techniques, representing production speeds that, for the first time, meet high-volume assembly requirements. The advancement is reported in the May issue of the Journal of Materials.

“We looked at the barriers preventing the use of more lightweight alloys in cars, picked what we felt was a top challenge, and then formulated a team that represented the entire supply chain to tackle it,” said Yuri Hovanski, the program manager at PNNL and lead author. “The result is a proven process that overcomes the speed, scale and quality limitations of FSW that previously were showstoppers for the auto industry.”

The two-phase, six-year project is funded by the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy with in-kind partner contributions from each of the participating companies.

Aluminum can’t take the heat

To create door frames, hoods and other auto parts, sheets of metal are welded together end-to-end into a “tailor-welded blank” which is then cut into appropriate sizes before being stamped into the final shape. This process allows a high degree of customization. For example, a thicker gauge of metal can be used on one side of a car part, where extra strength is needed, joined via a weld to a thinner gauge on the side where it’s not.

Conventional laser welding works great to join varying thicknesses of steel, but can be problematic when applied to aluminum due to the reactivity of molten aluminum to air. Instead, manufacturers today must create several components from single sheets that are then riveted together after being stamped, resulting in additional production steps and more parts that drive up cost and weight.

“Reducing the weight of a vehicle by 10% can decrease fuel consumption by 6%-8%, so the auto industry is very interested in a welding technique such as FSW that is aluminum friendly,” Hovanski said.

Mixed, not melted

A friction-stir welding machine looks and acts like a cross between a drill press and a sewing machine. Lowered onto two metal sheets sitting side-by-side, the “drill bit,” or in this case pin tool, spins against both edges. As it travels along, the pin creates friction that heats, mixes and joins the alloys without melting them. By auto industry production standards, however, the process was too slow – just one-half meter welded per minute – which is why the technique has been used only in niche applications, if at all.

Supply chain success

Hovanski and colleagues at PNNL initially compared several joining techniques before selecting FSW, which was the only one to pass all of GM’s rigorous weld quality specifications. Researchers then conducted a comprehensive series of lab-scale welding tests on aluminum sheets provided by Alcoa.

In all, dozens of unique tool designs with varying shapes, lengths and diameters of the pin were created. These were assessed against a variety of weld parameters, such as the depth, rotation speed and angle of the tool. Through statistical analysis, the team identified the optimal combination of tool specification and weld parameters that could consistently withstand high-speed production demands.

“What we discovered was a win-win,” Hovanski said. “The faster the weld, the better the quality and strength of the join, thus the significant increase in speed.”

PNNL provided the weld and tool specifications to TWB Company and GM. TWB Company then independently welded, formed and analyzed more than 100 aluminum blanks in close coordination with GM, making them the first qualified supplier of aluminum tailor-welded blanks. GM subsequently stamped their first full-sized inner door panel supplied by TWB Company — free of imperfections — from aluminum sheets in varying thicknesses.

Today, TWB Company has a dedicated FSW machine at their production facility in Monroe, MI, built around PNNL’s process that is capable of producing up to 250,000 parts per year. “TWB can now provide aluminum tailor welds not only to GM, but the entire automotive industry,” said Blair Carlson, a group manager at GM who con-conceptualized the project.

Next up

With over two years of funding left, the team continues to collaborate, with a focus on even faster weld speeds and the ability to maneuver around the contours and corners of complex aluminum parts, for which laser welding is not commercially feasible. The team also is modifying FSW to join different alloys, such as automotive-grade aluminum alloys with light, ultra-high strength alloys currently reserved for aerospace applications.

“Going forward, we see this process, and future versions of it, enabling completely novel combinations of materials that will revolutionize material use in the auto industry,” Hovanski said.

This article is an EV News Report repost, credit: PNNL.