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Argonne Analysis Shows Increased Carbon Intensity from Canadian Oil Sands

June 26, 2015 in Air Quality, California, Climate Change, Davis, DOE, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, North America, Oil, Palo Alto, Peak Oil, Politics, Pollution, Research, Stanford, Washington DC, White House

Senator Mitch McConnell US Senator that Sought Dirty Canadian Oil as a Clean Energy Revolution Swept the World Official Photo of the People of the United States of America Argonne analysis shows increased carbon intensity from Canadian oil sands

Senator Mitch McConnell
US Senator that Sought Dirty Canadian Oil as a Clean Energy Revolution Swept the World
Official Photo of the People of the United States of America
Argonne analysis shows increased carbon intensity from Canadian oil sands

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory this week released a study that shows gasoline and diesel refined from Canadian oil sands have a higher carbon impact than fuels derived from conventional domestic crude sources.

The research, which was conducted in collaboration with Stanford University and the University of California at Davis, shows variability in the increase of greenhouse gas impacts, depending on the type of extraction and refining methods. But generally speaking, fuel extracted and refined from Canadian oil sands will release approximately 20 percent more carbon into the atmosphere over its lifetime than fuel from conventional domestic crude sources.

“This is important information about the greenhouse gas impact of this oil source, and this is the first time it has been made available at this level of fidelity,” said Hao Cai, the Argonne researcher who led the study. “Canadian oil sands accounted for about nine percent of the total crude processed in U.S. refineries in 2013, but that percentage is projected to rise to 14 percent in 2020.”

Argonne is a recognized global leader in analyzing the environmental impacts of transportation fuels, ranging from conventional gasoline to biofuels to electricity and hydrogen. The laboratory’s Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Transportation (GREET) model is the premier tool for analyzing the environmental footprints of fuels and vehicle technologies. GREET looks at all of the energy inputs for a given fuel pathway, from extraction to transportation, refining and combustion, to determine the full life-cycle energy and emissions impacts.

Cai and his fellow researchers used a life-cycle approach, gathering publicly-available data on 27 large Canadian oil sands production facilities. The study found the additional carbon impacts of Canadian oil sands related primarily to the energy required for extraction and refining, methane emissions from tailing ponds and carbon emissions from land disturbance of oil sands field operations.

Canadian oil sands are extracted using two processes, both of which are energy-intensive. Oil close to the surface can be mined, but still must be heated to separate the oil from the sand. Deeper sources of oil are extracted in situ, requiring even more energy when steam is injected underground, heating the oil to the point it can be pumped to the surface. The extracted oil product, known as bitumen, can be moved as is to refineries in the United States, or refined on site to upgraded synthetic crude, depending on the requirements of the destination refinery.

Generally speaking, the carbon intensity of the fuel is higher for oil extracted in situ and for oil that is refined to synthetic crude. Depending on the extraction technologies (surface mining vs. in situ) and oil sands products (bitumen vs. synthetic crude oil), the carbon intensity of finished gasoline can vary from 8-24 percent higher than that from conventional U.S. crudes.

The Argonne study is the most in-depth look at the carbon impacts of Canadian oil sands ever conducted. It is part of the laboratory’s ongoing effort to characterize the environmental impacts of all types of transportation fuels.

“It was common knowledge that Canadian oil sand extraction was energy intensive, but no study was able to quantify that intensity with this level of detail and certainty,” said Michael Wang, Argonne’s leading expert on fuel cycle analysis. “This information will be important for industry and policy makers as they chart a path forward to meet the fuel demands of the U.S., while minimizing the environmental impact of that fuel.”

The research was funded by the Bioenergy Technologies Office and Vehicle Technologies Office within DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The full article, “Well-to-Wheels Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Canadian Oil Sands Products: Implications for U.S. Petroleum Fuels,” can be found online.

This article (6-25-15) is an EV News Report repost, credit: Argonne.

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Silver Particles Improve Performance of Battery Material

December 16, 2014 in Battery, Battery Research, DOE, Electric Vehicles, EV News, Illinois, Lithium, North America, Politics, Research, Silver

Chemist Kris Pupek and student researcher Thoe Michaelos prepare validation experiments for the synthesis of battery materials at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Illinois. Battery research at Argonne, and other national laboratories like it, are helping plug-in electric vehicles become more efficient and affordable.  Photo courtesy of Argonne National Laboratory Silver particles improve performance of battery material

Chemist Kris Pupek and student researcher Thoe Michaelos prepare validation experiments for the synthesis of battery materials at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Illinois. Battery research at Argonne, and other national laboratories like it, are helping plug-in electric vehicles become more efficient and affordable.
Photo courtesy of Argonne National Laboratory
Silver particles improve performance of battery material

By John Spizzirri, Argonne National Laboratory

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory are working to create an electric car battery that is smaller, cheaper and allows drivers to go farther on a charge.

Materials scientist Larry Curtiss is part of an Argonne team working on a new battery architecture that uses lithium-oxygen bonds as it stores and releases energy, and silver as the metal catalyst that makes this possible. This new battery could store up to 10 times more energy than current lithium-ion batteries and offer drivers a cruising range upwards of 400-500 miles before it’s time for the next charge.

When you charge contemporary electric vehicles, lithium ions migrate from the positive electrode to the negative electrode where they are stored in a higher energy state. When you start the car, these stored ions release their energy in the form of electrons, and the lithium ion migrates back to the positive electrode. Today’s electrode materials provide good charge-discharge cycles with the migration of lithium ions between electrodes, but they need to take advantage of other chemical processes to store more energy.

In the new scenario, oxygen and lithium atoms combine to create chemical bonds, releasing more energy in the same amount of space (that is, they have a higher energy density), but a metal catalyst is required to help form the bonds.

After experimentation with a variety of precious metals, the researchers found that tailored clusters of silver atoms seem to provide the surface texture required to create these lithium-oxygen bonds in abundance.

“In previous studies, we’ve had metal catalysts that helped the formation of these bonds, but we never knew what size these catalysts were—they could be from thousands to a couple of atoms in size,” said Curtiss. “Now we’re actually able to put down specific size clusters of silver and see what effect it has on the formation of these lithium-oxygen bonds.”

According to Argonne materials scientist Stefan Vajda, using the ultra-small clusters as catalysts for electric battery electrodes is new. It was proposed because multiple studies showed that the small clusters can easily activate, or break apart, oxygen to boost chemical reactions and release more energy.

“Once we understand how the process works and determine what size clusters perform the best, then we can design catalysts that work well, perhaps using lower-cost metals,” said Vajda.

These clusters are so compact that their atoms are on the surface, readily available for the chemical reactions that lead to energy production. Their ability to easily disperse could make even the most expensive catalytic metals affordable, Vajda added.

Although the commercialization of this technology is still potentially another 10 to 20 years down the road, Argonne is on the leading edge of the fundamental understanding of this chemistry. Understanding how the metal catalysts react on the electrode is just a start, as researchers need to overcome a number of other technical issues before the battery is road-worthy.

For instance, in its present stage of development, the battery wears out after only 10 to 40 charge-discharge cycles; a typical electric vehicle requires a thousand cycles or more.

It is believed that once these issues are resolved, the new lithium-oxygen architecture, with its ultra-small silver or other metal clusters directing energy productivity, could offer auto manufacturers and consumers a lower-priced, higher-efficiency alternative to today’s electric car batteries.

The discharge products were characterized by high-energy synchrotron x-ray diffraction at the 11-ID-C beamline of Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source, a DOE Office of Science User Facility.

The transmission electron microscopy characterization was performed by the Electron Microscopy Center Group at Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials, a DOE Office of Science User Facility.

Computations were carried out on the high-performance Mira supercomputer at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility, a DOE Office of Science User Facility, and on the Carbon Cluster at the Center for Nanoscale Materials.

Funding for this project was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy and Office of Science. A paper on this work was published online on Sept. 12, 2014, in Nature Communications.

This article is an EV News Report repost, credit: Argonne National Laboratory.

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ARPA-E awards IIT-Argonne team $3.4 million for breakthrough battery technology

September 3, 2013 in Battery, Electric Vehicles, EV News, Politics, Research

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on clean energy at Argonne National Laboratory’s Nanoscale Materials Center in Lemont, Ill., March 15, 2013. | Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy ARPA-E awards IIT-Argonne team $3.4 million for breakthrough battery technology

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on clean energy at Argonne National Laboratory’s Nanoscale Materials Center in Lemont, Ill., March 15, 2013. | Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy
ARPA-E awards IIT-Argonne team $3.4 million for breakthrough battery technology

CHICAGO – Carlo Segre, Duchossois Leadership Professor of Physics at Illinois Institute of Technology, has received a $3.4 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E) to develop a breakthrough battery technology that may more than double the current range of electric vehicles (EV), increase safety, reduce costs and simplify recharging.

Segre and his collaborators John Katsoudas, also of IIT, and Elena Timofeeva, Dileep Singh and Michael Duoba of Argonne National Laboratory will develop a prototype for a rechargeable “nanoelectrofuel” flow battery that may extend the range of EVs to at least 500 miles and provide a straightforward and rapid method of refueling. Current EV ranges are 100-200 miles, with recharging taking up to eight hours.

Flow batteries, which store chemical energy in external tanks instead of within the battery container, are generally low in energy density and therefore not used for transportation applications.  The IIT-Argonne nanoelectrofuel flow battery concept will use a high-energy density “liquid” with battery-active nanoparticles to dramatically increase energy density while ensuring stability and low-resistance flow within the battery.

“I am delighted by this award, not only because of the quality and importance of the proposed research but also as another example of the longstanding and effective collaboration between IIT and the world-class researchers and facilities at Argonne,” said Russell Betts, dean of the College of Science at IIT.

Segre’s expertise is in the structure and properties of materials using synchrotron radiation techniques. He has a wide variety of ongoing research projects, including fuel-cell catalysts and battery materials. Segre is deputy director of the Materials Research Collaborative Access Team (MR-CAT) beamline at the Advanced Photon Source (APS), located at Argonne; and director of the Center for Synchrotron Radiation Research and Instrumentation (CSRRI) at IIT.

Katsoudas and Timofeeva began their work on the IIT-Argonne nanoelectrofuel flow battery at Argonne, leveraging Timofeeva’s expertise in nanofluids engineering and electrochemistry. Katsoudas is an expert in instrumentation design, automation of experiments and materials characterization.

Singh will bring to bear on the project his knowledge of how nanoparticle-fluid interaction effects the thermal management and behavior of nanoparticles in the IIT-Argonne nanoelectrofuel flow battery. Duoba’s expertise in vehicle systems and EV testing, in particular, will provide critical guidance in the development of a nanoelectrofuel battery prototype for EV applications.

The IIT award is one of 22 projects across the country awarded a total of $36 million through the DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy Robust Affordable Next Generation EV Storage (RANGE) program, which seeks to develop innovative EV battery chemistries, architectures and designs. ARPA-E was officially authorized in 2007 and first funded in 2009. The agency invests in high-potential, high-impact energy technologies that are too early for private sector investment.

IIT and Argonne will share the funding award to continue their research.

Founded in 1890, IIT is a Ph.D.-granting university offering degrees in engineering, sciences, architecture, psychology, design, humanities, business, and law. IIT’s interprofessional, technology-focused curriculum is designed to advance knowledge through research and scholarship, to cultivate invention improving the human condition, and to prepare students from throughout the world for a life of professional achievement, service to society, and individual fulfillment. Visit www.iit.edu.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

This article (8-30-13) is an EV News Report repost, credit: Argonne National Laboratory.