EREN Network News
February 23, 2000
News and Events
- DaimlerChrysler Unveils High-Mileage Hybrid Electric ESX3
- Scientists Find Key to Producing Hydrogen from Algae
- Southwire Company Installs Superconducting Cable
- Rebuild America Marks 250th Partnership in Austin, Texas
- New York Promotes Solar Energy Systems for Homeowners
- DOE Awards Funds for Automotive Research
Energy Facts and Tips
- Learn All About Alternative-Fuel Vehicles
About this Newsletter
News and Events
DaimlerChrysler Unveils High-Mileage Hybrid Electric ESX3
DaimlerChrysler AG unveiled yesterday the ESX3, a hybrid
diesel-electric concept car that achieves the gasoline
equivalent of 72 miles per gallon. The five-passenger car
features a three-cylinder diesel engine that works along with
a motor drive on the front wheels to propel the car. During
braking, the motor generates electricity to recharge the car's
Lithium-ion battery pack. The ESX3 also includes an
advanced electro-mechanical automatic transmission and a
lightweight body made of injection-molded plastic. See the
DaimlerChrysler press release.
The ESX3 was developed as part of the Partnership for a
New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV), a unique public-private
partnership in which DOE plays a significant role. See the
PNGV Web site.
Energy Secretary Bill Richardson praised the achievement.
See Secretary Richardson's announcement on the DOE
In related news, DaimlerChrysler announced last week that
one of its subsidiaries, dbb Fuel Cell Engines GmbH, and
Shell Hydrogen have successfully developed and tested a
prototype gasoline reformer to produce hydrogen for fuel cell
applications. In the future, such systems could enable fuel-
cell-powered cars to be fueled with gasoline. The companies
have integrated the reformer into a compact fuel processor
that can provide enough hydrogen for a 50-kilowatt fuel cell.
See the DaimlerChrysler press release.
Scientists Find Key to Producing Hydrogen from Algae
DOE-funded research has led to the discovery of a
mechanism to produce significant quantities of hydrogen
from algae. For 60 years, scientists have known that algae
produce trace amounts of hydrogen, but have not found a
feasible method to increase the production of hydrogen. Now
scientists from the University of California (UC), Berkeley,
and DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory have
found the key. After allowing the algae culture to grow under
normal conditions, the research team deprived it of both
sulfur and oxygen, causing it to switch to an alternate
metabolism that generates hydrogen. After several days of
generating hydrogen, the algae culture was returned to
normal conditions for a few days, allowing it to store up more
energy. The process could be repeated many times.
Producing hydrogen from algae could eventually provide a
cost-effective and practical means to convert sunlight into
hydrogen for powering fuel cells. The near-term plans for
powering fuel cells involve generating hydrogen from fossil
fuels such as natural gas, methanol, or gasoline.
The scientists announced their joint discovery on Monday at
the annual meeting of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C. The findings
were also printed in the January 2000 issue of Plant
Physiology. See the UC Berkeley press release.
Southwire Company Installs Superconducting Cable
Superconducting materials have long been recognized as
potential energy savers: their ability to transmit electricity
without resistance could greatly cut energy losses in the
generation, transmission, and use of electricity. But the need
to maintain the materials at ultra-low temperatures limited
their use. When high-temperature superconductors were
discovered in 1986, the concept of superconducting cables
and motors inched closer to reality, yet the characteristics of
the materials still presented formidable challenges for
practical applications of superconductors.
A significant milestone in meeting those challenges occurred
last week, when Southwire Company dedicated a 100-foot
section of three-phase power distribution cable using high-
temperature superconductors. Southwire not only made the
cable, it also relies on it: the cable provides power to three of
its Carrollton, Georgia, manufacturing plants. Southwire
developed the cable in partnership with DOE and several
The superconducting cable can deliver three to five times
more power than a traditional power cable while losing only
about 0.5 percent of the power it transmits, compared to
5 to 8 percent lost by traditional power cables. And that
energy loss really adds up: DOE's Energy Information
Administration estimates that energy lost in the transmission
and distribution of U.S. electricity totals more than 200 billion
kilowatt-hours each year. See the DOE press release.
Rebuild America Marks 250th Partnership in Austin, Texas
DOE's Rebuild America, a program that promotes energy
efficiency in renovated buildings, added its 250th partnership
last week with the addition of Rebuild Austin. The Texas
partnership will work in a disadvantaged area of East Austin,
transforming a church, a daycare center, senior housing, and
other facilities into models of energy efficiency. A variety of
public and private organizations are contributing to the
Rebuild Austin partnership. Texas has more than 15
partnerships, which have generated more than $11 million in
private investments to renovate more than 8.4 million square
feet of floor space. See the DOE press release.
Rebuild America links partners in 47 states, Native American
tribes and in three U.S. Territories. The renovation programs
typically reduce energy use by 20 to 30 percent in buildings
owned by small businesses, school districts, housing
authorities, arts and culture organizations, and public
agencies. Nationwide, Rebuild America is well on its way to
completing energy retrofits in 2 billion square feet of floor
space by 2003, which is expected to save $650 million in
energy costs. See the Rebuild America Web site.
New York Promotes Solar Energy Systems for Homeowners
New York Governor Pataki announced late last month that
the New York Energy $mart program will promote solar
photovoltaic electric systems for homeowners. The state will
provide subsidies of $1.25 million to three marketers of solar
photovoltaic electric systems SunWize Technologies,
Fours Seasons Solar Products, and Astropower, Inc. Those
companies will combine their own funding with state and
DOE funds to spend a total of $5 million to promote solar
energy in the state. See the Governor's press release.
See also the Astropower press release.
In related news, Massachusetts Electric Company has
announced the expansion of its popular Massachusetts
Electric Solar Project to all of its customers. The project
started as a pilot in Medford, Massachusetts provides
solar photovoltaic electric systems to homeowners at half
price. DOE provides partial funding for the project. See the
Massachusetts Electric press release.
DOE Awards Funds for Automotive Research
DOE announced last week the award of $750,000 for the
development of more fuel-efficient cars and light trucks. The
funds will go to three small businesses and two universities
for cost-shared studies of advanced engine coolants and
sensors and improved materials for batteries and other
applications. See the press release on the DOE Web site.
The Energy Foundation
The Energy Foundation is a partnership of major foundations
interested in sustainable energy. The group makes grants to
nonprofit charitable organizations in five areas: utilities,
buildings, transportation, renewable energy, and integrated
issues. The foundation also supports the China Sustainable
Energy Program and the U.S. Clean Energy Program, which
is building momentum in U.S. businesses for a shift toward a
low-carbon energy future. The site includes information
about the grants, qualifying conditions, application
instructions, deadlines for application, downloadable
application forms, and information about past grantees.
For this and other recent additions see the EREN Web site.
Energy Facts and Tips
Learn All About Alternative-Fuel Vehicles
Recent editions of this newsletter have mentioned
alternative-fuel vehicles (AFVs) many times. If you're feeling
in the dark about these non-gasoline-guzzling alternatives,
you might want to check out the newest edition of the "ABCs
of AFVs," a publication of the California Energy Commission.
You can download the publication for free (or order a
hardcopy version for $8) on the Commission's Web site.
Another valuable source of AFV information is DOE's
Alternative Fuels Data Center.
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