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Friday
Aug282015

Keeping the Big Dog Cool

Bloodhound SSC is the British land speed record car being designed to break through the 1,000 mph barrier. Powered by a rocket engine fueled with highly volatile high-test peroxide, the Bloodhound needs a fool-proof way to cool things down.

“We’ve got approximately 1,000 liters (264 gallons) of HTP that has the equivalent explosive force of one stick of dynamite per liter if it reaches 40° C (104° F) and starts to decompose” says Tony Parraman, of the sponsorship liaison team. “Packaging dictates that our supercharged Jaguar engine, that we use to pump 900 liters (238 gallons) in just 20 seconds, is next to the tank. So preventing heat transfer is on our essential list.” A prime source of heat is the Jaguar engine’s exhaust system. This is coated with Zircotec’s ThermoHold ceramic coating, which should reduce temperatures by a minimum of 30%. It, however, isn’t the only area to get Zircotec’s ministrations.

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Friday
Aug282015

Going Further with Ford: E-Bikes, Rice Hulls, 3D Printing 

By Christopher A. Sawyer

Ford’s MoDe:Flex electric bicycle can fold in half and fit in most any Ford vehicle, where it also can be charged with the proper equipment... “Multimodal mobility solutions” are the auto industry’s latest buzzwords, and ones that usually combine with other words like “megacities” and “ride sharing” and “millennials” to create sentences and paragraphs deep in feel-good nonsense, but short on detail. Occasionally, the conversation veers off into minutiae like the difference between Gen Y and Gen Z, but the overall focus is that the auto industry is going to have to adjust its way of doing business as more people, especially young people, choose to live and work in large cities and don’t depend upon a personal-use automobile as their sole form of transportation.

Ford is experimenting with concepts designed to deal with the changing transportation landscape under its Ford Smart Mobility plan, and has identified two areas of strategic importance: flexible vehicle use and ownership, and — buzzword alert! — multimodal urban travel solutions. A set of solutions, it should be noted, that includes electric bicycles designed and engineered by Ford for use by commuters and professionals who must travel into crowded city centers that may have driving bans or restrictions.

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Wednesday
Jul292015

Organic LEDs Get Closer to Production

At the Frankfurt Motor Show this year, Audi will reveal Matrix OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) lights on a concept car. It is the first step toward production of a technology that has been proposed for everything from laptop screens to television sets.

Each OLED unit has two electrodes — at least one of which must be transparent — and multiple thin layers of organic semiconductor material. Each layer is less than one-thousandth of a millimeter thick, and needs just three to four volts DC to create light. The composition of the layer determines its color, and — unlike conventional crystal-based LEDs — each layer is flat and has sharply delineated edges. Dimming is continuously variable, and the color and light are spread homogeneously across each layer. Thus, OLED lights do not need reflectors, light guides or other optical hardware, and do not cast shadows. In addition, they run cooler than current LED lights.

Over time, OLEDs will jettison the thin glass sheets that encase the organic material for flexible plastic films. Not only will it be possible to form these into three-dimensional shapes more easily, it may be possible to create OLED displays that are deployed and retracted like roller blinds. Also, because they react quickly and can be divided into small segments with each segment’s illumination level controlled separately, it will be possible to create active lighting systems that quickly adapt to changing conditions.— CAS


Friday
Jul172015

Autonomous Tech for Next Mercedes E-Class

By Christopher A. Sawyer

Next spring, Mercedes will launch a new E-Class with a suite of new safety and semi-autonomous driving technology. According to Mercedes these driver assistance packages will allow semi-automated driving on freeways, highways and in city traffic, enable drivers to move the car in and out of tight parking spaces from outside via a smartphone app, and encourage autonomous braking in dangerous situations. So-called Car-to-X Communication will provide an early warning of dangers ahead, while radio technology turns the driver’s smartphone into a vehicle key. In addition, Pre-Safe advancements will protect the occupants in a  side impact and even prepare their ears for the loud noise of the accident. Mercedes calls its approach “Real Life Safety” and will sell it under its Intelligent Drive brand.

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Friday
Jul032015

New Ecotec Engine Powers 2016 Chevy Cruze

The 2016 Chevy Cruze will debut a new Ecotec four-cylinder, a new member of GM’s modular small-displacement engine family. Displacing 1.4 liters, the turbocharged, direct-injected inline four produces 153 hp and 177 lb.-ft. of torque, and is mated to either a six-speed manual or GM’s new Hydra-Matic 6T35 six-speed automatic transmission. Stop-start technology is standard with the automatic.

In many markets, the 1.4-liter will be offered alongside a naturally aspirated 1.5-liter Ecotec with 113 hp and 108 lb.-ft. of torque mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. Both engines share bore spacing, bore diameter, liner and other dimensions with each other and GM’s three-cylinder Ecotec engines. All feature a high-pressure die-cast aluminum block with cast-in-place liners, a die-cast aluminum oil pan, and an aluminum bedplate for increased rigidity. The aluminum dual overhead cam (DOHC) cylinder head has an integrated water-cooled exhaust manifold that improves catalyst light-off and reduces weight. Further attributes include a variable-flow oil pump, piston-cooling jets, and a noise reducing inverted-tooth camshaft drive chain.

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