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general Electric will buy a fleet of Chevy Volts, in part o support the sale of its own WattSta- tion chargers.
eneral Electric (GE) announced in November that it plans to replace half its global fleet of cars with electric vehicles (EVs) by 2015. In all, that means a total of 25,000 EVs for its fleet and for customers of its Capital Fleet Services business, which
manages vehicle fleets for companies around the world. GE claims
this is the largest EV fleet purchase ever.
CEO Jeff Immelt said the purchase would include 12,000 vehicles
from General Motors, beginning with the Chevy Volt, and that 15,000
of the vehicles would be used by GE’s own sales force. He noted that
the fleet would accelerate achievement of efficiency-of-scale goals
for General Motors and other EV manufacturers, thus reducing costs
for other EV purchasers. GE estimates that a wide-scale EV transfor-
mation will lead to up to $500 million in near-term business for GE.
The company manufactures components along the entire electric
power supply chain and is a major supplier of low-carbon generating
sources including wind turbines, nuclear reactors and gas turbines.
It also makes smart-grid transformers and recently introduced a
line of electric-vehicle chargers under the WattStation brand. GE
forecasts that the charging station market will expand to 3 million
units by 2015.
gE to Buy 25,000 Electric Vehicles
he problem: Storing the sun’s heat for use after dark. At the utility scale,
a way to do that is with molten
salts held in insulated tanks. In
passive solar architecture, the
common approach is thermal
mass. In recent years, phase-change materials have provided
modest performance gains for thermal mass facings.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) profes-
sor Jeffrey Grossman is exploring a third method: a heat-
storing molecule, which deforms like a twisted spring
when heated (by concentrated sunlight, for instance) and
releases heat when a catalyst triggers it to snap back to its
This thermo-chemical molecule already exists. The
compound fulvalene diruthenium was discovered in 1996.
Researchers found that it can be held in its “cocked-and-
loaded” heat-storing configuration, at up to 200°C (392°F),
for years without insulation.
Grossman collaborated with Yosuke Kanai of Lawrence
Livermore National Laboratory, Varadharajan Srinivasan of
MIT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering,
and Steven Meier and Peter Vollhardt of the University of
California, Berkeley. They found that the shift from low-
energy to high-energy state and back involves an intermedi-
ate semi-stable state. The implication is that the molecule
could be the basis of a rechargeable heat battery. The barrier
to commercialization is the very high price of ruthenium —
typically about $180 per ounce.
The next step is to find a cheap substitute for ruthenium
and a suitable heat-releasing catalyst.
The work was funded in part by the National Science
Foundation and by an MI T Energy Initiative seed grant and
was reported in October in the journal
see bit.ly/ao Y7QQ.
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