MIT wins $1.89-million DOE research grant for one-step electrochemical copper extraction from sulfur-based minerals

MIT Associate Professor of Metallurgy Antoine Allanore’s lab has received a nearly $2-million dollar grant to further develop copper collection methods from molten sulfur-based minerals using electricity. The resultant high-purity copper could be used in the production of high-quality wire used in growing markets like renewable energy and EVs.

Current pyrometallurgy methods are tedious: sulfide minerals must be crushed, copper-rich sections must be floated away, the copper is refined in a smelter and then finally subjected to electrolysis for purification. These methods produce toxic sulfur dioxide and copper with large amounts of sulfur and oxygen. Allanore’s lab previously developed a one-step electrolysis technique for the separation of copper from molten sulfide mineral ore that produces purer copper. The process also has the added benefit of creating elemental sulfur as a byproduct instead of sulfur dioxide.

The lab’s studies also resulted in the production of copper, molybdenum, and rhenium from sulfur-rich minerals using a technique similar to the Hall-Héroult process of aluminum production with much higher operating temperatures. This grant will allow Allanore’s group to create a reactor capable of producing ten times the copper per hour while running longer and providing more data about the other valuable metals extracted in the process. The goal is to develop a pilot plant in three years. “We are aiming to be ready to provide the design criteria, the material and operating conditions of a one metric tonne [about 2,204 pounds, or 1.1 U.S. tons] per day demonstration reactor,” says Allanore.

“The revolution that we are proposing is that only one reactor would do everything. It would make the liquid copper product and allow us to recover elemental sulfur, and allows us to recover selenium,” says Allanore. “It may be possible to cut the energy needed for making copper by 20 percent.”

“If developed and deployed, it has the potential to decrease energy demand, operate entirely on renewable energy, and reduce sulfur dioxide emissions,” says ICA Technology Director Hal Stillman. “In addition, it can separate unwanted impurities and recover valuable by-products from the concentrate. Right now, the technical evidence that is creating excitement is a small-scale proof-of-principle demonstration.”


Source: MIT

Source: Electric Vehicles Magazine

European automakers fear EVs will eat into auto industry profits

Several new electric models made their debut at the recent Paris Motor Show, including PSA’s DS3 Crossback and the Mercedes EQC, but off the noisy show floor, away from the turntables, hors d’oeuvres and booth bunnies, executives are ruefully acknowledging that the transition to EVs will mean an end to the record profits of recent years.

“What everyone needs to realize is that clean mobility is like organic food – it’s more expensive,” said Carlos Tavares, Chief Executive of Peugeot, Citroen and Opel manufacturer PSA. “Either we accept paying more for clean mobility, or we put the European auto industry in jeopardy.” Tavares called BMW’s recent profit warning, which the Bavarian brand blamed in part on electrification costs, “a first alarm signal.”

According to Reuters, prices are likely to fall faster than production costs, causing red ink to flow. Volkswagen has said that its ID electric hatchback, due to go on sale next year, will be priced close to legacy versions of the Golf. “VW is about to launch a load of electric vehicles at the same price as gasolines, and therefore at a loss,” said Laurent Petizon of consulting firm AlixPartners. “Our interpretation is that the 2021 fines [for failing to meet European emissions standards] have already been factored into their sales strategy. Rather than pay penalties, they prefer to lose money on vehicles and get the market going.”

VW and Daimler have announced 30 billion euros in electrification investment between them, but each company recently warned that it would not be enough.

AlixPartners calculates that EVs still cost legacy automakers an average of 7,800 euros more apiece to produce than legacy ICE vehicles, while PHEVs cost about 5,000 euros more.

“It absolutely is impacting the profitability of the industry,” said Rebecca Lindland of Kelley Blue Book. “Demand doesn’t justify investment at all – it’s all regulation.”

This explains why, while automakers keep putting on multimillion-dollar shows for journalists to tout their commitment to electrification, they’re working diligently behind the scenes to water down or eliminate the regulations that are forcing them to produce EVs.


Source: Reuters

Source: Electric Vehicles Magazine

Design tips: How to build safety, efficiency and reliability into your EV charging station

Sponsored by Littelfuse

EV charging stations come in many different types and provide differing speeds (or levels) of charge to a vehicle. Most chargers can be classified into one of two types:

  1. AC chargers, which provide alternating current (AC) power to a vehicle’s on-board charger from an electrical utility supply
  2. DC chargers, which provide direct current (DC) power to a vehicle’s battery system, bypassing the on-board charger

Some chargers may provide the means to perform AC or DC charging within the same unit. AC and DC chargers are also further classified into sub-types based on the differing levels of power they provide and the type of communication that occurs between the charging station and the vehicle. While they may differ in architecture, EV charging stations must meet three basic goals in order to be a viable solution for keeping EVs running on the road. They must be designed for safety, efficiency and reliability.

This guide provides an overview of the different types of EV charging stations in the market, showing common architectures and how safety, efficiency and reliability are incorporated for the best designs.

AC Charging Stations

The role of an AC charging station is to safely provide power from the utility supply (grid) into the on-board charger inside of the vehicle. The vehicle’s on-board charger does the conversion of AC power into DC power to charge the vehicle’s battery. Due to space and weight constraints in the vehicle, on-board chargers and AC charging stations are typically limited to lower amounts of power (22 kW or less), which translates to a slow charging time (several hours).

Fuses rated for AC protection serve to limit the amount of short-circuit or overload current that could flow in the event of a fault or failure in the system. Fuses also protect the equipment itself from the risk of fire in the event that wiring and printed circuit boards carry excess current than intended due to the wearing of insulation or corrosion or oxidation on electrical conductors. For convenience and ease of maintenance, some fuses and fuse holders are provided with indicating features to let you know if a fuse has opened and which one has opened.

Earth/ground faults are another risk of electrical shock for users or equipment damage. Exposure to moisture, mis-wiring and degradation of insulation on wiring are just some of the causes for earth/ground faults. Leakage currents to parts of the EV charging system that can be touched by users present a risk of shock if they are not limited to a safe level. Additionally, excessive amounts of leakage currents to earth/ground can cause arcing with enough energy to rupture equipment and potentially damage anything nearby the equipment. Earth/ground-fault relays are devices used to detect these types of faults and signal the need for appropriate action to take place, which often involves disconnection of the power supply.

Outside of safety, equipment performance and reliability are critical for the long-term survival of EV charging stations in outdoor environments. Electrical transients on the AC grid, such as surges due to lightning strikes or voltage fluctuations due to other loads on the electrical grid, tend to be problematic for sensitive electronics in EV charging stations. Overvoltage protection devices, such as metal-oxide varistors (MOVs) and transient voltage suppressor (TVS) diodes, are instrumental in absorbing transient energy from the grid and protecting sensitive systems downstream. Electrostatic discharge (ESD) events are also problematic for some of the “smart” features on AC charging stations, such as user displays with touch screens, communication ports, and antennas for wireless payment and communication systems. TVS diodes and polymer ESD suppressors are often the go-to solutions for reducing the risks related to ESD events.

DC Charging Stations

The role of a DC charging station is to convert power from the electrical grid (AC power) into DC power that can be directly fed into the vehicle’s battery system for charging of the battery. Since the conversion from AC to DC power is being done in the charging station, these units can provide higher levels of power (50 kW to 350 kW and beyond) to the vehicle compared to AC charging stations. This translates to a faster charging time (30 minutes or less).

Since DC charging stations are connected to the AC grid, fuses rated for AC protection are also instrumental for the connections to the grid. These AC fuses tend to be larger in nature since most DC chargers are installed on 3-phase utility supply (as opposed to single-phase supply connections for AC chargers). Additionally, earth/ground-fault protection is an important feature to incorporate into a DC charging station design, not only for the AC grid side but also for the DC output side. Most DC chargers are designed with electrical isolation from the AC grid, and thus the DC side must maintain isolation from everything else, including earth/ground. Earth/ground-fault relays for DC voltage systems are instrumental in detecting if an electrical fault has occurred in which the isolated DC side has a leakage path to earth/ground. These systems are often employed to minimize the risk of shock hazards to users.

Besides safety, efficiency in power conversion is a major challenge to overcome when designing DC charging stations. The effectiveness of a design is often measured by the amount of power a charger can deliver to a vehicle versus the amount of power it takes from the AC grid.

DC charging stations often employ several stages of AC/DC and DC/DC conversion to get the best level of performance while minimizing overall system size and cost. Efficiency in the power conversion process starts with power semiconductors. Power semiconductors are used to switch on and off the power source and to change the direction of power flow to create stages of alternating current that can be converted to differing levels of voltage or current.

This switching action in the power semiconductors leads to heating which is ultimately lost to the surrounding environment and contributes to the reduction of power available for delivery to the vehicle. New enhancements to diodes, insulated-gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs) and metal-oxide semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs) have allowed these devices to become ever more efficient. Additionally, the commercialization of wide band-gap technologies, such as silicon carbide, have helped newer generations of semiconductors minimize their switching losses to the lowest levels in the market today. With the constant evolution of these power semiconductor devices, there also comes an evolution to the types of drive circuits used to switch these devices on and off. Newer IGBT and MOSFET gate drivers are pushing the boundaries to provide faster switching and higher levels of isolation between the low-voltage drive circuits and the high-voltage power semiconductors.

Littelfuse’s application expertise has helped to design some of the most efficient next-generation power converters for EV charging stations.

For help designing the right level of safety, efficiency and reliability into your EV charging system, download your copy of our EV Charging Overview today.



Source: Electric Vehicles Magazine

Will Electric Cars Save You Money? Renault Lays It Out: EVs Versus ICE

Is it safe to call EVs a “bargain” even though they cost much more than ICE cars?

Renault asks the above question and then elaborates by diving into which powertrain is truly the most cost-effective. The article is broken down with the main points that people should consider when trying to figure out the answer to these questions. Should you make the switch to an electric car? In the longer term, will an EV cost you extra or save you money.

There is a lot of “this and that” out there when it comes to EVs and whether or not the investment is financially viable. While some information is well-researched, keep in mind that there are mixed agendas involved, so it’s hard to glean actual facts on the subject. Though Renault is a huge supporter and manufacturer of EVs — often topping Euro EV sales — it still has its hand in ICE vehicles, at least temporarily.

Based on the above information, we have to ask … why would a company like Renault be surging forward with an eventual complete switch to electric vehicles? Let’s take a look at what the automaker has shared.

Renault admits that it’s a tough decision to forego the purchase of another ICE model and buy an electric car. When purchasing any car, regardless of powertrain, you have to consider performance, size, driving dynamics, comfort, design, etc. Today’s EVs, unlike many of the past, do a much better job of being “normal” and having all these bases covered. Still, price is most often a more substantial factor for many people than all of the latter.

While many people are under the impression that EVs simply cost more, Renault explains that there are many factors that may make that thought process untrue. Moreover, as time progresses, electric cars will become even more affordable due to mass production and decreasing battery costs.

Tax incentives in Europe and beyond can help to offset the price of an electric car. In addition, there are other financial perks available in some areas like free charging, free parking, registration exemptions, etc.

It’s hard to look at the long-term cost of a car rather than the sticker price. People are more willing to jump on that very low lease price or financing rate, as well as other incentives at the time of purchase. Figuring out what a car may cost over a number of years seems less important to many people than the bottom line monthly financial impact on their budget.

Renault says that driving electric saves some 20 percent over a comparable ICE car, mostly due to the reduced “fuel” costs. Additionally, many homeowners can set up a schedule to charge their cars when electricity costs are cheapest. It’s not as if you can decide to gas up your ICE car in the wee hours of the night when gas prices are reduced. That’s just not a reality.

Added to all of this is the reduced maintenance cost of owning an electric vehicle. As we’ve said before, there are less moving parts, fewer fluids, etc. Renault asserts that maintaining an EV costs about 25 percent less than that of an ICE vehicle.

In the end, the more you drive your electric car and the longer you own it, the more cost savings you’ll enjoy. It’s important to note that Renault points out that all of this still comes down to how you choose to drive your car. Energy use is still dependent on driving habits, the number of miles you travel per year, how long you plan to own the vehicle, and when and where you are “fueling up.”

What do you think? Share your insight with us in the comments section below.

Source: Groupe Renault

Source: Electric Vehicle News

2019 Sono Motors Sion Concept First Impressions

So many cool features!

We’ve been watching the Sion from Sono Motors from afar since it first popped up on IndieGoGo and our radar a couple years ago. Now, though, we can get a closer look by going along with Kenneth Bokor, host of the EV Revolution Show, as he checks out the solar-clad car during a demo day in Germany. Not only does he hold a sit-down interview with one of the company’s representatives, but he also does so from behind the wheel, giving us a feel for the car’s interior dimensions.

Luckily for us, he also gets to drive the prototype around a short course. Speeds reached, we have to say, were a bit low, but Bokor is impressed by the lack of squeaks and rattles. We realize too that, as this is basically a hand-built machine, driving impressions wouldn’t be a completely accurate translation of the car that is to come. Still, it should give some confidence that the Sono team has some engineering prowess.

The Sono Motors Sion is expected to go into production in late 2019. Already, over 8,100 people have made a reservation for the unique vehicle. That’s over 1,600 more than had pre-ordered just two months ago. When the Sion starts leaving the factory, these folks will fork over 16,000 Euro ($18,540), sans battery, for the base model. The power pack portion can be either bought outright for an additional 4,000 Euro ($4,633) or rented by paying a monthly fee. The only option will be a tow package.

Video description:

Special Episode – 2019 Sono Motors “Sion” Impressions – Recorded on October 4, 2018

While I was on some holidays in the Munich, Germany area earlier this month, I was able to attend a Media/Press event held by Sono Motors, an EV startup automobile manufacturer. This event featured their concept all-electric vehicle model “Sion”.

My thanks to Alexandra and Felix of Sono Motors for giving me with a chance to spend some time with the 2019 Sion and answering my questions!

Also special thanks to my Aunt Marti for driving me to the event and helping as my camera-person!

The Sion is currently at the prototype concept stage and many refinements and changes will most likely occur for production cars. More information can be found on their website at

Source: YouTube

Source: Electric Vehicle News

Graphing The Downturn Of Ford Plug-In Electric Car Sales: 2010-2018

Ford once was selling more than 3,000 plug-ins a month.

Something worrying is happening at Ford, as the company several years ago had three plug-in models on sale in the U.S. and now is selling just the Fusion Energi. The C-Max Energi and Focus Electric barely note any sales (inventory still left over, though production has ceased).

In effect, Ford sustained sales below 500 a month for the second consecutive month, with Fusion Energi trim choices narrowed down and still no announcement of new plug-in models.

If Ford does not unveil a new production plug-in model in Los Angeles, there is still hope that we’ll see one at CES or NAIAS in January.

We would happily welcome a long-range CUV or the plug-in hybrid F-150.

Ford plug-in electric car sales in U.S.

Source: Electric Vehicle News

Tesla’s stock (TSLA) jumps as judge approves settlement of SEC’s complaint against Elon Musk

A judge has officially approved the settlement of the SEC’s complaint against Tesla and Elon Musk – making the several punitive actions against the automaker and its CEO official.

Tesla’s stock (TSLA) jumped by 4% on the news.

The post Tesla’s stock (TSLA) jumps as judge approves settlement of SEC’s complaint against Elon Musk appeared first on Electrek.

Source: Charge Forward

Fastned tests fast chargers at German supermarkets

European fast charging network operator Fastned has partnered with German supermarket chain REWE for a pilot that will test the interest of EV drivers in fast charging while shopping for groceries.

The partnership will start with a pilot at four REWE Region Mitte supermarkets around Frankfurt, and the companies intend to expand it to additional locations.

Fastned’s stations are powered exclusively by sustainable energy from local sources.

“REWE [has] an extensive network of suitable locations, and sustainability is part of their mission,” said Michiel Langezaal, CEO of Fastned. “We are confident that we can provide a valuable service to customers of REWE and grow the number of fast charging stations in the future.”


Source: Fastned

Source: Electric Vehicles Magazine

Next-Gen Citroën C1, Peugeot 108 & Toyota Aygo Going Electric?

Citroën C1 expected to go electric.

The second-generation Citroën C1 is a small city car produced since 2014 on the joint platform with the Peugeot 108 and Toyota Aygo in Kolín, Czech by TPCA joint venture (Toyota Peugeot Citroën Automobile).

Since PSA Group needs to decide what to do with C1/108 in the upcoming 3rd generation, reporters questioned Citroën CEO Linda Jackson about what to expect. The answer was “I think probably electric“.

If the Citroën C1 goes electric, it’s obvious that Peugeot 108 will too and it would be strange if Toyota would then not offer an electric Aygo. The question is whether Toyota is willing to participate in the cost of development of a new generation in ICE and BEV versions?

“If we find a common strategy, we can continue. If we have a different strategy, it could be a reason to stop it, “warned Didier Leroy, President of Toyota Europe, at the Paris Motor Show, which notes however the excellent relations between its two partners.

The article speculates that the small electric car with a 20-30 kWh battery could have range of 160-200 km (100-124 miles).

For PSA Group, it would be handy to be able to replace the Peugeot iOn and Peugeot C-Zero based on the Mitsubishi i-MiEV (and produced in Japan by Mitsubishi). Those cars are already 10 years old, which is kinda surprising that they still exist in such a quickly developing market.


Source: Electric Vehicle News

See Lot Full Of Audi e-tron SUVs Outside Of Factory

We get a first glimpse of Audi e-tron electric SUVs parked outside the factory.

InsideEVs’ reader and supporter Ashot Hovhannisyan reached out to us via email with some exclusive shots at the Audi Brussels factory in Belgium. He was able to snap some photos of a number of Audi e-tron vehicles at the factory. In addition, he is waiting for them to start factory tours so that he can attend and keep us informed.

The Audi Brussels plant is slated to become the automaker’s core for its current and future electrification efforts. According to Jan Maris, Production Manager at Audi Brussels:

Audi provides the mobility of the future, and the Brussels factory plays a key role. One of the things that is completely new in the Audi e-tron is that the battery is fully integrated into the load-bearing structure of the vehicle’s floor. This means taking a lot of safety precautions during construction, and exercising a level of precision in battery assembly which is itself setting new standards.

If Ashot is able to get us more definitive shots or information about his factory tour, we’ll share in the future.

Below is a gallery of the images of the Audi e-tron he has secured to date:

6 photos

Source: Electric Vehicle News