July 30, 2013

BMW i3 Fully Electric Vehicle - Battery & Charging Technology

The i3 Battery

The lithium-ion high-voltage battery is positioned centrally in the Drive module of the BMW i3 and thus optimally protected against outside influences. A specially-developed heating and air conditioning system ensures as little temperature fluctuations as possible which significantly increases the service life of the high-voltage battery.

The Battery Guard supports the BMW i3 owner by monitoring the high-voltage battery of the vehicle and notifying the owner, for example, if a deviation from the planned charging procedure occurs or, for example, if the vehicle lights were left on for too long.

The high-voltage battery is guaranteed for eight years or 100,000 km.*

* for 70 % of the charging capacity.

BMW iWallbox

If you have your own parking space at home, you can easily charge the BMW i3 using the BMW i Wallbox. This charging station, which is mounted to the wall of the house or the garage, not only completes the unique design of the BMW i vehicles, it also charges the BMW i3 up to 30 % faster than the standard included charging cable – thus charging the BMW i3 to 80 % charging capacity in under 6 hours.*

The Wallbox Pure, including individual installation service is available from BMW directly. To see if your private residence is suitable for the installation of the wallbox, please check the link below. And because BMW i stands for seamless sustainability in e-mobility, you can also conclude a green energy contract from a selected BMW i Partner, if desired.

* based on 16 A current     

ChargeNow - Public Charging

BMW i has created an innovative concept that also offers optimal charging options for the BMW i3 on the go. In addition to ChargeNow – a mobility service from BMW i and the largest association of mobile charging station providers – this concept also includes semi-public parking options for long-term parkers, where the BMW i3 can be charged; for example, in parking garages.

The navigation of the BMW i3 supports you during the search for suitable charging options, which are displayed in the vehicle, on the BMW i Remote App, and in the BMW ConnectedDrive Internet portal and are taken into account by the range assistant. The use is cashless and possible using a centrally valid access card, the ChargeNow card. You are simply billed monthly for the electricity costs.

Photos and data courtesy of BMW USA

July 26, 2013

Solar Charging Pavilion and New Volvo Hybrid

When thinking of stylish cars, Volvo probably isn't the first brand to come to mind. One thing the company is renowned for, though, is introducing new technology: it was the first manufacturer to install laminated glass in a production car, invented the three-point safety belt, and is constantly adding new safety features to its range.

After holding a design competition for a pavilion to accompany the launch of its new V60 plug-in hybrid, the company will debut a photovoltaic accessory in September that will unite its history of embracing new technology with some cutting-edge style.

The V60's batteries take around 12 hours to charge when connected to the Pure Tension pavilion, good weather permitting. The whole structure is held in place by a carbon fiber tube that keeps the panels taut, and also allows the pavilion to disassemble and fit into a car trunk.

Although these are renders, the Pure Tension will debut at a show in Rome in September. The concept cost around $80,000 to research, develop, and build, according to Wired.

A consumer-ready version isn't anywhere close, unfortunately. For now, the Pure Tension pavilion only serves to showcase Volvo's new hybrid car. Volvo is in talks with the designers of the pavilion about developing the idea further.

Images courtesy of Volvo
Story by Aaron Souppouris

July 24, 2013

Google Chromecast - Easiest Way to Enjoy Online Video and Music on Your TV

Sit back, watch together

With Chromecast, you can easily enjoy your favorite online entertainment on your HDTV—movies, TV shows, music, and more from Netflix, YouTube, Google Play, and Chrome. No more huddling around small screens and tiny speakers. Chromecast automatically updates to work with a growing number of apps.

Remote free

Chromecast works with devices you already own, including Android tablets and smartphones, iPhones®, iPads®, Chrome for Mac® and Chrome for Windows®. Browse for what to watch, control playback, and adjust volume using your device. You won't have to learn anything new.

Plug in and play

Get started in 3 easy steps: plug Chromecast into any HDTV, connect it to WiFi, then send videos and more from your smartphone, tablet or laptop to your TV with the press of a button

Available now for only $35 at Best Buy and Amazon.com

July 18, 2013

History of the San Diego Comic Con

Today is Day 1 of the 2013 San Diego Comic Convention better known as Comic-Con.

What is Comic-Con?

The convention was founded in 1970 by Shel Dorf, Richard Alf, Ken Krueger, Mike Towry, and Greg Bear. Detroit, Michigan-born comics fan Shel Dorf, had in the mid-1960s mounted the Detroit Triple-Fan Fairs, one of the first commercial comics-fan conventions. When he moved to San Diego, California in 1970, he organized a one-day convention (Golden State Comic-Minicon) on March 21, 1970 "as a kind of 'dry run' for the larger convention he hoped to stage." Dorf went on to be associated with the convention as president or manager, variously, for many years until becoming estranged from the organization. Alf co-chaired the first convention with Krueger and became chairman in 1971.

Following the initial gathering, Dorf's first three-day San Diego comics convention, the Golden State Comic-Con, drew 300 people and was held at the U.S. Grant Hotel from August 1–3, 1970. Other locations in the convention's early years included the El Cortez Hotel, the University of California, San Diego, and Golden Hall, before being moved to the San Diego Convention Center in 1991. Richard Alf, chairman in 1971, has noted an early factor in the Con's growth was an effort "to expand the Comic-Con [organizing] committee base by networking with other fandoms such as the Society for Creative Anachronism and the Mythopoeic Society, among others. (We found a lot of talent and strength through diversity)." By the late 1970s the show had grown to such an extent that Bob Schreck recalled visiting with his then-boss Gary Berman of Creation Conventions and reflecting, "While [Berman] kept repeating (attempting to convince himself) 'This show's not any bigger than ours!' I was quietly walking the floor stunned and in awe of just how much bigger it really was. I was blown away."

The convention is organized by a panel of 13 board members, 16 to 20 full-time and part-time workers, and 80 volunteers who assist via committees. Comic Con International is a non-profit organization, and proceeds of the event go to funding it, as well as the Alternative Press Expo (APE) and WonderCon. In September 2010, the convention announced that it would stay in San Diego through 2015.

According to the San Diego Convention and Visitor's Bureau the convention has an annual regional economic impact of $162.8 million, with $180 million economic impact in 2011.

For a list of complete 2013 Comic-Con schedule of celebrity appearances, panels and other useful information visit here.

July 17, 2013

Scientific Breakthrough - Engineers Create A Battery Made Of Wood

Wood fibers are coated with carbon nano-tubes and then packed into small disks of metal. The sodium ions moving around in the wood fibers create an electric current.

The battery is being developed at the at the University of Maryland in College Park.

Dr. Lianbing Hu heads the group that developed a new battery made with wood at the Energy Research Center at the University of Maryland in College Park. Heather Rousseau/NPR

I really wasn't sure what a wood battery would look like. I knew you could make a and wires, so I figured maybe they were doing something similar with a block of wood.

Wrong. The "wood" is actually microscopic wood fibers that are fashioned into thin sheets. The sheets are then coated with carbon nano-tubes and packed into small metal discs.

The wood batteries use sodium ions, rather than the lithium ions that are found in the batteries of cellphones and laptops. In this case, the charged particles move around in the wood fibers, creating an electric current. It turns out wood is a good medium for sodium ions to move around in.

Now, wood is comparatively cheap. So is sodium. , head of the battery project, says he's hoping the new batteries can be scaled up so they'll be useful for storing the vast amounts of energy generated by solar arrays or wind farms.

"I think this wood-based storage can play a very important role as a low-cost solution," he says.

Nick Weadock just graduated from the University of Maryland and helped design the new battery. Heather Rousseau/NPR

Right now the battery is just a prototype. Hu and his colleagues will need to tweak the materials before they have something commercially viable.

There was something else interesting about the new battery: One of the authors on the describing it in Nano Letters was an undergraduate. What's up with that? How does a young college student wind up co-authoring a paper in a major scientific journal?

Hu says Nicholas Weadock was an engineering major who expressed an interest in working in the lab. "In the very beginning he was helping students, my Ph.D. students actually, correct some English grammar," says Hu. A lot of Dr. Hu's doctoral students are from outside the U.S. "During the process ... he asked a lot of interesting, very insightful questions, not only about the language, but about the science behind it."

Weadock says he had originally wanted to work on wind power, but became interested in energy storage technology and wanted to show Hu that he could be a contributor to the lab.

"I came to the group meetings, I made suggestions, and I was ambitious enough to show him that I can do my own project," he says.

Weadock is off to the California Institute of Technology in the fall for graduate school, where he plans to continue work on energy storage. Hu says the positive experience with Weadock has convinced him to recruit more undergraduates to his lab.

by Joe Palca, npr.org 
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