New battery technology could be as clear as mud



In the race to find materials of ever increasing thinness, surface area and conductivity to make better performing battery electrodes, a lump of clay might have just taken the lead. Materials scientists from Drexel University’s College of Engineering invented the clay, which is both highly conductive and can easily be moulded into a variety of shapes and sizes.

It represents a turn away from the rather complicated and costly processing, currently used to make materials for lithium-ion batteries and super capacitors and toward one that looks a bit like rolling out cookie dough with results that are even sweeter from an energy storage standpoint.

With the publication of their recipe for “conductive MXene clay” in the December edition of Nature, the researchers suggest a significant shift in the way electrodes for storage devices are produced. The clay, which already exhibits conductivity on par with that of metals, can be turned into a film for use in an electrode simply by rolling or pressing it.

“Both the physical properties of the clay, consisting of two-dimensional titanium carbide particles, as well as its performance characteristics, seem to make it an exceptionally viable candidate for use in energy storage devices like batteries and super capacitors,” said Yury Gogotsi, co-author of the paper.

“The procedure to make the clay also uses much safer, readily available ingredients than the ones we used to produce MXene electrodes in the past. The key to the utility of this material, according to Michel Barsoum, one of the inventors of MXenes, is in its form as anybody who has played with mud can attest, clay is hydrophilic water loving.

main7120“Clay is also layered and when hydrated, the water molecules slide between the layers and render it plastic that in turn can be readily shaped into complex shapes. The same happens here; when we add water to MXene, water penetrates between the layers and endows the resulting material with plasticity and mouldability. “Graphene, a material widely studied for use in electrodes, is conductive but does not like water as it is hydrophobic. What we discovered is a conductive two-dimensional layered material that also loves water.

“The fact that we can now roll our electrodes rapidly and efficiently, and not have to use binders and/or conductive additives renders this material quite attractive from a mass production point of view.”

The discovery came about from testing a new method for making MXenes, two-dimensional materials invented at Drexel that are among the leading candidates for use in next-generation batteries and super capacitors.

Read more HERE.

McLaren to get The Power of Dreams



Between 1988 and 1992, Honda-powered McLaren Formula One cars were the dominant force racking up 44 wins and eight titles thanks to the likes of Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. Now, the odd couple are looking to rekindle those glory days when the new season roars into action next year.

McLaren first rolled out its Honda-powered racer at a special event at the Silverstone track earlier in the month, shown in the video above, and this week real testing got underway in Abu Dhabi with reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne.

Unfortunately, electrical issues plagued the test car which spent most of its time in the garage. But that’s what testing is all about and this series was mainly for system checks with full engine testing getting underway in February.

“Running a modern Formula 1 car is a very complicated procedure and this week’s test was all about how the departments at Sakura, Milton Keynes and Woking learn to integrate with the operational hub at the circuit,” said McLaren racing director Eric Boullier.

“We encountered a number of issues, including a lengthy check of electrical installations this morning, but it’s satisfying to see that we got the engine fired up, the car out of the garage and some laps on the board.”

Honda first confirmed its intention to return to F1 as an engine supplier back in 2013. The Japanese automaker’s new power unit that is exclusive to McLaren, consists of a turbocharged 1.6L V6 engine paired with two electric motor-generators, one providing a boost of power to the wheels and the other helping spool up the turbo. Under current regs, combined system output is around 750 horsepower._Source: MotorAuthority

New generation of modular shock absorbers ZF Group has launched, what it says is, a new generation modular shock absorber produced using a manufacturing process that involves neither welding nor painting. The metallic silver blue units that are completely galvanized, even in the smallest joint gaps, will initially be available as aftermarket products for subcompact vehicles.

Thanks to an innovative joining technology being used for the first time in the automotive industry, individual components are joined without welding seams.

According to Andreas Koster, project manager in ZF’s Suspension Technology business unit, the company uses punch riveting in this process, such as when securing the lower fastening bracket and the stabilizer bracket to the damper tube.

“Even though the process is not entirely new in automotive engineering, it was previously mostly restricted to the joining of flat sheet-metal, we have now successfully adapted the technology for round shock absorber components whilst still complying with the strictest quality standards.”

The container tube and bottom are permanently joined through a special pressure forming process. Andreas also says that the modular shock absorber strikes an excellent eco balance thanks to the reduced energy used in production, when compared to the welding process.

“Additional specifications will gradually follow, with the medium-term objective of covering selected vehicles in the sub-compact car segment,” he added.

Further info @


For in our hearts the dreams are still the same


“Those were the days my friend.
We thought they’d never end…” Especially if you were touring around with floors in your hair. Unfortunately, one of the great icons of the “life we choose” has sat rusting in a paddock for the past couple of decades. But help is surely on the way now that the owner, who previously has knocked back countless offers from passersby, is selling at Shannons Melbourne Summer Auction on December 8.

The vendor acquired the 1964 VW split screen, right hand drive, Kombi van, with just 12,800 miles on the clock, in 1970, then drove it regularly for about 10 years until an engine fire put it off the road. Always intending to restore it, he has now abandoned the idea and the highly collectible, VW is being sold ‘as viewed’ in non-running condition and in need of a full restoration.

Introduced in 1949 with the same reliable running gear as the original post-War VW Beetle, the Kombi soon carved a niche as a reliable, versatile and endearing workhorse and it was available as a van, a bus and as early as 1951, as a camper.

With values of split screen Kombis soaring in recent years, Shannons’ Christophe Boribon reckons it’s becoming increasingly rare to find worthwhile, unmolested examples for restoration.

“This wonderful time-warp example presents a rare opportunity for the Kombi enthusiast so we expect some feverish bidding from the floor, telephone and online.  A multiple award-winning 1966 VW Campervan sold to an online buyer for $74,000 at our September Auction in Melbourne, so it will really depend on how much enthusiasts want it,” he said.

Shannons expect the ‘Project’ Kombi to sell with ‘no reserve’ in the $8,000-$12,000 range, but Chris admitted this might be a conservative estimate.

For those who miss out on the Kombi, another option from Germany, a restored 1951 DKW Model F-89L Schnell-Laster 8-seater Combi-Bus that has been in the same family since 1960.

With a two-cylinder 688cc engine and three-speed manual gearbox, it was originally imported by Regent Motors of Melbourne and is believed to be the only example of a DKW Bus to reach Australia.

Unlike the Kombi, the Bus has been much loved over the past half century and comes with a history file containing period photographs of family outings. More recently, the vehicle has been returned to its former glory. Between $15-20,000 should find a new owner….”For in our hearts the dreams are still the same”…(with apologies to Mary Hopkin).


Changes to ADRs to speed up compliance process



Australian Design Rules are to be amended to allow harmonisation with UN regulations and for immediate updates of changes to those regulations. The changes will eliminate the need for local manufactures and importers to apply for accreditation under two systems.

Local manufacturers will have the option of supplying fully approved UN products as part of their certification of vehicles. Front fog lamps and new types of rear vision devices are among the first products to be affected by the changes.

The Federal government is working through further UN regulations that can be applied, in what is said to be ‘close cooperation’ with industry and state and territory agencies.

Porsche apprentice wins national awarded for excellence


Mitchell Blizard, an apprentice at Porsche South Sydney, has added Snap-on Tools’ apprentice of the year award to an impressive list of honors that including the TAFE NSW apprentice of the year 2014, MTA top apprentice and NSW Central and Northern Sydney apprentice of the year.

The Snap-on Tools award acknowledges the commitment and passion of the next generation of trades people across the automotive, heavy machinery, marine and aviation industries, with an additional focus on the defence forces.

Mitchell demonstrated that he had excelled in all areas of being an automotive apprentice, from keeping himself informed about the developments in hybrid-power technology, delivering first class maintenance and repair, right through to perfecting his customer interaction skills.

Porsche South Sydney identified Mitchell’s potential early, actively supporting his skills and ambitions by permitting him to be the first Sydney apprentice to attend factory training and placing him in service advisory and workshop controlling roles, functions not traditionally made available to apprentices.

“Upon successful completion of my apprenticeship, I plan to continue my studies down the path of business management, allowing me to have the knowledge of an all-round professional,” Mitchell explained.

“It is my goal to extend my training in automotive engineering to the level of university degree, allowing me to apply for a job within a Formula One race team and to travel the world as a race engineer.”

thumbnail.ashxNow in its sixth year, Snap-on Tools’ annual awards program received 100 entries, nationally, ranging from employees at small petrol stations to underground mining operations.  The Rising Star award went to light automotive apprentice Martin van de Walt from Kerry’s Automotive Group, NT and the Defence forces awards to army, heavy vehicle apprentice Camron Dixon based in Enoggera, Qld.


Ininiti Synaptiq finds a ‘winning’ future at LA Design Challenge



Sensing the Future was the theme of this year’s LA Auto Show’s Design Challenge and Infiniti seems to have captured the public’s imagination with its version of how cars will interact with us in 2029. Less a car and more of a set of interlocking pieces, the Infiniti Synaptiq has been termed a universal fuselage pod, a teardrop-shaped capsule with a liquid-crystal canopy that can be fitted to different propulsion devices, an F1-like chassis, a desert buggy rig and a jet airframe.

Whatever it is, it managed to win the People’s Choice award. And no wonder! The driver/pilot wears a Synaptic SUIT (Symbiotic User Interface Technology) fitted with biometric sensors and synthetic muscles and through a spinal lock attachment, he or she, is made one with the car.

Untitled-3Infiniti designers from its San Diego studio reckon that 3D holograms and wearable technologies may be a part of the everyday driving experience in the future, creating a seamless interaction between man and machine. To demonstrate exactly how these futuristic technologies could be used to make driving even more interactive, the Infiniti Design team imagined a vehicle triathlon called the ARC Race, which included air, rally and circuit competitions.

For each of the three races, the Synaptiq design provided a universal fuselage for the driver to control each of the different air, rally and circuit vehicles, the first of which was a Formula 1-style racecar competing in a road course from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.


Then came an off-road racer to the Grand Canyon followed by a radical, gymkhana-style jet air race back to Los Angeles, where the driver would manoeuvre around 3D holographic rings that mark the course.

For each vehicle and race, the driver stayed within the same cockpit, allowing him, or her, to stay within a familiar environment using the same interfaces to adapt to any driving or flying situation.

Inside the fuselage, liquid crystal canopies are enhanced with an augmented reality system that actively display relevant information for the pilot, such as his vital signs and dynamic vehicle updates. Infiniti Motor Company is headquartered in Hong Kong with sales operations in approximately 50 countries.








NSW dealerships take out Mitsubishi awards



Employees of New South Wales dealerships have won the two major awards in this year’s Mitsubishi Service Skills. Luke Aiken, Lander Mitsubishi, Blacktown, was named technician of the year and Jamal Box, Kloster Mitsubishi, Hamilton, service advisor of the year.

Six hundred and thirty service advisers and 1119 technicians took part in nationwide, preliminary testing and regional qualifying contests with the top five technicians and advisers travelled to the Mitsubishi Motors Australia head office in Adelaide to compete in the national final.

Technician of the Year finalists were, not surprisingly, put through a series of ‘time trials based around problem solving and product knowledge, whilst service advisors were tested with a range of real-life customer service scenarios.

Other finalists were: Kylie Hocking and Josh Beauchamp, Zupps Mitsubishi; Jessica Hankinson, McIlroy Mitsubishi; Michael Pentecost, Alan Mance Mitsubishi; Rachael Tierney, Paceway Mitsubsishi; Christopher Merritt, Murray Mitsubishi; Antonio Sanelli, Callaghan Mitsubishi and Joe Federico, John Hughes Mitsubishi.

All the fun of the fair as SEMA puts on the muscle



The 2014 SEMA show was a very good one for American muscle, with cars like the Ford Mustang King Cobra and the revival of the famous Yenko Camaro. But the SEMA Muscle Crown, if there is such a thing, goes to a car named “Recoil.” It’s a 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle with 980 horsepower and an interior that’s ready for combat. This bad boy is the brainchild of the vehicular craftsmen at Ringbrothers, and they say it’s more than just a sick burnout machine: it’s a “street capable track car.”


Power comes from a Whipple-supercharged Wegner Motorsports LS7 equipped with parts like a Holley fuel injection system, an Aeromotive fuel cell and pump and Flowmaster mufflers. It’s all bolted to a reworked Tremec T56 Magnum transmission.

So, 980 horsepower? That’s all well and good. But even better is the interior, which was hand-fabricated and features five-point racing harness seats, a Racepak gauge cluster, and carbon fibre basically everywhere. The Ringbrothers say the cockpit of a fighter aircraft inspired the inside. Legally speaking, we do believe Recoil qualifies as a weapon of mass destruction it at least a few countries. Cars don’t get much more badass than this.



At last we now know what the mysterious King Cobra Mustang is. It’s a plethora of Ford Racing parts’ packages that when combined make the new pony car very powerful and very fast. This particular car comes loaded with a Drag Pack, Handling Pack and Super Pack supercharger kit.

Equipped with a 2.3-liter TVS/Roush supercharger, the 5.0L V8 gets more than 600 horsepower. And when it has drag radials, it can run the quarter mile in 10.97 seconds. Other tweaks from the three packages include heavy-duty half shafts, a rear sub-frame kit with high-performance bushings, and a one-inch lower ride height due to a revised suspension, a stabilizer bar, high-flow fuel injectors, an intercooler, and a retuned ECU.

That makes it, what, 20 times faster than the 1978 King Cobra, or something like that. As for the body, that’s a snakeskin wrap from 3M, after all, it’s not a King Cobra unless it’s garish as hell.



Courtesy: Jalopnik





A week in the life of alternative power

Our mates at Green Car Reports have a site packed with developments in alternative fuelled vehicles and during the past week they’ve looked at long-distance riding on electric motorcycles, specifically a Southern California biker group that regularly rides a dozen or more electric bikes through the curving canyon roads. You might call them the biker gang you’ll never hear coming.

The big story was the styling of the all-new 2016 Chevy Volt range-extended electric car, which we got another peak at, along with more details of updates to its charging system.

They opened the week by noting that discounts had risen on Tesla Model S loaner cars that the company is replacing with updated version–if you’re in the market for an electric luxury sedan at a slightly higher discount.

During the middle of the week, it was all about this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show, and a whole slew of new small cars and crossovers introduced there. They covered no fewer than three new subcompact crossovers: the Honda HR-V, and Mazda CX-3, and the Fiat 500X, launched with some memorable TV ads too.

Then there was the new Scion iM Concept hatchback, which previews a production model coming next spring. And the Audi A7 Quattro HyMotion concept, an all-wheel-drive luxury sport hatchback, turns out to be a plug-in hybrid powered by a hydrogen fuel cell rather than a combustion engine.

On the Unexpected News front, it seems that the Coda Sedan electric car may have returned from the dead, in the form of what’s now called the Mullen 700e. We’ll believe it when we see it. They then published photos of the 2016 Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car that will go on sale next year, in limited numbers, in Southern California. It will sell for $57,500, or you can lease it for $499 a month. There were more details on the Honda FCV Concept, that company’s five-passenger hydrogen fuel-cell powered vehicle, now slated to go on sale in 2016.

Finally, we noted that the innovative BMW i3 electric car, (that has just arrived in Australia) is selling very slowly in Germany and wondered if the vehicle will maintain its impressive sales pace in the US.