Every Sunday, Green Car Congress' Mike Millikin gives us an update on the week's sustainable mobility news. Green Car Congress is by far the best resource around for news and analysis covering the ongoing evolution of personal transportation. Take it away, Mike:
ENERGY. With the price of crude surging temporarily back above $55 this week on concerns of too much demand and not enough supply, OPEC began socializing the concept of $80/barrel oil within several years. (GCC) OPEC may set a new price band in the $40–$50/barrel range.
Analysts expect a jump in gasoline and diesel prices to follow.
On the production side, Mexico’s Pemex discussed the premature decline of its largest oil field (Cantarell), the eight-largest field in the world. Pemex officials told investors this week that production from developing other fields will make up the gap—analysts aren’t so sure. (GCC)
On the hydrogen future, the US entered into a multi-lateral cooperative development agreement with Canada, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom for next-generation nuclear power systems. (GCC) The US research will explore six different nuclear plant concepts—the US is partial to the Very High Temperature Reactor (VHTR) that also produces hydrogen.
The EU is funding a new research network, SOLAR-H, focusing on discovering and developing new methods of producing bio-hydrogen. The research will span artificial photosynthesis in man-made chemical systems and photo-biological H2 production using living organisms. (GCC)
HYBRIDS. February was the second-strongest month ever for US hybrid sales, with 10,400 units. Toyota set its record to date with more than 7,000 Prius units sold. (GCC)
The Canadian province of British Columbia announced it is adding 356 more hybrids to the government fleet. Currently the Prius, the Escape hybrid, and the GM Sierra (micro hybrid) are available to government fleet users. (GCC)
On a smaller scale, the town of North Hempstead, NY, is adding 7 hybrids to its fleet. (GCC)
DIESEL. Honda and Lexus introduced new diesel models for Europe at the Geneva Motor show this week.
The new Honda Civic Concept hatchback will feature the award-winning 2.2 i-CTDi diesel engine (earlier post), as well as a gasoline engine line-up. With this new Civic, assembly of the diesel engines will be introduced to the Honda UK plant. (GCC)
The Lexus next-generation IS is the automaker’s first diesel. It uses the same 2.2-liter all-aluminum engine and clean aftertreatment technology as in the new Toyota Avensis. (GCC)
GM is now offering a diesel engine option for its 2006 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana full-size vans (8ñ12 passengers).
The latest version of the 6.6-liter V-8 Duramax turbodiesel delivers 250 horsepower (186 kw) and a robust 460 lb-ft (624 Nm) of torque, and provides an approximate 35% improvement in fuel consumption over the top-end gasoline models. (GCC)
GM also explicitly notes that the Duramax is compatible with biodiesel.
The Sonoma Valley (Calif) Unified School District (SVUSD) is purchasing four ìGreen Dieselî school buses from International Truck and Engine and retrofitting 11 others in its current fleet of 18.
International’s Green Diesel technology combines a catalyzed diesel particulate filter and ultra low-sulfur fuel (ULSD) with an engine performance design resulting in a drop in PM emissions of some 90% from a conventional diesel platform, a 25% drop in NOx and practically no unburned hydrocarbons. The Green Diesel platform burns cleaner than comparable CNG buses. (GCC)
DaimlerChrysler reaffirmed its strategic commitment to synthetic diesel fuel produced from biomass. The Biomass-to-Liquid (BTL) fuel process is essentially a variant of the Fischer-Tropsch process that uses biomass rather than natural gas or coal as the primary feedstock.
Depending on the engine adaptation, DaimlerChrysler engineers have found that BTL fuel helps reduce particulate emissions by up to 50%, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions by up to 90%, and CO2 up to 90%. (GCC)
FUEL CELLS. Mercedes-Benz introduced its latest-generation of fuel cell vehicle, based on its new B-Class Compact Sport Tourer. The new B-Class F-Cell uses a more powerful electric motor, a more efficient fuel cell and enhanced hydrogen storage to create a car with longer range and better performance. (GCC)
RESEARCH. Ricardo is leading a research project to develop a new type of gasoline engine that can switch between two- and four-stroke operation. The 2/4 Insight could produce basic fuel savings of up to 30% from a comparable engine, and support aggressive downsizing of engine applications in cars. (GCC)
The DOE has selected BSST to lead a research project into thermoelectric generators for waste heat recovery in automobiles. Thermoelectric materials -- materials that exploit a phenomenon in which the application of heat to combinations of certain metals induces an electric current -- could prove to become important systems for increasing fuel efficiency and decreasing emissions by converting the waste heat in exhaust gas into electricity. (GCC)
The 2/4 Insight engine looks particularly promising. I just hope that they will use the technology to downsize engines and not just get more power out of engines as big as the current ones.
If you had followed engine tech like I do you would know all the big names are building both ends of the spectrum. v12s v16s as well as 3 2 even 1 cylinder designs. The main push is to rip out the trans and use electric motors at all times powered either by battery or motor or both.
That goal is targeted as fairly near term in fact and as a stepping point toward fuel cell /battery combo cars.
here's europhysics news on "Future challenges for nuclear energy in Europe:"
also btw "Nature's Nuclear Reactor" :D