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The Week in Sustainable Transportation (05/01/05)
Mike Millikin, 1 May 05

Every Sunday, Green Car Congress' Mike Millikin gives us an update on the week's sustainable mobility news, looking at the ongoing evolution of personal transportation. Take it away, Mike:

Another big policy and legislation week.

President Bush outlined his energy policy this week, emphasizing the use of advanced technology to increase US energy production primarily from nuclear and fossil sources. Although the President called for the “ better use [of] technology to become better conservers of energy”, there was no mention of raising fuel efficiency standards as one of the means for reducing dependence on petroleum. (GCC)

Republican Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) reintroduced the CLEAR ACT—Clean Efficient Automobiles Resulting from Advanced Car Technologies. The CLEAR ACT is designed to lower the cost barriers to implementing alternative fuels and advanced technologies through the use of tax incentives, most of which go directly to the consumer. (GCC)

This is the third introduction of the bill—Hatch has in two prior sessions of Congress, only to have the lack of an Energy Bill take the CLEAR ACT down as well.

The Minnesota House of Representatives passed its version of the state Senate bill doubling the amount of ethanol required in gasoline sold in Minnesota to 20% over the next decade. (GCC)

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) approved the nation’s most health protective ozone standard: a new 8-hour-average standard of 0.070 parts per million (ppm) (not to be exceeded). The EPA 8-hour standard is 0.08. (CARB added the third decimal place to guard against rounding down.) (GCC)

Chinaís State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) set the timeline for the implementation of the Euro-III and -IV standards for light-duty vehicles. Euro-III standards are to be implemented nationwide from July 1, 2007 and -IV standards from July 1, 2010. (GCC)

Hydrogen

Delta Airlines will put two hydrogen-fueled airport tow tractors into service at the Orlando airport. The tow tractors use a Ford Power Products 4.2-liter, V-6 industrial engine converted and calibrated to operate on gaseous hydrogen. The naturally-aspirated H2ICE tractor will deliver approximately 80 hp (60 kW). (GCC)

Two other airport Ground Support Equipment projects appeared this week as well. Enova Systems 120 kW HybridPower drive systems are being used in two different fuel cell-powered GSE prototypes and tests for the US Air Force. (GCC)

Biofuels

Mid-America Biofuel plans to build Missouri's first major biodiesel plant. The facility will use soybean oil as feedstock and have capacity to produce 30 million gallons per year. (GCC)

Suncor, the Canadian oil sands company, is starting construction of a Canadian $120 million (US $96.4 million) corn ethanol production facility. Work on the plant should be complete by mid-2006. The facility will produce approximately 200 million liters (52.8 million gallons US) of ethanol annuallyóone of the countryís larger to date. (GCC)

The Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) and Golden Hope Plantations are partnering to build the country's first biodiesel plant. The $10.5 million plant will produce 5,000 tonnes (approximately 36.5 thousand barrels or 1.15 million gallons) of biodiesel a month. (GCC)

The initial public offering of shares in Australian Renewable Fuels closed early due to strong demand, raising $20 million and giving the biodiesel producer a market capitalization of $108 million. ARF plans to build two biodiesel plants (one in Adelaide, one in Picton) with technology from Austriaís Energea, each with a capacity of 40,000 metric tons per year (approximately 822 barrels per day per plant), and using tallow (animal fat) as a feedstock. (GCC)

Diesel

Two manufacturers introduced improved emissions technologies this week, responding to the current and future growth of the light-duty diesel market.

Corning's new PM filter uses an advanced ceramic material and monolithic design to deliver a filtration efficiency of more than 90%. This new filter also provides excellent pressure drop performance to help minimize the impact on engine power output. (GCC)

Engelhard Corporation is introducing a new platinum/palladium diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC) technology that allows automakers to meet Euro IV emission regulations and also reduce their precious-metal costs.

A diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC) is a flow-through device installed on the exhaust pipe. As exhaust gases pass through it, the catalyst, carbon monoxide, gaseous hydrocarbons and liquid hydrocarbon particles (unburned fuel and oil) oxidize, thereby reducing emissions. (GCC)

Volkswagen announced that it has optimized the combination of its 2.0-liter diesel engine and direct shift gearbox (DSG)in the upcoming Golf Plus to deliver up to a 10.6% reduction in fuel consumption and lower emissions compared to a Golf with a five-speed automatic transmission. (GCC)

Others

Fraunhofer Institute for Transport and Infrastructure Systems (IVI) in Germany has developed a fuel cell-flywheel hybrid trolley (tram). The fuel cell-based system is a derivative of an earlier diesel-powered hybrid version.

The two-car hydrogen AutoTram is powered by a 80kW Ballard fuel cell system and three electric motors. Roof-mounted tanks hold 10 kg of compressed hydrogen at 200 bar (2,900 psi). The tram uses a 325 kW flywheel from CCM with a capacity of 4 kWh for energy storage, recharged through regenerative braking, power from the fuel cell or a quick plug-in at a station. (GCC)

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