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The Week in Sustainable Vehicles (07/24/05)
Mike Millikin, 24 Jul 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:

A Federal Court of Appeals this week ruled in a 2-1 decision that the EPA was justified in 2003 when it refused to regulate CO2 as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act.

Twelve states -- California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington -- plus New York City, American Samoa and the District of Columbia, had petitioned that the EPA was legally bound to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act because global warming was a demonstrable threat to public health and safety.

However, the majority ruling of the three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that agency officials acted within their authority two years ago when they rejected those petitions demanding the regulation of greenhouse gases from new cars and trucks.

Eleven states -- Alaska, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, Utah -- (and Congressman John Dingell, D-MI) entered the case in support of the administration's position. (GCC)

Separately, a new survey released by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) found that 86% of Californians believe global warming will affect current or future generations and that 54% lack confidence in the environmental and energy programs of the federal government and want the state to act on its own to address the problem.

According to the survey 57% believe the effects of global warming are already being felt. Three in four (75%) say the effects of global warming on the state's economy and quality of life will be very or somewhat serious.

Accordingly, 77% favor the state law requiring automakers to further reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases from new cars in California, beginning in 2009; 83% favor requiring automakers to significantly improve the fuel efficiency of cars; and 73% percent support the policy even if it increases the cost of buying a new car. (GCC)

Hybrids

Azure Dynamics received Frost & Sullivan's 2005 Technology Leadership of the Year Award for its hybrid electric drive Azure Control System (ACS). (GCC) Separately, the company launched a new series of series-hybrid shuttle buses, built on the same chassis and with the same hybird powertrain it uses with some of its commercial customers, such as Purolator. The first customer for the hybrid shuttles is the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (BOEDC). (GCC)

Enova Systems, the California-based maker of electric, hybrid electric, and fuel cell drive systems and components (and competitor to Azure Dynamics), is seeking to raise some £10 million (US $17.5 million) from a secondary listing of its shares on London's AIM. (GCC)

Electric

Rather than crushing them, Ford decided to sell its old Ford Ranger EV trucks to former lease owners of the electric vehicle for $6,000 in a lottery system this fall. Current lease owners will be able to purchase their vehicles -- as is, with no warranty -- for a dollar. (GCC)

Biofuels

The biodiesel business continues to gain momentum, with Seattle Biodiesel closing a $2 million investment from strategic investors including Ignition Venture Partner and the new Chairman and CEO of Seattle Biodiesel, Martin Tobias.

Seattle Biodiesel is the first company in the Pacific Northwest to open and operate a commercial scale (more than 5 million gallons a year) and an American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM)-certified biodiesel refinery. (GCC)

DaimlerChrysler India will test its cars using B100 (100% biodiesel) produced from jatropha plants in Leh and other regions of the Himalayas.

Leh (3,500+ m; 11,428+ ft) is situated in a high-altitude cold desert with low levels of atmospheric oxygen. (Leh is the capital of the Ladakh region, which is part of the northern-most Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir.)

DaimlerChrysler has been working with the Institute of Hohenheim in Germany and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in India on a jatropha biodiesel program, including production and long-distance drives (5,900 km) with two C-Class sedans. (GCC)

Labland, an Indian biotech firm, is producing some 100 million tissue culture-derived Jatropha curcas clones to be used in D1 Oils' global biodiesel plantations. Labland performed the tissue culture cloning of jatropha without any direct genetic engineering.

D1's strategy calls for the distributed production of biodiesel using small refineries, about the size of a large shipping container, which can be used in remote sites to process jatropha oil into biodiesel. (GCC)

The 1st International Biorefinery Workshop, organized by the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, kicked off in Washington this week, with Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman welcoming representatives from the EC, researchers, developers, policy makers and major industrial companies.

Of the major energy companies, BP, Shell and Total are on the workshop's agenda (although others may be in attendance). DaimlerChrysler, Volkswagen and Volvo (Ford) are presenting as well, representing an auto industry view. (GCC)

An Ohio inventor has taken to the road to promote butanol as an alternative fuel to ethanol as well as his process for producing it from the anaerobic fermentation of biomass waste. The two-stage, dual-path process, which relies on two different Clostridia strains (earlier post), also yields hydrogen as a product.

According to the inventor, David Ramey, his butanol process delivers about 42% more energy than ethanol for a given amount of feedstock, based on the higher energy content of butanol (some 25% greater than ethanol), plus the hydrogen. (GCC)

The Oregon Senate approved an amended version of House Bill 3481 that supports a growing biofuels industry in Oregon through the use of tax credits.

The bill uses a broad definition of biofuel: "liquid or gaseous fuel produced from a biological source, including but not limited to waste and residue from agriculture, forestry or related industries or other industrial or municipal waste."

While that definition clearly includes what is broadly termed "biodiesel" (fuel comprising mono-alkyl esters of long chain fatty acids derived from vegetable oils or animal fats, and meeting the requirements of ASTM D 675) and ethanol, it also could include synthetic fuels made from biomass (such as a Fischer-Tropsch process using biomass as a feedstock to produce a synthetic diesel). It also specifically broadens the definition of ethanol (from earlier versions of the bill) to include cellulosic ethanol.

Credits will be provided on a per gallon basis for biodiesel and ethanol, and on a per green ton basis for biomass. (GCC)

South Korean car manufacturer SsangYong—known for its SUVs and now owned 51% by China's SAIC—is apparently using New Zealand as a test-bed for Waste Vegetable Oil (WVO) as a fuel.

The company has provided a 2.9-liter turbo-diesel Musso that NZ firm Renewable Energy Solutions has converted to a dual-fuel vehicle running on either "Envirofuel" -- recycled waste cooking oil -- or conventional diesel fuel.

Renewable Energy Solutions is also in the process of converting a 2.7-liter, common-rail diesel SsangYong Stavic (a new 7-seater MPV) to test the fuel. (GCC)

Hydrogen

DaimlerChrysler has delivered three fuel-cell-powered Mercedes-Benz Citaro urban buses to the Beijing Public Transport Corporation (BPTC), as part of a larger fuel cell project designed specifically for the Chinese market.

Starting at the end of this year and continuing through October 2007, the buses will operate in regular service on a congested 19-km long route in Beijing that runs past the Summer Palace as well as the site for the next Olympic Games.

The company now has 33 fuel-cell Citaros in service around the world in trials with some 800,000 kilometers of service in total. Earlier assessments of the vehicles in March indicated that the fuel-cell buses were more reliable than the organizations responsible for the trials had initially thought. While the fuel cells themselves gave little problem, there were issues with some of the power electronics and with the hydrogen infrastructure (production) in particular). (GCC)

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Phase 2 of its $2.6 million program for the development and advancement of next-generation gaseous hydrogen storage technologies.

The Quantum project focuses on optimizing the storage capacity of the company's ultra-lightweight composite 10,000-psi hydrogen storage tank technology, previously developed by Quantum and the DOE, and reducing its cost. (GCC)

Diesels

New entry-level diesels from Citroën and BMW are arriving for different segments of the European market.

The new 40-mpg BMW 520d represents the new diesel entry-point to its popular mid-size luxury 5-Series; the new 57-mpg Citroën C1 diesel city car, the product of collaboration with Toyota, is the new diesel entry-point to the entire product line. (GCC)

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has adopted a regulation requiring engine manufacturers to install on-board diagnostic systems (OBD) on heavy-duty engines to monitor the performance of components of the engine and pollution control system. The program is similar to one in operation on light and medium duty vehicles since 1996 in California.

The regulation also tightens up the limits on NOx emissions from on-road heavy-duty trucks and buses by nearly 110 tons per day by 2020. (GCC)

Other

In his mid-year speech outlining Honda's business plan for the next three years, President and CEO Takeo Fukui laid out the company's major next-generation powertrain technology and fuel economy targets for automobiles, motorcycles, and power products. (GCC)

Nissan is investing some US $45 million to upgrade its Mexican production facilities to increase output and to prepare for the launch of its planned 1.5-liter fuel-efficient subcompact. (GCC)

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Comments

This is great info. Keep up the good work.


Posted by: Jim McDermott on 24 Jul 05



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