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The Week in Sustainable Vehicles (08/14/05)
Mike Millikin, 14 Aug 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:

Crude oil prices crested $67 a barrel by Friday on this week, driven by a combination of concerns, including the IEA’s latest Oil Market Report in which the international agency identified a drop in the growth in non-OPEC production. That, in turn, puts more burden on OPEC to meet an ongoing growth in demand. (GCC)

Prices have risen 53% so far this year, and some analysts are speculating that oil will reach $70 a barrel by the end of the month.

That puts it within close range of the high real prices of some $80 per barrel (adjusted to 2005 dollars) reached during 1980 in the oil crisis that followed the Iranian revolution in 1979.

The "P" word—peaking—is beginning to appear with some greater frequency.

“There are concerns that supply is peaking,” said Kyle Cooper, an analyst with Citigroup Inc. in Houston. “Demand is still good and we are having a number of refinery hiccups. There are refinery problems every year but it does appear that they are occurring more frequently than usual.” (Bloomberg)

Oil producers are looking more to unconventional resources, such as oil sands in Canada. Shell Canada this week almost doubled its estimated cost for expanding its Athabasca Oil Sands Project production to 300,000 barrels a day from the current 200,000 to C$7.3 billion (US$6 billion). (GCC)

The cost of the expansion (i.e., just for the 100,000 extra barrels per day) works out to approximately $200/annual barrel. Even factoring in that some of this cost will support further expansion, and that every year of production following that first year will decrease the overall cost per barrel—that’s still expensive. (And that leaves aside the environmental cost and impact.)

On the consumption side, a new report from Environmental Defense finds that total annual CO2 emissions from US cars and light trucks have increased 25% above 1990 levels (through 2003). Both the total emissions and average emissions per vehicle continue to rise.

The sizeable increase is due to multiple factors: stagnating fuel economy), the growth in market share held by light trucks, and an increase in vehicle miles travelled. (GCC)

Hybrids

Shell and Toyota (Hino) along with JR Tokai Bus Company are using the 2005 World Exposition at Aichi as a venue in which to run the first trial of a diesel-hybrid bus fueled with synthetic Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) diesel. The bus, which will operate for two months, will carry visitors to the Expo as well as commuters in Seto City and Kasugai City.

Shell International Gas will supply GTL Fuel from its 14,700-barrel-per-day plant in Bintulu, Malaysia, for the Hino hybrid bus operated by JR Tokai Bus Company. (GCC)

The Town of North Hempstead, NY, has contracted with Odyne Corp. to build and to install the electric propulsion system on a 24-passenger diesel-electric plug-in hybrid bus.

The bus will be based on a standard Champion shuttle built on a GMC frame and is scheduled for delivery in February 2006, and will have an all-electric range of 20 miles. Odyne also designed and integrated a similar plug-in hybrid bus system as part of a program initiated by the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA). (GCC)

Denver Regional Transit District is retrofitting seven of its CNG-fueled series-hybrid-electric mall shuttle buses with new UQM generators and motor controllers. Each 45-foot hybrid electric mall shuttle bus will be retrofitted with a 35-kW UQM generator and two UQM power electronic motor controllers to control the operation of the electric propulsion motors currently installed in each bus. (GCC)

Large-format Li-ion battery maker Valence reported record quarterly results for the three-month period ending June 30, 2005, although the company still is not profitable. It noted in its report that it received three orders for battery systems for plug-in hybrids. (GCC)

Ford griped this week that it may be getting squeezed out from supplies of critical components for hybrids by Toyota and Honda.

The components manufacturers are longtime suppliers, and in some cases, affiliates, of the two Japanese companies. Ford is looking for domestic suppliers as replacements, and to building internally. (GCC)

Biofuels

Avis Sweden is the first customer in the country to take delivery of Saab's new flex-fuel 9-5 2.0t BioPower model. The FFV Saab will burn either E85 (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline) or gasoline in any mixture. Avis Sweden is ordering a total of 400 of the FFVs. (GCC)

Canadian company SunOpta is providing its steam explosion equipment and process technology to a subsidiary of Abengoa as part of the first commercial production facility in the world to convert cereal straw into ethanol.

This 5-million-liter per year (1.3-million-gallon per year) facility, scheduled to be operational in the fall of 2006, will be built in Babilafuente (Salamanca), Spain and is located adjacent to an existing 195-million-liter (52 million gallons per year) cereal grain to ethanol plant operated by Abengoa. Abengoa is the largest ethanol producer in Europe and the second largest in the world. (GCC)

Synthetics

Headwaters Inc. has entered into two non-binding Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) to develop coal-to-liquids (CTL) projects in Arizona and North Dakota.

Headwaters will act as the principal developer of two separate indirect coal liquefaction plants that will produce approximately 10,000 barrels per day of synthetic diesel and other liquid fuels, as well as electricity from an Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) power station. Plant expansions could increase output up to 50,000 barrels per day of liquid fuel production. (GCC)

Natural Gas

A recent report from the German Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (Federal Bureau of Motor Vehicles and Drivers) highlights the potential for natural gas vehicles to help meet the European Association of Automobile Manufacturers (ACEA)'s voluntary 2008 CO2 emissions target of 140g/km. (GCC)

Renault's new 2006 Kangoo adds a CNG option to the engine range, and tweaks the diesel packages to provide Euro 4 emissions compliance with slightly enhanced power and certain improvements in fuel economy and CO2 emissions. (GCC)

The Board of Governors the Hydrocarbon Development Institute of Pakistan (HDIP) has directed the institute to make all-out efforts to start manufacturing CNG conversion kits and cylinders in the country to reduce dependence on imports and to further accelerate the adoption of CNG as a transport fuel. The Minister of Petroleum, who is the chairman of HDIP, also directed the institute to accelerate its efforts to establish CNG buses in Islamabad. (GCC)

Diesel

A new study by energy and life-sciences consultancy Wood MacKenzie concludes that Europe faces a substantial deficit of diesel by 2015 which will not be satisfied by imports from Russia or the Middle East.

The analysis suggests that while Europe is going to become increasingly dependent on importing diesel from other regions, so will the Asia Pacific and the US. Even taking into account planned investment in the Russian refining industry and export refineries geared towards Europe in the Middle East, the additional forecast supply of gas/diesel oil will not meet requirements. (GCC)

Biofriendly's Green Plus fuel catalyst received certification as one of two additives approved for use in Texas' impending Texas Low Emissions Diesel (TxLED) program. (GCC)

Hydrogen

The South Korea government is laying out an ambitious plan for the country to become a functioning hydrogen economy by 2040, with a sizeable part of its transportation, power generation and household appliances operating on fuel cells.

In a meeting of economic ministers chaired by Minister of Finance and Economy Han Duck-soo on Friday, the government signed off on the blueprint which calls for more than half of all cars to operate on fuel cells by the target date. (GCC)

Nuvera Fuel Cells announced that its next-generation automotive fuel cell stack, Andromeda II, hit several major milestones during recent qualification tests conducted at the company's facility in Milan, Italy. The new 125-kW stack, which increases power 36% over its predecessor, Andromeda, is currently available for delivery to qualified customers developing fuel cell vehicles. (GCC)

Other

In a different twist on vehicle-to-grid (V2G), students at Centennial College in Canada are investigating the potential for using the wind generated by the high volumes of high-speed traffic on Highway 401 -- Canada's busiest highway -- to drive wind turbines to generate electricity. (GCC)

Mitsubishi Motors has developed two new MIVEC (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control) aluminum cylinder block engines -- including a 660cc 3-cylinder model -- with increased power and decreased fuel consumption than their predecessors.

Mitsubishi will use the new engines in two new vehicles slated for introduction in the domestic Japanese market later this fiscal year. (GCC)

The 2007 Dodge Caliber will be the first Chrysler Group car to offer a continuously variable transmission (CVT), the new World Engine family of four-cylinder gasoline engines, and a new electronic all-wheel drive system, along with a new 2.0-liter diesel engine.

The combination of the CVT and the new 4-cylinder gasoline engines are estimated to provide a combined 11%-13%improvement in fuel economy over comparable, current-generation systems. (GCC)

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Comments

This is great information; thanks.


Posted by: Eric Hancock on 15 Aug 05



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