Every Sunday, Green Car Congress' Mike Millikin gives us an update on the ongoing evolution of sustainable transportation. Here's this week's news.
The destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina dominated the news this week, and the longer-term impacts on oil and natural gas may be significant.
By the end of the week, 88.53% of Gulf of Mexico (GOM) oil production was still shut-in, and 72.48% of the natural gas production. (US Minerals Management Service.)
The hurricane damaged some 58 Gulf of Mexico oil platforms and drilling rigs, according to the American Petroleum Institute, and of those, 30 are reported lost. A complete assessment of possible damage to the intricate web of undersea pipelines is still several days away.
President Bush temporarily waived restrictions on foreign flagged vessels to ship fuels between US ports. The Jones Act, requiring U.S.-flag coastwise qualified vessels, has been waived for crude oil and refined petroleum products from September 1 through 19 because of Hurricane Katrina. (DOE)
The EPA temporarily lifted its restrictions on gasoline and diesel fuels, allowing the sale of more highly evaporative gasoline and higher-sulfur diesel in the affected areas. (GCC) The IRS followed by temporarily waiving its restriction on the sale of dyed diesel (higher-sulfur diesel, or diesel marked for tax exempt purposes). (GCC)
Four companies have created a new cooperative research and development consortium intended to develop a working prototype of a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) that may achieve 100?200 mpg US with the ability to operate in an all-electric, zero-emission mode for the first 20?50 miles.
The founders—Raser Technologies, Maxwell technologies, Electrovaya and PG&E—expect that the Advanced Hybrid Vehicle Development Consortium (AHVDC) will grow to include key component suppliers who will work together with participating automobile manufacturers to coordinate the development of key components and to demonstrate these advanced technologies in an electric-motor dominant, plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. (GCC)
Fresh from its victory in saving the RAV4 from the crusher, DontCrush.com announced the launch of Plug In America, a new advocacy organization targeted at reviving plug-in electric vehicle production and promoting the development of plug-in hybrids. (GCC)
Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp (SAIC), the second-largest of China?s biggest automakers behind First Automotive Works (FAW), plans to begin commercial production of hybrid-powered cars and buses under its own and foreign brands before 2008. (GCC)
UQM Technologies has received an additional $120,000 in funding to expand its work on an all-electric pickup truck project for the US Air Force. (GCC)
Fuji Heavy, the maker of Subarus, which previously had announced its intention to market an electric version of its R1 minicar by the end of the decade, announced that it is working with Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) to co-develop and produce 10 electric cars with over the next year to be tested by the utility as a first step toward wider use.
The partners will develop cheaper and more efficient technology to meet several conditions including a minimum driving range of 80 km (50 miles) and a recharging time of 15 minutes for 80% of the battery?s capacity. (GCC)
State-owned Coal India Ltd (CIL) and Oil India Ltd (OIL) are forming two joint ventures, one for a Coal-to-Liquids plant, the other to increase coal production to feed the plant. India is the world?s third largest coal producer (after China and the United States). The proposed CTL venture would use high-sulfur coal from the North Eastern Coalfields (NEC) in Assam. (GCC)
A group of Japanese companies, including Nippon Steel and Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC), are working with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) to make gas-to-liquids (GTL) fuels a commercially viable overseas business by 2011.
The process streamlines the number of units required, thereby reducing the cost. The partners seem especially interested in the ability to service small- and medium-sized gasfields using the more compact technology. (GCC)
The Department of Justice and the US EPA announced a $135-million multi-state Clean Air Act settlement with Cargill which will result in a reduction of approximately 30,000 tons of pollution a year and set new standards for limiting harmful emissions.
Under the settlement, Cargill is required to install air pollution control devices at its 27 corn- and oilseed-processing facilities and is expected to spend an estimated $130 million to meet the requirements of the consent decree. Cargill will also pay a civil penalty of $1.6 million and spend $3.5 million on environmental projects across the country. (GCC)
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has categorized passage of the proposed National Fuel Ethanol Program as urgent. The program would mandate an E10 blend?10% ethanol, 90% gasoline?for use in the country. (GCC)
Toyota is recalling 14 fuel-cell vehicles leased in Japan and the US after one of them was found leaking hydrogen from its fuel tank in late August. (GCC)
A prototype three-wheeler (autorickshaw) developed by ECD Ovonics and Bajaj Auto (BAL) and powered by a hydrogen-burning internal combustion engine (H2ICE) is on display for the first time at the annual convention of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. (GCC)
State-owned Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) is working with Indian automobile companies Tata, Mahindra and Mahindra and Eicher to lay the foundation for a more widespread commercialization of vehicles using a blend of hydrogen and compressed natural gas (HCNG). (GCC)
Researchers at Purdue University have discovered a novel technique for producing hydrogen from water and organic material.
Although not yet evaluated for economic or operational feasibility on a large scale, the technique requires only water, a catalyst based on the metal rhenium and an organic liquid called an organosilane, which can be stored and transported easily. (GCC)
The DOE has awarded SRI International a four-year, $2.2 million contract to develop a prototype of a low-cost steam-electrolysis system for the generation of hydrogen.
The project goal is to generate ultra-pure hydrogen at a cost of $2 to $3 per gallon gasoline equivalent (gge) delivered. The current cost of hydrogen by electrolysis is some $4.75 to $5.15 per gge (delivered) on average, according to the DOE. (GCC)
Attracted by the lower cost of fuel and reduced emissions, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation is accelerating its transition to compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles. (GCC)
Opel (GM) is introducing the CNG version of the second-generation Zafira minivan line (introduced May 2005) at the upcoming Frankfurt auto show. The Zafira CNG is designed for optimal operation with natural gas, biogas or any mixture of the two, and is now Euro-4 compliant. (GCC).
Pakistan is deploying a national CNG fuel distribution that will ensure the availability of the gas as a transportation fuel even in areas far from major gas pipeline—?right from Karachi to Peshawar.? (GCC)
Westport Innovations has signed a Letter of Intent to form a 50:50 joint venture company with Beijing Tianhai Industry Co. Ltd. (BTIC) of China to market and sell liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuel tanks for the transportation market. (GCC)
Clean Diesel Technologies (CDT) has signed a blending and distribution agreement with Fleetguard, Inc., for the sale of its platinum- and cerium-based Fuel-Borne Catalyst (FBC) in North America and international markets.
The bimetallic additive catalyst improves fuel economy and reduces emissions and filter regeneration temperature. (GCC)
ArvinMeritor has formed a 50-50 joint venture between its Light Vehicle Systems (LVS) business group and DongWon Precision Industrial Co. for the supply of diesel particulate filters to light vehicle manufacturers in Korea. The Korean government has proposed that Euro 4 emission standards apply to light-duty diesel vehicles effective January 2006. (GCC)
Because it doubts the ability of manufacturers to deliver bus diesel engines in 2007 that meet its mandated specifications for NOx emissions, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is proposing a new rule that could mandate the purchase of only alternative-fueled urban transit buses beginning in 2007. Natural gas and other gaseous fuels, electric and hybrid vehicles fall under the aegis of ?Alternative??but not biodiesel. (GCC)
Mazda will introduce a new sub-compact concept car featuring an idle-stop system at the upcoming Frankfurt motor show. The idle-stop system cuts off the engine when the vehicle is stopped, resulting in fuel savings and emissions reductions. (GCC)
Royal Dutch Shell is taking a 61% stake in a new joint venture firm that will invest up to US$150 million in exploring and developing oil shale deposits in northeastern China.
The new joint venture company, the Jilin Shell Oil Shale Development Company Limited (Jilin Shell), will be 61% owned by Shell and 39% by Jilin Guangzheng Mineral Development Company Limited. Commercial developments would be at least 10 years away. (GCC)
The good news as far as I can tell is ALOT more people are looking for used and new econ cars now that gas hit so high. Even the people down the street who equate anything smaller then a main battletank as a deathtrap are now looking for a safe fuel eff car.