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The Week in Sustainable Transportation (10/02/05)
Mike Millikin, 2 Oct 05

nissan_pivo.jpgJapan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Transport reportedly have decided to set the world's first fuel economy standards for large trucks and buses in an attempt to curb Japan's CO2 emissions, which increased by some 20% from 1990 to 2003.

Such an unprecedented step (heavy-duty vehicles are untouched by fuel economy regulations worldwide) would put additional pressure on engine makers, who are already putting a great deal of effort into meeting increasingly strict emissions regulations, and force aggressive work to attempt to improve the thermal efficiency of engines. Alternative fuels, new combustion processes and control techniques, greatly improved mechanisms for waste heat recovery and hybrid configurations could all play roles. (GCC)

The US Department of Energy has released for comment its strategic technology plan for new advanced technologies that avoid, reduce, or capture and store greenhouse gas emissions. The plan is decoupled from targets or mechanism—it is a broad technology roadmap. The technologies developed under this Climate Change Technology Program (CCTP) would be used and deployed among the US partners in the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development that was announced earlier this year (the Vientiane Pact). (GCC)

In discussing the impact of Hurricane Rita on the gasoline and energy supply, President Bush said he has instructed the EPA to keep the clean-fuel waivers in place issued in response to Katrina, and well as for continuance of the waiver of the Jones Act restrictions on fuel transportation. He also called for being "better conservers" of energy by reducing non-essential travel, and for the creation of additional refining capacity in the US. (GCC)

The Massachusetts legislature is moving forward with legislation (Senate Bill No. 2176, now No. 2209) that sets out a wide-ranging program to accelerate the adoption of hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles by private citizens and by state and local entities. The bill offers a number of incentives, including tax breaks for hybrid and alternative fuel vehicle purchases; mandatory alternative fuel use by state fleets; alternative fuel funding support for cities, towns and school districts; and the establishment of an Alternative Fuels Institute at the University of Massachusetts. (GCC)

HYBRIDS

Initial independent test results of prototype hybrid utility trucks being used in the WestStart's Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF) pilot program have shown a decrease in fuel consumption of 40%-60% measured against driving and work cycles typical of the utility industry. The target requirement for the hybrids was a 50% reduction in fuel consumption. Larger-scale testing involving 24 of the hybrid utility trucks jointly developed by International and Eaton Corporation will begin by year's end. (GCC)

Mack Trucks, in conjunction with the US Air Force Advanced Power Technology Office (APTO), displayed on Capitol Hill a prototype mild-hybrid electric powertrain for Class 8 heavy-duty trucks. The powertrain is mounted in an Air Force R-11 6,000-gallon capacity refueler truck built on a Mack RD 6x4 chassis. Enova Systems supplied the hybrid drive, which will be dual-use -- Mack is also investigating its application in refuse haulers, as well as the military application. (GCC)

Siemens VDO Automotive is developing a series of modular hybrid drives that will meet micro-, mild- and full-hybrid applications. The company is currently testing the micro and mild modules, and plans to have the full-hybrid drive with electrical outputs of up to 75 kW available by 2008. (GCC)

Bosch, which like Siemens VDO is developing a full family of hybrid drive solutions, plans first production of a micro-hybrid electronic start/stop system for 2006. (GCC)

UQM Technologies is providing the hybrid electric propulsion system for use in a prototype US Army heavy truck being developed by Stewart & Stevenson Tactical Vehicle Systems. (GCC)

ELECTRIC

Nissan Motor unveiled Pivo, an electric car concept, featuring an innovative cabin that revolves 360 degrees, eliminating the need to reverse. Thanks to its compact body, the car is also exceptionally easy to maneuver. Pivo is powered by Nissan's high-performance lithium-ion battery and Super Motor, used in its X-Trail fuel cell vehicle (FCV) prototype, and the Effis FCV commuter car concept shown at the 2003 Tokyo Motor Show among others. (GCC)

Oxygen S.p.A. , a provider of electric scooters, has chosen Saphion lithium-ion battery systems from Valence Technology to power two of its models. Valence is the battery partner in EDrive's work in commercializing the plug-in Prius. (GCC)

Among the production and concept cars Mitsubishi will display at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show (22 Oct to 6 Nov) will be the new Lancer Evolution Mitsubishi In-wheel Electric Vehicle (MIEV). The Lancer is the most recent electric test vehicle (following the Colt EV announced in May) and is the only one Mitsubishi will have in its stand at the show. (GCC)

BATTERIES

Altairnano has expanded its lithium-ion battery research, product development, manufacturing and marketing groups with the addition of eleven advanced battery scientists, engineers, manufacturing and marketing specialists. (GCC)

Johnson Controls, the world's largest manufacturer of automotive original equipment and aftermarket batteries, has launched a $4-million advanced lithium-ion battery development laboratory in Milwaukee to work on solutions for hybrid-electric vehicles. (GCC)

Maxwell Technologies has unveiled a compact, fully integrated, 48-volt multi-cell BOOSTCAP ultracapacitor module for heavy-duty transportation and industrial energy storage and power delivery applications. (GCC)

HYDROGEN

Hydrogenics has tapped American Superconductor Corporation as the provider for power electronic converters for use in the propulsion system of a 40-foot fuel cell-ultracapacitor hybrid transit bus being developed for demonstration in Canada.

The fuel cell bus demonstration project, partly funded by Natural Resources Canada, was announced at the end of 2003, and was originally due to be complete this year. Current timing projects completion early in 2006. The bus will be the first in Canada to use a hybrid combination of fuel cells and ultracapacitors. The bus will also feature Hydrogenics' vehicle-to-grid capabilities. (GCC).

Scientists at North Carolina State University have modeled a nanoscale method for extracting hydrogen from water that should require only half the energy of current hydrogen production methods. The researchers discovered that defects in carbon nanotubes make it easier to disassociate water molecules and thus to extract hydrogen. (GCC)

DaimlerChrysler announced that the company has hit the one million mile mark with its fuel cell vehicles. The figure represents the combined mileage of more than 100 fuel cell vehicles operating worldwide including the Mercedes-Benz F-Cell passenger cars, Dodge Sprinter medium-duty fuel cell powered vans and Citaro fuel cell powered transportation buses. (GCC)

BIOFUELS

New York Governor George E. Pataki is joining the Governors' Ethanol Coalition (GEC), a bipartisan organization that is working to promote the development and use of ethanol-based fuels nationally and globally. Governor Pataki is the first Northeast governor to join the coalition of 31—now 32—states and five foreign countries (Puerto Rico, Sweden, Canada, Mexico and Brazil). (GCC)

In a speech to the meeting of the GEC, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty called on every state to take steps toward use of at least 10% ethanol in gasoline (an E10 blend) by 2010. Pawlenty chairs the GEC. (GCC)

Ohio Governor Bob Taft has instructed the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to use at least one million gallons of B20 biodiesel fuel and 30,000 gallons of E85 ethanol per year, and to select only Flex-Fuel (capable of running gasoline or ethanol blends up to E85) vehicles for new car purchases. (GCC)

DaimlerChrysler will collaborate with Detroit-based NextEnergy and Biodiesel Industries on biodiesel development and technical innovation, as well as the development and refinement of industry standards for the rapidly-growing biodiesel industry. (GCC)

The Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) will invest RM60 million (US$16 million) on three palm-oil biodiesel plants, each with an annual capacity of 60,000 tonnes (about 18.4 million gallons US, or 70 million liters). (GCC)

SOLAR

The Dutch Nuon Solar Team smashed its own world record for driving a solar car from Darwin to Adelaide in this year's Panasonic World Solar Challenge. Nuon's latest car, Nuna 3, turned in a 29-hour and 11-minute time on the 3,021 kilometer (1.878 miles) race, with an average speed of 102.75 km/h (64 mph). This stripped almost two hours from its previous 2003 world mark of 30 hours 54 minutes and broke the 100 kph average speed barrier for the first time. (GCC)

SYNTHETICS

Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell has announced the formation of a consortium that will purchase nearly the full output of synthetic diesel fuel to be produced by the nation's first Coal-to-Liquids (CTL) plant that uses waste coal as a feedstock.

The plant, to be built by Waste Management and Processors Inc. (WMPI) of Gilberton, Schuylkill County, will produce as much as 40 million gallons of synthetic diesel annually. WMPI expects to break ground and start construction as early as spring of 2006. (GCC)

NATURAL GAS

Bosch has developed an engine management system specifically geared to bi-fuel (bivalent) vehicles which can be alternately powered by gasoline or compressed natural gas (CNG). Production will start in 2006. (GCC)

The South Coast (CA) Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) has awarded Cummins Westport Inc. $690,000 in funding for CWI's heavy-duty ISL G natural gas engine development program. The Cummins Westport ISL G engine will meet 2010 emission standards of 0.2 g/bhp-hr oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and 0.01 g/bhp-hr particulate matter (PM) at launch in 2007 (i.e., three years before required). (GCC)

OTHER

The re-designed Toyota Yaris, which had its world debut at the recent Frankfurt IAA, is on its way to the US in early 2006 as a 2007 model year vehicle. Toyota will stage the premier of the new Yaris for the US at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in November. The initial US Yaris will use a larger engine (1.5-liter) than its global counterparts, and appear first as a three-door liftback. A 1.5-liter gasoline engine was a standard option on the older Yaris, but Toyota removed it from its initial global lineup for the new Yaris. (GCC)

Nissan reportedly will begin producing its promised new low-priced subcompact for the North American market next spring. The new car will be based on the subcompact Tiida, and use the new 1.5-liter HR15DE engine, co-developed with Renault. The HR15DE has already appeared in Nissan's recently introduced Note and Tiida models in the Japanese Market. (GCC)

The context for all of this: accelerating melting has shrunk Arctic ice to its smallest extent in at least a century, according to scientists from NASA, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), and the University of Washington. For the fourth consecutive year, NSIDC and NASA scientists using satellite data have tracked a "stunning" reduction in arctic sea ice at the end of the northern summer. The persistence of near-record low extents leads the group to conclude that Arctic sea ice is likely on an accelerating, long-term decline. (GCC)

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