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The Week in Sustainable Transportation (11/20/05)
Mike Millikin, 20 Nov 05

burgan.pngMike Millikin writes about the the ongoing evolution of transportation at Green Car Congress.

Kuwait's Greater Burgan oil field, the second largest in the world behind Saudi Arabia's giant Ghawar, apparently has hit peak production, according to Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) chairman and managing director Farouk Al Zanki. (GCC) AMEinfo noted:

However, it is surely a landmark moment when the world's second largest oil field begins to run dry. For Burgan has been pumping oil for almost 60 years and accounts for more than half of Kuwait's proven oil reserves. This is also not what forecasters are currently assuming.

With US gasoline prices declining somewhat at the moment, sales of SUVs, pickups and larger cars have recovered a bit in November, according to a mid-month report from J. D. Power. The early data reflects an increase in the sales of pickups (up 4%), SUVs (up 2%) and larger cars (up 7%). By contrast, the compact car segment is tracking down 19%.

The J. D. Power report also indicates that Toyota has blasted past Ford in terms of market share to take the number two spot in the US market and is within one percentage point of overtaking GM. (GCC)

In Washington, the House narrowly passed a $50-billion budget-cutting measure (H.R. 4241) 217-215. The approved version does not contain the original provisions for opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). It does contain language that lets mining companies buy public land again in the Rocky Mountain West and speeds up oil-shale development. (GCC)

The week also saw lawmakers in both House and Senate introduce a set of bills mandating targeted reduction in oil consumption, and more aggressive development of hybrids, plug-in-hybrids and flex-fuel vehicles. The bills also substantially increase the support for cellulosic ethanol development. (GCC)

Also on the Hill, a bi-partisan group of US Senators—Dick Lugar (R-IN), Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Barack Obama (D-IL)—have introduced a bill that would require all US-marketed gasoline-powered vehicles to be Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) within ten years. (GCC)

A group of 18 CEOs from diverse Canadian companies or subsidiaries, including Alcan, BC Hydro, Shell Canada, E.I. Dupont Canada, Bombardier and Power Corp, have sent a joint letter to Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin supporting the Kyoto protocol and urging that Canada's climate-change plan extend beyond the 2008-2012 time frame of that instrument. (GCC)

The EU Parliament is calling for more aggressive actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% in 2020 and by 60%–80% by 2050. The transportation sector, responsible for about 30% of the Community’s GHG emissions, comes in for particular attention. Among the policies proposed are mandatory limits in CO2 emissions from new vehicles in the range of 80–100 grams/kilometer—far below current levels. (GCC)


The Los Angeles County, California, Board of Supervisors is modifying its ten-year old Clean Fuels Program to make hybrids the standard for new non-emergency passenger sedans acquired to conduct routine County Business. (GCC)

Ford Motor has reached full-scale production of the Mariner Hybrid—its second hybrid vehicle on the market—at the Kansas City Assembly Plant. Initial production began in October. Ford pulled planned production of the Mariner hybrid ahead by a year as part of its stepped-up hybrid commitment. (GCC)

PSA Peugeot Citroen will introduce a diesel-hybrid prototype early in 2006. Jean-Martin Folz, Chairman of the Managing Board, maintains that only diesel-hybrids make sense as non-hybrid diesels can deliver comparable fuel economy to gasoline-hybrids at lower cost. The company, wary of whether or not its customers would pay more for the increased fuel efficiency, is making no committment to actually producing the diesel hybrid prototype. (GCC)

Toyota Motor will introduce its third-generation hybrid system in 2008. The new hybrid drive will be more smaller and cost-efficient, yet more powerful than the current version, featuring lighter batteries but delivering higher performance. (GCC)

Village Technology is promoting its diesel hybrid (or hydrogen fuel cell) smart tram technology (SMRrTRAM) as a means to revitalize central business districts. The SMRrTram is a wheeled, bus-like vehicle that operates at street level and provides continuous, high capacity, two-way transport along a single, dedicated guide lane. SMRrTRAMs move in both directions along the single lane coordinated by a sophisticated synchronization logic (Auto Bidirectional Synchronization Logic (ABS-Logic)— the core intellectual property of the company). Two trams always arrive together at each stop, from opposite directions, and the next pair is never more than two-and-a-half minutes away. (GCC)

The ski resort town of Avon, Colorado, is testing a diesel-electric series hybrid bus, the Opus hybrid from Optima Bus. The Opus Hybrid is based on an ISE-Siemens series hybrid powertrain, and is projected to reduce fuel consumption (and associated emissions) between 20% to 40%, depending upon the route and driving patterns. (GCC)

"The "Public Power Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) Symposium" wrapped up Friday in Los Angeles. Sponsored by the American Public Power Association (APPA) and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the symposium provided briefings on the current state of plug-in hybrid technology and reviewed PHEV initiatives at all government levels. They also discussed the technology's potential effect on -- and benefit to -- the electric power industry, and the increasingly likely convergence of the electric power and transportation industries. (GCC)


SunLine Transit Agency unveiled its new fuel cell hybrid bus at the 2005 Fuel Cell Seminar. Part of the same project that produced the bus earlier shown by AC Transit, the bus features an ISE Corp hybrid-electric drive system with a 120kW fuel cell power system built by UTC Power, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. (GCC)

Hydrogenics has introduced its new HyPM 500 family of fuel cell power modules, with or without integrated DC power options, and fuel cell power packs. The new series focuses on standardization—all Hydrogenics module sizes are now built around the 500 series stack. The company has also standardized certain desirable integrated options -- such as select power conditioning options and hybrid package options -- reducing the need for customized work. (GCC)

Honda has officially introduced its third generation of a home combined heating, power and hydrogen system, the Home Energy Station III, in the US in conjunction with its partner Plug Power. The HES III is 30% more compact and delivers 25% more electrical power than previous Home Energy Station models. The station is capable of producing up to 5 kW of power and up to 3 normal cubic meters per hour (Nm3/hr) of hydrogen. (GCC)

GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co., the third-largest automaker in South Korea and now a subsidiary of GM, plans to participate in the hydrogen fuel cell project being pushed by its parent. GM Daewoo will conduct a feasibility study on whether it can apply GM's hydrogen fuel cell technology to its vehicles, according to the company's president. (GCC)

Researchers at the University of Michigan have created a class of lightweight, rigid polymers that could serve as a new type of lightweight storage for hydrogen gas for use in fuel cell vehicles. The results appear in a paper in the 17 November issue of Science. (GCC)

Canadian Hydrogen Energy Company (CHEC) introduced a smaller version of its Hydrogen Fuel Injection System (HFI LT) targeted at passenger vehicles and Class 1 to Class 4 light trucks up to 7.3 liters in displacement. HFI introduces small amounts of hydrogen and oxygen, produced via an on-board electrolysis unit, into the intake manifold and thence into the fuel charge, improving combustion and permitting a leaner fuel mix, thereby delivering more power with about a 10% increase in fuel efficiency and reduced emissions. (GCC)


The National Biodiesel Board estimates US production of biodiesel will reach 75 million gallons in 2005, up three times from the 25 million gallons produced in 2004. That represents approximtely 0.2% of annual on-road diesel consumption in the US. (GCC)

EarthFirst Americas (EFA), a wholly owned subsidiary of EarthFirst Technologies, has begun importing biodiesel to the US. EFA plans to import regular shipments that are expected to grow to monthly loads of 3,000,000 gallons by the end of the first quarter of 2006.

EFA plans to source its biodiesel from variety of feedstocks. The first cargo of biodiesel was made entirely from Ecuadorian palm oil utilizing existing refining technologies. The American Soybean Association (ASA) expressed "outrage" over the announcement, challenging the move as designed simply to take advantage of the new tax incentive for biodiesel sold in the United States. (GCC)

Malaysia's switch to biodiesel will begin next year, at least one year ahead of schedule. Three federal ministries -- Transport, Defence, and Primary Enterprises and Commodities -- have volunteered to pilot the use of a B5 palm biodiesel blend (5% biodiesel). The Government's initial plan was to introduce it in early 2007. (GCC)

Japanese researchers have devised a low-cost, ecologically friendly solid catalyst for the production of biodiesel: a carbon catalyst produced from sugar, starch or cellulose. (GCC)

General Motors is partnering with the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) to provide twenty E85-capable flex-fuel vehicles capable of burning an 85% ethanol to residents of Reynolds, Indiana, to use for the next two years. Reynolds, the first BioTown, USA, is the pilot community in a project that strives to meet the majority of energy needs through biorenewable resources. This includes natural gas from methane, electricity from manure gasification, and having vehicles run on biofuels. (GCC)

Brazil is considering the possibility of building ethanol plants in Jamaica to have access to the US market without being hit with a standard import duty. (GCC)

The US Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Energy (DOE) recently issued a joint solicitation for applications to support R&D projects in bioenergy and biofuels for fiscal year 2006. This is the fourth year in which the agencies have jointly solicited R&D projects under the Biomass Initiative. About 45% of the $14 million in funding is allocated to projects involving cellulosic ethanol. (GCC)

DaimlerChrysler and United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) have announced their joint commitment to ensuring the availability and sustainable use of biofuels. In their statement, they emphasized the importance of a consistent global system of laws, policies, regulations and standards to enure maximizing the benefit of such fuels. (GCC)


The US Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration (FTA) awarded Integrated Concepts & Research Corporation (ICRC), approximately $2.6 million in cooperative agreements to evaluate the use of Fischer-Tropsch diesel fuel. (GCC)

State-owned Shenhua Group, China's largest coal company, has completed 30% of the construction of the first phase of its major coal-to-liquids project at the Shenfu Dongsheng coalfields in Inner Mongolia. Production is scheduled to begin in 2007, with initial output of approximately 1 million tons per year, or about 840,000 gallons per day. With the addition of three subsequent phases, Shenhua is planning an increase in output to 20 million tons by 2020—about 17 million gallons of synthetic fuels and chemicals per day. (GCC)

Government-owned Solid Energy New Zealand Ltd., the largest coal mining company in the country, is investigating a NZ$1 billion (US$685 million) Coal-to-Liquids project. (GCC)

Syntroleum has signed three different memoranda of understandings (MOU) that could lead to the construction of gas-to-liquids (GTL) plants using its proprietary Fischer-Tropsch technology in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Egypt. (GCC)


Hybrid Fuel Systems (HFS) has formed a multi-state franchise network of companies to convert and then service gasoline and diesel engines to operate on natural gas or propane. (GCC)

The GNV (Natural Gas Vehicle) Committee of IBP (Brazilian Petroleum and Gas Institute) has confirmed that Brazil has passed the one million mark for natural gas vehicles, reaching 1,000,424 by the end of September. (GCC)


Work has begun on retrofitting 30 buses in Beijing with clean diesel technology under a collaboration between the US EPA, China's State Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and industry partners. The project hopes to use two different technologies for comparison purposes: diesel particulate filters with low-sulfur diesel fuel, and diesel oxidation catalysts. (GCC)

GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co. will start mass production next March of diesel engines that meet the Euro 4 emission standards. GM Daewoo began pilot production of Euro 4 diesel engines in September at its new plant in Gunsan, a port city southwest of Seoul. The company plans to install the new diesels in a sport utility vehicle slated to debut early next year. Those engines will also be installed in vehicles for export. (GCC)

Siemens and Bosch have been jointly awarded the German Future Prize 2005 for the development of piezo injection technology for use in diesel and gasoline engines. (GCC)


The first independent engine test facility of the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences (CRAES) has begun operations in Beijing. The facility, established with financial and technical support from BASF, will monitor fuel qualities in China. (GCC)

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Thanks again for this summary of the weeks transportation news. I pick up most of these every week on GCC (Im a regular reader) but I love knowing I can count on these summaries for anything Ive missed. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: Jesse Jenkins on 21 Nov 05

Here is something to depress you all.

Remember how I warned about what would likely happen if alot of developing countries went bio fuel?

Well its happening. They are cuting down tropical forests left and right to make massive bio fuel farms.

It sounds from what I have read like its armageddon for alot of forests.

Posted by: wintermane on 24 Nov 05

It is splendid to read of so much development effort in bio-fuels and slightly less-polluting diesel engines. It saddens me that so little is said about actually ~reducing~ out energy demands.
In Thailand where I live, most people gad about on mopeds of about 100cc to 125cc engine capacity; I fill up with 95-grade petrol for about 3 litres per filling, twice a week - a total of less than two gallons - and use considerably less than any sports utility vehicle.
Should we not be considering ~real~ alternatives to hybrids-use-less-so-we-can-go-for-bigger-engines?

Posted by: Geoff Probert on 25 Nov 05



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