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The Week in Sustainable Transportation (11/27/05)
Mike Millikin, 27 Nov 05

xebra_pink.jpgMike Millikin writes about the the ongoing evolution of transportation at Green Car Congress.

The week opened with GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner announcing the closing of nine assembly, stamping and powertrain facilities and three Service and Parts Operations facilities, and the elimination of 30,000 jobs. Management remains optimistic that the company's new products, including the much needed (from a bottom-line perspective) new full-size SUVs, will help it recover on the sales side. (GCC)

Toyota announced that the cumulative worldwide sales of its hybrids have topped the 500,000 mark, with approximately 513,000 units sold worldwide by the end of October this year. The majority of those sales (426,800, or 83%) come from the Prius. (GCC)

Ford Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bill Ford called for overcoming the energy and manufacturing challenges facing the USA through private/public investment in innovation. He outlined six short-term cooperative measures between industry and government including a dramatic increase of the R&D tax credit to more directly support companies working on advanced vehicles, components, and fuel technologies; pushing governments at all levels by 2010 to consider buying only hybrids or other alternatively fueled vehicles; and expanding the infrastructure for E85 fuels (85% ethanol) to go from hundreds of fuel stations to thousands. (GCC)

HYBRIDS

Case IH displayed a diesel-hybrid concept tractor at the recent Agritechnica show in Germany. The ProHyrbid EECVT is based on a Case MXM tractor and combines a 120 kW (160 hp) diesel engine offering 800 Nm torque with two 50kW (67 hp) electric motor/generators. (GCC)

The Roaring Fork Transit Authority (Colorado) has ordered and is receiving four GM-Allison diesel hybrid buses. "Everybody asks about fuel economy. I say don't even go there. Buy it for those other reasons. If they get better mileage, that's a bonus to reduced fumes, emissions and noise." (GCC)

HYDROGEN

The Indian national steering group on hydrogen energy, headed by industrialist Ratan Tata, has developed a roadmap to have 1 million hydrogen-fueled vehicles—combustion-engine as well as fuel-cell vehicles—on Indian roads by 2020 and to generate 1,000 MW of power through hydrogen-fueled plants. (GCC)

A report published this fall by Argonne National Laboratory analyzes potential hydrogen demand, production, and cost should the projected shift to a hydrogen-fueled transportation system occur.

Among the conclusions is that coal will match natural gas as the largest source of hydrogen by 2030, and then move into the lead, providing 26.5% of the hydrogen to fuel the hydrogen highway by 2050. Biomass-derived hydrogen (via gasification) comes in second by 2050, with 23.9%, followed by distributed electrolysis, with 17.6%. (GCC)

GreenShift Corporation, a business development corporation that invests in emerging companies and technologies which might enable large environmental gains, is taking a 25% position ($500,000) position in Aerogel Composite (ACI), a development-stage company making meso-porous carbon aerogel composites. ACI has patented a process for the preparation of aerogel composites destined for a variety of applications, including carbon aerogel-supported catalysts for fuel cells and other metal oxide aerogel-supported catalysts for catalytic converters for combustion engines. (GCC)

Masterflex AG, a processor of specialty polymers that runs a fuel-cell division, has received the first order for its fuel-cell powered electric bicycle. (GCC)

DaimlerChrysler officially handed over three hydrogen fuel-cell-powered Citaro buses to the City of Beijing on Wednesday at the opening of the 4th International Clean Vehicle Technology Conference and Exhibition. As part of a fuel cell project which has been specifically conceived for the Chinese market, the fuel-cell Citaro buses will enter regular service in Beijing on a busy 19-km long route which passes the Summer Palace as well as the site for the next Olympic Games. (GCC)

BIOFUELS

A French government/industry roundtable this week developed a 15-point action plan to advance the use of biofuels in France, including large increases in the direct use of ethanol in blends and in E85 flex-fuel vehicles, and support for a broader range of approaches to biodiesel production. (GCC)

Rothsay, Canada's largest independent rendering company, has opened the country's first commercial-scale biodiesel plant. The new facility has the capacity to produce 35 million liters (9.2 million gallons) of biodiesel annually and is located in Ville Ste. Catherine on Montreal's South Shore. (GCC)

New York Governor George Pataki issued an executive order that requires state agencies and public authorities to use more biodiesel in its vehicles and its heating plants. By 2007, the State's diesel fleet must be using at least 2% biodiesel, with this percentage rising to 10% in 2012. Also by 2012, the heating plants in State buildings must use at least 5% biodiesel. The Governor's Clean Fueled Vehicle Council also will develop and implement plans to increase the number and accessibility of E85 (85% ethanol blend for flex-fuel vehicles). (GCC)

The Utah Transit Authority is switching to a B20 biodiesel blend for its fleet. The transit agency, which serves Salt Lake City, Provo, Orem and surrounding counties, is in the final stages of negotiating a purchase agreement with an Ogden refinery to provide biodiesel for UTA's bus and para-transit fleets. (GCC)

The South Dakota Bureau of Administration's Fleet and Travel Management is replacing current fleet vehicles with 251 flex-fuel vehicles (FFV) capable of burning E85 (85% ethanol). The FFVs represent 82% of the state's total order of new vehicles this year, according to South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds, and brings the total number of FFVs in the state fleet to 562 units, or 17.5% of all fleet vehicles. (GCC)

BATTERIES AND ELECTRIC

Altair Nanotechnologies (Altairnano), a supplier of advanced ceramic nanomaterials used, among other applications, in lithium-ion battery electrodes, has been awarded a $250,000 grant from the Indiana Advanced Energy Technologies Program (AETP) initiative. The grant funding will help Altair purchase and install production and test equipment for lithium-ion cells, batteries and battery packs in its development and manufacturing center in Anderson, Indiana. (GCC)

Hybrid Technologies, the maker of customized electric versions of production cars, has announced the purchase of an unspecified number of its electric versions of the Mini Cooper and DaimlerChrysler smart car by an unnamed $26-billion Fortune-500 company. The vehicles are scheduled for delivery by Q1 2006. (GCC)

ZAP introduced an electric three-wheeled city car, the XEBRA, at the San Francisco International Auto Show. (GCC)

SYNTHETICS

The Senate has approved the preparation of a national coal-to-liquids development program. Proposed by Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) as an amendment to the Senate's just-passed defense appropriations bill (S.1042), the language calls for the Department of Energy to prepare a development plan for the national coal-to-liquids program within 90 days of the enactment of the bill and for the Department of Defense to prepare a report on the potential use of the resulting synthetic fuels. (GCC)

The Pembina Institute, an environmental group based in Alberta, Canada, has issued a cautionary environmental report on the effects of the boom in Canadian oil sands production. The report, Oil Sands Fever: The Environmental Implications of Canada's Oil Sands Rush, warns of escalating water usage, rising greenhouse gas emissions and the disruption of Alberta's boreal forest. (GCC)

Natural Resources Canada, National Research Council Canada, and the US Department of Energy have published a report that starts to identify the gaps in knowledge related to the use of fuels derived from synthetic crude produced from oil sands (OSDF -- Oil-Sands-Derived Fuels) in advanced combustion engines. (GCC)

NATURAL GAS AND PROPANE

Coming shortly after its announcement of a US franchise network for converting gasoline and diesel engines to run on natural gas or propane, Hybrid Fuel Systems (HFS) has announced an exclusive sub-license agreement with BPM Diesel Engineering in the UK for HFS conversion kits. (GCC)

Optima Bus Corporation delivered 14 propane-fueled American Heritage Streetcars to VIA Metropolitan Transit, located in San Antonio, Texas. VIA was the first transit agency to purchase the turn-of-the-century design streetcars from Optima more than 20 years ago. The transit agency only recently retired those first streetcars, and is replacing them with the propane-fueled models. (GCC)

DIESEL

DaimlerChrysler is considering selling a Canada-only diesel-engine version of its minivans while preparing a major product offensive for 2006. DaimlerChrysler in Europe sells fuel-efficient diesel variants of the Voyager, as well as the Chrysler 300 sedan and other models, but Chrysler's Canadian diesel offerings are confined to trucks and Jeeps. (GCC)

Nissan is working on plans to introduce diesel-powered pickups and SUVs into the US market, according to CEO Carlos Ghosn. “Until it is definitively established which technology is the final answer to the environmental question, we need to systematically pursue all solutions: diesel, ethanol, hydrogen, electric and hybrid.” (GCC)

GM announced it will introduce the Captiva—a new compact Chevrolet SUV based on the S3X concept vehicle—at the Geneva Show in March 2006. At the Paris Motor Show in 2004, GM showed a diesel micro-hybrid version of the S3X concept -- a vehicle that used GM's Belt Alternator Starter (BAS) system to provide stop-start functionality and regenerative braking. The Captiva will offer the first production application of the new 2.0-liter GM Daewoo diesel engine, making it Chevrolet's first compact diesel SUV in Europe. (GCC)

Rypos, the developer of developer of an electric-powered self-regenerating filter for large diesel engines, has recently introduced two active diesel emission filter product lines for engines whose output ranges from 100 kW to 2 MW -- one to work with high-sulfur fuel, the other with low sulfur. Rypos' active regeneration technology relies on banks of sintered metal filter elements. When a microprocessor senses that the filters need regeneration, it automatically sends an electric current through the conductive fibers to heat them and burn off accumulated particles. There is no need for high exhaust temperatures to regenerate. (GCC)

Clean Diesel Technologies, a developer of chemical and technological solutions to reduce harmful engine emissions, announced that independent tests have demonstrated that the platinum emissions from the Company's Platinum Plus fuel borne catalyst (FBC) do not pose an allergenic risk. Platinum Plus is a bimetallic platinum/cerium kerosene-based fuel additive used at 4-8 ppm metal in fuel that improves fuel economy and reduces emissions. (GCC)

At the 8 December public meeting of the California Air Resources Board (ARB), ARB staff will propose for Board consideration two new regulations designed to mitigate criteria emissions from cargo-handling equipment used at California ports as well as ocean-going vessels docked the ports or within 24 nautical miles of the coast. In October, ARB released a report detailing its findings that diesel PM emissions from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach contributed some 21% of the total South Coast Air Basin PM emissions in 2002, with corresponding impact on public health. (GCC)

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