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This Week in Sustainable Transportation
Mike Millikin, 25 Dec 05

Analyses of the average global temperatures in 2005 released by four scientific agencies—The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies; The World Meteorological Organization; and the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research&mash;agreed that 2005 was either the hottest or second-hottest year since the start of record-keeping in the late 1880s. The 10 hottest years on record have all occurred since 1990. (GCC.)

Recent warming coincides with rapid growth of human-made greenhouse gases. Climate models show that the rate of warming is consistent with expectations. The observed rapid warming thus gives urgency to discussions about how to slow greenhouse gas emissions.

—NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

The International Energy Agency (IEA) made a number of proposals to strengthen emissions trading schemes designed to reduce CO2 emissions, including forcing automakers to pay the emissions costs of the cars and trucks they sell. (GCC.)

Ford issued a Climate Change Report -- the first by a major automaker -- in which it outlined some of the technologies it will apply to improving fuel economy and reducing CO2 emissions, including greater use of direct injection and downsized gasoline engines, diesel micro-hybrids in Europe, and a greater use of hybrid and non-hybrid PowerPacks engine and transmission modules across its brands. (GCC.)

Following a full review of climate policy, the government of New Zealand decided to scuttle its proposed carbon tax because, in its analysis, the tax would not cut emissions enough to justify its introduction. (GCC.)

The European Commission proposed new legislation that would require public transport operators to allocate a minimum of 25% of their annual procurement (purchasing or leasing) of heavy-duty vehicles (weight greater than 3.5 metric tons) to ?enhanced environmentally friendly vehicles? (EEVs). The Commission also formally proposed the new Euro 5 emissions standards, released earlier as a draft for comment, and due to come into effect no sooner than 2008. (GCC.)

Motorcycles collectively emit 16 times more hydrocarbons, three times more carbon monoxide and a ?disproportionately high? amount of other air pollutants compared to passenger cars in the Swiss fleet, according to a Swiss study to be published in the Jan. 1 issue of the American Chemical Society?s journal Environmental Science & Technology. (GCC.)

Two separate studies provide more insight into the linkage between particulate matter pollution and heart disease. A new study published in Circulation, the Journal of the American Heart Association, has found that inhaling diesel exhaust at levels typically found in large cities may disrupt normal blood vessel and clotting activity. This may prove to be a mechanism linking air pollution to the pathogenesis of heart attack and stroke. (GCC.)

And Researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the New York University School of Medicine are publishing a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that shows a direct cause-and-effect link between exposure to fine particle (PM) air pollution, high-fat diets and the development of atherosclerosis, commonly known as hardening of the arteries. (GCC.)

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing major revisions to its national air quality standards for fine particulate matter (PM) and from some coarse particles, strengthening the first by 46% and the second by 53%. This is not an adjustment of vehicle emissions standards—but the tighter air quality standards may at some point reflect back on new emissions standards or policies for retrofitting or culling the vehicle population. (GCC.)

The EPA and the Justice Department reached a $90-million settlement with DaimlerChrysler to repair defective emission controls on nearly 1.5 million Jeep and Dodge vehicles from model years 1996 through 2001. A joint EPA-CARB investigation disclosed that a significant percentage of the vehicles experience excessive deterioration or failure of the catalytic converter. (GCC.)

The governments of Hong Kong and Guangdong Province in China will introduce emission caps for Hong Kong power plants, and tighten emission controls at major pollution sources in the Pearl River Delta (PRD). They also agreed to study the feasibility of advancing the implementation of more stringent vehicle emission standards in Mainland cities, and stepping up regular inspection of in-use vehicles. (GCC.)


HYBRIDS

Honda said it will cut the extra cost of hybrid powertrains on the Civic (earlier post) by a third within 5 years and possibly will begin to phase out the gasoline-powered version in some markets, including Japan. (GCC.)

Southern California Edison has joined the Plug-In Hybrid Development Consortium as a founding member. The consortium is made up of a growing number of automotive suppliers, manufacturers and other organizations working together to accelerate the commercial production of Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) that provide the ability to drive 25?50 miles in all-electric mode. (GCC.)

The Optima Bus Opus diesel series-hybrid low-floor bus recently received certification by the California Air Resources Board for meeting California emissions standards and regulations. The Opus Hybrid uses 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. Production of the Opus ISE Series-Hybrid Bus will begin in 2006. (GCC.)

New Flyer won a series of orders and options for a total of 580 new buses, including 110 diesel-electric hybrids and 8 gasoline-electric hybrids. (GCC.)

BIOFUELS

Four months after its launch in Sweden, the Saab 9-5 BioPower—a flexible-fuel vehicle capable of running on ethanol blends of up to 85% (E85)—has already outsold its full-year 2006 sales target. Saab Sweden expects to take more than 5,500 orders for the BioPower by year end?equivalent to next year?s sales forecast?and now to sell more than 9,000 units of the car in the country next year. (GCC.)

Ford Motor plans to invest P1.1 billion (US$20 million) to add a flexible fuel engine plant in the Philippines. The engine plant will be Ford?s first flexible fuel facility in the region. Flexible fuel engines run on gasoline or ethanol blends of up to 85% (E85). (GCC.)

Petrobras, the Brazilian state-owned oil and gas company, has formed a joint venture company with Nippon Alcohol Hanbai (NAH) of Japan to produce fuel ethanol for the Japanese market. (GCC.)

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) has joined the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) in calling for an Iowa Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) that would replace 25% of Iowa?s gasoline with renewable fuels like ethanol and biodiesel by 2015. The proposed RFS does not mandate any per gallon renewable fuel use, but would require Iowa gasoline retailers to achieve a minimum percentage of renewable fuels use compared to total retail gasoline sales over the course of a year. Ethanol, such as E10 and E85 blends, and biodiesel, such as B2 and B20 blends, would count toward meeting the standard. (GCC.)

Minnesota truckers sought and won an emergency waiver of the state's new B2 mandate (all diesel sold in the state must have at least 2% biodiesel) due to problems with fuel filter clogging in cold weather. The Commerce Department says the glitch may stem from biodiesel that doesn?t meet fuel specifications, and that fuel will be removed during the temporary suspension. (GCC.)

HYDROGEN

Hyundai Motor plans to commercialize a coming hydrogen fuel cell-powered version of its Tucson SUV by 2010. The company plans to conduct road test of the vehicle in the US in 2009. (GCC.)

Tongji University, Shell Hydrogen BV and Shell (China) Limited have signed an agreement to build Shanghai?s first hydrogen filling station for fuel cell vehicles. In 2006 Shanghai will be operating 10 fuel cell vehicles. This small fleet will grow to 1,000 by 2010 for the hosting of the World Expo including a number of fuel cell buses sponsored by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) through the United Nations Development Program." http://www.greencarcongress.com/2005/12/tongji_universi.html (GCC.)

Dynetek Industries, together with its alliance partner enviroMECH Industries Ltd., is providing 350 bar (5000 psi) hydrogen fuel storage systems to TUG Technologies to be used in hydrogen-fueled tow tractors at the Orlando International Airport. In addition to the tow tractors, Dynetek will provide storage systems for eight V-10, Ford E-450 H2ICE shuttles operating in the Orlando area, including at the Orlando airport. (GCC.)

US Representative Bernie Sanders (I-VT) called a press conference to highlight the progress being made in a $2-million research project for Vermont, $1 million of that funded by the DOE, to build a renewable hydrogen fueling station and to convert a Prius to a hydrogen-burning hybrid for testing up to 350 bar onboard hydrogen storage and to validate the station. (GCC.)

SYNTHETICS

Rentech entered into an agreement with the Adams County, Mississippi Board of Supervisors which provides a six-month exclusivity for the parties to negotiate a contract under which Rentech would purchase or lease a site on a long-term basis for a proposed 10,000-plus barrel per day Fischer-Tropsch coal-to-liquids (CTL) strategic fuels plant. (GCC.)

JFE Engineering Corp., Daihatsu Diesel Mfg. and Iwatani International Corp. announced the development of a low-pollution generator system powered by a diesel engine that runs on dimethyl ether (DME)?the largest such engine to date powered by the synthetic fuel. DME is to diesel what LPG is to gasoline. It is gaseous at ambient conditions but can be liquefied at moderate pressure. As a fuel for compressed ignition engines it has very attractive characteristics, burning very cleanly and producing virtually no particulates (a dedicated DME vehicle would probably not require a particulate filter but would need a purpose-designed fuel handling and injection system). (GCC.)

The U.S. Department of Energy announced the selection of four new projects under its Coal and Power R&D Program. Project teams will research advanced coal-gasification technologies for the coproduction of power and hydrogen or substitute natural gas (SNG). (GCC.)

NATURAL GAS

Westport Innovations and Isuzu have signed a new joint partnership and funding agreement for the application of Westport?s Compressed Natural Gas Direct Injection (CNG-DI) technologies on Isuzu engines and commercial vehicles. The companies have been working together since 2000 on the technology, which provides up to 20% less greenhouse gas emissions (mainly carbon dioxide) than equivalent diesel engines, and improved fuel efficiency over current spark-ignited natural gas engines. (GCC.)

San Francisco, California, is working with Clean Energy, a provider of natural gas for transportation, and the Coalition Advocating for Smart Transportation (CAST), to develop packages of incentives to boost the number of compressed natural gas (CNG) and hybrid taxis serving the city. Clean Energy will provide and administer financial incentives of approximately $16,000 per CNG taxi. CAST, which played a role in getting New York City to adopt policies to support hybrid taxis, will provide resources aimed at increasing the number of hybrid taxis in San Francisco. (GCC.)

DIESEL

Renault will apply the recently-announced higher-powered version of the new 2.0-liter cDi family in the Laguna beginning in the first quarter of 2006. The new 175-hp (127-kW) version of the 2.0-liter diesel will come with a self-regenerating particulate filter. The power boost makes the 2.0-liter the most powerful diesel in that displacement class. (GCC.)

The American Trucking Associations estimates that the US trucking industry will spend $87.7 billion on fuel in 2005?a 33% increase over the $65.9 billion spent in 2004. The ATA increased its earlier estimate of $85 billion issued in September after the government issued new data on fuel consumption. For many motor carriers, fuel represents the second-highest operating expense, accounting for as much as 25% of total operating costs, according to the group. (GCC.)

OTHER

Honda Motor is entering the market for thin-film solar cells designed for use in households and also plans to promote their use in vehicles. The Honda solar panels feature a light-absorbing layer formed by a compound made of copper, indium, gallium and diselenium (CIGS). Thin-film solar cells based on CIGS (Cu(In,Ga)Se2) absorbers are among the leading devices which are expected to lower the costs for photovoltaic energy conversion. Other companies working with CIGS cells include Shell Solar and W├╝rth. (GCC.)

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