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The Week in Sustainable Transportation (02/19/06)
Mike Millikin, 19 Feb 06

h2panda.jpgMike Millikin covers the ongoing evolution of personal transportation at Green Car Congress.

Stating that tackling the challenge of climate change requires a "complete and radical change of mindset," Lewis Booth, Ford executive vice president overseeing Ford of Europe and Premier Automotive Group, said the company acknowledged the importance of climate change and the responsibility to take action. (GCC.)

Scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have found evidence that tropical Atlantic Ocean temperatures may have once reached 107°F (42°C) -- about 25°F (14°C) higher than ocean temperatures today and warmer than a hot tub. The surprisingly high ocean temperatures occurred millions of year ago when carbon dioxide levels in Earth’s atmosphere were also high, but researchers say they may be an indication that greenhouse gases could heat the oceans in the future much more than currently anticipated. The study suggests that climate models underestimate future warming. (GCC.)

The amount of ice that Greenland's glaciers dump into the Atlantic Ocean has almost doubled in the last five years because glaciers are moving faster, according to a new study published in Science. Rising surface air temperatures appear to be triggering the increases in glacier speed in the southern half of Greenland, according to the authors of the study. As a result, many estimates of Greenland's future contributions to sea-level rise could be too low. (GCC.)

The DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that carbon dioxide emissions from energy use in the US will increase from 5,900 million metric tons in 2004 to 7,587 million metric tons in 2025 and 8,114 million metric tons in 2030—an average annual increase of 1.2% per year from 2003 and a 62% increase in carbon dioxide emissions over the 5,002 million metric tons emitted in 1990, the baseline for emissions reductions under the Kyoto Protocol. The EIA forecast came in the Annual Energy Outlook 2006.

The EIA projects that the transportation sector will contribute 33.7% of total US energy-related CO2 emissions in 2030, up slightly from 32.6% in 2003.

Despite much higher oil prices, increases in fuel efficiency, market penetration of diesels and hybrids and increased use of alternative and biofuels, the EIA also forsees continued dominance of gasoline as the fuel for light-duty vehicles (cars and light trucks). As represented by energy consumption, gasoline will drop from a 97.6% share of light-duty vehicle fuel in 2003 to 81.6% by 2030, according to the forecast. (GCC.)

The industrialized countries that have ratified the 1997 Kyoto Protocol are tracking to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of a combined 3.5% below 1990 levels during the first commitment period (2008-2012). The Protocol requires a reduction of at least 5%. With the help of additional measures and the use of Kyoto market-based mechanisms, they will as a group be able to reach their agreed Kyoto reduction targets, according to the acting head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. (GCC.)

In research recently completed at Emory University School of Medicine, scientists have discovered a mutant enzyme that could enable plants to use and to convert carbon dioxide more quickly, effectively removing more greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere. (GCC.)

Even at very low levels, ozone—the principal ingredient in smog—increases the risk of premature death, according to a nationwide study to be published in the April edition of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. (GCC.)

HYBRIDS

Ford of Canada is on track to become the first automaker to bring hybrid vehicle production to Canada when the Oakville Assembly Complex (OAC) adds hybrid versions of the all-new Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX to its assembly line by 2010. (GCC.)

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell announced the investment of $3.7 million in Alternative Fuel Incentive Grants (AFIG), in amounts ranging from $500 to $2 million, for 23 projects. Among the awards are a grant for $112,000 toward participation in a buyer's consortium for the commercial development of a plug-in electric/biodiesel hybrid school bus. (GCC.)

Iveco, a Fiat Group company and a major global manufacturer of commercial vehicles, has provided two diesel hybrid versions of its Daily transport van to Gruppo Torinese Trasporti (GTT), the company that runs public transport in and around Turin, for use during the Olympics. (GCC.)

Hybrids from a number of different Chinese automakers—including the Dongfeng Motor Corporation (DFM), Chang'an Motor Corp, Chery Auto Company and the China FAW Group Corporation—will enter the Chinese market at the end of 2006, according to the head of a national team of experts on the hybrid automobile program. (GCC.)

Hyundai Motor (HMC) is exploring the possibility of introducing hybrid vehicles as well as vehicles running on compressed natural gas (NGV) in the Indian market. (GCC.)

BIOFUELS

The Washington State House of Representatives has passed a renewable fuel standard (HB 2738) that mandates 2% minimum annual sales of biodiesel within that state, and a minimum 2% ethanol content for all gasoline sold in the state. (GCC.)

A Maine non-profit group has released a plan detailing how the state could turn its vast quantities of forest waste into a range of biofuels and chemicals, providing up to 50% of the state's annual energy needs. (GCC.)

BATTERIES and ELECTRIC CARS

Researchers at MIT have developed lithium nickel manganese oxide electrodes for a new type of lithium battery that offers unexpectedly high rate-capabilityóconsiderably better than lithium cobalt oxide, the current battery electrode material of choice. (GCC.)

Axeon Holdings—developers of microprocessor architectures optimized to support machine learning—is acquiring Advanced Batteries (ABL)—a designer and manufacturer of high-performance lithium-ion batteries—the better to address the developing market for alternative power sources for electric (EV) and hybrid electric (HEV) vehicles. (GCC.)

Hybrid Technologies, the manufacturer of specialty electric vehicles including electric versions of the Mini Cooper and Smart car, has formed a joint venture with Mullen Motors to produce an electric version of the exotic sportscar Mullen GT. The company claims that the performance of the emissions-free Carbon Fiber Super Car will match the current GT model, with a top speed of 180 mph and acceleration from 0ñ60 mph in just over 3 seconds. (GCC.)

HYDROGEN

Nissan Canada (NCI) will begin testing a new X-TRAIL FCV (fuel-cell vehicle) in and around the Greater Vancouver area. The 70 MPa (10,000 psi) high-pressure hydrogen-powered Nissan X-TRAIL FCV is the company's most-recent developmental fuel-cell vehicle. Equipped with the first-ever Nissan-constructed fuel cell stack, the X-TRAIL FCV also boasts a more compact design and increased power. (GCC.)

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) added three DaimlerChrysler hydrogen fuel-cell (F-Cell) vehicles to its fleet—the fourth-largest alternative-fuel truck fleet in the US. (GCC.)

Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide has been awarded a contract to develop a hydrogen-fueled Ford Escape Hybrid vehicle for the US Army National Automotive Center (NAC). Quantum is developing 30 hydrogen-fueled Prius hybrids for fleets in Southern California. (GCC.)

Mazda Motor Corporation has begun leasing the dual-fuel RX-8 Hydrogen RE to its first two corporate customers in Japan. The RX-8 Hydrogen RE is equipped with a rotary engine, and features a dual-fuel system that allows the driver to select either hydrogen or gasoline with the flick of a switch. (GCC.)

Fiat and the Italian Region of Piedmont will work together on a wide-ranging cooperative program for hydrogen-fueled transport. The company will focus first on the study of a Panda Hydrogen lab fleet equipped with instrumentation to measure vehicle and system performance under real operating conditions. The Panda Hydrogen uses a direct hydrogen power system—there is no large battery pack as in a hybrid configuration. The system consists mainly of three Nuvera fuel cells, a turbo-blower to supply the cells with air, a humidification and cooling system for correct management of reagent gases and a set of auxiliary components, all developed within the Fiat Group. (GCC.)

Nanomix Inc., a nanotechnology company specializing in nanoelectronic sensors for industrial and biomedical applications, has been awarded two additional US patents related to cryosorptive hydrogen storage technology. (GCC.)

DIESEL

GM's Opel has refreshed its best-selling Meriva minivan, downsizing from a 1.7-liter diesel with an award-winning entry-level 1.3-liter diesel engine with the same power and torque rating. (GCC.)

Volvo Trucks North America unveiled its new family of heavy-duty diesel engines -- the 11-liter D11, 13-liter D13 and 16-liter D16 -- that meet the upcoming 2007 US emissions standards. Volvo Trucks North America will use high-performance cooled Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) and diesel particulate filters (DPF) to meet the new standards. The third component of the emissions reduction formula is the ultra-low sulfur diesel being introduced in North America in the fourth quarter of 2006. (GCC.)

Cummins Inc. announced the readiness of its on-highway diesel engine product line to meet the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (CARB) emissions standards for 2007. Cummins will continue to use its cooled Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) technology with the addition of exhaust aftertreatment provided by the integrated Cummins Particulate Filter and a crankcase ventilation system. (GCC.)

Slightly less than a year after the market launch, Mercedes-Benz has delivered its 10,000th commercial truck with BlueTec diesel technology for Euro-4 and Euro-5 level emissions control. The 10,000 BlueTec vehicles delivered so far account for approximately two-thirds of the Euro-4/Euro-5 trucks currently operating in Europe, according to DaimlerChrysler. Around 98% of orders are now for the future-compatible Euro-5 trucks. (GCC.)

Clean Diesel Technologies, a developer of chemical and technological solutions to reduce engine emissions, is introducing integrated urea-dosing units into Europe to work with existing Selective Catalytic Reduction Systems (SCR). (GCC.)

SYNTHETICS

The Chinese government plans to make a major investment of about US$15 billion in coal-to-liquids (CTL) plants (both direct and indirect) over the next 5 to 10 years as part of an effort to reduce dependency on oil imports. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said that the combined output of the CTL plants could reach 16 million tons annuallyóabout 320,000 barrels per day. That represents about 5% of China's current oil consumption, and 10% of imports. (GCC.)

OTHER

Sales of Nissan's new Moco minicar reached 10,320 units in the two weeks since its introduction in Japan. Nissan had planned for monthly sales of 4,400 units. (GCC.)

Volkswagen has unveiled its new Concept A—a crossover between a sports car and an SUV—that uses a 100 kW (150 hp) implementation of its new 1.4-liter Twincharger (TSI) engine. The Twincharger, introduced in August 2005, combines the low-end power boost provided by a mechanically-driven compressor (supercharging) with the higher-end increase provided by an exhaust turbocharger (turbocharging) to enable the downsizing of the engine for a given application while maintaining the driving experience for consumers. (GCC.)

The Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) will receive a Clean School Bus USA award totaling $493,003 from the Environmental Protection Agency to be applied to the purchase of 19 new compressed natural gas (CNG) school buses. (GCC.)

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, with cooperation from the Aichi Industrial Technology Institute has developed an automotive interior material which uses a plant-based resin, polybutylene succinate (PBS), combined with bamboo fiber. Parts made from the material will be used in the interior of a new-concept minicar, to be launched in Japan in fiscal 2007. (GCC.)

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Comments

The immediate danger of the Greenland melt is the shut-down of the Gulf Stream, the conveyor that heats Europe. Cold water from the melt would effectively push the warm water from the Gulf down. To give you an idea of how that would effect Europe, Rome is on the same latitude as Chicago. Paris is on the same latitude as Fargo. London is on the same latitude as Southern Greenland itself. How ironic that global warming could result in a drastic cooling of the old country.

Mark Brandon
Sustainable Log - News and Views for Socially Responsible Investors
http://sustainablelog.blogspot.com
http://www.firstsustainable.com
When you subscribe to Sustainable Log, we give $1 to Alternative Gifts International in support of a cause of your choice.


Posted by: Mark Brandon on 20 Feb 06

It's funny how when The Day After Tomorrow came out so many people were saying it could never happen, but now it kind of is slowly and in a small way.
Sigh.


Posted by: Ben Wendt on 20 Feb 06

Another useful development is a means to make existing engines run more efficiently wit a ow cost modification.

http://www.somender-singh.com details such an invention. It is a groove cut into the cylinder head that makes a more complete burn with multiple flame fronts.

Millions of drivers will not afford new hybrids.


Posted by: singh on 23 Feb 06



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