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The Week in Sustainable Mobility (4/30/06)
Mike Millikin, 30 Apr 06

Mike Millikin covers the ongoing evolution of sustainable mobility at Green Car Congress.

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President Bush chose the California Fuel Cell partnership as the venue for an Earth Day address on advanced transportation, during which he emphasized hydrogen as the future solution, but referenced hybrids, plug-in hybrids and ethanol as being important transition technologies in the short-term. (GCC.)

Later in the week, in a stated attempt to slow or reduce the rising price of fuel, the President directed the EPA administrator to use all his authority to grant temporary waivers on local fuel requirements for reformulated gasoline, as the agency did following the fuel disruptions caused by the hurricanes last summer. (GCC.)

Senators tacked a number of transportation and energy-related amendments onto the heavily-amended (190 recent amendments) Appropriations Bill that would, among other things, issue a $100 rebate per taxpayer to offset the high price of gasoline, authorize drilling in ANWR, rescind the limitations on the number of hybrids and clean diesel vehicles eligible for federal tax rebates, create an anti price-gouging measure for areas under "emergency proclamation," reduce tax breaks to the oil industry, authorize the DOT to "reform" federal fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles, bump the funding for developing cellulosic biofuels up to $1.1 billion, and increase the funding for the development of advanced batteries, hybrids and plug-in hybrids up to $1.8 billion. (GCC.)

The Indonesian government is considering the enactment of new legislation instituting compulsory fuel-savings measures because the voluntary energy conservation program it encouraged last year has proven ineffective. (GCC.)

A recent Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive Personal Finance Poll found that one-third (33%) of US adults who plan to purchase or lease a new vehicle say they are most likely to seriously consider an alternative-fueled vehicle for their next purchase. (GCC.)

Nine state Attorneys General today sued the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing, among other things, to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants across the nation. The District of Columbia and the City of New York also joined in the legal action. (GCC.)

The average new car sold in 2005 in the UK emitted 1.2% less CO2 than models registered the year before?a drop from to 169.4 g/km in 2005, according to the latest SMMT New Car Registrations by CO2 Performance report. The latest decline contributes to a 10.7% decrease from models registered in 1997. However, the UK average is approximately 6% higher than the European average of 160 g/km as calculated for Transport & Environment. (GCC.)

Ford Motor Company and TerraPass have a joined in a partnership to market TerraPass-branded carbon offsets to all drivers of Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury cars and trucks. (GCC.)

LIGHT-DUTY HYBRIDS and PLUG-IN HYBRIDS

DaimlerChrysler, GM and BMW are providing more detail on the new advanced hybrid system the three companies are co-developing. Because of its low- and high-speed electric continuously variable transmission (ECVT) modes, the system is commonly referred to as the 2-mode hybrid. However, the system also incorporates four fixed-gear ratios for high efficiency and power-handling capabilities in a broad variety of vehicle applications. (GCC.)

In an interview published in the UK’s The Guardian, Toyota executive Shinichi Abe has been quoted as confirming that Toyota is working on plug-in hybrids, and as asserting that the next-generation Prius will have an all-electric range of about nine miles, or 14.5 kilometers. (GCC.)

Researchers at the National Transportation Research Center, part of the Department of Energy?s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), are developing a new approach to cooling the power electronics and motors of hybrids that could lead to better performance, improved fuel efficiency, and increased power density for future systems. (GCC.)

BATTERIES and ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Modec, a UK company, introduced an all-electric light commercial van, the Modec van, at the Commercial Vehicle Show in Birmingham, UK, this week. On a single charge, the Modec van offers a range of more than 100 miles and a top speed of 50 mph carrying a load of up to two tonnes. The 70kW motor (102hp) develops 300Nm of torque. (GCC.)

BIOFUELS

Beginning next year, Chrysler will introduce flexible-fuel models of the Jeep Commander and Jeep Grand Cherokee capable of running on ethanol blends of up to 85% (E85)? the first application of E85 flex-fuel engines to the Jeep brand. (GCC.)

Beginning this month, Cincinnati (Ohio) Metro is fueling all of its buses with a B50 biodiesel blend (50% biodiesel). This increase will make Metro one of the largest biodiesel users in the nation, consuming about 1.3 million gallons a year. Budget is the primary reason for this aggressive use of the alternative fuel. Metro?s 390 buses use about 3.6 million gallons of fuel per year. (GCC.)

TriMet, the transit agency for the three-county area around Portland, Oregon, is expanding the use of a B5 (5% biodiesel) blend to all 210 LIFT buses that provide door-to-door service for elderly and people with disabilities. (GCC.)

The Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC) will test a B2 (2% biodiesel) blend in half its buses in the coming year. STC plans to blend the fuel in its storage tanks in Saskatoon and use the mixture in all buses which fuel at that facility, approximately 54% of its fleet. (GCC.)

Biodiesel production in the 25 European Union member countries (EU-25) hit a new record in 2005, shooting up 65% from 2004 to 2005, an increase from 1.9 million tonnes to 3.2 million tonnes (about 966 million gallons) according to figures released by the European Biodiesel Board. The European Union is the global leader in biodiesel production. By contrast, the US—the world?s second largest producer—delivered 250,000 tonnes in 2005 (about 75 million gallons—a tripling of its production in 2004.) (GCC.)

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations predicts that over the next 15 to 20 years, biofuels may provide a full 25% of the world's energy needs. (GCC.)

Repsol YPF, the Spanish-Argentine oil and gas group, is leading a four-year, ?22 million (US$27 million) Spanish research project on biodiesel with 14 other companies. (GCC.)

A Texas A&M chemical engineering professor has developed a process to convert biomass to a mixed alcohol fuel that contains more energy than fuel ethanol. (GCC.)

NATURAL GAS

Portland, Maine, METRO is introducing CNG to its fleet with the addition of 13 new CNG-powered transit buses and a CNG refueling station. The natural gas fueling station will also be used by the Portland School Department and made available to fuel other vehicles that use natural gas. (GCC.)

Biomethane is emerging as a key area of focus for the natural gas vehicle industry in Europe, according to an industry panel and press conference held at the annual meeting of the European Natural Gas Vehicle Association this week in Brussels. (GCC.)

HYDROGEN

Dana Corporation, a leading supplier of axle, driveshaft, engine, frame, chassis, and transmission technologies, featured a range of its fuel-cell technologies and capabilities at the Hannover Fair 2006, April 24-28, in Hannover, Germany. (GCC.)

Hydro, the Norwegian energy and aluminum company, has launched a new high-output PEM electrolyzer for on-site hydrogen generation. The new Inergon offers up to 10 Nm3/hour hydrogen production capacity. (GCC.)

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has developed a paper to identify, evaluate, and summarize the key issues and advantages and disadvantages associated with ammonia for on-board vehicular hydrogen storage. DOE is now seeking public comment on the document. (GCC.)

DIESEL

Data compiled by R.L. Polk & Co. and released by the Diesel Technology Forum (DTF) show that registration of light-duty diesel passenger vehicles in the US jumped 31% in 2005 from the year before. Registrations of light- and medium-duty diesel passenger vehicles have grown 80% since 2000?up from 301,000 diesel vehicles that year to 543,777 diesel registrations in 2005. (GCC.)

Corning Incorporated will begin supplying a new, advanced cordierite (magnesium aluminum silicate) diesel particulate filter to light-duty diesel vehicle manufacturers. Corning is targeting the new DuraTrap AC filters to be the first cordierite filters used in large-scale for diesel passenger cars. (GCC.)

Transport for London (TfL) is putting into service 39 new double-decker diesel buses built by Alexander Dennis that are almost 20% more fuel efficient than their predecessors and that meet Euro-4 standards of emissions. (GCC.)

A new internet-based Truck Stop Electrification Station Locator (TSE) helps truckers find truck stops with idle-reduction facilities: on-site systems that can substantially cut fuel use while reducing engine emissions. (GCC.)

SYNTHETICS

The US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a full-committee hearing on the economic and environmental issues associated with coal-to-liquids processing, and on the implementation of the provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 addressing CTL. (GCC.)

In response to a request last year from Energy Secretary Bodman, the National Coal Council has developed, and is beginning to promote, a set of eight recommendations for more fully exploiting the national coal resources. AT the top of the list is a recommendation for the massive expansion of Coal-to-Liquids Processing to produce 2.6 million barrels of coal liquids (fuels and chemicals) per day. Production at that level would meet approximately 10% of US petroleum demand and consume an additional 475 million tons of coal per year. Delivering that amount of coal would required expanding coal mining 43% above today?s level. (GCC.)

Oxford Catalysts Group, which has developed new catalysts that, among other things, transform waste methane into hydrogen for use with fuel cells or into Fischer-Tropsch liquid fuels, has gone public on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange in an IPO that raised £15 million (US$18.8 million)?£14 million net of expenses. (GCC.)

Diversified Energy Corporation and Alchemix Corporation are working together to accelerate the development of Alchemix? HydroMax process, a metal-bath gasification process for hydrogen production or the production of a syngas for Fischer-Tropsch conversion into liquid fuels. (GCC.)


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