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The Week in Sustainable Mobility (5/7/06)
Mike Millikin, 7 May 06

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

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Eight other state Attorneys General joined New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and New York City Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo in filing a lawsuit challenging the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration?s (NHTSA) recent modifications of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for light trucks. The lawsuit claims that the Bush Administration failed to address the impacts of the new federal fuel economy standards for SUVs and light trucks on air quality, fuel conservation and global climate change. (GCC.)

Sales of hybrids in the US in April climbed to a combined 21,707 units?21.5% more than in March 2006, and 3.5% higher than April 2005?s 20,974 units. The results are the second only to August 2005?s 23,307. (GCC.)

Sales of full-size SUVs continued their downward trajectory, dropping below a combined 100,000 units in April to 91,615, a decrease of 24.7% year on year. Combined sales in the segment for the first four months of the year were down 18.8% year on year to 393,262 units. Although total sales of light-duty vehicles declined in April 2006 from the year prior by 5.6%, cars suffered less than light-duty trucks and SUVs. In other words, the ratio between cars and light-duty trucks is shifting—in general—in the favor of cars. (GCC.)

Sales of new minivehicles in Japan rose for a fourth straight month in April, while sales of all other types of automobiles dropped for the 10th consecutive month, according to data released Monday by the Japan Automobile Dealers Association. (GCC.)

Flexcar reported that 29 April marked a single-day record for nationwide usage of its car-sharing service?surpassing a previous single-day usage mark set only two weeks ago. (GCC.)

The increasing number of private vehicles in Delhi is putting the city at risk of losing its hard-won gains in cleaner air, according to a new publication from the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). (GCC.)

Toyota Motor plans to sell about 10.3 million vehicles in 2010 on a parent-only basis, up some 3 million units from 2005, with sales expected to roughly double in Asia and jump 35% in North America. The company projects only 7% growth in Japan. (GCC.)

Following through on a directive given last week by President Bush to reduce the number of boutique fuels, (earlier post) Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Stephen Johnson launched a task force on Thursday to review the boutique fuels used across the county. Boutique fuels are the specialized blends produced for a specific state or area of the country to meet those specific state and local air quality requirements. (GCC.)

A bipartisan group of Senators introduced legislation aimed at reducing US dependence on fossil fuels, especially oil. The Enhanced Energy Security Act of 2006 (S. 2747) emphasizes an expanded plan for economy-wide oil savings that will cut oil use, from projected levels, by 2.5 million barrels of oil per day by 2016, 7 million barrels of oil per day by 2026, and 10 million barrels of oil per day by 2031. (GCC.)

Climate scientists have resolved a discrepancy in the rate of global average temperature increase for the surface compared with higher levels in the atmosphere, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This discrepancy had previously been used to challenge the validity of climate models used to detect and attribute the causes of observed climate change. The evidence continues to support a substantial human impact on global temperature increases. (GCC.)

The Walker circulation—a vast loop of winds that drives climate and ocean behavior across the tropical Pacific—has weakened by 3.5% since the mid-1800s, and may weaken another 10% by 2100, according to a study led by University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) scientist Gabriel Vecchi. Based on their modeling, the researchers conclude that the slowdown is largely due to human-induced climate change. The findings are published in the 4 May issue of Nature. (GCC.)

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued the global Annual Greenhouse Gas Index (AGGI), its benchmark measurement of gases in the atmosphere that affect the Earth?s climate. Overall, the AGGI shows a continuing, steady rise in the amount of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. (GCC.)

LIGHT-DUTY HYBRIDS and PLUG-IN HYBRIDS

Honda appears to be readying a hybrid version of the Honda Fit subcompact using powertrain elements from the Insight hybrid. The new hybrid is reportedly scheduled for release in mid-2007. (GCC.)

Ford Motor Company presented some of its recent initiatives toward sustainability at the LOHAS 10 (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) conference in Santa Monica. The company's director of sustainable business strategies also noted that Ford is investigating plug-in hybrid technology. (GCC.)

A Dutch company has developed a hybrid version of one of its lightweight, 43-foot catamarans. The African Cats hybrid Fast Cat 435 Vector K combines a Valence lithium-ion battery or an absorbed lead-acid glass mat battery with newly designed lightweight brushless electric motors. (GCC.)

BATTERIES and ELECTRIC VEHICLES

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) is installing a sodium-sulfur (NaS) battery energy storage system (BESS) at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority?s (MTA) Long Island Bus (LI Bus) subsidiary in Garden City. The energy storage device, from NGK Ltd. in Japan, will power three 600 hp CNG compressors to fuel 220 CNG buses, and then recharge itself from the grid at night when utility electric rates are reduced. The BESS system, capable of discharging 1 MW of power for up to seven hours, is one of the first and largest technology NaS installations in the US. (GCC.)

University of Bath (UK) researchers have received grants worth £715,000 (US$1.3 million) to develop new ceramic and nano-materials for advanced lithium-ion batteries targeted at applications in hybrid electric vehicles and in storage for renewable power generation. (GCC.)

Frost & Sullivan selected Caterpillar spin-off Firefly Energy as the recipient of its 2006 Technology Innovation Award in the field of advanced lead acid battery technologies for developing an innovative graphite-foam lead-acid battery. (GCC.)

A 2003 Toyota RAV4-EV auctioned on eBay went to the winning bidder for a price of $67,300. (GCC.)

BIOFUELS

MIT scientists are exploring the use of ethanol direct injection (DI) to support the use of small, highly turbocharged engines with substantially increased efficiency as a downsizing strategy to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. (GCC.)

GM will offer a $1,000 fuel card with the purchase of any new 2006 or 2007 Chevrolet and GMC vehicles equipped with FlexFuel technology in the Chicago-Rockford and Minneapolis-St. Paul markets between 2 May and 31 July, 2006. (GCC.)

Goldman Sachs & Co. has invested C$30 million (US$27 million) in Iogen, the Canadian pioneer of commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol production. (GCC.)

A Mississippi-based petroleum refiner and a global agribusiness firm are teaming up to build the largest ethanol plant in the southeastern United States. (GCC.)

Genencor International, a US-based biotech subsidiary of Danisco A/S, is participating in a research consortium to develop economic ethanol production from paper pulp in cooperation with the French forest products industry. (GCC.)

Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU)—a university consortium leveraging the scientific strength of 96 major research institutions—has awarded one of 25 Powe prizes to a Virginia tech researcher working on the development of enhanced technologies for the production of cellulosic ethanol. (GCC.)

Diester Industrie, the French biodiesel pioneer, has awarded Technip, one of the top five global providers of full-service engineering and construction services in the hydrocarbons and petrochemicals industries, a turnkey contract for another new biodiesel plant based on the Axens Esterfip-H process. (GCC.)

SYNTHETICS

BRI Energy, a company that ferments gasified waste, biomass or hydrocarbons such as coal into ethanol (earlier post) announced tentative plans to build one or two gasification-fermentation facilities in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. (GCC.)

As a follow-on to an earlier hearing on Coal Liquefaction the US Senate Committee on Energy and natural Resources convened a hearing regarding the economic and environmental issues associated with coal gasification technology. (GCC.)

HYDROGEN

Hydrogenics Corporation has received a follow-on order from General Motors to provide fuel-cell test services which is anticipated to be fully realized in 2006. (GCC.)

The hydrogen business is booming, buoyed by rapidly increasing emand for the use of hydrogen to create lower-sulfur fuels, and to handle the heavier, high-sulfur crudes—including oil sands syncrude?flowing into refineries. (GCC.)

DIESEL

DeltaHawk Engines, a small Wisconsin company, is developing a family of lightweight, V-4, two-stroke, turbo- and super-charged diesel engines for a variety of general aviation and non-aviation uses. (GCC.)

OTHER

Antonov, an automotive technology company, will demonstrate the world?s first two-speed supercharger drive system to enter series production next week at the Engine Expo exhibition in Stuttgart, Germany. The Antonov Mechanical Module two-speed drives a Rotrex centrifugal pump supercharger faster at low engine speeds, thereby delivering a higher boost ratio to provide additional low speed engine torque. (GCC.)

The Chrysler group is considering hiring China?s Chery Automobile Co. to assemble a B-segment car (subcompact) for sale in international markets. (GCC.)

BMW Manufacturing Co. will use landfill gas (LFG) generated by the Palmetto Landfill near Spartanburg, SC, to provide energy to its paint shop. (GCC.)

Bosch Rexroth, the drive, control and linear motion specialty subsidiary of the Bosch Group, is working with UK firms Lunar Energy and Rotech on a prototype tidal turbine for a tidal power project to be tested this year off the Orkney Islands. (GCC.)

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Comments

I am disappointed that you don't report developments in HPV's(human-powered vehicles) like the Twike, which are clearly more sustainable than anything you have reported on this issue.


Posted by: Ray Kamalay on 11 May 06



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