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The Week in Sustainable Mobility (6/11/06)
Mike Millikin, 10 Jun 06

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

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A review of Japan’s energy policy by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry concluded that the country must improve its energy efficiency by 30% and reduce its dependency on crude oil from 50% today to less than 40% by 2030 to cope with surging oil prices. (GCC.)

Philippines President Arroyo on Saturday ordered the Department of Energy to widen the propagation of jatropha plants not only in military camps but in all available public lands. The President had earlier ordered the conversion of idle lands in military camps into plantations for jatropha as feedstock for biodiesel. (GCC.)

Indian President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam called for a national goal of producing 60 million tonnes of biodiesel (about 18 billion gallons US) per year by 2030. India currently consumes about 120 million tonnes of oil per year, 90% of that for transportation. (GCC.)

Effective this month, Volkswagen Brazil is halting production of gasoline-only models in the country. All vehicles with gasoline engines will now roll off the line flex-fuel-capable. (GCC.)

The Louisiana legislature passed HB 685, a renewable fuels standard (RFS) that mandates that 2% of the total volume of gasoline and diesel sold in the state be ethanol (or another denatured fuel) and biodiesel, respectively. The Louisiana Chemical Association and other groups are calling for its veto by the Governor. (GCC.)

Despite rising oil prices, growing concerns about climate change and uneasiness over dependence on foreign energy, Americans’ awareness and use of alternative fuel technologies is still fairly low, according to a recent survey. (GCC.)

LIGHT-DUTY HYBRIDS and PLUG-IN HYBRIDS

Worldwide cumulative sales of the Toyota Prius have passed the half-million mark, with 504,700 units having been sold by the end of April this year, according to Toyota. Overall cumulative worldwide sales of all Toyota and Lexus hybrid vehicles passed the 600,000 mark at the end of March this year. (GCC.)

Bank of America Corporation is beginning a pilot program to reimburse $3,000 to eligible employees purchasing a new hybrid vehicle. The program will be available to more than 21,000 employees living within 90 miles of Boston, Charlotte, and Los Angeles. (GCC.)

Students from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) took top honors today in the Challenge X event for this year, the second competition in a three-year series. The Virginia Tech team re-engineered their 2005 Chevrolet Equinox as a split-parallel hybrid with a 2.0-liter E85 flex-fuel engine (a Saab BioPower engine) and a 67 kW motor with a 288V NiMH battery pack. (GCC.)

Bosch and Getrag have agreed to work together on hybrid systems. The new partnership covers the development and marketing of parallel hybrid systems in conjunction with dual-clutch transmissions and electrical final-drive units. Getrag is a specialist in dual-clutch transmissions. (GCC.)

BATTERIES and ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Ener1’s EnerDel battery subsidiary has received a 12-month, cost-share contract from the US Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC) to further the development of a cost-competitive lithium-ion battery for hybrid electric vehicles. (GCC.)

BIOFUELS

Sales of GM’s Chevrolet and GMC flexible-fuel vehicles (FFV) in the Chicago-Rockford and Minnesota markets more than tripled during May 2006 compared to year-ago levels. The two markets are heavily targeted areas of GM’s E85 marketing campaign and are also the markets where GM is offering its $1,000 E85 fuel card promotion. (GCC.)

Slightly more than 20% of the forecast 10.55 billion bushels of corn to be produced in the US this year—about 2.15 billion bushels—will go toward the production of fuel ethanol, according to the US Department of Agriculture’s most recent World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE). That use of corn for ethanol represents a 34% increase from the year prior. (GCC.)

Researchers at Delft University of Technology are genetically modifying Saccharomyces cerevisiae (baker’s yeast) to enable the anaerobic fermentation of xylose—a sugar derived from cellulosic material—as well as glucose into ethanol. (GCC.)

Three European environmental organizations are warning that EU policies promoting biofuels may cause more environmental damage than the conventional fuels they are designed to replace if important environmental safeguards are not put in place. (GCC.)

Volvo is previewing a prototype five-fuel Multi-Fuel vehicle at the Michelin Challenge Bibendum 2006, which takes place in Paris, June 8-12. The Volvo Multi-Fuel is a new prototype optimized for running on five fuels: bioethanol E85; methane in the form of either natural gas or bio-methane; gasoline; and a 10% Hythane blend (10% hydrogen, 90% natural gas). (GCC.)

SYNTHETICS

The Oryx GTL (Gas-to-Liquids) joint-venture between state-owned petroleum company Qatar Petroleum (51%) and Sasol (49%) officially opened in Qatar. The plant will produce 34,000 barrels per day of liquid hydrocarbons (primarily synthetic diesel) from about 330-million cubic feet per day of natural gas from Qatar’s North Field in the Persian Gulf. (GCC.)

Syntroleum Corporation and Sustec Industries have entered into a joint project development agreement to develop a nominal 3,000 barrel per day (bpd) Syntroleum Fischer-Tropsch (FT) and Synfining unit as the first phase of a possible 20,000 bpd Coal-to-Liquids project at Sustec’s Schwarze Pumpe industrial facility at Spreetal, Germany. (GCC.)

HYDROGEN

Ford Motor will begin production of its commercial hydrogen-powered internal combustion engine (H2ICE) shuttle buses this month. Eight of the E-450 shuttle buses will go to tourist destinations in Florida. (GCC.)

QuantumSphere, a manufacturer of nanoscale metals and alloys for applications in energy and other markets, is launching a research initiative to develop a low-cost, more efficient system for the electrolytic production of hydrogen from water. (GCC.)

Hydrogen Power (HPI) has modified a 2006 Ford Ranger XL to a dual-fuel (gasoline and hydrogen) vehicle, ultimately to be powered by HPI’s HydrogenNow aluminum-assisted water-split process for the on-board production of hydrogen. (GCC.)

Researchers from Tokyo University and Nagaoka University of Technology have developed a new photocatalyst that more efficiently splits water to produce hydrogen under visible light. (GCC.)

Penn State, which has Pennsylvania’s only hydrogen fueling station on its University Park campus, is developing a mixed-vehicle fleet, including two cars, a bus and vans, to demonstrate different aspects of hydrogen’s potential. (GCC.)

DIESEL

Mitsubishi Motors plans to develop a clean-diesel engine for the US and Japanese markets by 2009. Mitsubishi is considering applying the diesel to SUVs and minivans. (GCC.)

Peugeot is introducing the new 2.2-liter, four-cylinder HDi sequential dual-turbo diesel engine for its 407 sedan and wagon. The engine, announced last year, represents the fourth phase of cooperation between PSA Peugeot Citroën and Ford Motor Company and represents the first application of dual-turbo technology on a four-cylinder engine. (GCC.)

OTHER

The European Council for Automotive Research and Development (EUCAR); Oil Companies’s European Organization for Environment, Health and Safety (CONCAWE); and the Joint Research Center of the European Commission (JRC) have completed a joint evaluation of the Well-to-Wheels (WTW) energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for a wide range of potential future fuels and powertrains options. (GCC.)

Honda is bringing the very light jet HondaJet to this year’s EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. After making only a brief appearance for its unveiling at Airventure 2005, the HondaJet will stick around for the entire event this year, and be featured in the new Honda Pavilion. The HondaJet prototype reportedly gets 40% better fuel economy than comparable aircraft. (GCC.)

GM is making a big push with its six-speed automatic transmissions, and recently introduced three new models. The company plans to offer one million vehicles annually with six-speed automatic transmissions by 2008, and three million by 2010. Advantages of a six-speed automatic include fuel economy improvement of up to 4% and power improvement of up to 7% compared to a four-speed automatic. (GCC.)

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Comments

Changing from fossil fuel to ethanol or even to electricity fixes one problem, but does not fix the underlying problem. As long as people are having to commute to work, there will be the seeds of global catastrophe. The answer is simple enough....more industrial parks designed with housing integral to it, (like a downtown that works! Or many downtowns that work) Bringing the workplace to the suburbs! Into the neighbourhood! Redesigning public transit...I mean a REAL re-design, like moving sidewalks, we HAVE the technology, just not the political will! Roll on-roll off flatbeds for trucks...a tractor-trailer burns 450 dollars worth of diesel for the run between Montreal and Toronto. If trucking companies could save half of that every trip, you bet they would take it! I hate to say "government subsidy", but on the other hand, who do you think is funding that highway? Survey after survey has proven that money poured into rail is good for the environment, and we will have to pay it sooner or later! Trains are more easily electrified than trucks! Show me a hybrid Tractor Trailer!

One step at a time. One letter to your MP, your congressman, etc, at a time. It'll get done.


Posted by: Bill Fedun on 12 Jun 06

Damn it! What's the pic got to do with the post? I swear I've had problems before with figuring out what the cool/intriguing photo attached to the sustainable mobility posts is actually of... how about a caption??

(Perhaps the bus isn't particularly intriguing, but I work around the corner from where that photo was taken.)


Posted by: mike on 15 Jun 06



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