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The Week in Sustainable Mobility (7/2/06)
Mike Millikin, 1 Jul 06

05_02_09_lexusroad.jpg Mike Millikin covers the ongoing evolution of sustainable mobility at Green Car Congress.

Five major food crops—maize, rice, sorghum, soybeans and wheat—grown in open-air trials under carbon-dioxide levels projected for the future are producing significantly less than those raised in earlier greenhouse and other enclosed test conditions. According to the analysis, published in the 30 June issue of the journal Science, crop yields are running at about 50% below conclusions drawn previously from enclosed test conditions. (More...)

Researchers from Ohio State University’s Byrd Polar Research Center and three other universities have combined and analyzed the chronological climate records held in ice cores retrieved from seven remote locations north and south of the equator. The cores drilled through ice caps and glaciers capture a climate history of each region, in some cases, providing annual records and in others decadal averages. The data suggest a massive climate shift to a cooler regime occurred just over 5,000 years ago, and a more recent reversal to a much warmer world within the last 50 years. (More...)

Carbon emissions from aviation could triple to 0.40 Gt carbon/year to account for 3% of the world’s anthropogenic carbon emissions by 2050 (relative to the mid-range IPCC emission scenario (IS92a)) according to the reference scenario in the latest climate change study by scientists at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) (UK). For the range of scenarios, the range of increase in carbon dioxide emissions from aviation to 2050 could be 1.6 to 10 times the value in 1992. (More...)

Applying clean and more efficient technologies at hand or under development could halve the expected growth in both oil and electricity demand and return CO2 emissions to today’s levels by 2050, according to a new publication by the International Energy Agency. (More...)

In its annual forecast to the German petroleum industry, the MWV (the Association of the German Petroleum Industry: Mineralölwirtschaftsverband), estimates that domestic consumption of gasoline and diesel will drop a combined 25.4% from 54.9 million tonnes of fuel consumed in 2004 to 39.6 million tonnes in 2025. (More...)

US energy-related emissions of CO2 rose 0.1% from 2004 to 2005, increasing from 5,903 million metric tons (MMTCO2) to 5,909 MMTCO2 in 2005, according to an early estimate from the US Energy Information Administration. Although total emissions from petroleum fell 0.1%, (while emissions from coal increased by 1.4%) emissions from transportation edged up by 0.2% in 2005. (More....)

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) last week unanimously approved the permanent rules to adopt California’s Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) Standards, including mandated reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. (More...)

A new study released by the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) of the US House of Representatives concludes that the accelerated development of huge reserves of unconventional oil in Canada will undermine the OPEC oil cartel in coming years. However, a new study by the Uppsala Hydrocarbon Depletion Study Group, Uppsala University, Sweden, has concluded that even in a very optimistic scenario Canada’s oil sands will not prevent the peaking of oil production (Peak Oil). (More...)

Nanotechnology holds promise for necessary breakthroughs in a number of critical energy sectors, including solar cells, thermoelectric conversion and transport, hydrogen storage, and electrochemical conversion and storage (i.e., batteries, capacitors and fuel cells), according to scientists participating in the first Energy Nanotechnology International Conference (ENIC2006) held June 26-28 at MIT. (More...)

Volvo Cars will invest US$1.4 billion in environmental research and development. The aim is to reduce the total fuel economy and tailpipe emissions of the global Volvo Cars fleet. (More...)

The production and sales of passenger cars in China from January through May 2006 amounted to 2.1677 million vehicles and 2.1127 million vehicles respectively, up by 46.15% and 44.21% respectively, according to statistics from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. (More...)

LIGHT-DUTY HYBRIDS and PLUG-IN HYBRIDS

Ford is backing off of its pledge last year that the company would build 250,000 hybrids a year by 2010. (More...). Ford is also establishing a development center for hybrid systems in Gothenburg, Sweden, to serve Ford's Premier Automotive Group and Ford of Europe business units. (More...).

Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide has received notice from the California Air Resources Board of its intent to lease 4 hydrogen-fueled Toyota Prius hybrid vehicles. These hydrogen hybrid vehicles will be put in service by the State of California later this year as part of the California Hydrogen Highway Network (CaH2Net). (More...)

BATTERIES and ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Fiat Automòveis and Centro Ricerche Fiat (CRF) introduced the Electric Palio during the Brazil Classics Fiat Show. (More...)

Japan’s Showa Aircraft Industry Co. announced that it is building two electric vehicles for the commercial and consumer markets. (More...)

At the selection of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Russian government has purchased 30 four-passenger (e4) GEM electric vehicles for use during the upcoming G8 Summit. Each e4 is decorated with a participating country’s national flag and the official logo of the 2006 G8 Summit, to be held in St. Petersburg, Russia from 15-17 July. (More...)

SOLAR

Sunlight-propelled dragsters competed down a quarter-kilometer raceway in the second annual Solar Drag Race held in Wenatchee, Washington on June 24th. (More...)

BP and The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) are teaming up in a five-year program to explore the production of solar cells based on growing arrays of silicon nanorods rather than casting ingots and cutting wafers. Announced at the Photovoltaics Summit 2006 in San Diego, the project could drop production costs and increase current efficiency levels. (More...)

US Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel Bodman announced $170 million over three years (from FY ’07-’09) for cost-shared, public-private partnerships to advance solar energy technology. This solicitation is part of the Solar America Initiative (SAI). (More...)

BIOFUELS

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed an efficient process to make a chemical intermediate called HMF (hydroxymethylfurfural) from fructose from biomass. HMF can be converted into plastics, petroleum or diesel fuel extenders, or even into diesel fuel itself. (More...)

The three major US automakers—Chrysler, Ford and GM—announced plans to double annual production of vehicles capable of running on renewable fuels to two million cars and trucks by 2010. (More...)

GM’s Saab will introduce its new 210 hp 2.3t BioPower engine in the Saab 9-5 Saloon and Estate range at the British International Motor Show in London in July. The new 2.3t BioPower model promises 14% more maximum power and 11% more torque, while cutting fossil CO2 emissions by up to 70% when running on E85 than on gasoline. (More...)

US Congressmen Kenny Hulshof (R-MO) and Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) have introduced the Renewable Fuels and Energy Independence Promotion Act (H.R. 5650), which would make the federal excise tax credit for ethanol and biodiesel permanent. (More...)

SunOpta’s BioProcess Group has signed a contract to sell a cellulosic ethanol pilot demonstration facility, based on SunOpta’s patented and proprietary biomass conversion technology, to China Resources Alcohol Corporation (CRAC) for research and development on cellulosic ethanol production at their facility in ZhaoDong City, Heilongjiang Province. As part of the transaction, SunOpta and CRAC intend to enter into a Joint Development Agreement between SunOpta, CRAC and Novozymes for the development of cellulosic ethanol in the People’s Republic of China. (More...)

At a time when the country is looking to increase its production of palm oil to take advantage of the demand for the oil as a biodiesel feedstock as well as an edible oil, Malaysia’s palm oil yields and oil extraction rate (OER) are stagnating. (More...)

NATURAL GAS

California and the Kingdom of Sweden have finalized a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to cooperate with one another and the industry to develop bioenergy, particularly biomethane. (More...)

HYDROGEN

Congressman Bernie Sanders (I-VT), EVermont, and other local businesses gathered for the dedication of New England’s first hydrogen fueling station, located at the Department of Public Works in Burlington, Vermont. (More...)

Shell Hydrogen B.V., MAN Truck & Bus Company N.V., and Connexxion Holding N.V. are working towards creating the world’s largest hydrogen-fueled public transport operation in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. The project aims to have the largest hydrogen bus fleet operational in a single region before the end of the decade. (More...)

Technology Management Inc. (TMI), a leading Cleveland-based developer of modular solid oxide fuel cell systems (SOFC), is collaborating with Ricardo to develop an integrated SOFC multi-fuel auxiliary power unit (APU) for heavy-duty trucks. (More...)

NanoLogix, a nanobiotechnology company engaged in the development and commercialization of technologies for the creation of hydrogen bioreactors, has signed an agreement for the construction and operation of a prototype hydrogen bioreactor at the City of Erie wastewater treatment plant. (More...)

Three national Scandinavian hydrogen networking organizations—HyNor (Norway), Hydrogen Link (Denmark) and HyFuture (Sweden)—recently formed a joint Scandinavian Hydrogen Highway Partnership (SHHP). (More...)

City Engines is undertaking an 18-month low-emissions bus program to be funded jointly by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (LACMTA) and California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD). The program will include the re-powering and evaluation of four transit buses, two running on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and two running on a 30% Hydrogen, 70% Natural Gas (HCNG) blend. (More...)

SYNTHETICS

Syntroleum has signed a contract to deliver 100,000 gallons of Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthetic fuel to the US Department of Defense (DoD) for evaluation as part of a larger program aimed at long-term prospects for the domestic manufacture and supply of synthetic aviation fuels from FT plants. (More...)

QGX Ltd., a Canadian company that has been exploring for mineral deposits in Mongolia since 1994, has engaged Nexant, Inc., a global energy consulting company with core competencies in coal gasification, Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC), coal-to-liquids (CTL) Fischer-Tropsch (FT) processing and gas-to-liquids (GTL) technologies, to assess the technological and economic potential for applying CTL technologies to the coal at Baruun Naran in Mongolia. (More...)

DIESEL

Chrysler is introducing its all-new 2007 Sebring with a 2.0-liter turbo diesel engine for key diesel markets outside North America. This is Chrysler’s first mid-size sedan diesel offering. (More...)

The US EPA, the US Department of Transportation, Oregon’s Departments of Transportation and Energy, and Cascade Sierra Solutions are partnering to upgrade 400 long-haul trucks from small-to-medium trucking firms in Oregon, California, and Washington with SmartWay upgrade kits. (More...)

OTHER

DaimlerChrysler will bring the successor to the smart fortwo to the US market in 1Q 2008, according to Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management DaimlerChrysler AG. The successor to the smart fortwo will be available in US markets in three models. These will not initially include the diesel, although both diesel and a micro-hybrid are potential future products. (More...)

DuPont expects to begin production in 2007 of new high-performance thermoplastic resins and elastomer products made from two of its latest bio-based materials. The products will be targeted for automotive, electrical/electronic and other industrial markets. (More...)

DuPont is also developing a new generation of tough, chip-resistant automotive refinish products reinforced with newly invented bio-based polymers derived from corn sugar. (More...)

RevoPower, a Denver-based company, is developing a 2-stroke engine-powered replacement front wheel for bicycles. The 25cc hub engine in the Wheel delivers 1hp (0.8 kW) peak power at 7,500 rpm and supports a top speed of 20 mph. Fuel economy is an estimated 200 mpg. (More...)

Replacing the standard two thinner tires per wheel with a single wide-base tire improves the fuel efficiency of heavy-duty tractor-trailer trucks and allows them to be made to run with more stability, according to studies by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). (More...)

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