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The Week in Sustainable Mobility (11/6/06)
Mike Millikin, 5 Nov 06
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The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reports that greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere have hit new highs: CO2 is at 379.1 parts per million (ppm), up 0.53% from 377.1 ppm in 2004; N2O is at 319.2 parts per billion (ppb); and CH4 is a 1,783 ppb. These values are higher than those in pre-industrial times by 35.4%, 18.2% and 154.7%, respectively. After water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2, methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) are respectively the three most prevalent greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. The NOAA Annual Greenhouse Gas Index (AGGI) now shows that from 1990 to 2005 the atmospheric radiative forcing by all long-lived greenhouse gases has increased by 21.5%. The AGGI increased by 1.25% from 2004 to 2005.(More...)

The secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) released new data showing an upward trend in greenhouse gas emissions of industrialized countries (Annex I parties to the UNFCCC) in the period 2000–2004. In particular, transport remains a sector where emission reductions are urgently required but seem to be especially difficult to achieve. Emissions from transportation grew by 23.9% from 1990 to 2004. (More...)

HM Treasury (UK) today published the much-anticipated Stern Review Report on the Economics of Climate Change, the most comprehensive review yet carried out on the economics of climate change. The Review estimates that while the cost of stabilization could be 1% of global GDP by 2050, the longer-term costs of a narrow range of effects of unabated climate change would be at least 5% of global GDP. Considering more recent scientific evidence (for example, the risk that greenhouse gases will be released naturally as the permafrost melts), the economic effects on human life and the environment, and approaches to modeling that ensure the impacts that affect poor people are weighted appropriately, the Review estimates that the dangers could be equivalent to 20% of global GDP or more. (More...)

All Member States must seriously tackle greenhouse gas emissions immediately, if the EU-15 is to meet its collective Kyoto target, according to a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA). (More...)

The European Commission will recommend legislation establishing binding targets for the reduction of CO2 emissions from cars. (More...)

The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) and Pollution Probe released Driving Towards a Cleaner Environment—a Healthier Future, with recommendations that, if implemented, they say could cut motorists’ greenhouse gasses (GHGs) by 30 to almost 50%. (More...)

According to a recent MIT survey, Americans now rank climate change as the country’s most pressing environmental problem—a substantive shift from three years ago, when they ranked climate change sixth out of 10 environmental concerns. The environment continues to rank in the middle of the list of “most important issues facing the US today.? Among 10 environmental problems, almost half the respondents put global warming in first or second place. In 2003, the destruction of ecosystems, water pollution and toxic waste were far higher priorities. (More...)

Sales of hybrids in the US in October rose to 18,784 units, up 10.9% from the 16,934 sold in October 2005. Total light duty vehicle sales in October in the US increased 6.1% from the year prior, with sales of light trucks up 14.8% and sales of passenger cars down 2.9% year-on-year.

In October, hybrids represented 1.54% of the new car market—an increase from the 1.48% share in October 2005, but a decrease from the 1.72% share in September 2006. (More...)

Lower gasoline prices fueled a boom in sales of pickup trucks and SUVs. GM's retail truck sales jumped up 52% year-on-year, led by a doubling of full-size pickup retail sales such as Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra and a 46% increase in luxury utility retail sales, including the entire Cadillac Escalade lineup.

Sales of the Chevrolet Tahoe full-size SUV more than doubled to 12,181 units in October while sales of its GMC cousin the Yukon also more than doubled to 10,311 units. Combined, the Yukon and Tahoe SUVs alone represented 22,492 units in October, or 1.8% of the market.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Virginia Commonwealth University have concluded that the weight gain of Americans since 1960 has resulted in increased fuel consumption. In a paper to appear in the The Engineering Economist, the scientists conclude that each extra pound of body weight in all of today’s vehicles results in an increase in gasoline consumption of more than 39 million gallons each year. As a result, Americans are now pumping an extra 938 million gallons of fuel as a result of the extra weight in vehicles. (More...)

HYBRIDS and PLUG-IN HYBRIDS

Toyota Motor may extend the Prius into a line of vehicles as the company tries to triple annual US sales of hybrids. (More...)

The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, today unveiled the first hybrid double-deck bus in the world and announced plans for a hybrid bus fleet for London. Built by Wrightbus, the double-decker is a series hybrid with a 660-volt lithium-ion battery pack powering two 85kW electric motors. A 1.9-liter Euro-4 diesel engine is the genset. By contrast, a conventional double-deck bus uses a 7-liter engine. The hybrid bus is expected to cut emissions by up to 40%. (More...)

The Enova hybrid drive systems provided for IC Corporation’s new line of hybrid commercial buses will be available with either a charge-depleting (i.e., plug-in hybrid) or charge-sustaining battery technology. The technologies are expected to improve fuel economy up to 100%. (More...)

BATTERIES AND ELECTRIC

Avestor, the Canadian developer of Lithium-Metal-Polymer (LMP) battery technology, is shutting down. (More...)

BIOFUELS

VeraSun Energy Corporation, the US’ second-largest ethanol producer, plans to produce biodiesel from corn oil extracted from distillers dried grains (DDG), a co-product of the ethanol production process. (More...)

UOP LLC, a Honeywell company, has established a new business unit dedicated to introducing new technology for processing renewable energy sources in existing or new petroleum refineries worldwide. The Renewable Energy and Chemicals unit will, among other products, focus on the commercial deployment in 2007 of a second-generation synthetic renewable diesel process that uses vegetable oils, greases and certain waste products as feedstock. (More...)

Virent Energy Systems has been awarded a $2-million dollar grant from the US Departments of Agriculture and Energy to develop further its capabilities to convert glycerol, a co-product of biodiesel production, into renewable propylene glycol, a high-value chemical usually made from fossil fuels. Virent is the developer of an aqueous phase reforming (APR) process for the conversion of readily available biomass-generated feedstocks, such as glucose, sucrose, sorbitol and glycerol to carbon neutral hydrogen, fuel gas or value-added chemicals. (More...)

UPM, one of the world’s leading forest products groups, announced that it will strongly increase its stake in second-generation biodiesel in the next few years and prepare to become a significant producer of biofuels. (More...)

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is offering about $17 million for the development of highly efficient organisms that can convert cellulosic biomass into ethanol. With this funding opportunity, DOE is seeking companies to develop fermentative organisms such as yeasts and bacteria that can process both C5 and C6 sugars equally well, simultaneously or sequentially; are genetically stable; and can survive a wide range of environmental conditions. (More...)

Kubota Tractor Corporation (KTC) has announced a global Kubota decision approving the use of B5 (5% biodiesel, 95% petroleum diesel) biodiesel blends in specified Kubota diesel-powered products. (More...)

TriMet, the transit agency for the three-county area around Portland, Oregon, is expanding the use of a B5 (5% biodiesel) blend to all 611 buses in its fleet. Earlier this year the agency began using B5 in all 210 LIFT buses that provide door-to-door service for elderly and people with disabilities. (More...)

NextEnergy, Michigan’s alternative energy accelerator, will offer cash incentives to Michigan gas station retailers to install or convert fueling equipment to ethanol (E85) and/or biodiesel (B20). (More...)

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved Diversa Corporation’s Purifine enzyme for non-food applications, including its use in increasing the efficiency of oilseed processing for the production of biodiesel. (More...)

Researchers at Indonesia’s Institut Teknologi Bandung have compared the effects and performance of biodiesel fuels derived from two different feedstocks of importance to that country—palm oil and jatropha—in a direct-injection diesel engine. (More...)

HYDROGEN

Energy Conversion Devices (ECD Ovonics) has received a contract to develop and to demonstrate a hydrogen engine electric hybrid airport tow tractor and to further develop its advanced Ovonic metal hydride fuel-cell technology for the US Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) via its National Automotive Center (NAC). (More...)

University of Minnesota researchers have developed a process that flash evaporates nonvolatile liquid bio-feedstocks such as soy oil or glucose-water solutions by catalytic partial oxidation to produce hydrogen in high yields with a total reactor time of less than 50 milliseconds. The new process works 10 to 100 times faster than current technology, with no input of fossil fuels (except for the use of methane at reactor startup and shutdown) and in reactors at least 10 times smaller than current models. (More...)

Volkswagen Research has developed a PEM (proton exchange membrane) fuel cell that operates at temperatures about 50% higher than the conventional low-temperature fuel cells prevalent in current hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle prototypes. (More...)


NATURAL GAS

Dynetek Industries (Calgary, Canada), a provider of lightweight storage cylinders for compressed hydrogen and compressed natural gas (CNG), is partnering with Delphi SA for the introduction of Dynetek CNG cylinders into Brazil for bus and passenger car applications. (More...)

OTHER

Eaton Corporation has unveiled its newest generation of Roots-type supercharger design that will enable automakers to use smaller, more efficient compressors to create more engine boost. (More...)

Chery Automobiles and Fiat Auto have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) according to which Chery Automobile will supply 1.6- and 1.8-liter gasoline engines for application in Fiat cars to be produced in China and outside China. (More...)

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed new air toxics standards that would reduce the evaporation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in gasoline vapors from smaller emitting gasoline distribution sources (“area sources?) including bulk terminals, bulk plants, pipeline facilities, and gasoline dispensing facilities (such as service stations, convenience stores, rental and fleet gasoline tanks). (More...)

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