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The Week in Sustainable Mobility (3/11/07)
Mike Millikin, 11 Mar 07
Article Photo

The heads of the EU member states agreed on binding targets on the use of renewable energy, including a 10% biofuel component in transportation, and to post-Kyoto reductions on greenhouse gases. The European leaders agreed to cut CO2 emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2020 on their own, and by 30% if other nations commit themselves to comparable reductions. More...

The Mayor of London has set out the first comprehensive plan to cut London’s carbon emissions. More...

China is highly likely to overtake the United States this year or in 2008 as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. More...

China’s light duty vehicle sales rose 26.1% in February from a year earlier, the fastest pace in four months, increasing to 429,251 units. More...


A panel of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) Academic Divisions recently issued a report recommending medium- and long-term development strategies for energy sources that can supplement or substitute for petroleum in China.
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Current carbon dioxide emissions from the shipping industry likely exceeds those from aviation, and could double by 2050, according to recent studies by the Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre (IPA) of the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) and by the College of Marine and Earth Studies of the University of Delaware. In addition, marine emissions of SO2 could also double, while NOx emissions could exceed those of road traffic in the same time span. More...

The Oregon House passed a package of biofuels tax credits and a renewable fuel standard. House Bill 2210 requires fuel retailers to sell gasoline blended with at least 10% ethanol once Oregon production exceeds 40 million gallons a year, and diesel blended with at least 2% biodiesel by volume—or other renewable diesel with at least 2% renewable component by volume—once production of biodiesel in the state reaches 15 million gallons a year. More...

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has requested product plan information through Model Year (MY) 2017 from automakers and truckmakers in anticipation of obtaining statutory authority to reform the passenger car Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program and to set standards under that structure for MY 2010 – 2017 passenger cars. The agency is also seeking this information in anticipation of setting standards for MY 2012-2017 light trucks. More...

A forecast by Cambridge Systematics predicts that the proposed California high-speed rail system would attract 2.5 million daily trips for the electric, 700-mile train system. That would translate into ridership of more than 100 million in 2030, and $3 billion in annual revenue. More...


HYBRIDS and PLUG-IN HYBRIDS

Combined sales of hybrids in the US rose 52% in February to more than 22,792 units, up 52% from the results in February 2006. The figures do not include sales of GM hybrids, which the automaker does not yet break out, but do reflect the addition of the Nissan Altima Hybrid, now sold in eight states. The Toyota Prius had its best month ever, posting 12,227 units, an 87% increase over February 2006 results. More...

A study by Frost & Sullivan concludes that hybrids are slowly but surely gaining market share in Europe. More...


Kia Motors is showcasing a Rio mild hybrid sedan at the 77th Salon de l’Automobiles in Geneva. The Kia Rio mild hybrid features a powertrain with a 1.4-liter gasoline engine mated to a 12 kW, 95 Nm AC synchronized electric motor and a CVT gearbox. More...

Toyota used the Geneva Motor Show to reveal the Hybrid X—a concept car that proposes a new design language for hybrid models, while also acting as an innovative technology showcase for future generation hybrid cars. The X in the name refers not to a powertrain development, but to the design. More...

Honda’s new Small Hybrid Sports Concept unveiled at the Geneva auto show is based around a front-wheel drive, small car platform and is powered by a Honda IMA 4-cylinder gasoline-electric hybrid system driving through a CVT transmission. More...


Speaking at the Geneva Motor Show, GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner said that the company has significantly expanded and accelerated its commitment to the development of electrically driven vehicles, and will show additional E-Flex concept applications tailored for local GM brands at the Shanghai and Frankfurt motor shows later this year. E-Flex is the vehicle system introduced at the Detroit auto show in which the plug-in series hybrid Chevrolet Volt was the first application. More...

GM also said that it has set a target of 2010 for the production of a new electric vehicle, and will have a running prototype of the Volt on the road by the end of this year.

Lotus Engineering unveiled the ‘EVE Hybrid’ (Efficient, Viable, Environmental) technology demonstrator at the 77th Geneva International Motor Show. More...

The French Industrial Innovation Agency (Agence de l’Innovation Industrielle, AII) will provide €61 million (US$80 million) in funding to Valeo for its research program LOwCO2MOTION, which aims to improve vehicle engine efficiency and contribute to reducing CO2 emissions. The program is focusing on the development of two primary technologies: camless systems and a next-generation mild hybrid with ultracapacitors for energy storage. The two systems together could provide up to a 30% reduction in fuel consumption, according to Valeo.

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Verizon will soon begin a pilot project using 13 GMC 2500 service vans retrofitted with Enova hybrid drive systems. More...

The Board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District in California approved a $2.6-million contract for the conversion of 20 Ford Escape Hybrids and 10 Toyota Priuses to plug-ins.

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US Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) filed a bill that would offer $3,000 to $6,150 in tax credits for people who buy new plug-in hybrid passenger cars. More...

ENERGY STORAGE AND ELECTRIC VEHICLES

AES Corporation, the global power company, has made a $3-million strategic investment in Altair Nanotechnologies, the manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries. More...

Cenex, the UK’s national center of excellence for low-carbon and fuel-cell technologies, has committed a “six-figure sum? to support Modec, which designs, develops and produces electric commercial vehicles, at the launch of its new innovative electric van range. More...

ZAP has designed a solar option for its Xebra Xero electric truck design—a photovoltaic panel that ZAP says can offer short-distance driving on sunlight alone. More...

Jeffrey Automotive is introducing plans for a do-it-yourself (DIY) electric car. The vehicle is a two-seater, powered by a 72volt DC motor with an anticipated top speed of 60 mph and a range of 50/60 miles on one charge from six 12v deep cycle lead/acid batteries. The car can be built for $5,000 or less. More...

BIOFUELS

The US and Brazil signed a memorandum of understanding to advance cooperation between the two countries on biofuels. As the world’s two largest producers of ethanol, the United States and Brazil intend to advance the research and development of new technologies to promote biofuels use. More...

Petrobras has signed a memorandum of understanding with the JBIC (Japan Bank for International Cooperation) to assess the possibility of financing for biofuel projects Petrobras is undertaking in association with Japanese companies both in Brazil and abroad. More...

Brasil Eco Energia, a new Brazilian biofuel company backed by investors from the US and Brazil, is planning to build the world’s largest biodiesel plant, capable of producing 835 million liters (220.6 million gallons US) per year. More...

Ford of Europe is launching flexible-fuel models of the New Mondeo, Galaxy and S-MAX in 2008. These three new models will join the existing Focus and C-MAX flex-fuel vehicles (FFV) to give Ford one of the broadest ranges of flex-fuel vehicles available in Europe. More...

GM’s Saab BioPower 100 Concept, presented at the Geneva Motor Show (earlier post), showcases the first production-based turbo engine to be optimized for neat bioethanol (E100) fuel. Modifications to the engine management system and internal components enable the engine to exploit the high octane benefits of E100 fuel by using a higher compression ratio, together with more boost pressure. The outcome of this work is peak power of 300 hp and a remarkably high specific power output of 150 hp per liter. More...

A new biofuels technology developed by North Carolina State University engineers has the potential to turn virtually any lipidic compound—e.g., vegetable oils, oils from animal fat and oils from algae—into aviation fuel or other high-value fuels. More...

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has approved ORYXE International’s biodiesel fuel additive—ORYXE LED for Biodiesel—for use in the state. Test results from a B20 biodiesel blend, submitted to the TCEQ, show that the additive reduces the NOx emissions from biodiesel to the level required to qualify as Texas Low Emission Diesel (TxLED). The ORYXE Energy technology is the first additive for biodiesel to win approval from the state of Texas. More...

Researchers from the US Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI) and collaborators at the US Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) have sequenced the genome of the yeast Pichia stipitis. This yeast has the highest native capacity of any known microbe for fermentation of the five-carbon sugar xylose that is abundant in cellulosic biomass.

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Third Coast Bio-Fuels LLC is in discussions with Stora Enso to use black liquor, a byproduct of the pulp process in paper making, as a second, less expensive source of feedstock to corn. More...

Solazyme, an algal biotechnology company, is increasing its focus on biofuels with the hiring of Dr. Donald E. Trimbur as Senior Director, Biofuel Development. More...

CHOREN, a provider of gasification technology for solid biomass and oil-based residue feedstock, is close to selecting a site for an industrial-scale biomass-to-liquids (BTL) plant. The €500 million (US$660 million) plant will produce 4,500 barrels per day of synthetic BTL fuel. More...

HYDROGEN

Bac2 Conductive Composites, a UK-based start-up fuel-cell materials company, has announced substantial conductivity improvements for its patented ElectroPhen conductive polymer. The material now exceeds the US Department of Energy conductivity target for such materials used to make bipolar plates for fuel cell applications. The target primarily relates to fuel cells for use in automotive applications. More...

Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have developed an advanced concept in nanoscale catalyst engineering that could bring polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells for hydrogen-powered vehicles closer to commercialization. More...

The National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS) recently announced that its collaborative R&D teams have made advances in the manufacturing of hydrogen fuel cells. More...

NATURAL GAS

Vacaville, California is encouraging the purchase of the Honda Civic GX natural gas vehicle with a Compressed Natural Gas Vehicle Incentive Program. With 44 GXs on the road, the city is almost halfway to its goal of 100. More...

German and Swiss partners are presenting a CNG-powered Opel Corsa at the upcoming Geneva auto show. The Opel Corsa 1.6 CNG from BRA GmbH (Germany) and Gasverbund Mittelland AG (GVM) (Switzerland) uses a 74 kW (99 hp) 1.6-liter Ecotec engine with monovalent plus propulsion. More...

German energy company REWAG, together with Schmack Energieholding, is to start investing €50 million (US$66 million) into five biomethane production sites. Plants of this size are similar to larger sized plants already in operation in Sweden and the total planned supply is enough to fuel some 20,000 cars. More...

DIESEL

Volkswagen chose Geneva as the venue to unveil its new Touareg BlueTDI SUV with a urea SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) system which meets the US Tier 2 Bin 5 NOx limit of 0.07 g/mi (0.043 g/km). The Euro 4 standard currently in force in Europe specifies a NOx limit of 0.25 g/km. The 3.0-liter, 164 kW (220 hp) Touareg BlueTDI will join a Tier 2 Bin 5-compliant version of the Jetta to enter the market in all 50 states in the US in 2008. More...

OTHER

An estimated 93.5% of motorists in the EU are driving on under-inflated tires and causing an additional 18.4 million tons of carbon dioxide to be released into the environment, according to a recent analysis by Bridgestone Europe. That works out to an extra 6.9 g CO2/km for every car on Europe’s roads. Based on the data collected in 2006, Bridgestone also estimates that 40% of vehicles consume an additional 2.8% in fuel due to their under-inflated tires, wasting 8.1 billion liters (2.14 billion gallons US) of fuel every year. More...

Bosch has developed a Smart Electronic Start-Stop System that is moving into series production at BMW. First variants of the 1-Series will feature it as standard equipment from 1 March 2007. More...

General Motors scientists demonstrated breakthrough developments in smart materials technology. Shape memory alloys and polymers are examples of types of smart materials that GM is developing for use in its products. Smart materials can change their shape, strength, and/or stiffness when heat, stress, a magnetic field or electrical voltage are introduced. Shape memory alloys, and polymers in particular, “remember? their original shape and can return to it, opening new possibilities for many movable vehicle features. More...

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