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The Week in Sustainable Mobility (7/15/07)
Mike Millikin, 15 Jul 07
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Florida Governor Charlie Crist signed three Executive Orders establishing a number of immediate actions designed to decrease greenhouse gas emissions in the state; increase energy efficiency; increase the use of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind energy; and increase the use of alternative energy sources such as ethanol and hydrogen. Among the actions is the adoption of the California motor vehicle emissions standards, which include the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, once the EPA hurdle is passed. More...

Increasing the average fuel economy of new light-duty vehicles to 35 mpg by 2018 would increase US employment by 241,000 jobs in the year 2020, including 23,900 in the auto industry, according to a new analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). The increase in fuel economy would also save consumers $61 billion at the gas pump. More...

Congressman John Dingell (D-MI), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said he plans to propose a carbon tax with the goal of showing that Americans are unwilling to support such a measure. More...

The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) in Snowdonia, Wales has released a position paper and accompanying website titled zerocarbonbritain, which proposes and promotes a strategy to halve the UK’s energy needs and reduce its carbon dioxide output to zero within two decades via a choreographed combination of policy and technology. More...

Abbott, the global health care company, is trying to go “carbon neutral” with its entire US fleet of company sales vehicles through a transition to more fuel-efficient vehicles and the purchase of carbon offsets. More...

China’s imports of crude oil rose 11.2% to 81.5 million tonnes (598 million barrels, or about 3.3 million bpd) in the first half of this year, according to the latest statistics from the General Administration of Customs (GAC). More...

In its just released Medium-Term Oil Market Report, the International Energy Agency (IEA) anticipates a crude oil supply crunch beyond 2010, due to stronger demand and OPEC spare capacity declining to minimal levels by 2012. More...

Chevron Corporation has formed a research alliance with The University of Texas at Austin to develop new technologies to increase the amount of oil recovered from mature and challenging reservoirs. More...

Two Canadian companies, Trident Exploration Corp. and Menova Energy Inc., have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to form a company that will be part of a consortium developing a new photo-bioreactor system for the capture and recycling into algae biomass of greenhouse gases (GHGs) generated by the processing of petroleum products. More...

More than two dozen Portlanders are giving up their cars for a month as part of the second annual Portland Low-Car Diet. More...

HYBRIDS and PLUG-IN HYBRIDS

Sales of hybrid light duty vehicles in the US rose 49% in June compared to the same month in 2006, reaching more than 34,300 units. Although marking a decrease from the record-setting sales pace set in May, the sales results kept hybrids above the 2% mark in terms of new vehicle marketshare. More...

Ford has refreshed the 2008 Escape Hybrid with a new look, interior and exterior; two hybrid-specific upgrade packages including a 110V outlet; 100% recycled seating surfaces; and a boost in fuel economy—including nearly a 14% improvement in city driving compared to the 2007 model. More...

Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Edison International CEO John Bryson announced that Ford is partnering with Edison subsidiary Southern California Edison in a multi-year, multimillion dollar project to, in Mulally’s words, “investigate and figure out how to commercialize plug-in hybrids.” More...


With the Live Earth concerts as a backdrop, smart announced that it will begin production of a micro-hybrid variant of the smart fortwo. More...

Maxwell Technologies signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Valeo covering a development collaboration to incorporate Maxwell’s BOOSTCAP ultracapacitors in Valeo’s next generation StARS+X—a stop/start and regenerative braking system. More...

UQM Technology’s newly introduced 150 kW permanent magnet propulsion motor will power a plug-in fuel-cell series hybrid electric bus being developed by Mobile Energy Solutions, LLC, (MES) with funding under the Federal Transit Administration’s National Fuel Cell Bus Program. More...

Under the terms of a new agreement with Sweden, the US Department of Energy will work with Mack Trucks, a subsidiary of Volvo AB, to develop hybrid vehicle technology for heavy-duty engines, coupled with waste heat recovery. The two will also analyze the impact of different biofuels on a diesel engine in an effort to increase efficiency and fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions of new long haul trucks. More...

The Swedish Energy Authority is granting Volvo Buses subsidies for its continued work on developing the hybrid driveline and the hybrid technology for two bus models. More...

Toyota will provide a total of 220 vehicles—including 134 Prius hybrids—for use as official cars during the 11th International Association of Athletics Federation's (IAAF) World Championships, to be held from 25 August to 2 September 2007 in Osaka, Japan. More...

Norstel AB (Norrköping, Sweden) and the Energy Technology Research Institute (ETRI) of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) (Tsukuba, Japan) have entered into a strategic collaboration for development of Silicon Carbide (SiC) single crystal material for semiconductor applications. Silicon carbide semiconductors enable new designs in power electronics for improving energy efficiency and performance in a wide range of applications, including hybrids. More...

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Brammo Motorsports announced the Enertia, a lithium-ion battery-powered plug-in electric motorcycle. More...

BIOFUELS

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have made the first direct comparisons of the biomass productivity of two C4 perennial grasses: switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) and Miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus). The two have been widely trialed as low-input bioenergy crops in the US and EU, respectively. Results from the trials throughout Illinois show that Miscanthus is more than twice as productive as switchgrass. More...

Synthetic Genomics Inc., a privately-held company dedicated to commercializing synthetic genomic processes and naturally occurring processes for alternative energy solutions, and Malaysia-based Asiatic Centre for Genome Technology Sdn Bhd (ACGT), a center that focuses on the application of genome technology to improve oil palm and other crops, announced a multi-year research and development joint venture to sequence and analyze the oil palm genome. More...

Gay & Robinson, a Kauai, Hawaii sugar plantation, is planning to operate the first ethanol production plant in the state if Hawaii requires a mandatory E10 blend in its fuel. More...

Green Star Products, Inc. (GSPI) has successfully completed Phase II of its 40,000-liter Algae-To-Biodiesel Demonstration Facility in Montana. More...

Syntroleum Corporation will provide synthetic jet fuel made from renewable feedstock to the US Department of Defense (DOD) for evaluation as part of a larger program aimed at the domestic manufacture and supply of synthetic aviation fuels. More...

Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co. will use a zeolite membrane developed by Mitsui & Co. subsidiary Bussan Nanotech Research Institute Inc. (BNRI) in dehydration systems for bioethanol plants. More...

NearBio, the developer of the first alternative fuel locator for mobile devices and author of the daily-updated, verified, and 100% geocoded NearBiobiodiesel station database (earlier post), is introducing NearE85.com: a free, daily-updated, individually-verified and 100% geocoded United States E85 station database, accessible from cell phones and mobile devices. More...

Brooklyn-based GreenDepot, a national supplier of green building materials, and its parent company Marjam Supply, the leading building materials distributor in the Northeast, are switching their fleets to B20 biodiesel. More...

A new coalition of national consumer, manufacturing, and gasoline retailer associations that consume or sell gasoline and ethanol-fuel blends recently formed with the mission to assure the “safe and successful introduction” of new bio-based and other alternative fuels. Most immediately, this means slowing down increasing Congressional movement toward shifting to a higher ethanol blend (20%) in the general national fuel supply (as opposed to E85 blends for designated flex-fuel vehicles).

More...

HYDROGEN

Ford will attempt to set the world land speed record in a hydrogen fuel-cell powered Ford Fusion on the Bonneville Salt Flats in August. More...

The Chena Hot Springs Resort in Alaska will begin using hydrogen produced by surplus electricity from its two new geothermal plants and an electrolyzer from a defunct fuel-cell project to provide hydrogen for cooking and heating, and to fuel its vehicles. More...

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Research Centre Julich in Germany have agreed to work together on the development of lower-cost, higher-performance fuel cells for transportation and portable power applications. More...

NATURAL GAS

The Cummins Westport (CWI) 2007 ISL G natural gas engine has received formal certification from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that it surpasses EPA 2007 phase-in levels and meets the 2010 emission standards of 0.2 g/bhp-hr NOx and 0.01 g/bhp-hr PM. More...

The Delhi (India) Transport Corporation (DTC) will purchase 2,300 CNG and diesel buses to augment its fleet by September. Out of the 2,300 low-floor buses, 2,000 will be CNG-powered while the rest will be diesel. More...

Police in Agra, India, home of the Taj Mahal, have begun to seize auto rickshaws and taxis running on diesel or gasoline after an order made it mandatory to run on compressed natural gas (CNG). More...


Singapore’s first publicly-accessible CNG refuelling station is expected to start running by next January. More...


DIESEL

GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz confirmed that the automaker would be introducing V-6 and all-aluminum V-8 diesel engines in light-duty diesel passenger vehicles into the North American market soon. More...

GM previewed the new Opel Agila, which will make its public debut at the IAA in Frankfurt in September and be on sale in spring 2008. The redesigned Agila is longer, wider and lower than its predecessor, with an aerodynamic drag coefficient of 0.35. The five-door, five-seat Agila offers a choice of three engines: two new gasoline units supplied by cooperation partner Suzuki, and a turbodiesel developed by GM Powertrain. The diesel is the most fuel-efficient of the three, with estimated combined cycle fuel consumption of less than 5.0 l/100km (47 mpg US) and CO2 emissions of less than 130 g/km. More...

Honda reportedly will develop a V-6 low-emission diesel engine for the North American market by 2010. More...

BC Transit (BCT), the provider of mass transit services in British Columbia (except for the Greater Vancouver region) has decided to forego purchasing hybrid buses in the short-term, opting instead for new diesels. More...

SYNTHETIC FUELS

BP and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have signed a technical agreement to work cooperatively on the development of underground coal gasification (UCG) technology for the in-situ conversion of coal deposits into fuels and other products. More...

OTHER

Ford and Lear Corporation next month will begin the production of soy-based foam for seat backs and seat cushions. The first application will be in the 2008 model year Ford Mustang. More...

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) has developed a twin clutch Sport Shift Transmission (SST) for the new Lancer Evolution, due to be launched this fall. The new automated six-speed manual transmission can help improve fuel economy by up to 15% over existing five-speed automatic gearboxes, according to the company. More...

An automated way of allowing cars to drive much closer to each other in heavy moving traffic—“platooning”—could cut congestion and reduce fuel consumption and emissions by reducing aerodynamic drag, according to researchers from Jadavpur University in Kolkata, India. More...

Boeing rolled out the first 787 Dreamliner—the first of its new family of mid-size commercial jetliners, and the first with composite material primary structures. The combination of new materials, increased electrification, design and new engines all lead to the expected reduction in operation fuel consumption of 20% compared to current aircraft of a comparable size. More...

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